Comments on the Car Dependency Scorecard

We're keen to know what you think about our Car Dependency Scorecard, and about the situation where you live.  Here are the comments we've already received; why not add your own?

Andy York lives in Brighton where he says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"In addition to the buses Brighton is well served with several smaller railway stations which all connect into the main station. I sometimes take a train into the centre as it's slightly quicker and cheaper if you buy a return. I have to say though that one reason for the success of the bus service is the fact that it's not in the least bit car friendly getting to the town centre. Anyone who lives there knows that the town centre access is heavily congested with cars on a Saturday or Sunday. So in short I think that there is still room for improvement on your scorecard, perhaps with more park and ride facilities for car drivers."

Andrew Simmonds lives in Towcester where he says it is middling to get around
without a car.

"Towcester has recently had an evening and Sunday bus service (right up to 11pm at night from Northampton) introduced which is very useful. However the downside is the direct, five-times-a-day service to Oxford provided by Stagecoach has been terminated at Silverstone and a replacement provided by another company now provides the link to Oxford. This has had the effect of doubling the fare for the journey if paying cash and paying again if you already have a Stagecoach Dayrider ticket. The service to Milton Keynes although hourly does not have an evening or Sunday service and is very slow. A car journey to MK is about 15 mins, whereas the bus journey is nearly 60 mins. MK as worst place is not surprising as it was designed for the car. When working in Bletchley I couldn't get from Towcester to where I worked by 9am in the morning by bus so had to drive."

John Collins told us about a scheme to reduce car-dependency in Brussels.
"Are you aware of the Brussels scheme for rewarding those who give up their car? The rewards are free travel passes, car sharing subscriptions or a cycling grant. Their transport authority offers a pass with similar privileges to London's Freedom Pass as a reward for any residents - not just pensioners - who take their car off the road. This is seen as a step towards reducing air pollution by private cars and the number of car journeys made. The Brussels reward can also be used to help with car sharing and cycling. Here is a rough translation (PDF, 56K) of the summary on The Brussels reward scheme is also relevant to the debate in Britain about the current threat to bus passes for pensioners. My wife and I regard our London Freedom Passes as our 'reward' for giving up our car ten years ago. Taking away our passes now, even for those who could afford to pay, sends all the wrong signals. If the pensioners' pass is curtailed in the spending cuts, we will be tempted to buy a car again."

John Holland lives in Portsmouth where he says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"Getting around Portsmouth without a car is quite easy but unless you walk or cycle it can be expensive. We suffer from having two competing bus companies so sensible coordination for routes, fares and ticketing technology is out of the question - Brighton, you are very lucky. A little-known quango called Transport for South Hampshire ticks all the boxes planning-wise but is unknown to the general public. This outfit could be setting the standards for coordinated public transport but seems unwilling to upset any of the transport operators. Trains are good, if pricy, and run at somewhat of a pedestrian speed (London-Portsmouth 90mins - just the same as 1939!). A mainly flat city, Portsmouth is ideal for cycling and there are many designated cycle paths and routes. As with many other cities, these can be disjointed and, if you're not from these parts, you may have difficulty in navigating them! Our highways are littered with parked cars which spend most of their time doing nothing - what a waste of a resource - and the council is reviewing all double-yellow lines with a view to creating yet more on-street parking. Taxis and private hire cars are plentiful and efficient although some of their drivers are blissfully unaware of speed limits. Change here is very slow and whilst the decision-makers remain married to their cars this pace is likely to continue."

Philip Clark lives in Bristol where he says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"I use an electric bicycle, it is the only way to get around Bristol quickly. Buses simply don't go where you want them when you want them"

Sarah Early lives in Swanage, Dorset where she says it is very difficult to get around without a car.
"There is one bus north (Wareham, Poole) and one bus east (Bournemouth) each hour. Recently a tourist bus has started from one end of Swanage up to the conservation park. That's all! Swanage has 10,000 people. To get to work outside the town, you need a car or motorbike, as buses only start just before 8am, and finish early. Young kids who want to go places in the evenings have to get back home early. To have a life here, you need a car. When you're older and can't drive, you'll have to take taxis everywhere. Some people are now buying disability scooters, even if they can actually walk, as these scooters are far cheaper than a car! Many parents do allow their kids to walk to school but many still drive; it will be under a mile for primary and possibly a mile for middle schools. Over 13, kids have to take a bus to the next town, 10 miles away. Apparently we're the only town of this size in England that doesn't have a secondary school. I used to volunteer at the Citizens' Advice Bureau. I had clients SAVING UP to afford a taxi to be able to come and ask about their benefits etc. The council shows absolutely no interest in this subject. I'm a Londoner, and I think the attitude to public transport here is just uncivilised!"

