Marginalisation of Cars in the UK - Soapboxie - Politics
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Marginalisation of Cars in the UK

I wasn't always green natured but in recent years have become a convert, and now take keen interest Renewable Energy development in the UK.

New road layout in Bristol City Centre for 2021.  Bus lane on left, cars in the middle, and a new cycle lane on the right.

New road layout in Bristol City Centre for 2021. Bus lane on left, cars in the middle, and a new cycle lane on the right.

Why Cars Should Be Marginalised

In Britain the two main reasons to marginalise cars are:

  • to ease traffic congestion.
  • to reduce pollution.

The current UK Government policy is to have half of all journeys in towns and cities cycled or walked by 2030; initially by funding the creation what the Government calls ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes (car-free zones) in 12 major cities and towns across the UK where cycling is promoted.

Pollution

Pollution from car fumes not only affects the air quality in cities, which causes health issues e.g. asthma, but also dramatically contributes to climate change (global warming).

Traffic Congestion

British towns and cities are not built to accommodate the car—ever since the rise in popularity of cars in Britain from the 1960s, traffic congestion on city roads has become an ever increasing problem.

Changing Political Attitudes in the UK Over Time

In the mid-1960s, the Conservative Government philosophy was to promote ‘road use’, and as part of that philosophy the Government started to dismantle the railways (the Beaching Report) and embarked on a massive road building programme e.g. the motorway network across Britain.

In 1992, after the demise of Margaret Thatcher (Conservative Prime Minister) the Conservative Government’s philosophy shifted to one of seeing railways, and an integrated public transport system, as the future. At that point they abruptly halted their motorway building programme (something I remember well because I worked in the Highways Agency at the time), and embarked on rebuilding the railways as part of an integrated public transport system.

Since 2010, the Conservative Government has stepped up the building of the railway network system to levels not seen since the Victorians first built the network in the 19th century.

Government Integrated Public Transport Policy in the UK

Integrated Public Transport has been both Labour and Conservative policy since 1992, and simply involves integrating the different modes of transport so that passengers can switch from one mode of transport to another as seamlessly as possible to get them to their destination, for example:-

  • Bus routes that take you to the train stations.
  • Train stations in the heart of the town or city.
  • Bus routes to the city centres.
  • Taxi ranks outside bus and train stations.
  • Park and Ride.
  • Ferry services that link up with public transport hubs.
  • Cycle parks at transport hubs, and provision to take your bicycle with you on trains.
  • Traffic free cycle routes through busy town and city centres linking to the national cycle network that links to all the major cities and towns throughout Britain.

Other schemes include the ‘Boris Bike’ that you can hire to get around London.

How to Rent a Bike in London

TfL (Transport for London)

Transport for London (TfL) is a local government department founded by the Labour (Socialist) Government in 2000. Although the TfL doesn’t control the ‘National Rail’ service, within London it does control the London train services e.g. the underground and Crossrail; and the TfL also controls London's trams, buses, taxis, cycling provision and river services; the TfL:-

  • Owns and runs the London Underground.
  • Controls Crossrail, trams and most busses by franchise, and
  • Controls taxis, ferries and a few busses by license.

The exam to become a London taxi driver (black cab), known as ‘The Knowledge’, is the toughest in the world, usually taking three or four years study with a pass rate of just 20%.

In 2020, after a three year legal battle between TfL and Uber, Uber was finally banned from operating in London on the grounds that they are not "fit and proper" as a licence holder.

Cracking London’s Legendary Taxi Test

Measures in the UK for Cleaner Air and to Ease Traffic Congestion

Electric Cars

Pollution from cars can be eradicated by phasing out of fossil fuel cars in preference for electric cars. A policy the UK Government is committed to by banning the sales of new fossil fuel cars by 2035; and the Scottish Government are set to ban the sales of new fossil fuel cars by 2032.

Congestion Charge in London

In 2003 the Labour (Socialist) Mayor of London introduced the ‘congestion charge’ in inner London. Under the system all cars driving into inner London are recorded by ANPR (automatic number recognition) cameras and the drivers automatically billed.

As from April 2019 electric cars are exempt from the congestion charge in London.

