In terms of policy and investment, mobility today means the motor car. Over
the past 40 years, the number of cars around the world has increased tenfold to
over 500 million. If the rest of Asia were to achieve the same ratio of cars to
people as Japan (not high compared to America), the number of cars in the world
By 2025 in the UK there could be between 70% and 110% more vehicles on the
roads than there are today, giving Britain more cars per head than present-day
Los Angeles which is already suffocating from exhaust emissions. As the number
of road vehicles has increased, new roads and car parks have been built to cope
with the increasing demand.
Between 1980 and 1990 the length of the motorway system was increased by 20%
while the road network as a whole grew by 5%. New roads and road maintenance
cost the country around £2.4 billion per year at present.
In the EU as a whole, freight transport has risen from 581 billion tonne-kilometres
in 1980 to 826 billion in 1990. This increase is the result of the cheapness of
transport, the strategies of industrialists and others to put more freight on
the roads as part of their cost cutting operational reforms (just-in-time
transport) and the reductions in journey times as more motorways, bridges and
tunnels increase the opportunities for sending freight by road.
These trends are all manifestations of the deliberate creation or generation
of freight traffic as part of a drive to increase economic activity and improve
the international competitiveness of the European Community. Production is being
centralised at fewer sites over time thus reducing the total employment in any
economic sector. Transport systems are so cheap to use that it is profitable to
reorganise distribution and manufacturing on continental scales.
Very powerful and well funded interest groups are pushing for new
transportation links in Europe. The European Commission wants to build 12,500 km
of new motorway standard roads while the International Road Federation has plans
for a new motorway completely encircling the Mediterranean; the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development are funding new motorways throughout Eastern
Europe and the ex-Soviet Union.
To date, Britain's Department of Transport has catered simply-and ruthlessly-
for the needs of road builders and car manufacturers. Whereas the rail network
is managed by other bodies, the DoT is directly responsible for road planning
and construction. Not surprisingly, criteria used in public enquiries are
rigged, discounting many environmental and human factors. Often it is quite
devious, disguising plans for a whole new cross-country road in the form of a
series of seemingly innocuous bypasses and little link roads. Whether its recent
merger with the Environment ministry will make much difference remains to be
Greener Transport Systems & Traffic
To move in a more sustainable direction, transport policy needs to be guided
by a totally new set of priorities. Avenues for study include the nature of
general principles for a sustainable transport strategy.
The following are offered for debate:
- People before machines (e.g. abandonment of the current road-building
programme, slower speed limits, longer crossing times at pedestrian lights);
- People-powered machines before other machines (e.g. massive switch in
transport expenditure to cycle provision);
- Public transport before private vehicles (e.g. discrimination in favour of
buses and trains; phasing out of indirect tax perks for car drivers and
increased charges on goods vehicles, using savings and new revenue to cut
public transport fares, provide more staff on buses, stations, and trains
- Local needs before those of external and through traffic (e.g.
preferential treatment for local residents).
Another area for research is the kind of legislation needed to set
appropriate standards for all new vehicles on energy efficiency, safety, and
noise pollution, including, perhaps, maximum speeds and engine sizes. In the
long run, however, a sustainable society probably may have to phase out private
vehicle ownership in favour of rental schemes. A quick reconsideration of
current trends, outlined above, shows that this 'utopian' option might be the
only viable one available.
At the same time, broader social and economic changes could reduce the need
for so much movement of goods and people. For example, planning controls could
be used to stop out-of-town retail and office development, most of which is
based on widespread car usage. More flexible working arrangements and a shorter
working week might not only create jobs for the unemployed but also reduce
congestion. A ban on car advertising could be one, albeit controversial, way to
undermine the cult that currently surrounds the motor car. An energy tax would
make massive inroads into excessive transportation. In the meantime, special
purchase taxes on petrol guzzling vehicles could be used.
Furthermore, individual organisations could give a lead. More sustainable
alternatives to present practices, such as subsidised business cars and free car
- New vehicles to be purchased on the basis of maximum fuel efficiency and
possession of appropriate emission control technology;
- Reduction of car mileage rates for business travel, with one rate
regardless of engine capacity;
- Provision of loans or subsidy for staff wishing to purchase a travel pass;
- Provision of changing and shower facilities in large organisations (e.g.
for cyclists), plus secure cycle parking facilities; cycle mileage
- No increase in provision for car parking.
