Reducing #CarDependency has been met with a huge amount of opposition. The argument? That the system will be unjust. By reallocating road space and introducing road usage charges to deter car drivers, opposing parties are concerned with the effect such measures will have on the most vulnerable members of our society. Longer travel times, decreased social mobility, and higher travel charges are just some of the associated costs. However, new research suggests that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Bike is Best’s insights provide a starkly different view into the costs of our continuing car dependency – and it’s bleak. It concludes that car dependency is a self-sustaining machine. This machine finds drivers spending up to a fifth of their pre-tax income on running a car as lack of infrastructure deters people from cycling. The crux of the matter is that if more people started cycling, then there would be a demand for better cycle-friendly infrastructure. But with roads incompatible for cyclists, will this demand ever come to be?
In the Netherlands, one in five people cycle to work. If the UK adopted the Dutch way of commuting, we would reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1500 tonnes per year. Not to mention the significant health benefits which will reduce pressure on the NHS. Physical inactivity currently costs the NHS about £1bn each year, rising to some £7.4bn each year when costs to wider society are included.
The benefits of opting to cycle are obvious. Yet first a cycle must be broken. The question of how to achieve this lies with infrastructure, policy and, if all is in place, sustained behaviour change.