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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Applied in Focus. Global in Reach


Walking, cycling and using public transport: how the UK government offers to develop urban mobility

By katerynatsybenko, on 16 December 2020

Kateryna Tsybenko is an MPA candidate in Science, Engineering and Public Policy

Recently, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Vladyslav Krykliy announced that Ukraine plans to replace all public transport with electric transport by 2030. It will take place within the framework of the implementation of the National Transport Strategy.

I currently study in the UK, and I researched the UK’s urban mobility strategy; and in this blog, I want to share urban mobility trends in this country. The key in it is the emphasis on inclusiveness, encouraging citizens to use public transport instead of individual transport, ride-sharing, walking and cycling, and broad support for all these means of transportation, including through open data.

Image of trams and bus

Anne Burgess / Integrated Public Transport

The UK Urban Mobility Strategy is a 78-page document developed by the Ministry of Transport in March 2019. It is posted here, and all that I discuss below is an excerpt from its text. The document’s general idea is that transportation should not be just a movement from point A to point B, but the most comfortable, inclusive movement with considerations for human health. To ensure such movement, the British government has developed nine principles according to which transportation in the UK should develop. These issues will be discussed below, and firstly let’s see the statistics on which the strategy is based:

  • The social cost of health problems caused by air pollution is £20 billion a year. At the same time, urban transport is responsible for 80% of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions. In general, transportation is liable for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions, and in cities – for 91%.
  • The social cost of noise pollution is £7-10 billion a year (sleep disorders, heart attacks, strokes, dementia).
  • Congestion costs the UK economy £2 billion a year.
  • 64% of UK citizens are overweight, and cars contribute to reducing physical activity. Lack of physical activity costs the economy £7.4 billion a year.
  • For every ten people in Britain, there are six cars, and most of the time, the vehicle is not being used.
  • 45% of trips made by residents of England are up to 2 miles. Regular cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease than traveling by car or public transport.
  • Parking spaces occupy 15-30% of public spaces.
  • Traffic jams will increase by 55% by 2025 if car-sharing culture is not promoted, and the average occupancy rate will drop from 1.5 to 1.3 people. If self-driving cars are on the roads, congestion will increase by 71%.

When we look at these figures, the conclusion is that people need to be encouraged to use less personal transport and more public transport and walk, as this is better for them and the environment and the city.

The ministry took the statistics into account and developed the following principles:

New modes of transport and new mobility services must be safe and secure by design.

This principle is mainly about self-driving vehicles. It is emphasised that their implementation should not increase the risk of injury.

The benefits of innovation in mobility must be available to all parts of the UK and all society segments.

This is the principle of inclusion of people with different types of disabilities and older people. Decisions on how to take their needs into account should be made with the inclusion of these categories. “New technologies should increase the number of transport options for citizens, as transport is vital for human freedom and well-being, social cohesion, a productive economy, overcoming loneliness and achieving a more inclusive society”.

In the UK, there is a mobile application for people with dementia that helps them use transport.

Walking, cycling and active travel must remain the best options for short urban journeys.

There were statistics above that 45% of trips made by residents of England are up to 2 miles. The strategy says that the more travel you do on foot or by bike, the better the air quality, health, and lower congestion. It will always be true, regardless of the technological development of automation, electrification, and new ways of traveling. UK promotes this principle when the transport applications show how long you can walk from point A to point B.

There is a popular city bike rental service in London. The company from Bristol has developed a device that transforms an ordinary bicycle into an electric one so that people can travel longer distances.

Mass transit must remain fundamental to an efficient transport system.

This principle emphasises the importance of public transport rather than personal transportation. An example is high-speed trains, and people are encouraged to use them rather than cars. New mobile services should complement existing transport systems.

New mobility services must lead the transition to zero emissions.

UK’s goal is that 50-70% of cars that are sold should have ultra-low emissions by 2030. There is now an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London, which requires high-emission cars to pay a commission.

Within this principle, car clubs are created, where people can use cars without owning them. It reduces the number of cars in the streets.

Mobility innovation must help to reduce congestion through more efficient use of limited road space, for example through sharing rides, increasing occupancy or consolidating freight.

Lower operating costs due to new technologies can complicate the congestion situation if the vehicle occupancy ratio remains low. As indicated in the statistics above, now the car occupancy rate is 1.5 people per car. If this ratio increases to 1.7, congestion will be only 5% more.

The marketplace for mobility must be open to stimulate innovation and give the best deal to consumers.

A competitive, unrestricted mobility market is needed to increase consumer choice, stimulate innovation, and lower prices. It refers to travel planning applications.

New mobility services must be designed to operate as part of an integrated transport system combining public, private and multiple modes for transport users.

Citizens’ travel planning needs to be made easier through data and new technologies, encouraging them to use public transport instead of an individual one. In Scotland, there is a NaviGoGo app that allows you to plan trips and pay for tickets.

Data from new mobility services must be shared where appropriate to improve choice and the transport system’s operation.

Data is a crucial driver of innovation in transport and an essential part of the 21st-century infrastructure. Significant progress has already been made in encouraging the railway and bus industries and local authorities to share their data.

Based on open data from the Ministry of Transport, more than 650 mobile applications have been created. They are used by 42% of the population of London. These approaches need to be used more actively.

These principles show that some of Ukraine and the UK’s transportation challenges are common, such as fighting against pollution. In the UK, this problem is being tackled through higher-level programs. It is logical – Ukrainian transportation does not have such a long history of development. But there are also points in the strategy that Ukraine could take and apply now. Extensive use of open data is the first of them. In 2018, Ukraine took second place among the countries that have made the most significant progress in four years in publishing and using open data for government accountability, innovation, and social impact in the Open Data Barometer.

Source of the blog: Hmarochos

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