Promoting Public Transport

Since the 1990s, to mitigate against traffic congestion both national and local governments have made a concerted effort to promote public transport, cycling and walking in preference to driving.

Such measures within cities and large towns includes:-

  • Traffic free zones.
  • Bus lanes.
  • Guided Busways.
  • Traffic free cycle lanes.
  • Mini Hollands (traffic free zones in city centres which cycles and pedestrians can use safely).

In July 2020 the Conservative Government announced funding for ‘Mini Hollands’ to be created in 12 cities in Britain.

The modern guided busway was developed in Germany in 1980 and can now be found around the world. Guided buses are buses capable of being steered by external means, usually on a dedicated track or roll way that excludes other traffic. Unlike trolleybuses or rubber-tired trams, for part of their routes guided buses can also use conventional bus lanes and share normal roads with other traffic. The benefit of such a system is that it facilitates these buses staying on schedule, even during the rush hour,

Also, in Britain, when people reach state retirement age they get free travel on buses.

Clean Public Transport

Since before 2012 there’s been a major push by the UK Conservative Government, Scottish (Socialist) Government, and local governments throughout Britain to phase out fossil fuel public transport in favour of Renewable Energy public transport.

Aberdeen, Scotland's Hydrogen (Renewable Energy Transport)

Clean Trains

Since 2010 the Conservative Government has made a concerted effort in the electrification of the railways as part of phasing out diesel trains in preference to electric trains. It’s a mammoth task, and although great achievements have been made, there’s still a lot of work to do.

However, in 2019 the UK became the second country in the world to start using hydrogen (Renewable Energy) trains. A technology developed by China, with Germany becoming the first country in the world to commercially use hydrogen trains.

The advantages of hydrogen trains over electrification are:-

  • Old electric trains can be adapted to run on hydrogen (utilising existing assets).
  • Hydrogen trains will run on any rail track, including tracks not yet electrified.

The UK's First Hydrogen Train

Clean Busses

Bristol has opted to phase out diesel (fossil fuel) buses in preference for buses run on gas made from sewage and domestic fuel waste (Renewable Energy).

While many other local governments, particularly in cities in northern England and Scotland, have opted to phase of their diesel buses in preference for hydrogen buses (Renewable Energy).

Bristol Bio Methane (Renewable Energy From Domestic Food Waste) Gas-powered Bus Refuelling Station Opens

Clean Ferries

Scotland produces a surplus of electricity from ‘Renewable Energy’, much of which is exported to England. So currently Scotland is at an advanced stage of R&D (Research & Development) in converting some of that surplus Renewable Energy electricity to Hydrogen specifically to run their ferries instead of using diesel.

World's First Hydrogen-Powered (Renewable Energy) Seagoing Ferries in Scotland

What Bristol is Doing to Marginalise the Car

Integrated Transport

Since 1992 the local Labour (Socialist) Government in Bristol have focused on discouraging car travel and promoting public transport; measures include:-

  • Restricting parking across the city centre.
  • The introduction of ‘Park & Ride’.
  • Joined up public transport hubs, including the ferry service.
  • Reducing and restricting roads that cars can use.
  • Traffic calming schemes to reduce traffic speed.
  • Introducing more and more bus only lanes.
  • Building guided busways on three bus routes.
  • Expanding on the number of traffic free cycle routes throughout the city.

1980s

Just off the city centre is the Broadmead shopping centre, built in the 1950s from the ruins following the destruction of that part of the city by the blitz during the 2nd world war.

In the 1980s Broadmead was modernised, and during the modifications was pedestrianised.

Over the Past 20 Years

Increasingly over the past 20 years the main roads leading in and out of the city centre (predominantly two and three lanes of traffic) have been modified to accommodate bus lanes (and in some cases, dedicated cycle lanes); reducing the lanes for cars down to just one or two lanes.

Plus the building of bus only routes, including the three guided busway routes.

Bristol Guided Busway

For 2021

A new traffic scheme currently being built will subdivide the three lanes on one of the main routes out of the city centre so that one lane is busses only, and one lane is cyclists only; leaving just one lane for cars.

Also, as from 2021, diesel cars will be banned from the city centre; the first city in Britain to ban diesel cars.

