Reducing social deprivation
Not only do people in lower income brackets have to spend a much higher proportion of their income on getting about, they are more likely to live next to main roads and suffer from air and noise pollution or be involved in road crashes.
Lowering speed limits is a good way to reduce the negative impacts of traffic, while reallocating space from cars can create more accessible public space for kids to play or people without gardens to enjoy. Setting up car clubs can help provide affordable access to cars while cycle training and maintenance can make low cost cycling more of an option. Promotion and information should not be forgotten either as there may be hidden barriers for disadvantaged groups, such as a lack of knowledge or confidence.
Stimulating the local economy
Increasing the proportion of money that recirculates in local shops and services is vital for a healthy local economy, while encouraging visitors to spend helps too.
By promoting what the local area offers and reducing trip lengths, such as by encouraging walking and cycling, there’s more chance people will spend more locally. Local shops will never be able to compete with supermarkets on choice but they can offer other advantages such as convenience and personal services. Reducing clutter and making high streets more attractive can help as can setting up a local delivery service to compete with the home delivery offered by major shops further away. Shared taxi services can provide local jobs for drivers and an affordable way to get home after a local night out.
Improving public health
Many people find it difficult to incorporate enough exercise into their daily lives. Increasing the proportion of people who walk and cycle regularly is recognised by health professionals as the easiest way to reduce spiralling rates of obesity and related health problems.
It is important not simply to increase the walking and cycling by people who are already active. This means targeting older people and children as well as habitual drivers. Setting up a diverse programme of events, whether treasure hunts for kids on local walking and cycle routes or health walks for older people, improving walking and cycling routes and providing information can all help. Increasing access to fresh and healthy local food, such as by setting up a delivery service, can also play a key role in improving public health.
Protecting the natural environment
Transport infrastructure can be attractive and in harmony with the natural environment: think of Victorian viaducts or undisturbed habitats along railway lines. Equally roads littered with traffic sign clutter and roadkill show this is far from always the case.
In rural areas, more wildlife is killed on minor than major roads: while busy roads are often a barrier to wildlife, animals may be unaware of the risk on quieter roads until it is too late. Managing speed and traffic flows on minor roads is important, as is preventing the need for road-building which can also fragment habitats. In built-up areas, replacing some space for parking with planters and trees can green streets. Not only does this help calm traffic, it also can increase biodiversity and reduce heat build-up in the summer.
Reducing climate change and reliance on oil
Transport is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions and the only sector whose emissions are growing. It is also the area of the economy most vulnerable to knock-on effects from oil shortages.
Most of the measures in the toolkit help reduce emissions but measures to reduce the speed and amount of motor traffic - such as access and parking restrictions - will have the most impact, particularly as these help ‘lock in’ reductions of emissions. Otherwise space freed up on the roads may be filled by other motor vehicles, meaning no net reduction in emissions. Increasing the use of local facilities helps reduce the need to travel, particularly by motorised transport. Increasing the proportion of local transport that uses alternative fuel or electricity, with public transport services and freight transport being the priority, ensures that the community can keep functioning if there are oil price spikes. It can also create local jobs such as by reusing cooking oil.