The UK transport policy menu: Roads, roads, and a dash of multimodalism

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... The UK Government currently has a £20-billion roads programme, partly premised on kick-starting the economy, despite any robust evidence of linkage between roadbuilding and the economy. 10 In contrast, the Sustainable Travel Towns programmes contributed positively to economic growth, reduced carbon emissions, improved health, and promoted equality of opportunity and quality of life. 8 For a fraction of the roadbuilding programme cost, we could see not just safe routes to schools but, even more importantly, safe routes wholesale across urban areas. ...
... The UK Government currently has a £20-billion roads programme, partly premised on kick-starting the economy, despite any robust evidence of linkage between roadbuilding and the economy. 10 In contrast, the Sustainable Travel Towns programmes contributed positively to economic growth, reduced carbon emissions, improved health, and promoted equality of opportunity and quality of life. 8 For a fraction of the roadbuilding programme cost, we could see not just safe routes to schools but, even more importantly, safe routes wholesale across urban areas. ...
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In 1971, a study of children’s travel to and from school focused on five English primary schools. The schools’ locations ranged from inner-urban London to a village primary school (ages 4–11). In 1990, the Policy Studies Institute published a follow-up study with the same schools and added linked secondary schools (ages 11–16). The results were alarming. Independent active travel was declining steeply—on average, a child in 1990 had to be 2.5 years older than in 1971 to be allowed permissions such as to cross local roads and to travel the school journey without an adult. A further study in 2013 reported further significant shrinkage. We are concerned about the effects this will have for Alex and all young people. The school journey.The drivers of children being kept on a leash are multifaceted, but implicated above all is the dominance of the ‘windscreen perspective’—politicians and highway engineers have a driver’s perspective. Free Full text
This article illustrates the process of applied critical realist research using a case study of political decision-making in transport. Critical realism is often used to analyse socio-political change but rarely to explain specific political decisions, and never in transport studies. There have been some attempts to illustrate the process of applied critical realism but not in a political context. The case study analysed an apparent inconsistency in the attitude of UK governments towards road building in the 1990s and post-2012. It structured the findings diagrammatically, illustrating the relationships between social structures, causal mechanisms and actors. This article questions the conventional distinction between ‘more important' and ‘less important’ causes. It shows how normative conclusions may be derived from empirical findings where no agreement exists on the objective basis for normative judgements. It demonstrates how critical realist methods can provide deeper explanations for policy change than existing approaches used in transport studies.
Why did a Conservative UK government decide to cut back road building during a time of austerity in the 1990s, whereas a Conservative-led Coalition government decided to substantially increase road building during a time of austerity after 2010? This study aims to answer that question drawing on 32 interviews with ministers, advisors and others, and secondary analysis of media coverage and public opinion. It uses Critical Realist methods in a more specific way than previous studies, representing the key actors, causal mechanisms and changes in underlying social structures in diagrammatic form. It concludes that three mechanisms: a rational response to changing transport circumstances, changing economic ideology prompted by the recession of 2007–9 and public opinion, influenced by the protest movement in the 1990s, explain the contrasting decisions. It identifies key actors who influenced government decisions and explains how a Critical Realist analysis questions the traditional concept in transport studies of causal factors and their relative importance.
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Background: Although a number of environmental and policy interventions to promote physical activity are being widely used, there is sparse systematic information on the most effective approaches to guide population-wide interventions. Methods: We reviewed studies that addressed the following environmental and policy strategies to promote physical activity: community-scale urban design and land use policies and practices to increase physical activity; street-scale urban design and land use policies to increase physical activity; and transportation and travel policies and practices. These systematic reviews were based on the methods of the independent Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Exposure variables were classified according to the types of infrastructures/policies present in each study. Measures of physical activity behavior were used to assess effectiveness. Results: Two interventions were effective in promoting physical activity (community-scale and street-scale urban design and land use policies and practices). Additional information about applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation are provided for these interventions. Evidence is insufficient to assess transportation policy and practices to promote physical activity. Conclusions: Because community- and street-scale urban design and land-use policies and practices met the Community Guide criteria for being effective physical activity interventions, implementing these policies and practices at the community-level should be a priority of public health practitioners and community decision makers.
