Stepping off the road to nowhere

How changing our approach to transport modelling could increase sustainability and prosperity.

Focus of work

We face a climate crisis, declining productivity, record levels of physical inactivity and increasing inequality in access to work, services and natural space.

Too many new urban extensions, driven by the need for new homes, are delivered hand in hand with new highways infrastructure, such as a major new junction, by-pass or road widening scheme, based on ‘Predict & Provide’ transport modelling. These highways schemes are enormously costly. Local authorities spent 29 per cent of their budget on highways and transport in addition to the government’s £27bn road building budget.

By using a ‘Vision and Validate’ approach to transport planning we can keep people moving but in a healthier way and improve the places in which we live. The same money that would have gone into road expansion will be instead invested towards place-making, active travel and better master-planning in the new development. This will i) yield greater benefits in terms of climate change, local prosperity, air quality, health etc, and ii) extinguish the need for the original highways scheme, because it would reduce the need for longer journeys and see a much higher proportion of shorter journeys undertaken on foot, by cycle or by public transport.

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