Ryan’s Blog about Sustainable Transport and Health concern deals with one of the mainstream issue of the last decade. Since 1993, issues of sustainability and development have brought out debates related to population, industry, energy consumption, global warming and pollution, and urbanism.
As he stated, transport is a huge contributor to air pollution, accounting for 31% of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 18% of particulate matter 10 (PM10) and 19.5% of PM2.5 emissions in the UK. (DEFRA, 2015)1
To deal with it, the concept of higher density neighborhoods have risen; as mention by Ryan, but not everyone thinks that this would have any worthy outcomes necessarily. Although some reduction in energy consumption might be expected from compaction, gains will be very modest compared to the discomfort likely to be caused by the necessary drastic policies. As Breheny (1995b)3 puts it, the policies designed to reduce travel ‘had better be worth it’ (Breheny, M. (1995b)).
Urban decentralization in the UK continues to boom, despite a continuing planning regime of containment. Around 1.2 million people moved to rural and semi-rural areas during the period 1981-91 (Jenks M., Burton E & Williams K.,2005). Thus, reflecting a major desire for lifestyle changes in such areas. Urban quality of life will deteriorate with higher densities, not improve as it is suggested. This case suggests that the majority of people, in the UK at least, gain satisfaction from living at moderately low densities. Thus, the argument goes on the protection of the countryside and the quality of rural life.
Although these are long-term solutions, UK’s local authorities have already suggested short-term solution through their actions. Many of them are encouraging cleaner ways of travel by promoting cycling including new bicycle routes, walking, and park and ride, collected in the Draft Air Quality Plan for the achievement of EU air quality. 5
Case Studies –
- West Yorkshire Urban Area is encouraging ULEVs (Ultra Low Emission Vehicles) through its transport plan.
- Bristol car club is trying six new diesel electric vehicles; electric powered cycles; promoting eco-driving.
- In Southend’s Urban Area a social enterprise offers recycled cycles at affordable prices. The enterprise offers advice on all sustainable modes of transport as well as bike hire, bike service and repair.
- Bournemouth authority has encouraged the use of rail, bus, walking and cycling to work contributing to their approach towards local transport policy.
- Middleborough has installed cycle paths and infrastructure along transport corridors to improve journeys and connect major trip-generating locations to areas of housing.
It can be done, many European cities have low levels of car use: in Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich and Brussels, cars account for 40% or less of journeys, due to planning and transport policies and support for cycling and walking. Referencing to Ryan’s post and taking into account what is seen above, health and sustainability can be achieved by contributing towards the transport policies.
- 1 Emissions of air pollutants in the UK, 1970 to 2014. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 2015.
- 2 Air Quality: Public Health Impacts and Local Actions, Department of Environmental Food & Rural Affairs3 Breheny, M. (1995b), “Compact cities and transport energy consumption”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 20 (1), pp. 81-101.
- 3 Breheny, M. (1995b), “Compact cities and transport energy consumption”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 20 (1), pp. 81-101.
- 4 Mike Jenks, Elisabeth Burton and Katie Williams, “The Compact City: A Sustainable Urban Form?”, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, 2005
- 5 Draft Air Quality Plan for the achievement of EU air quality limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in West Yorkshire Urban Area (UK0004) September 2015, Department of Environmental Food & Rural Affairs