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There are a number of challenges relating to both the support of and compliance with speed limits. The introduction of 20 mph limits in Great Britain is no exception: the recent rise in the deployment of these limits in urban settings has created a need to understand these issues in more depth. This paper reports a study undertaken by the authors that used a population wide survey of GB drivers to explore how support and compliance were interlinked. Whilst as expected many supporters said they would comply with the limits, and many opponents might not comply, more surprisingly it was also found that some supporters claimed not to comply, while some opponents of 20 mph limits were compliers. Explanations included the strong likelihood of strong moral adherence to not breaking laws amongst opponent–compliers, and self-enhancement bias amongst supporter–non-compliers. This paper explores the incidence of these effects and their implications in detail.
Technical Report
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This report compiles the latest available cost benefit evidence from the UK and abroad from studies that have calculated health benefits alongside other benefits such as savings in travel time, congestion and accidents. The results are compelling. The typical benefit cost ratios are considerably greater than the threshold of 4:1 which is considered by the Department for Transport as ‘very high’ value for money. This supports the conclusion drawn by Eddington that small-scale transport schemes can really deliver high value for money.
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Objectives: We evaluated the effects of providing new high-quality, traffic-free routes for walking and cycling on overall levels of walking, cycling, and physical activity. Methods: 1796 adult residents in 3 UK municipalities completed postal questionnaires at baseline (2010) and 1-year follow-up (2011), after the construction of the new infrastructure. 1465 adults completed questionnaires at baseline and 2-year follow-up (2012). Transport network distance from home to infrastructure defined intervention exposure and provided a basis for controlled comparisons. Results: Living nearer the infrastructure did not predict changes in activity levels at 1-year follow-up but did predict increases in activity at 2 years relative to those living farther away (15.3 additional minutes/week walking and cycling per km nearer; 12.5 additional minutes/week of total physical activity). The effects were larger among participants with no car. Conclusions: These new local routes may mainly have displaced walking or cycling trips in the short term but generated new trips in the longer term, particularly among those unable to access more distant destinations by car. These findings support the potential for walking and cycling infrastructure to promote physical activity.
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In recent years, there has been a growing interest in a range of transport policy initiatives which are designed to influence people’s travel behaviour away from single‐occupancy car use and towards more benign and efficient options, through a combination of marketing, information, incentives and tailored new services. In transport policy discussions, these are now widely described as ‘soft’ factor interventions or ‘smarter choice’ measures or ‘mobility management’ tools. In 2004, the UK Department for Transport commissioned a major study to examine whether large‐scale programmes of these measures could potentially deliver substantial cuts in car use. The purpose of this article is to clarify the approach taken in the study, the types of evidence reviewed and the overall conclusions reached. In summary, the results suggested that, within approximately ten years, smarter choice measures have the potential to reduce national traffic levels by about 11%, with reductions of up to 21% of peak period urban traffic. Moreover, they represent relatively good value for money, with schemes potentially generating benefit:cost ratios which are in excess of 10:1. The central conclusion of the study was that such measures could play a very significant role in addressing traffic, given the right support and policy context.
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This study examined the recent changes in the percentage of persons with a driver's license in 15 countries as a function of age. The countries included were Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The results indicate 2 patterns of change over time. In one pattern (observed for 8 countries), there was a decrease in the percentage of young people with a driver's license, and an increase in the percentage of older people with a driver's license. In the other pattern (observed for the other 7 countries), there was an increase in the percentage of people with a driver's license in all age categories. A regression analysis was performed on the data for young drivers in the 15 countries to explore the relationship between licensing and a variety of societal parameters. Of particular note was the finding that a higher proportion of Internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate. The results of the analysis are consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.