Nigel Chadwick lives in York where he says it is quite difficult to get around without a car.
"The problem with the relatively affluent society we have created means that more people are living in the suburbs and villages around major town and cities. Transport from these villages is sometimes extremely difficult. The use of park and ride centres require those who have used their cars to get to the edge of the city to then get out of them and use public transport (bus or tram) to travel the rest of the way into the centre of the city. This is unlikely to happen. Better transport infrastructure is needed to get people from their homes directly to work/city centres without the need to get in their car otherwise they are less likely to try and use public transport unless it becomes prohibitively expensive (ie car parking charges increase)."

Philip Steel lives in Leeds where he says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"Although I live in Leeds, my home town is Luton. I was disappointed to see that your report did not consider the topography of the cities you were studying. Luton town centre, for example, is in a basin surrounded in most directions by steep hills and this is clearly an impediment to walking or cycling for many people. In a place where the terrain prevents most people from being able to walk or cycle to their place of work they have little choice but to use some other means of transport."

Roger Lyndley lives in Coventry where he says it is quite difficult to get around without a car.
"I agree with your assessment of Coventry - public transport is rubbish. I work at Warwick University which is one of the top three employers in the City and access to it cannot be described using words you could use in polite conversation. Public transport in Coventry will only be improved if some kind of tram or metro system is built. Provision of useful cycleways is non-existent."

Richard Mann lives in Oxford where he says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"Using just the 2001 travel-to-work data, Oxford ranks as the least car-dependent district (excluding journeys by train). If you want the result to be meaningful, you probably ought to include Oxford, Norwich and Hull."

Martyn Brunt lives in Coventry where he says it is quite difficult to get around without a car.
"I'm surprised Coventry came as high as it did on the list given the stranglehold the Ring Road and the surrounding network of A-roads have on the city and its continued claim to be the 'home of the motor car'."

Ian Walker lives in Milton Keynes where he says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"I have lived in Nottingham (10 years) and Milton Keynes (5 years) and can say without doubt Nottingham has the biggest transport problems of the two. People use buses and trams because the road situation is so bad - rush hour traffic is bumper to bumper on all major roads - often on the A52 there will be as much as 10 miles of traffic trailing out of the centre towards Bingham. Nottingham city council will soon start charging companies for the number of city car parking spaces they have - which will have started forcing more out of their cars already. Nottingham also has a higher density of population living in its city centre so it will be far easier and so quicker to get more people into the centre without using a car. The problem with Milton Keynes at the moment is it's far too easy to get around in a car with nothing like the congestion problems Nottingham has. This to me is more about who has been forced to give up their car rather than about a city's car dependency. As MK grows no doubt the situation will change."

Paul Griffiths lives in Milton Keynes where he says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"Yes Milton Keynes was designed to be able to get around with a car. A road system designed to discourage rat-running through residential areas - unlike many of the other cities in your survey. Development back away from 'grid roads' to reduce the impact of noise and air pollution. Also a compressive parallel network of footpaths and cycleways - the Redway network - so walking and cycling is a safe alternative, away from fast moving traffic. If you think that MK has traffic congestion problems, compared with the other cities surveyed, you clearly don't get out enough. Public transport could be better but this is only going to change if the Council really do invest the money they are getting from car parking charges into public transport (which they say they do but no one really believes this to be the case) and Government policy changes to allow local authorities to subsidise bus routes (which is even more unlikely given the state of public finances)."

Kim Harding lives in Edinburgh where she says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"Edinburgh is an easy city to get around without a car. It has an extensive off-road walking and cycle network. It is the only city in the UK to sign up to the Charter of Brussels, and after a slow start it is finally thinking about how it is going to hit the target of 15% for the share of cycling in the modal split of trips by 2020. Also an excellent bus network and rumour has it will one day even have a tram network. With hindsight the money spent on the trams would have been better spent on re-opening the suburban railway stations, but there you go."

