Strategic Transport Priorities Report
This report sets out where the city and county can work together on tackling poor air quality and the effects of climate change while supporting the local economy.
The principal aims are to:
- improve connectivity;
- support and drive the economy to unlock growth;
- create high quality environments for communities to thrive;
- ensure development is sustainable and maximises social and environmental benefits;
- support the transition to a low carbon and circular economy;
- support national and international efforts in combatting the impacts of and adapting to climate change;
- maximise opportunities from technological innovations;
- address wider social challenges including accessibility, severance, and deprivation;
- improve public health, by tackling sedentary behaviour and poor air quality;
- focus transport investment and funding to achieve the biggest impact for the City and County.
As is customary the report suggests that continued reliance on the private car is inevitable - “bus or mass rapid transit services are rarely practical or financially viable for longer, inter-city connectivity.” It then rather contradicts itself when going on to say “Commercial coach services are a notable exception”. While there are many references to “strategic road and rail” schemes, the emphasis remains on facilitating travel by car.
At the head of the challenges listed in the document is “People are increasingly likely to live in a different area to where they work. This results in increased demand for commuter travel. Commuter travel to/from outside the County, or to/from rural villages is likely to be by private car, resulting in further pressure on the road network.”
This is stating the obvious reason for the vast increase in traffic congestion over the last century, but appears to be accepted as inevitable, rather than something that can and should be reversed. With climate change bringing threats of weather extremes such as flooding, heavy snow and extreme cold, our communities would be much more robust if people had more compact travel requirements and are able to cycle or walk to the majority of the places they need to get to.
Whilst reference is made to Leicester’s “Hub and Spoke” Plan, there are no radical proposals such as making it impossible for cars to pass through Leicester or the Market Towns. Limiting car access has been shown, in such places as Groningen in the Netherlands, to be the most effective way of encouraging a modal shift to walking and cycling.
It also states that “Leicestershire is a predominantly rural county. Long-distance bus or mass rapid transit services are rarely practicable or financially viable in rural counties. Travel by walking or cycling is equally poor in some areas.” It ignores the fact that the reason the public transport is not viable in rural areas is that almost all travel is by car, so that the numbers using buses are so low that the services are not viable. The way to reverse this is to make car travel awkward while making the bus the most attractive and cost effective option to the traveller. Nor does it consider promoting cycle/bus options with people being encouraged to cycle a mile or two to an express bus route with secure bicycle parking at the bus stop.
Comments need to be submitted before Monday, 25th May 2020.