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The habit discontinuity hypothesis states that when a context change disrupts individuals’ habits, a window opens in which behavior is more likely to be deliberately considered. The self-activation hypothesis states that when values incorporated in the self-concept are activated, these are more likely to guide behavior. Combining these two hypotheses, it was predicted that context change enhances the likelihood that important values are considered and guide behavior. This prediction was tested in the domain of travel mode choices among university employees who had recently moved versus had not recently moved residence. As was anticipated, participants who had recently moved and were environmentally concerned used the car less frequently for commuting to work. This was found not only when compared to those who were low on environmental concern (which would be a trivial finding), but also to those who were environmentally concerned but had not recently moved. The effects were controlled for a range of background variables. The results support the notion that context change can activate important values that guide the process of negotiating sustainable behaviors.
The case for major transport investment is frequently made in terms of impact on economic performance. A recurring difficulty however faced by policy makers is a disjoint between this motivation and the cost benefit analysis, which may be too narrow. Broadening the set of economic mechanisms studied creates the risk that bad arguments are legitimised and effects can be exaggerated. There is a need for an appraisal framework that ensures all relevant impacts are captured, ensures the opportunity cost of drawing more resources into an activity is identified and meets the needs of the different audiences of the appraisal. There is a need for context specific appraisal. Central to the impact on economic performance is how private sector investment responds to changes in accessibility. Investment in one location can improve productivity, create growth, but may also displace output and employment. Thus we group impacts within the framework into four types: user benefits, proximity and productivity effects, investment and land use impacts and employment effects. Within each of these groups there are a series of transport-economy mechanisms which become relevant in different contexts. Some of these mechanisms are well established and are applied in practice. Others still are more challenging and need to be the subject of further research. Throughout improvements in the evidence base are needed.
A model hypothesizes why decision makers choose different decision strategies in dealing with different decision problems. Given the motivation to choose the strategy which requires the least investment for a satisfactory solution, the choice of strategy should depend upon the type of problem, the surrounding environment, and the personal characteristics of the decision maker.
Despite mounting evidence that car use is a prime culprit of global warming, our love affair with the car persists. General awareness of the environmental consequences of car usage is high but fails to correspond to moderated car use. This paper contributes to an understanding of how university students’ environmental beliefs affect decisions to engage in continued car use (persistence) and/or to discontinue or reduce car use (desistance). The aim of the research presented here was to explore the range of neutralizations and counter-neutralizations (affirmations) employed by students and to examine the ways in which they are used to justify and maintain either persistence or desistance in car use. The research consisted of six focus group sessions with thirty-four UK-based Higher Education students. Analysis of the study’s data highlights the range of neutralizations and counter-neutralizations employed by students in social settings. The article discusses the usefulness of neutralization theory in accounting for actual and/or intended non-environmentally friendly behaviour such as car use. In addition, the study’s findings are discussed in relation to prior research and to potential implications for public policy interventions which favour moderating car usage.
In its neglect of cycling, the transport policy history of Great Britain is typical of many car-dependent societies. Policy inertia with respect to sustainable travel may be driven by the assumptions that, firstly, most households have access to the use of a car and are keen to preserve the mobility advantages the current system offers them, and secondly that environmental and health considerations should be subjugated to economic priorities. Thus, in spite of warm words about cycling, pro-car policies tend to dominate.
The publication of the White Papers Roads for Prosperity and New Roads by New Means in 1989 reinforced the Government's ideological commitments to the ethos of a car-dependent society and privatisation, and marked a further expansion in the post-war road building programme with proposals for £20 billion of new construction. However, technical and environmental criticisms, combined with a large public sector spending deficit, have led the Government to significantly reduce the number of new road schemes since 1993, with greater focus being placed on transferring the funding of existing commitments to the private sector through the Private Finance Initiative. This paper examines the policy changes since 1989 and considers whether the recent cuts in the programme are likely to be short or long term in nature.