References: General transportation
Bendixson, T. Instead of Cars Pelican, 1977. An earlier but
unheeded call to change direction.
Bowers, C. Europe's Motorways: The Drive for Mobility. The Ecologist, 23(4),
Bray, J., The Push for Roads: A Programme for Economic Recovery London: Alarm UK
& Transport 2000, 1992.
CPRE. Tranquil Area Map. CPRE, 1993. 2 maps SE & NE England showing the loss
of rural tranquillity due to road developments & increasing traffic.
CPRE. Driven to Dig-Road Building and Aggregates Demand. CPRE, 1993. Exposes the
link between destructive increases in aggregate extraction and the expansion of
the road network.
CPRE. Rules of the Road. CPRE, 1992. CPRE critique of planning procedures.
CPRE. Wheeling Out of Control. CPRE, 1992. Short CPRE position statement.
CPRE. Concrete and Tyres-Local Development Effects of Major Roads: the M40. CPRE,
1992. Case study of how the immediate and direct environmental impacts of road
building are made worse by follow-on building developments.
CPRE. Where the Motor car is Master-How the Department of Transport Became
Bewitched by Roads. CPRE, 1992.
Davis, R. Death on the Streets. Leading Edge, 1993.
Freund, P. & G. Martin. The Ecology of the Automobile. 1993.
Garb, Y. The Trans-Israel Highway. Earth Island, Spring, 1997: 28. Motorway
madness in the Middle East.
Grieco, M. The Impact of Transport Investment Programmes on the Inner City.
Oxford Transport Studies Unit, 1988. How road schemes can damage the inner city
economy by exposing it to competition from outside.
Hamer, N. Wheels Within Wheels: A Study of the Road Lobby. RKP, 1987.
Johansson, J., et al. Blueprint 5: The True Costs of Road Transport. Earthscan,
Kay, J. Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take
It Back. Crown Publishers, 1997.
Nadis, S. & J. Mackenzie. Car Trouble. Beacon Press, 1993.
Newman, P. & J. Kenworthy. Cities and Automobile Dependencies: an
International Source book. Gower, 1989.
Noss, R. The Ecological Effects of Roads or the Road to Destruction. Wildlands
Centre for Preventing Roads, 1995.
Renner, M. Rethinking the Role of the Automobile. Worldwatch Institute, 1988.
St. Clair, D. Motorization of American Cities. Praegar, 1986.
Sachs, W. For the Love of the Automobile: Looking Back into the History of Our
Desires. Univ. California Pr., 1992.
Tunali, O. A Billion Cars: The Road Ahead. Worldwatch, 9(1), 1996: 24-23.
Whitelegg, J. Time Pollution. The Ecologist, 23(4), 1993: 132-134. A major
consumer of time is the machine designed to save time, motor transport.
Williams, H. Autogeddon. Jonathon Cape, 1991. No punches pulled polemic with
much startling information and striking pictures.
Wilshire, H. The Wheeled Locusts. Wild Earth, Spring, 1992: 27-31. The costs of
References: Air Transport
Barret, M. Aircraft Pollution: Environmental Impacts and Future Solutions. WWF
Scanlon, J. Behind the Contrail Curtain. Earth Island, Summer, 1997: 36.
Atmospheric pollution from aeroplanes.
Smith, G. Oil Spills in the Sky. Earth Island, Summer, 1997: 34-35. Resource
depletion, pollution, noise and climatic change due to jet flights. A panel
spotlights the dirtiest planes.
Teffort, J. Runaway Madness. Real World, 13, 1995:16. Attack on Heathrow
References: Rail Transport
CPRE. How Green is Your Railway? High Speed Railway
Construction and the Environment-Lessons from Europe. CPRE, 1992. Many people
see railways as the way forward yet they can have some bad environmental
Lowe, M. Back on Track: The Global Rail Revival. Worldwatch Institute, 1994.
Thornton, R. D. Why the US Needs A Magalev System, Technology Review, Apr.,
1991: 31-42. The case for magnetic levitation trains.
