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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 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.


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


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)

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