The 16 chapters are divided into 3 parts. Part 1 attempts a global perspective on transport planning, examining theories of transport development, urban transport, transport problems in London, energy options, regional and global income disparities and accident rates. Part 2 looks at transport practice, including policy formation, traffic forecasting, economic assessment procedures and public enquiries. Part 3 explores the subsconscious impulses behind progrowth transport planning, with discourses on distance, individualism and the divisive nature of high speed transport and communications. Urges the reader to consider whether increased mobility is really synonymous with progress. -after Author
In December 2008, the Greater Manchester electorate voted to reject a £3 billion package of transport measures that would have included investment in the conurbation's bus, tram and rail networks and walking and cycling infrastructure, together with, and partially funded by, the introduction of a congestion charge. The proposals followed a successful bid to the UK Government Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). High levels of car use present challenges to cities, and the TIF bid can be seen as an attempt to address these by promoting and facilitating a modal shift. The paper reflects on the debates surrounding the proposals, which led to a referendum. In particular, it explores the challenges of communicating complex, controversial plans in a fragmented and contested political arena.
The broad structure of this book is chronological and it expounds the way in which road traffic policies developed at the national level after 1945 in response to pressure to provide more road space both within and between towns. The early chapters record the emphasis on movement between town and cities which led to problems and responses including traffic management, the possibility of road pricing, and studies of traffic in towns. Controversies covered in later chapters include the reaction against urban motorways, heavy lorries, and other environmental issues. The final chapter covers those who made policy and the influences that have given rise to changes of policy. -J.Clayton University of Adelaide, S Australia.
Comprising contributions from a range of experts, this volume offers a critical commentary on the government's sustainable transport policy. A critical commentary on the Blair government's sustainable transport policy and its implementation. Firmly rooted in an appreciation of the politics of this controversial field. Experts contribute up-to-the-minute analyses of the key issues. Will inform debate over the future of transport policy. Includes a Foreword by David Begg, Chair of the Commission for Integrated Transport.
This informed and lively book offers a timely analysis of the UK government’s sustainable - or subsequently ‘integrated’ - transport policy 10 years after the publication of “A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone”. Written by prominent transport experts and with a foreword by Christian Wolmar, the book identifies the modest successes and, sadly, the far more significant failures in government policy over the last decade. The authors also uncover why it has proved so difficult to adopt a more sustainable approach to transport and break Britain’s love-affair with the car. The book reviews the links between the idea of sustainability and transport policy, and provides an up-to-the-minute analysis of the political realities surrounding the delivery of a sustainable transport agenda in the UK. It picks up on the principal components of “A New Deal for Transport” and evaluates to what extent these have, or haven’t, been delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The contributors analyse why delivering sustainable transport policies seems to present particular difficulties to ministers across the UK, and considers the UK’s experience in an international perspective. The book draws lessons from the last 10 years in order to better inform future policy development. “Traffic Jam” is an indispensable analysis of the difficulties involved in turning policy ideals into practical reality, and as such will be of interest to scholars, students, planners, policy analysts and policy makers.
This editorial overview of the Special Issue on ‘Peak Car’ previews the seven papers, drawing out common themes and differences. It starts with a brief overview of the emergence and characteristics of the ‘peak car’ idea, including recent research and discussions. It draws out the key themes from each of the seven papers in turn and discusses implications for research and policy. It concludes that there is now little doubt that young peoples’ car use has reduced, but there is still doubt about how younger people will travel as they age, or how the next generation will travel; that location and settlement density effects are very important, meaning that future population distributions will be significant; and that while ‘economic’ factors are still seen to be important, elasticities with respect to price and income are falling, with signs of differential responses by population categories and location. In policy terms, it concludes that with the current level of uncertainty about future car use levels, rather than developing policy based on one forecast, we should be developing policy for a range of plausible scenarios.
