Saturday, 17 May 2008

Passive driving

Posted on Bevan Foundation blog on 8 April 2008

We all understand what is meant by passive smoking. Well, just as non-smokers suffer the effects of other people's actions, so pedestrians and non-drivers suffer the consequences of other people’s travel behaviour.

People who make relatively little use of a car (and therefore cause less pollution, noise and congestion within communities as a result of their travel) are still exposed to the pollution, noise and damage to communities caused by other people’s car use.

As a report out today by Sustrans shows, a quarter of all households are car-less, in Merthyr and Blaenau Gwent the figure is as high as 36%. And yet the availability of jobs, goods and services are planned on the assumption that we can all hop in the car.

Many families on low incomes feel forced to 'invest' in a car to prevent social exclusion. The poorest spend a quarter of their incomes on the cost of motoring and Citizen's Advice report that buying and running a car is a major cause of getting into dept.

If you spend more than 10% of your income heating your home you are considered to be suffering from fuel poverty. Although there is no similar official definition of ‘transport poverty’, that is what these families are experiencing.

As oil prices rise this will only get worse. And with 95% of all transport reliant on oil our economy is deeply vulerable.

So long as we continue to place road building at the centre of our transport policy we will reinforce car dependecy and deepen transport poverty.

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