Marginalisation of Bristol Cars

Conclusion

I’m supportive of the idea of marginalising the car in favour of promoting public transport and the cyclist; something that’s gaining momentum in Britain—although I am sure there will be some who have a differing view.

For Further Reading (Source Information)

What’s Your View?

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Arthur Russ

Your Comments

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 04, 2020:

Thanks for the info Chris.

Bristol is similar in area to your city e.g. 110 km2. The population of the County of Bristol (which includes all the suburbs) was 548,530 back in 1950, and is currently 686,210; about a 20% growth since the war. The current population in the City of Bristol (that part of Bristol for which Bristol City Council is responsible) is 535,907. Bristol became a city and county by Royal Charter in 1373; its original name was the Saxon (Germanic) word Brycgstow (Brigstowe) meaning ‘bridge place’.

House prices in Bristol are average for South West England, and yes they do build more houses per square metre than they used to, but not as much as I thought e.g. our house is a 1930’s ex-Council House (Social Housing) with a total land area of 377 square metres (and has quite a big garden compared to modern builds. However, having just checked the Regulations, the minimum’ plot’ size currently permitted for a house in the UK is generally 333.5 square metres.

In the UK, after the war the Labour Government introduced the Green Belt Policy to prevent ‘urban sprawl’ e.g. a belt of Greenland surrounding the cities and towns where new development is prohibited. Also, since the war it’s been Government Policy that at least a third of urban areas should be ‘green space’ (to benefit physical and mental health) e.g. urban woodlands and parks, largely achieved by not redeveloping large areas in the cities that were blitzed during the war, but instead turning them into parks and woodlands etc.

What is the green belt? https://youtu.be/p-zZZOf4P44

Urban Green Spaces: The Benefits for London https://youtu.be/Y332SeVd-F0

So not being able to build outwards, and not being able to encroach on urban green spaces, Local Governments did experimentally try building upwards in the 1960s; but with disastrous results, specifically that many Brits don’t like living in high rise buildings. Consequently, most high-rise blocks of flats built in the 1960s were demolished in the 1980s, and replaced by the more conventional two-story homes.

Therefore, Local Governments have to be creative in how and where they allow developers to build; predominately by recycling brown sites e.g. building on old industrial areas that have gone into disuse (old factories and warehouses etc.)

Yep, country roads, most common in Cornwall; virtually all roads in Cornwall are single-track two-way traffic, so driving around Cornwall does test your reversing skills. Yep, there is always the risk of the car getting scratched from the hedges; and not a good idea to drive on such roads with a big car.

When we spent a week touring Cornwall a few years ago, my wife (the driver) found it quite testing. Below is a compilation of all the encounters we had with oncoming traffic on the Cornish roads during our week holiday in Cornwall; it should bring back some memories of when you drove in Devon.

Compilation: Oncoming Traffic on Single Track Cornish Lanes During Week's Holiday https://youtu.be/bqnO9olqPwk

FYI, most Cornish roads are in AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), and as such are protected from development by law; particularly as most of these roads date back over a 1,000 years (some more than 1,200 years), and therefore have historic value e.g. the ancient hedgerows are protected because of their historic value, and their natural benefit to wildlife (wildlife corridors).

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on September 04, 2020:

Yes, unlike Bristol my city was almost untouched by the atrocities of WWII. However, it more than doubled in population since and that required a lot of change also in the city center. Currently Ol. is the only midsize city in Germany with double digit growth of real estate cost. A lot of focus is put on compressed housing construction (more houses per square meter ground). Only - roads don´t grow to meet demand, leading to congestion in the outskirts.

I was only once in Devonshire and Somerset, if i don´t count my business trips. I remember the narrow roads and cattle grids while visiting Barnstable, Ilfracombe and Bath.

This experience in itself is worth thinking about abannoning cars. You folks must have special protective paint on the left side of your cars to protect from bushes scratching off the paint :-)

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 04, 2020:

Thanks for the feedback Liz.

Yes I remember the trams in Nottingham. I've only ever been to Nottingham the once. Years ago I stayed there for a week on a Business Course, and the easiest way to travel between my hotel and the venue each day was by tram. I found it a very efficient, cheap and reliable service, with the trams running regularly and on time; quite an experience.

