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New report: ‘Active Recovery: Locking-in the active travel benefits’

Published 11 June 2020 by Transform Scotland

4 IN 5 CITY RESIDENTS WANT CARS TO GIVE WAY TO BIKES, BUSES AND WALKING TO TACKLE URBAN AIR POLLUTION:
New Transform report sets out how to lock-in the active travel benefits of the lockdown

Transform Scotland [1] has today (Thursday 11 June) published YouGov poll findings [2] and a new report. [3]

The YouGov poll of residents in five UK cities reveals overwhelming support for measures to protect health by tackling air pollution emissions from cars. Four in five residents (81%) in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow are in favour of measures to reduce car emissions and use, with fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) rejecting action. A similarly high level of support is observed across all the cities, between men and women, and among different age and income groups.

The survey, commissioned by transport think-tank Transport & Environment, [4] finds that reallocating road space to create more room for pedestrians is supported by 76% of respondents (just 8% opposed). Additional cycle lanes are supported by 63% (19% against), with more support in younger age groups, and additional bus lanes are supported by 59% (18% against). The introduction of Zero Emission Zones that ban polluting cars from cities receives support from 71% of respondents and opposition from just 12%.

Greg Archer, UK Director of Transport & Environment said:

“City residents have appreciated the cleaner air and quieter streets during the lockdown and recognise a city with fewer cars is better. The survey shows strong support for cities to ban polluting cars, speed up bus trips and provide safe routes to walk and cycle.”

The survey also finds that reluctance to use public transport, observed since the lockdown, will not persist if buses and trains are safe to use. Among those who say they used public transport before the pandemic, 20% say they will continue to use it regardless of the risk and 60% say they will start using public transport again if sufficient hygiene measures are taken. Only 16% say they will no longer use buses and trains due to the risk of contagion.

Specific figures for Glasgow are in the notes, below.

To accompany the poll findings, Transform Scotland has published a new report, ‘Active Recovery’ which sets out recommendations for locking-in the active travel benefits of the lockdown.

In a foreword to the report, Cllr Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, writes:

“For many people, our towns and cities have been shown in a new light since travel restrictions came into place. With traffic greatly reduced during lockdown, people have been able to experience clean air, safe streets, and quiet and enjoyable urban spaces. For many, this has given a taste of a future where getting around on foot or by bike is an option for those who did not consider this possible before, and where people have priority in urban spaces, not cars.”

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“Lockdown has shown that when there is an urgent need to prioritise travel by foot and bike, action can be taken quickly to make these changes. But we need to see more action by all Scottish local authorities as progress has been too slow in many parts of the country. Local authorities also need to show themselves willing to tackle more difficult schemes even if this leads to less space for cars. Today’s poll results show that there is certainly an appetite for this in Glasgow.”

The report makes 12 recommendations to both Local Authorities and the Scottish Government, five of which are as follows:

1. Commence a comprehensive and targeted streetspace reallocation programme to widen pavements.

2. Construct safe, segregated cycle lanes across towns and cities, focusing efforts on key routes such as commuter corridors.

3. Legislate to make 20mph speed limits the default option in urban areas.

4. Reform the Traffic Regulation Order process to allow Local Authorities to progress active travel improvements in a faster, cheaper and more straightforward manner.

5. Financially incentivise Local Authorities to take action by continuing to efficiently fund such active travel measures as have been witnessed during the Corona Crisis.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors. See <http://transformscotland.org.uk/who-we-are/our-members/> for details.

[2] Yougov poll 

The survey was conducted online by YouGov, using a sample of 1,000 adults in 5 cities in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 19th May 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of greater London, greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow adults.

In Glasgow:

* 80% agreed that ‘Cities must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, even if this requires reallocating public space to walking, cycling and public transport’ (8% disagreed). [UK: 81%/8%]

* 77% agreed that ‘More public space should be reserved for pedestrians’ (6% disagreed). [UK: 76%/8%]

* 65% agreed that ‘More public space in your nearest town/ city should be reserved for cycling’ (18% disagreed). [UK: 63%/19%]

* 63% agreed that ‘More public space in your nearest town/ city should be reserved for public transport (e.g. by expanding bus lanes)’ (15% disagreed). [UK: 59%/18%]

* 74% agreed that ‘More policies should be adopted to stop polluting cars from entering the city, for example through Zero-Emission Zones’ (8% disagreed). [UK: 71%/12%]

* Among those who say they used public transport before the pandemic, 15% say they will continue to use it regardless of the risk and 67% say they will start using public transport again if sufficient hygiene measures are taken. Only 12% say they will no longer use buses and trains due to the risk of contagion. [UK: 20%/60%/16%]

[3] Transform Scotland ‘Active Recovery’ report

The report is available on the Transform Scotland website at <http://transformscotland.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Transform-Scotland-Active-Recovery-2020-06-11.pdf>.

This is the second in a series of reports that Transform will be publishing during June, with other papers on equalities, digital, and the prospects for the recovery of public transport.

[4] Transport and Environment (T&E)

T&E is Europe’s leading clean transport campaign group. See <https://www.transportenvironment.org/about-us>.

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