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Roads to Nowhere

Transport Report ranks Nottingham, Brighton and London ahead on sustainability

28 August 2012
New research shows wide variation in how much people in different cities are dependent on using their car to get around, with many cities providing few opportunities to get around by public transport, walking or cycling. The Car Dependency Scorecard 2012 [1], published by Campaign for Better Transport, showed that London topped the ranking as the least car-dependent city in England, closely followed by Nottingham and Brighton and Hove.

The Car Dependency Scorecard 2012 examined how dependent we are on cars in the UK's major cities, and shows how sensible investment in sustainable transport can give people more choice about how they travel. Reducing car use can decrease congestion in our cities and have the additional  positive effect of reducing pollution and carbon emissions. It used data from 19 different sources to rank 26 cities across all regions in England. 

The Scorecard reveals that the top three cities are:
1.  London
2.  Brighton and Hove
3.  Nottingham 

The first Car Dependency Scorecard was published in 2010. Nottingham came top in 2010, followed by London and Brighton. The same three cities make up the top three in 2012 due to investment in transport and, in general, forward-looking travel plans. Transport investment in the run up to London 2012 is one of the factors that will see London’s infrastructure encourage more people to use public transport instead of driving. 

Sian Berry, Sustainable Transport Campaigner for Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“The cities that have topped our ranking show how good planning and investing in transport infrastructure can provide decent transport alternatives and reduce the number of people having to make every-day journeys by car. Heavy investment in transport for London 2012 is already starting to show its impact with the capital moving up to top the ranking. But, local authorities need to realise the most cost-effective way to reduce dependence is to invest in cheaper, more-efficient public transport and build new developments that can be accessed by cycling and public transport and which reduce the need to travel, rather than throw money at expensive road plans that in reality fail to cut congestion.” 

The worst city for dependency on the car was Wigan, with Peterborough and Colchester close behind. 

The cities that ranked bottom of the table showed poor accessibility to key services and high numbers using cars to commute to work. Milton Keynes, which came last in 2010, has also not improved its position as the cities lower in the table were not measured in the last scorecard. The report also shows that the cities lagging at the bottom of the table do not look likely to improve in the future. Their travel plans place too much emphasis on road infrastructure, cheap parking, and/or placing new business parks and homes where they would generate additional car journeys and lack the foresight to suggest more cost-effective ways to improve public transport to aid every-day journeys for their residents. 

The most improved city since 2010 was Southampton. It climbed five places overall to fifth, and this is likely to be thanks to new partnerships between local councils and public transport operators. 

In our 2011 European Car Dependency Scorecard [2] it was seen that all the UK cities measured compared badly to our European neighbours on transport provision. UK cities performed badly due to poor air quality, high levels of congestion and, with the exception of Cardiff, the high cost of public transport. 


Notes to Editors:

1)    The full report can be found at: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/files/car_dependency_scorecard_2.pdf
2)    European Car Dependency Scorecard 2010: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/sept-29-euro-car-dependency-scorecard
3)    Three cities in each UK region were selected, primarily on population data. For more detail on our selection procedure, please see appendix 3 of the report.
4)    The Scorecard identifies 19 indicators which reflect car dependency. These were mainly publicly available data produced by the Department for Transport, (DfT), Department for Communities and local Government (DCLG) and Passenger Focus. In all instances we used the most recent data available. Additional analysis was done by Campaign for Better Transport to produce information on price of bus services and mode share of peak time journeys.
5)    Each city’s was ranked for each indicator was ranked from 1 to 26. These ranks were then summed across each category to reach a category ranking, which were then summed to give each city a final ranking. The analysis covered four categories:
•    Accessibility and planning
•    Quality and uptake of public transport
•    Walking and cycling as alternatives
•    Driving and car use
6)  The full ranking (from least car dependent to most):
1 London
2 Brighton and Hove
3 Nottingham
4 Cambridge
5 Southampton
6 Plymouth
7 Manchester
8 Liverpool
9  Newcastle
10 Bristol
11 Derby
12 Dudley
13 Leicester
14 Swindon
15 Birmingham  
16 Sheffield
17 Coventry
18 Sunderland  
19 Gateshead
20 Leeds
21 Bradford
22 Luton
23 Milton Keynes
24 Colchester
24 Peterborough
26 Wigan