Bristol use to have a tram system, but that was destroyed in the blitz during the 2nd world war.

While in Nottingham that week, I also made a point of visiting Sherwood Forest, which made for an enjoyable visit.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 04, 2020:

Nottingham city council is a labour majority (50 seats) with 3 independents and 2 Conservatives. Drivers are encouraged to avoid the city and use the tram network instead.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 03, 2020:

Wow, a most beautiful city, with great architecture; thanks for sharing the video. So much of the city ‘oldenburger sehenswürdigkeiten’ in the video is reminiscent of central Bristol in so many ways.

For example, with the exception of the architecture e.g. that the vast bulk of Broadmead shopping centre is modern (rebuilt in the 1950s) Lefferseck – Lappan has a general feel and layout of Broadmead; and your waterway (Hafen), although less commercialised, does have an essence of parts of the Bristol Docks (Floating Harbour); and your wide-open spaces like Pferdemarkt has a slight similarity to Queens Square etc. So in summary, I can relate to the city because it has so many elements similar to Bristol.

24 Best Things to do in Bristol: https://youtu.be/zwGEw1JMKNA

The reason Broadmead was rebuilt in the 1950s is because it was destroyed in the Blitz during the 2nd world war; only a few isolated buildings survived the bombing, such as the Victorian Shopping Arcade in Broadmead which have been preserved, and the new Broadmead Shopping Centre built around what little survived the bombing.

Archive footage of Broadmead the day after the Blitz https://youtu.be/vIVaXQu5LUI

Thinking about it, Broadmead itself, having been pedestrianised since the 1980s, it does exclude cycling e.g. walking only permitted.

Yes carparks on the outskirts of city/town centres with bus shuttle service (Park & Ride) to the city/town centre is quite common across the UK. Although for those who insist on driving all the way there is usually sufficient parking near the in the inner city/town centre (from where you then often walk for the last 10 minutes); so there is still choice, albeit that choice is slowly becoming more restricted over time.

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on September 03, 2020:

Thanks for sharing some impressions from Bristol and surroundings.

As far as banning cars from our city, this is a long story. First part of the "Fußgängerzone" pedestrian zone was introduced more than 50 years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRf8aCGQYM0

As i already noted, this development was not necessarily positive for shops and businesses. Only restaurants, cafes, bars benefit.

You may notice that even bicycles are banned. You have to walk your bike in the inner city - and we have lots of bicycles.

There are outside parking lots where a bus shuttle service is offered, and for city parking there is a fairly accurate display of empty parking spaces.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 03, 2020:

Thanks Chris, it will probably be drowned out by all the other suggestions put forward by Bristolians, but if one doesn’t try then nothing happens. The next stage is where our Local Government publishes the results of the survey on-line in October, to form a basis for an on-line discussion forum (similar to forums on Hubpages); if I’m mindful I could raise your suggestion of Marchrutka taxis again (during the forum), to see what response it gets from my fellow Bristolians. The final phase will be a ‘Bristol Citizen’s Assembly’ early next year to discuss any unresolved issues, with the aim to build consensus on the best way forward. So whatever policies the Local Labour Government makes for the future, they will be policies that have the support of the citizens of Bristol.

The nearest I’ve seen in the UK to the Marchrutka taxis is when we made a day trip to Fowey coastal town, while on holiday in Cornwall. It was a regular bus service between the carpark and the town centre, but because the streets are so narrow in Fowey the bus was no more than a small white van with seats in the back. After arriving at the carpark, we walked downhill to the town centre, but caught the bus back.

I did do a short video of our day trip there (just 2.5 minutes overview), I didn’t think of the mini-bus, but it does appear on camera for a few brief seconds as 1:33 (minutes/seconds) into the video (white van (mini-bus) with the words Fowey Town Bus in black print on the back):-

An Afternoon in Fowey, Cornwall, England: https://youtu.be/nroU0GxQFU8

What we found amusing was that rather going straight from the town centre to the carpark (as scheduled) the bus driver took a detour to drop off a local outside her home, with her shopping; a real personal service.

