Car Dependency Scorecard 2010

Where you live, how easy is it to get around without a car?

If public transport is sparse, settlements are poorly planned and pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed off the roads, it can be very difficult indeed.

We've compared cities up and down the country to find out how car dependent they are.

Read our 2010 Car Dependency Scorecard in full (PDF, 2.5MB)

Cities by rank: least to most car dependent

Photo: Cyclist at beach1. Nottingham
2. London
3. Brighton and Hove
4. Manchester
5. Liverpool
6. Newcastle
7. Cambridge
8. Birmingham
9. Plymouth
10. Southampton
11. Sunderland
12. Leicester
13. Bristol
14. Leeds
14. Coventry
16. Sheffield
17. Luton
18. Peterborough
19. Milton Keynes

What do you think of our rankings? How would you rank the place where you live? Have your say or read what other people have said.

The least car-dependent cities

1. Nottingham

Nottingham came top of the cities surveyed due to scoring well in the majority of the indicators measured. It ranked highly for factors such as bus patronage, satisfaction with bus services and low car use for the school run. As well as having an efficient bus service, the new expanding tram system is now used by 10 million passengers a year. Other positive moves include improving accessibility, routing buses on uncongested bus only roads and smart ticketing. Future plans include extending the tram systems and modernising the existing rail network.

2. London

It is no surprise that London is one of the top three cities. In fact, with its high density of residential development and well-funded public transport, it is more of a surprise it has not reached the top spot. This possibly reflects the fact that while Inner London has extremely low car dependence, outer boroughs are more car reliant. Most Londoners make use of a wide network of sustainable travel options including tube, buses, trains and boats. While transport can be overcrowded at peak times, services are mainly fast, frequent and run at flexible times. London has the lowest number of car commuters and cycling is growing dramatically.

3. Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove is supportive of sustainable transport. Our research shows high levels of bus patronage and good levels of satisfaction about bus services and local transport information. The bus service is also fairly cheap in relation to average earnings. Brighton and Hove, with a significant number of London commuting residents, has good rail links. 44 trains a day go to London Victoria. Cycling and walking could be good options as most local commuters travel under 3km to reach work. As part of the Cycling Demonstration Town programme, there has been a 27 per cent increase in the number of trips by bicycle.

The most car-dependent cities

1. Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes was designed for the car. Those with cars can get to work in under ten minutes, but those without a car struggle to get around. Milton Keynes’ large road network is beginning to suffer from congestion, causing increased pollution. Travelling by public transport is a poor alternative and the design of the city makes it hard to navigate quickly this way. Consequently in this research, Milton Keynes was worst for public transport, and second worst for accessibility and planning.

2. Peterborough

Public transport has improved over the last few years, with more frequent bus services, but this is from a very low starting point. Difficulty accessing the outskirts, particularly new out-of-town developments, has meant that this city, designed for the car, is still extremely car dependent. Cycling provision has improved greatly in recent years with investment from the Sustainable Travel Towns programme. While this has resulted in a cycling increase of 12 per cent, bus passenger increase of 35 per cent and a 9 per cent reduction in car journeys, planning for accessibility, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring good bus punctuality are essential in order to encourage people out of their cars.

3. Luton

Car travel has caused traffic problems, especially around the M1. The town is densely built-up with inaccessible areas, causing congestion problems during peak rush hours. Poor public transport and high car use led to Luton’s rank. Buses suffer from punctuality issues, inadequate frequencies and lack of direct services to required destinations. However, a multimillion pound busway development will ensure by 2012 more than 70,000 residents will live within walking distance of a stop.

Read our 2010 Car Dependency Scorecard in full (PDF, 2.5MB)

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Last updated: 28 August 2012
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