“Smarter Ways Forward”

Posted by chdot on June 23, 2009

Smarter Ways Forward
Photo Colin Howden

Smarter Ways Forward is the latest report from transport pressure group Transform Scotland Trust. It’s 50 pages of detailed research into the results of various measures, north and south of the border, encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transport.

It highlights the ongoing problems and some of the answers:-

“Distances as short as one kilometre are regularly travelled by car (Scottish Executive 2005). Nearly a quarter of car journeys are less than 2 miles and over a half of all journeys made by car are less than 5 miles (CfIT 2007). Research on the impact of Smarter Choices by Sustrans/Socialdata found significant modal shift is possible: 50% of all local car trips in non-metropolitan towns could be replaced by walking, cycling and/or public transport (CfIT 2007).”

Annual surveys of school children in Scotland demonstrate a small shift towards more walkng and cycling.

Sustrans’ National Hands-Up Survey Scotland 2008 (May 2009) reported that 51.8% of Scottish children travel to school by active travel modes – a greater number that those who get to school by car, bus or taxi (47.7%). The number of children cycling (2.8%) or walking (48.3%) to school was greater than Sustrans had expected. It was found that 27.6% of children were driven to school for all or part of their journey (6.1% of this amount took the car for part of the journey and walked the rest) while 18.1%” took the bus.”

Transform’s researchers asked local authorities what would help them implement measures and what, if any, problems they had encountered in attempting to implement measures. The report finds that “general problems such as ingrained car culture among staff, and lack of senior management buy-in to Smarter Choices make it difficult for them to implement various measures”.

In Edinburgh there is some evidence that such attitudes are being. slowly, overcome. The Council’s recent adoption of a policy of ‘15% by 2020’ for cycle journeys is a massive step forward, though a few days later the firm target was officially described as “aspirational”

The conclusions of Smarter Ways Forward (page 32) are under five main headings: –

A national Smarter Choices programme – “..The programme would be delivered at local and regional levels – making commonplace the implementation of schemes such as workplace travel plans, school travel plans, car clubs, and car sharing..”

Car clubs – “..a review of possible support strategies that would encourage the development of car clubs to serve communities throughout Scotland.

(Tele-)Conferencing -“Local authorities (and/or RTPs) should increase access for small businesses and voluntary organisations to affordable conferencing facilities through creation of local ICT hubs.”

School travel plans – “..We recommend that School Travel Coordinator posts be a mandatory requirement of Local Authorities; that Local Authorities should provide adequate budgets for school travel planning; and that the Scottish Government (as part of recommendation 1.1 above), consider reinstating ringfenced funding for the School Travel Coordinator programme.”

Public transport information – “The Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers in Scotland (ATCO Scotland) should take forward work on improving common standards for public transport information across Scotland..”

Is it possible that the Government can ignore another well researched and well argued report on ‘sustainable’ transport that addresses some of the issues that need to be dealt with if the ambitious targets of the Climate Change Bill (today in Holyrood) are to be met?

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