I haven’t tried calculating our carbon footprint, but considering that are electricity is now from 100% Renewable sources, 50% of our gas is from Renewable sources, that I grow all our own veg (except potatoes), and our cars (Daihatsu Terios) are economical to run; then I’m guessing that although we might not be carbon neutral, our net carbon footprint is quite low.

Yep, I know that measuring carbon footprints isn’t exactly a science yet, too many guesstimations based on too many assumptions, but it’s a starting point; and I’m sure the methodology used for making such calculations will improve in time.

Your point about city planners reducing parking spaces in the city centres, and making parking more expensive, having the knock-on effect of starving city centre shops of trade is an observation made by my American contact in New York.

In Bristol, the city centre shops did put forward the same arguments in the 1980s when the Local Government pedestrianised the shopping centre, and they were fearful when out of town shopping centres sprang up around the outskirts of Bristol; and the city centre shops have been apprehensive with the City Council discouraging the car and promoting public transport.

However, in spite of all the fears of the city centre shops over the decades, Bristol City Centre Shopping Centre has gone from strength to strength; so much so that in the last ten years the shopping centre in the centre of Bristol has been extensively extended by the creation of Cabot Circus Shopping Centre adjoining the old Broadmead Shopping Centre; both shopping centres are now thriving.

'Cabot Circus' - A Premiere Shopping Mall built next to Broadmead shopping centre just a few years ago: https://youtu.be/QEWIP9hW3tc

And the famous St Nicholas Market (Trading since 1743) located on the opposite side of Broadmead shopping centre to the Cabot Circus Shopping Centre: St Nicholas market (Trading in the city centre since 1743): https://youtu.be/uxeLl9BtIG4

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on September 02, 2020:

Arthur, whereever you go on this planet, you find something worth to be copied. This Marchrutka taxis is what i found really good. I am pleased you promote it.

Here in G. we have adopted something similar, operating only on the weekends to fetch and return teenagers and party goers to/from remote places, especially at night time. The system name is telling: "Nachteule" "night owl".

I am definitely not a good example for personal energy saving. From big SUV to extensive flying, i do almost everything to spoil the statistics. My estimate is between 40 .. 50 tons of CO2, this being 5 times the average German CO2 footprint.

However, the green energy harvest of my investments saves from 100 tons in 2016 to 350 tons/year in 2020 and rising.

All numbers are presented with a little smile. Actually i did not look for total cost of ownership, meaning how much additional CO2 was invested to build a SUV, an aircraft, a house, a Photovoltaik system. But even with that included - my "personal ecosystem" saves more CO2 than it produces :-).

One incentive for not using a car in the city is lack of parking space. Our city did do so. Thinning out parking lots, making parking expensive. Result: The shopping business downtown is starving.

We have a monitoring station for NOx. Produces some unexpected results. Last summer during a city marathon event, the NOx figures were higher than a week later, when a farmer demonstration rally clogged the same streets with big Diesel tractors. No marathons but more stinking tractors?

All this gives me a hard time to follow all the green thinking. Too much enthusiasm, not really fact driven and not evaluated to the very end.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 02, 2020:

One thing that might interest you Chris. Yesterday, I received in the post a 12 page survey sent to all Bristolians, asking us what policies we would like our Local Government (Bristol City Council) to adopt for the future. I filled in the survey on-line, and as part of that survey I added the idea of the Marshrutka taxis that you mentioned.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 02, 2020:

I also forgot to mention that in the UK, once you reach State Retirement Age bus travel is free.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 02, 2020:

Bristol European Green Capital 2015: A Green Tour Of a Green City: https://youtu.be/6rfRqTOOx3o

Yes Bristol has become much focused on ‘Green’ issues over the past decade e.g. a few years ago I switched from a commercial company for my electricity and gas to a non-profit making co-operative set up by Bristol City Council (Local Government). So that now, not only is my gas and electricity bill cheaper, but also 100% of the electricity I use is Renewable Energy, and 50% of the gas I use is Renewable Energy.

Bristol Energy (set up by the local Bristol Labour Government), and how they stand up to the Big Six Private Energy Companies in Bristol: https://youtu.be/uoxY5jut28A

Trust you to pick on the one mode of transport that tends to get overlooked in Britain e.g. air travel.