References: Greener Transport Systems & Traffic
Ballantine, R. Richard's New Bicycle Book. Oxford Illustrated
American Public Transit System. Mass Transit: The Clean Air Alternative
Washington, DC: American Public Transit Association, 1989.
Cyclists Touring Club. Costing the Benefits of Cycling. Godalming: CTC, 1993.
FoE. An Illustrated Guide to Traffic Calming. FoE, 1990.
FoE. Less Traffic, Better Towns FoE. 1992.
Kelbaugh, D., ed. The Pedestrian Pocketbook: A New Suburban Design Strategy.
Princeton Architectural Pr., 1989.
Lowe, M. The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet. WorldWatch Institute, 1989.
Lowe, M. Alternatives to the Automobile: Transport for Liveable Cities.
WorldWatch Institute, 1990.
Nieuwenhuis, P, et al. The Green Car Guide Green Print, 1992. Though the
explosive growth in the sheer number of vehicles will devour, if unchecked,
whatever can be achieved by better design and traffic management, as advocated
by the authors, nevertheless the volume offers many useful interim measures.
Perrin, N. Life with an Electric Car. Sierra Books, n.d.
Plowden, S. Taming Traffic Andre Deutsch, 1980.
Tolley, R., ed. The Greening of Urban Transport: Planning for Walking and
Cycling in Western Cities. Belhaven, 1990.
Whitelegg J. Traffic Congestion: Is There A Way Out? Leading Edge, 1992.
More material, especially on the production side of transport systems, is cited
in the section on manufacturing. Most of the general books on environmental
issues make extensive References to transportation issues
Ghazi, P, et al. National Transport Plan. Guardian Media Group, 1995. Pamphlet
version of two page spread first published in The Observer, 18.6.95.
Hopkinson P., et al. Environmental Policy, Legislation and Business Strategy:
The Case of the Transport Sector. In R. Welford, ed., Cases in Environmental
Management and Business Strategy. Pitman, 1994.
MacKenzie, J. The Keys to the Car: Electric and Hydrogen Vehicles for the 21st
Century. World Resources Institute/Earthscan, 1994.
Sperling, D. Future Drive: Electric Vehicles and Sustainable Transportation.
Island Pr., 1994.
Rocket Flight and the Colonisation of Outer Space.
Aftergood, S. Poisoned Plumes. New Scientist, 7/9/91: 33-37. Rockets emit clouds
of toxic exhaust fumes.
Aldrige, a. & H. Skolimowski. Pie in the Sky: Do We Really Want Colonies in
Space? The Ecologist, 7(10), 1977: 390-394.
Booth, N. Space Junk. Green Magazine, Nov., 1989: 44-47. Includes table of
nuclear accidents in space.
Gorelick, S. The Cassini Gamble: Scientists Go for Broke. The Ecologist, 27(6),
1997: 214-216. Satanic madness from space scientists with the folly of the
Grossman, K. The Wrong Stuff. Common Courage Pr., 1997.
Hardin, G. Interstellar Migration and the Population Problem. Jnl of Heredity,
50, 1959: 68-70. Hardin fired a rocket through the fantasy that overpopulation
could be mitigated by migration into outer space but most people seem befuddled
by watching too many episodes of Star Trek.
Hardin, G. The Semantics of "Space". ETC, 23, 1966: 167-171. Hardin
cuts through the woolly rhetoric employed to support the space programme.
Hardin, G. A Rapout of O'Neill's Dream. CoEvolution Quaterly, 9, Spring, 1976:
page numbers missing. Gerard O'Neill is one of the high priests of the space
programme, preaching that the next frontier is waiting for us up there above the
clouds. Hardin brings him back down to Earth.
Radford, T. Star Trek to Profit. Guardian, The Week section, 18/10/97: 1-2. Big
business has its greedy eyes on outer space.
Tracy, L. US Space Junk Falls on Siberia. Earth Island, Spring, 1998: 25. One
hazard of the space programme.
Wood-Kaczmar. The Junkyard in the Sky. New Scientist, 13/10/90: 37-40. Already
nearby reaches of outer space are being converted into a junkyard, a menace to
passing space flights.
Finney, B. & E. Jones, ed. Interstellar Migration & the Human
Experiences. Univ. California Pr., 1985.
* Used with permission of the authors.
See original at < http://www.realworld.u-net.com/EcoList.Technology.html