When it comes to leaving the car behind and choosing alternative, sustainable means of transport, here in Southampton we are making great strides. The city now ranks in the top five cities in England that are the least dependent on the car for getting around, according to figures published this week.
New research by the Campaign for Better Transport shows wide variation in how much people in different cities are dependent on using their car to get around, with many cities providing few opportunities to get around by public transport, walking or cycling. The Car Dependency Scorecard 2012 showed that London topped the list as the least car-dependent city in England, closely followed by Nottingham and Brighton & Hove. Cambridge and Southampton are next in the rankings. (See the link at the bottom of this page for the full report.)
Southampton is the most improved city since the first Car Dependency Scorecard was published in 2010. The city climbed five places overall to fifth, and this is at least thanks in part to new and strengthening partnerships between the council, it partners and local public transport operators.
A major campaign was launched earlier this summer in Southampton with the aim of changing the way people travel and how they think about travel. ‘My Journey Southampton’ highlights the financial, environmental and social benefits of travelling by bus, bike, train or on foot using a fun and engaging creative campaign. Look out for the ‘birds’ in the coming months as they help to change the city’s and county’s attitudes towards sustainable travel.
The next few weeks will see the launch of the My Journey Southampton website - a free, one-stop resource for planning journeys around the city and beyond. An integrated travel planning tool is in the pipeline with the aim of joining up sustainable travel methods across Southampton in the same way that London does via the Transport for London online journey planner. You will also start to see more cycle maintenance and training available to help you get pedalling as well as significant improvements to bus information and ticketing over the coming year.
All of this has been made possible due to funding from the Department of Transport totalling almost £22million for promoting sustainable travel and making it more accessible in the city. Ultimately there are even wider benefits to a greater take up of alternative, sustainable means of travel - it is estimated that by having more efficient networks the region could attract 20,000 new jobs over the next 20 years that would otherwise not happen due to the impact of road congestion.
The Car Dependency Scorecard 2012 examined how dependent we are on cars in the UK's major cities, and shows how sensible investment in sustainable transport can give people more choice about how they travel. Reducing car use can decrease congestion in our cities and have the additional benefit of reducing pollution and carbon emissions. It used data from 19 different sources to rank 26 cities across all regions in England.
Cllr Asa Thorpe, Southampton City Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Southampton’s position in this table demonstrates our commitment to sustainable transport in all its forms, whether encouraging more use of public transport, promoting car sharing to ease the pressure on the roads and reduce carbon emissions or extolling the many virtues and benefits of walking and cycling.
“If you look at the top five it’s pleasing to see that Southampton is in such good company, bearing in mind the investment that London had in the run up to the Olympics and Cambridge’s reputation as a city of cyclists, for example.
“With all the work we’ll be doing in the coming months, I’d hope that we will continue to improve but we need everyone to do their bit and consider alternative ways of getting around.”