Over the last decade, British railway engineering efficiency has come under close scrutiny, with general perceptions of massive maintenance cost escalations and a general lack of control over these costs. This is exemplified by headline figures such as Roger Ford’s perceptions of a 50% rise in maintenance costs since privatisation (Mod Railw 638:8, 2001), or the more recent figure of a doubling in all rail costs since privatisation presented by Shaoul (Public Money Manag 26:151–158, 2006). Little, however, has appeared in the academic literature on the subject. This paper considers these issues through an examination of British railway infrastructure costs over the period 1980–2009, which has seen three different infrastructure management regimes in place—the nationalised BR (1980–1994), the privatised Railtrack (1995–2001) and the not for dividend Network Rail (2002–2010). Infrastructure costs are examined in total for all operating costs (including maintenance but excluding renewals and depreciation), and under two sub categories, signalling and management costs. The results show that in the case of total operating costs, by the end of the period (up to 2010) these had returned to pre-privatisation levels. The results also show that costs increased significantly following privatisation due to imperfect competition in sub contractor markets, but large declines in the last 6 years have eradicated most of these costs increases, although still do not match the best achieved under full public sector management. Management costs associated with the infrastructure on the other hand have increased significantly.
A Problem for New Labour, or a Problem for Government?Has There Been a U-turn? From the White Paper to the Crisis of 2002Where Now?Notes
Traditional methods of evaluation have not been very successful in accounting for non-transport benefits resulting from rail investments. But increasingly, these factors are becoming more important in well-developed transport networks, as the effects of additional links or capacity cannot be justified in transport terms alone. This paper brings together the evidence at three separate levels arguing that there are different impacts that must be investigated at different levels with appropriate methods. At the macroeconomic level, regional network effects can be identified, as can the impacts on the economy as measured through changes in output and productivity. At the meso level, the impacts relate more to agglomeration economies and labour market effects, with some additional network and environmental consequences. At the micro level, the impacts are determined by the land and property market effects. Examples of rail investment are given for each of the scales of analysis, and conclusions are drawn on the future directions and challenges for the quantification of both transport and non-transport benefits.
In this study, habitual car use was interrupted by means of an intervention attempting to induce a deliberate consideration to reduce personal car use and forming implementation intentions for the planned changes in travel behavior. The importance of car habit strength and of moral motivation for reducing car use was analyzed. The study was conducted as a field experiment where 71 car users were recruited to either an experimental group or a control group. All participants reported car habit strength and moral motivation to reduce car use (i.e. personal norm) by means of a questionnaire, and recorded car use by means of weekly car diaries pre- and post-intervention. Results demonstrate that the intervention did make the choice of travel mode more deliberate since the association between car use and car habit strength were weakened while the relation between car use and personal norm were strengthened after compared to before the intervention. Moreover, as a result of the intervention car users with a strong car habit and a strong personal norm were found to be more likely to reduce car use as compared to those with a weak car habit and a weak personal norm. Hence, a reduction in car use may be facilitated by interrupting habitual car use, specifically if the car user has a strong car habit and a strong moral motivation to reduce personal car use.
Behavioural science is concerned with predicting, explaining and changing behaviour. Taking a personal perspective, this article aims to show how behavioural science can contribute to primary care research, specifically in relation to the development and evaluation of interventions to change behaviour. After discussing the definition and measurement of behaviour, the principle of compatibility and theories of behaviour change, the article outlines two examples of behaviour change trials (one on medication adherence and the other on physical activity), which were part of a research programme on prevention of chronic disease and its consequences. The examples demonstrate how, in a multidisciplinary context, behavioural science can contribute to primary care research in several important ways, including posing relevant research questions, defining the target behaviour, understanding the psychological determinants of behaviour, developing behaviour change interventions and selection or development of measures. The article concludes with a number of recommendations: (i) whether the aim is prediction, explanation or change, defining the target behaviour is a crucial first step; (ii) interventions should be explicitly based on theories that specify the factors that need to be changed in order to produce the desired change in behaviour; (iii) intervention developers need to be aware of the differences between different theories and select a theory only after careful consideration of the alternatives assessed against relevant criteria; and (iv) developers need to be aware that interventions can never be entirely theory based.