I’ve never flown in a commercial passenger air plane in my whole life, and in fact, the aeroplane is the least used mode of transport in the UK e.g. less than 1%, in contrast to the USA where 12% of Americans regularly use the plane. In the UK the train is far more popular e.g. over 10% of Brits regularly travel by train, which in contrast the USA where less than 1% of Americans use the train.

So Bristol Airport is the only part of Bristol I’ve never visited, so you know more about the airport than I do; so I can’t say what the taxis are like that serve the airport. But I do know that the airport is now supported with a regular bus service between Bath and the Airport, using buses that run on Bio methane made from Bristol sewage (Renewable Energy). Also, most of Bristol buses now run on poo power, so any bus service between Bristol and Bristol Airport will similarly be buses running on poo power (Renewable Energy)

UK's first 'poo bus' goes into service between Bristol and Bath (2014): https://youtu.be/eKjfCZXU-vE

No we don’t have Marshrutka taxi’s in Bristol, but taxis, along with motorbikes and bicycles are permitted to use the bus lanes; so they can go where cars can’t.

No the busses in Bristol do not have means to override stop signs. But there is an ever increasing number of bus lanes being laid throughout the city, so that buses are not held up by the traffic; plus in recent years the construction of the three guided busway routes (a German innovation in the 1980s).

In respect to your last points:

• Public transport isn’t necessarily faster because buses do have to stop to pick up passengers; but it’s not a great deal slower e.g. if I want to get to the city centre by bus it’s a 10 minute wait for the bus and a 20 minute journey. By car it’s a 20 minute journey, then 10 minutes to park and walk to the centre.

• If I wanted to cycle, as I used to, it’s a 20 minutes ride to the city centre, with over 90% of the journey being on ‘traffic free’ cycle routes.

• Reliability of public transport is generally quite good; albeit with the Polish drivers now having gone back to Poland, following the Brexit Referendum, there is currently a chronic shortage of bus drivers, so sometimes a bus may be cancelled.

• As regards costs; since the buses were privatised by Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister) in 1986 the bus fares have sky rocketed, so they are not necessarily cheap (dependent on how you use the buses). However, they are comparable to driving e.g. the £5 standard bus fare (day rider) is no more expensive than petrol and parking fees if you drive. The standard (single price) £5 bus ticket in Bristol allows you to use the same ticket all day long so that you can make as many journeys as you like, on as many different bus routes as you like, all day long using the same ticket. So if you use the buses to travel around the city all day, it can work out quite cheap. And if you want to support the local economy Bristol buses happily accept the Bristol Pound.

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on September 01, 2020:

So Bristol was the "Green City of Europe" in 2015. Must have changed a lot in the past decades.

In the 90ties and 2000s some of my customers were located in Bristol (the downhill runway and the aerospace cluster near Filton). 10 years ago when flying into Bristol Airport i had the impression of being in the middle of nowhere. The only way to get into the city was by taxi. And even taxis were scarce and required some kind of advance booking.

By now i hope there is good public transport connection from airport to the city. And i hope taxis are e-cars ??

Nevertheless, i was deeply impressed by the old suspension bride over the Avon. I found it also impressive how inventive taxi drivers were to circumvent traffic jams. I know passing Brunels bridge is not necessarily the fast track to the airport :-)

Question: Do you have what Russians call: "Marchrout taxi"? That is like public bus route, but without schedule, driven by demand. If one bus is full, then it leaves. Mostly smaller 9-12 seaters. Not necessarily very comfortable and archaic in fare payment and organisation, but helps to avoid waiting, thus giving a little incentive.

Question: Do public buses have means to override stopsigns? In our city buses and emergency vehicle have transmitters, that remotely override and prioritise traffic signals at highly congested intersections.

Much of what i bring forward is about saving time. So if public transport is faster, more reliable, possibly cheaper, then people will adopt it and you don´t need to implant green conscience :-).

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 01, 2020:

You pose some very good questions; and a very valid viewpoint.

I can’t say I’ve got any real answers. For as long as I can remember Bristolians (in typical British fashion) have generally been very philosophical about it, because they’ve known and understood that in the struggle between private car and public transport that promoting public transport at the expense of the cars in the city has been the ‘right thing to do’ to help reduce pollution and traffic congestion.

