FIT News

March 17, 2021

Fighting car dominance – call for proposals

Foundation for Integrated Transport

Road safety

Car culture has become so ingrained that it’s hardly noticed. But its negative impact on the way we live, our health, the environment and public space is immense and intensifying.

If we are going to tackle car dominance, we need a drastic shift in mindset – to make the alternatives to car-life more appealing and to give politicians the space they need to deliver change.

In 2021, the Foundation for Integrated Transport (FIT) is allocating a significant proportion of its annual £300,000 grant funding to work that challenges car-based thinking.

We want to fund bold, radical, entertaining campaigns that challenge the status quo and change minds about transformative policies such as road user charging, low traffic neighbourhoods, or fare-free public transport.


FIT is interested in campaigns that:

  • Are savvy, entertaining and innovative
  • Consider the joined-up consequences of car dominance (examples in the gallery below)
  • Present change as advantageous and liberating
  • Take into account thinking and practice in other parts of the world
  • Reach out to a range of groups and ethnicities
  • Widen the policy space for progressive policymakers to implement measures that reduce car dominance
  • Are bold and lead to radical change in policy, infrastructure and mindset.

Projects should consider the variety of ways that cars are ruining our lives and destroying our environment

More and more cars

The number of registered vehicles on UK roads has risen from 20 million in 1991 to 38.3 million in 2020. More than three quarters of traffic on UK roads are private cars and taxis (DfT).

Climate change

Transport is the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike other sectors, emissions from road transport are still increasing.


Every day, five people die on British roads, 70 are seriously injured and 4,000 suffer other injuries (DfT). This level of danger would not be tolerated in other areas of life.


Air pollution has been above legal limits in the UK for more than a decade, largely as a result of road transport. Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today and disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable.

Physical activity

Cars reduce opportunity for physical activity. In the UK, 33% of men and 45% of women do not achieve recommended physical activity levels.


Road traffic is the biggest cause of noise pollution in the UK, impacting millions of people each year.


The fear of road danger and intimidation of speeding traffic has decreased children’s freedom to roam and destroyed our enjoyment of neighbourhoods. This fear forces people inside, reduces social interaction and divides communities.


Cars have taken control of public space. Streets are no longer places, but conduits for movement. People walking must ask permission to cross streets. Even non-car owners believe cars must get through.

Control of space

Cars are also a poor use of space, both when in use and when parked. The UK’s best-selling cars have increased in width by 17% in the last 20 years.


If these massive metal boxes weren’t enough, their signs, lines, lights, meters and charging infrastructure spoil streetscapes and clutter our pavements.


Cars have led to car-based sprawl, which further locks people into car-dependent lifestyles. Car-based planning discriminates against those who can’t, or can’t afford to drive.


Cars create pressure for bigger roads. In the last two decades, more than half of new roads have damaged areas protected for their special landscape, biodiversity or heritage.

Car production

The production of cars is also a significant source of pollution and draws on scarce resources. The mining impacts of lithium, for example, used in batteries for electric cars, are jeopardising the access to water in communities where extraction takes place. The competition for energy and resources also causes conflicts and strained international relationships. Would the US have invaded Iraq if its main export had been cabbages?

Tune out

Cars have also muted our experience and expectations of travel. It’s all about getting from A to B, strapping in, switching off, or being locked into an intense focus on the road. Car journeys miss the sensory experience, energy and social interaction of public transport and active travel.

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