Ian Short lives in Milton Keynes where he says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"There's no way Milton Keynes should be bottom of your Car Dependency Scorecard. It is utterly false that 'those without a car struggle to get around' in Milton Keynes. It is the easiest city that I have visited in the United Kingdom for travelling by bike. It's also good for pedestrians. I dislike the numerous big roads in Milton Keynes, but there are masses of cycle and pedestrian routes."

Pete Brown lives in Chippenham, Wilts where he says it is middling to get around without a car.
"Actions speak louder than words. Government and local authorities talk the talk about sustainable transport but they rarely deliver. In Chippenham where I live, Wiltshire County Council (as it then was) built a new transport interchange outside the railway station, and most bus routes serve it. The principle route is Stagecoach 55 which also received taxpayers' money under the Kick Start programme, and was extended to terminate at the rail station. The route runs every 20 minutes Mon - Fri daytimes, and therefore connection with the half hourly train service is not ideal but just about acceptable. However in the evenings, when the frequency drops, the connections are not good. In fact the buses are actually timetabled to leave 1 minute before some trains arrive! This is totally unacceptable, and could only happen in the UK."

Hazel Dawe lives in Oxford where she says it is very easy to get around without a car.
"Why did you leave out Oxford - possibly the most cycle friendly city in England?"

Anthony Tull lives in Olney where he says it is middling to get around without a car.
"The buses change time during the day. We need one additional bus to give the town a good service. Ever since the route 1 replaced the 16 back in 1999, we have had what I call a VOID PERIOD: they gave us extra buses, but that moved the void rather than filling it. They gave us the 08:53, GREAT, but by adding the 10:30, 12:30, 14:30, 16:30 buses from Bedford, that effectively moved the void period, from 08:45 to 08:20. All I wish for is one bus every hour at the same time, from start to finish - so that ALL people have to remember is the time of the last bus."

Sanjay Patel works in Milton Keynes where he says it is very difficult to get around without a car.
"A good report but I see you've made the usual mistake about Milton Keynes in relation to cycling. I would hazard a guess and suggest you probably didn't cycle there and made the age-old assumption that because MK has a Redway system it is therefore cycle friendly. I have been working in MK for 10 years and cycling there for the last 5. It is probably the worst city I've cycled in. Redways are pavements painted red. They are not dedicated off-road cycleways. This means fighting your way amongst pedestrians, dog walkers, school childern (very tricky). One of the effects of the so called 'Redway system' is that drivers react angrily if a cyclist is caught riding on the roads. I've often had to resort to the road when I've been lost because they go in straight lines and Redways wind and weave their way in and out of estates and car parks. The combination of un-navigable Redways and vigilante drivers makes for a very difficult cycling environment. A chap by the name of John Franklin did a study which found that mortality rates were higher on the Redways (where the Redways cross roads these crossings are lethal) than on the roads and that there was a smaller uptake of cycling to work in MK than in towns where there wasn't a Redway system."

Jessica Lee lives in Ruislip in the London Borough of Hillingdon where she says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"I live within 5 minutes' walk of 2 tube stations and 15 minutes by bike from several more. However if I don't want to travel in and out of Central London but go to local hospitals, other high streets etc it has to be by bus and the traffic is terrible. Traffic in Hillingdon really needs to be reduced. People would be happier, healthier and friendlier if they could walk, cycle and take public transport instead of sit in traffic jams."

George Riches lives in Coventry where he says it is quite easy to get around without a car.
"The report says regarding Coventry: 'the scale of the proposed Friargate development has worrying implications for traffic levels, especially on minor roads'. Traffic levels will increase due to more jobs appearing in the city centre. At the moment I understand that Coventry has a less-than-average job density at its centre. Where should new jobs go? On the periphery? While details of the way motorists will react to the Friargate development need examining, Coventry needs to increase the number of jobs in its centre if it is to decrease its car-dependence."

David Harman lives in Peterborough where he says it is very difficult to get around without a car.
"I note your scorecard refers to Peterborough, with recent changes to routes, allegedly to improve punctuality and serve the local population better. This has failed in both instances. Means for my local area (the Dogsthorpe area of Peterborough) the nearest bus route to me and my family means a journey of four miles to the city centre two miles away (distances are approximate). Taking the inconvenience and costs into account this makes the local bus services very unappealing, and near useless for everyday task such as food shopping."

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The comments on this page have been submitted by readers of this website. Campaign for Better Transport cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the comments, and does not necessarily share the views expressed.

Last updated: 27 September 2010
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