Back in the 1980s when Bristol was being redeveloped, at the insistence of the Local Government, Developers built new office blocks with fewer or no parking for staff specifically to discourage workers from using their cars to get to work. On the whole the vast majority of Bristolians accepted it because it helps the environment, and it helps traffic congestion.

There is still plenty of free and cheap car parking around the city centre for those who insist on driving, so you do have a choice; but the emphasis is on encouraging people to use public transport. And in Bristol the public transport isn’t too bad and is constantly being improved e.g. in most places around the city you are within a short 5 or 10 minute walk from a bus stop, and busses run as frequently as every 10 minutes or less across most of the city.

Albeit the bus service did take a knock after the Brexit Referendum because most Bristol bus drivers were polish, and many returned to Poland after the Referendum result e.g. although the pay is quite good, not many Bristolians want to be bus drivers.

The one thing that has annoyed Bristol drivers more than anything is when a few years ago the then elected Mayor of Bristol (an Independent) reduced the speed limit in Bristol from 30mph to 20mph; something which drivers grumble about to this day. But other than that Bristol drivers are quite content, and quite supportive, with all the other measures the Local Government is taking to make Bristol Greener and Cleaner e.g. the vast majority of Bristolians (whether they drive or not) are very supportive of Green Issues.

George Ferguson, the elected Mayor of Bristol (An Independent) elected Mayor back in 2012 is very anti-car and very pro cyclist. In the late 1970’s he was one of the founder members of the cycle group that converted the redundant railway line from Bristol to Bath into a cycle path, and was responsible in seeing that Bristol won the ‘Green Capital of Europe’ award in 2015.

Beginning with the conversion of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path to the UK’s first traffic free cycle path (featuring the Mayor of Bristol as one of the founder members): https://youtu.be/g9w9zn8Z8AI

As regards the countryside in the UK you do have a free choice between driving and public transport e.g. an extensive railway network built by the Victorians. Outside of urban areas e.g. on motorways and in the countryside, the UK Government is also promoting the onset of electric cars e.g. the banning of all fossil fuel cars by 2035, and heavily investing in the infrastructure to enable people with electric cars to be able to recharge their cars easily and conveniently.

London lamp posts turned into car charging points (using German technology): https://youtu.be/LOi00EnNavA

Using public chargers to charge an electric car in the UK: https://youtu.be/3C9ad9UzX4A

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on September 01, 2020:

Interesting article on transportation in the UK. Fascinating how priorities change over time.

Please allow the question: What is the individual incentive to marginalise cars? (Except having a green conscience :-))

Especially in the countryside i find it quite annoying to wait for the bus for hours, left aside that it takes you half an hour to get to the nearest bus stop. So - where is the incentive if you have a choice? Taking away that choice is no real option in my understanding.

And sometimes the green conscience runs amok and is bigot:

- The green party members in our Bundestag (parliament) have the highest CO2 footprint (they are the most frequent flyers)

- Our city introduced electric motorcycles (pay per ride), similar to the roller rent in most bigger cities in Europe. Now there is a lot of uproar because of undisciplined parking and abandonning of the motorbikes.

Please get me right. I fully support energy saving and renewable energy. I even earn money by harvesting renewable energy. But to change something permanently, there has to be an individual benefit clearly visible.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on September 01, 2020:

Yep, I totally agree. It's quite noticeable in Bristol because Bristol is a very Green Local Authority e.g. of the 70 seats in Bristol:-

* Labour 35 seats

* Conservative 14 seats

* Green 11 seats

* Liberal Democrat 9 seats

So Labour holds half the seats in Bristol, with the Green Party having a major influence over local policies.

Also back in 2015 Bristol won the 'Green Capital of Europe' award for its innovative Green policies.

Bristol even has its own local currency, the Bristol Pound.

The Bristol Pound https://youtu.be/QtGEby4ORGM

What's the Local Council like where you live?

Liz Westwood from UK on August 31, 2020:

This is an interesting article, which clearly charts the move to a greener future. I think we are taking small steps in the right direction in the UK, but there is a long way to go.

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