• Is the government misleading us over traffic levels?

    7th August 2013 | News | Claire
  • Something is changing about the way we travel.

    Since well before the recession, people in the UK have been making fewer car journeys and using trains more. Total traffic started to fall in the mid 2000s and the recent National Travel Survey shows this welcome trend is continuing.

    But – curiously – every year for the past 24 years, government forecasts have been way too high. And this year government is still forecasting major traffic increases. Why is this?

    One reason is that they are using wildly exaggerated forecasts to justify their massive road-building programme. This Government seems obsessed with starting off another round of road building, taking money away from public transport to help pay for it.

    We think it’s time to ditch their traffic model and face up to the fact that the £28 billion they want to spend on a new road building programme could be better spent on public transport, walking and cycling.

    We think more people should know that traffic is now lower than it was in 2003 – so please help us to spread the word! Next time someone says that we need big new roads, here’s three important things you can tell them..
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    1.  Traffic is falling and is now lower than it was in 2003.

    2.  Where traffic is a problem, it can be tackled with a mix of good public transport, better conditions for walking and cycling and a planning system that enables people to live close to shops and jobs.

    3.  Building big new roads won’t help: the evidence shows that they’ll just fill up and the gains we’ve made in cutting traffic over the past ten years will be lost.

    Want to read more?
    •  Every year for the past 15 years, government forecasts have been way too high. Have a look at this startling graph – http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/blogs/roads/170412-phil-goodwin-ltt .
    •  The DfT’s new National Travel Survey results show that the trend for falling car travel is long-term and as significant as ever. So why is the Government launching a major £28 billion roads programme?

    See more results and our comments.
    • If you’d like to read more about how the Department for Transport’s traffic forecasts ignore the evidence, you can read our briefing – http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/files/CfBT_NTS_2012_new_data_FINAL.pdf .
    • Even the RAC Foundation acknowledges that changes in company car taxation and the Town Centre First planning policy have led to big changes in travel behaviour.