This study notes the importance of transport corridors as the arteries of domestic and international trade, and how they boost the competitiveness of the UK economy. The UK transport system supports 61 billion journeys a year. It provides the connections, to support the journeys that matter to economic performance. The UK has a greater proportion of its population connected to the road and rail networks than many European countries, and provides the connections between cities to facilitate return business trips. Investors rate London as the most attractive city to do business in Europe and view the connections, and domestic networks, as a key to its advantage. The UK’s transport networks is crucial productivity and competitiveness: a 5 per cent reduction in travel time for all business travel on the roads could generate around £2.5 billion of cost savings – some 0.2 per cent of GDP. [Country: UK]
As part of a broader effort to promote more sustainable or ‘integrated’ transport, the United Kingdom Labour government commissioned a series of multimodal studies designed to seek genuinely multimodal solutions to traffic congestion problems in England. Consultants undertaking the studies were instructed to presume against new roads unless all other options were clearly impractical. We build upon previous work to assess the extent to which the outcome of the multimodal study process is consistent with the government’s original intentions, as specified in relevant policy documentation. Our findings are that, although the process led to substantial achievements in some areas, its main outcome has been the approval of a host of new road schemes and—apart from some potentially significant public transport investment in the West Midlands—very little else. Viewed in the context of other developments since Labour came to power in 1997, such an outcome would appear to indicate the further disintegration of the party’s much-vaunted ‘integrated’ transport policy.
In 1998 the UK government introduced a new, integrated transport policy signalling a move away from the principles of 'predict and provide' towards 'new realism'. Labour's approach involved promoting a reduction in car use through (among other things) seeking to improve public transport provision and, in line with the trend which had begun in 1994, scaling down the national trunk-road building programme. But despite claiming that building new roads to resolve traffic problems would generally be a measure of the last resort, Labour's most recent statement of transport policy, Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan , makes provisions for a large programme of trunk-road construction against a background of continued traffic growth. In this paper we compare the scale of trunk-road completions achieved by the generally pro-road Conservative governments of 1979 - 97 against those anticipated in Labour's 2000 - 10 plans. We suggest that the annual level of trunk-road completions in England over the next decade will in fact be little different from that achieved by the Conservatives. At a broader scale, we identify the emergence of a new paradigm in transport policy which we call 'pragmatic multimodalism'.
In this study, differences in physical activity between adults living in high versus low walkable neighbourhoods were examined. In Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, neighbourhood walkability was defined by geographical map data and observations. One high walkable and one low walkable neighbourhood were selected. A sample of 120 adults between 20 and 65 years old, agreed to participate in the study and wore a pedometer for seven days. Self-reported physical activity and psychosocial data were collected. Results showed that residents of the high walkable neighbourhood took more steps/day and walked more for transport in their neighbourhood. Further analyses showed that living in a high walkable neighbourhood was associated with taking more steps, especially in adults with a preference for passive transport and/or a low intention to walk or cycle. In a health promotion context, these results are very promising.
The World Bank believes that the car manufacturers can make a valuable contribution to road safety in poor countries and has established the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) for this purpose. However, some commentators are sceptical. The authors examined road safety policy documents to assess the extent of any bias. Word frequency analyses of road safety policy documents from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GRSP. The relative occurrence of key road safety terms was quantified by calculating a word prevalence ratio with 95% confidence intervals. Terms for which there was a fourfold difference in prevalence between the documents were tabulated. Compared to WHO's World report on road traffic injury prevention, the GRSP road safety documents were substantially less likely to use the words speed, speed limits, child restraint, pedestrian, public transport, walking, and cycling, but substantially more likely to use the words school, campaign, driver training, and billboard. There are important differences in emphasis in road safety policy documents prepared by WHO and the GRSP. Vigilance is needed to ensure that the road safety interventions that the car industry supports are based on sound evidence of effectiveness.
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