Getting stuck in traffic is no fun. But excessive traffic doesn't just affect drivers. From the million children affected by asthma to the communities severed by dangerous roads, too much traffic harms us all.
Too much traffic is bad for our:
- Health: Five people are killed each day on our roads, and 59 seriously injured. Air pollution, much of it from traffic, causes tens of thousands of UK deaths per year. And heavy traffic discourages many people - adults and children - from healthy activities such as cycling or playing outside.
- Communities: Busy roads are intimidating, hard to cross and divisive, cutting communities in half. Heavy traffic keeps us indoors, meaning we are less likely to know our neighbours and feel a sense of community. Car-dependent developments, such as out-of-town shopping centres, contribute to the decline of our high streets. Traffic noise harms our quality of life.
- Environment: Emissions from traffic contribute to dangerous climate change.
"I suffer from asthma and the dirty air caused by heavy traffic affects me daily" - Terry
What's needed to reduce traffic
At Campaign for Better Transport, we aim to reduce traffic in all of the work that we do. We know that traffic can be reduced if we can persuade those in power to:
- Reduce the need to travel: Traffic builds up when workplaces, shops, schools and services are built far from where people live. Through better planning, we can create compact, mixed-use towns and cities where people can walk, cycle or catch the bus to the places they need to go. As well, technology such as teleconferencing can reduce the need for business travel.
- Stop building roads: Research has shown time and again that building new roads generates more traffic. We're calling for greener, cheaper alternatives to road-building.
- Make streets for people: Lower speed limits, better-designed streets and restrictions on car parking make walking safer and more appealing. We support more 20mph zones, improvements to the walking environment, and parking schemes such as that introduced in Nottingham. We campaign against increases to speed limits.
"The fast and sometimes heavy traffic scares me. I don't like the way cars pass so close to a bike" - Ros
- Support rail freight: An average freight train can remove 50 heavy lorries from our roads. The Government should enable rail freight facilities to be built and ensure that HGVs pay for the damage they cause so that rail freight can compete on a level playing field.
- Encourage travel plans: Workplace travel plans... school travel plans... station travel plans... when organisations plan for people to reach them without driving it can significantly reduce the traffic on our roads.
- Tax motoring more fairly: Between 1997 and 2014, the cost of motoring fell by 11% while bus and rail fares increased by much more. Taxes and congestion charges could encourage people to drive less (or to choose smaller, cleaner cars) but this is only fair where we have decent, affordable alternatives to driving.
- Improve the alternatives to driving: We want to see fair rail fares, reopened rail lines, decent funding for buses and more trams. We'll drive less when we have better alternatives. Our Car Dependency Scorecard shows the great variation between cities when it comes to alternative ways to travel.
"Walking to the local surgery, patients have nowhere safe to cross the constant stream of traffic and then have to negotiate cars parked over yellow lines and on the pavement" - Pat