At present, 22 million households in Britain have access to a car. Almost two families in three have one car, and one in four have two cars. The growth in car ownership has been associated with the development of out-of-town shopping centres (eg Merry Hill in Dudley) and industrial, science and business parks on the periphery of cities. It has given individual families greater freedom of movement and choice in where they live, shop, work and spend their leisure time.
Since 1975, increased use of the motor car has led to an increase in the national roadbuilding programme. The length of Britain's motorways has increased by just under 100 km per year and its principal roads by 150km per year.

The major advantage of road transport is its flexibility, which allows it to operate from door to door. Yet, while the building of motorways and urban roads seems to be essential if an area wishes to improve its accessibility and stimulate economic activity, a side-effect of such construction is often increased traffic and worsened environmental problems. Problems associated with the car include congestion, parking difficulties, delays, air pollution, noise and visual pollution and vibration damage to old buildings. Thousands of deaths per year are caused by the inevitable accidents which occur both between cars, and cars and pedestrians.

The cost of motoring is already increasing. According to the Royal Commission on Transport Report of October 1994, fuel duty should be
"increased annually, in order to double the real price of fuel by 2005"
The same report recommends that road tax should be based on fuel efficiency, and a reduced road tax rate for vehicles meeting a more stringent exhaust emissions test. Since 1993 it has been a legal requirement to have a catalytic converter on all new motor vehicles. The same report recommends halving the present spending on new roads, and introducing tougher MOT emissions tests. It is also recommended banning the sale of "Super Premium Unleaded" because of the high content of carcinogenic benzene.
Cars queueing.
Traffic is a major problem, since not only does it cause delays for drivers, but the car continues to pollute the air while it is stationary.
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Our staff have come up with some suggestions for the Four Drivers of the Apocarlypse. Can you think of any more? Send your ideas to :
Best ten ideas win a Travel Wise Multimedia Pack. The Four Drivers are:
1) White Van Man 2) The Travelling Salesman 3) The Executive Car Driver
4) The Learner Driver
Do you agree? Can you better our suggestions?
Send your replies to the address above.
So, what is being done to control the influence of the car, both at home, and world wide? Let's have a look at some examples of schemes where the car has been tamed.
In Freiburg, cars are banned from the city centre, (CBD). Only delivery vehicles are allowed in. There is a government subsidised tram network, which is efficient and reliable. As a result: (i) People use public transport (ii) 40% of city journeys are made by bike (iii) 70% of shoppers in the CBD use Public Transport (iv) People therefore only buy what they can carry.
This system shows that the car is not essential. PROVIDED that the Public Transport network is good enough to support the mass movement of people.
In Athens, access to the city centre is restricted according to the last number of the vehicle's number plate. So on certain days, only cars with even numbers at the end of their number plates are allowed in the centre. But if you are rich - you buy two cars each with different number plate endings!!!
Both cities operate a Park and Ride Scheme, where cars are not allowed in the city centre. This keeps the centre of the city relatively congestion free for the delivery vehicles which must get to shops. Therefore, the delivery companies don't lose time in traffic!!!
CONCLUSION The car is one of the greatest inventions of the century. However, it needs to be managed, so that everyone can enjoy the roads. We need to use the car less, and use public transport more. Back to Main Page.
Transport problems The Car The Train and the Metro
The Bus as Public Transport Walking and Cycling Links and Bibliography
This site was prepared as an entry for the Travel Wise competition 2000
and went online on 31/3/2000.

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