Traffic reduction

What's needed

We need to reclaim our streets and communities from the car. We can achieve this by slowing traffic down, changing the design of streets, making it easier to leave our cars at home and cutting the number of lorries on our roads.

Traffic hell

Community-friendly speeds
Lower traffic speeds, for example more 20mph zones in towns and cities and 30mph in villages, would provide a better environment for walking and cycling. And slowing traffic down is one of the best ways to reduce traffic accidents.

Street design that prioritises people
So many of us use the road, even when we’re not in a car, and streets should be designed to reflect this. Councils should reduce the width of main roads, widen pavements, blur the distinction between pavements and streets, green the roads with trees and planters, put seats and cycle racks on the widened pavement, put in many pedestrian crossings, close off side streets and create pockets of public space. Our 2004 report, Your route to a better high street (PDF, 894K), has more details.

These ideas aren’t far-fetched. They are being implemented now.

Plans that help us get around without our cars
Governments, employers, train companies and developers should plan for people to be able to leave their cars at home. We need:

  • School travel plans, safe cycle and walking routes and training for children so they are ‘street smart’ when walking and cycling
  • Station travel plans, so that there are secure cycle parking at stations and bus stops, better provision for people to take their bike in the train, safe ways of carrying bikes on the front of buses and signing and good cycle access to stations
  • Workplace travel plans. Workplace travel plans can reduce commuter car travel by 10-30% (to find out exactly how, visit the ways2work website)
  • Residential travel plans so that developments are designed from the beginning to make it easy to cycle, walk and use public transport. Higher density development on brownfield sites with good public transport links, together with a wide range of local services to reduce the need to travel

Change is possible. We've published some far-reaching research that shows traffic could be cut by 15%.

Change is posible, even in the suburbs. We've published some research (560K pdf) showing how traffic can be tackled in the outer London suburbs - the lessons could be applied around the country.

Fewer lorries
Transporting freight by train would remove thousands of large lorries from our streets, helping the environment and improving street life.

Find out more on the Freight on Rail website. Freight on Rail is a partnership between Campaign for Better Transport and other groups, and works to get more freight off lorries and onto the railways.

In October 2010 we published a report showing that a lorry road user charging scheme would reduce the impact of lorries and end the unfair advantage that non-UK hauliers have. Read the report in summary or in full (PDFs).

Eco-towns that live up to their name
If eco-towns – the name being given to four proposed new towns around the country – are to be truly sustainable, as well as pleasant places to live, residents must be provided with plenty of convenient, green ways to travel. The towns must be compact so that people can easily walk and cycle to the centre. And they must have excellent public transport, both in the town itself and linking it with the rest of the country.

In October 2008 we published a checklist (PDF, 756K) for creating sustainable new developments. The checklist could be used for eco-towns, for big housing development areas like the Thames Gateway and even for existing urban areas.

Traffic reduction commitments
Local authorities should create specific local traffic reduction targets. These would be part of local strategies, perhaps the community strategy. Many community strategies talk about traffic reduction but do not contain specific reduction targets.

You're part of the solution
While the Government needs to do a great deal, there are ways you can help to reduce traffic:

Last updated: 21 November 2011
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