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Peterborough most car dependent city - report

Words: Laura Edgar

London, Manchester and Liverpool are the least car dependent cities in England, while Peterborough is the worst, according to a new report.

The 2014 Car Dependency Scorecard, produced by Campaign for Better Transport, looks at how 29 towns and cities compare in areas including public transport provision, cycling and walking facilities and planning policies that support sustainable transport.

To reduce car dependency, Campaign for Better Transports recommends:

· New developments should be located in and around existing centres and public transport hubs. They should also be designed to make walking and cycling safer, faster and more convenient than driving and built with lower levels of parking provision.

· Policies should enable public transport to compete with the car: Invest in new train stations and line; expands the use of smartcards valid on multiple type of transport and give buses and trams priority over cars.

· Cities should invest in cycling provision and improved integration between different modes of transport so people can get to their destination without using a car.

· Reduce the demand for driving through cities by introducing measures like London’s congestion zone; bus lanes and priority schemes should be uses and invest in small-scale infrastructure improvements such as real-time public transport information.

The report highlights that something has to change if more people are to walk, cycle or use public transport instead of their car: People use cars because “they feel they have no choice, and those without cars get isolated and excluded.”

Peterborough, Colchester and new town Milton Keynes came in at 29th, 28th and 27th respectively, with poor public transport networks and a set up better suited to cars cited as reasons why.

Milton Keynes has a low density due to its spread out structure meaning people have longer to travel on a network better suited to cars. The report states that public transport provision needs to be improved and sustainable transport uses encouraged. Additionally, the report emphasises that future garden cities need to be careful they are not car reliant.

Peterborough scored poorly across the board: Although many people already cycle, public transport is rarely used with people relying on their cars. People in Colchester are unlikely to be able to get to primary school, work or the town centre by walking or public transport.

In contrast, the least car dependent city, London, has a devolved transport system and well-developed public transport infrastructure delivered in a densely populated area making it easier to travel without a car. However, the report says that bus fares have doubled in the last six years and are likely to continue to rise, with the network as a whole overburdened.

Both Manchester and Liverpool have developed 90 per cent of new building on brownfield sites, encouraging ‘city centre intensification’ to achieve urban densities to support efficient public transport.

Ultimately, the report argues that car dependence can be best tackled if transport powers are devolved to cities themselves.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “To be good places to live and work, towns and cities need good transport. The most successful places in our research give people a choice in how you get around. They have good quality public transport, plan new development thoughtfully and make it easy and safe for people to cycle and walk.

"There is a lot that government can do to make our cities less car dependent. What emerges strongly from the research is that local control often goes hand in hand with smarter policies and better targeted investments. More devolution to English cities could mean more integrated and greener transport networks that make our towns and cities better places."