Environmental campaigners have called on local authorities to cancel spending on road building and to redirect funds to boost public transport and active travel.
The campaign group Friends of the Earth has worked with Transport for Quality of Life, a transport consultancy specialising in sustainable transport, to put together a list of 27 actions local authorities can take to reduce car use.
As well as investing in public transport and active travel, they recommend lowering speed limits and providing free or cheap e-bikes for key workers and jobseekers to use.
Friends of the Earth is also urging councils to stop cutting bus services and subsidising free car parking, and to start setting carbon budgets for transport and traffic reduction targets.
‘The way we get around has a big impact on the planet,’ said Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth.
‘Transport has been a stubborn sector for cutting climate-wrecking emissions for years now, so 2021 needs to be the year that changes.
‘Local authorities have a massive role to play in supporting their residents to move from cars to bikes and buses.’
The campaign group argues that councils should amend local plans and develop only where ‘excellent public transport’ is included. They also recommend that emergency active travel infrastructure should be made permanent.
Mr Childs acknowledges that these recommendations could be challenging for councils to implement without support from central Government.
‘A lot of these changes are within their power to make and places such as Hackney and Nottingham are already doing amazing work on transport. But this doesn’t mean central Government can just sit back and relax,’ he said.
‘Local authorities are underfunded and under supported, with years of austerity taking its toll. Westminster must give proper funding and support so local areas can act on the climate crisis.’
Dr Ian Taylor, director, Transport for Quality of Life, commented: ‘This paper sets out a complete package for transport policy that is entirely feasible, based on existing world best practice, yet also on a scale and depth that matches up to the severity and urgency of the climate emergency.
‘It is also a package that will enable us to “build back better” and revive our economy after COVID. We hope this briefing will empower all those who care about the climate emergency and are in a position to take action in their locality – whether as Friends of the Earth activists, local councillors, or local government officers.’