Ten wasted years spending more time behind the wheel 

Gloomy news from the Department of Transport (DfT) yesterday as it published its Transport Trends which shows that since New Labour came to power a decade ago walking journeys have fallen by 20 per cent and cycling journeys by 15 per cent. Although the government has introduced a number of welcome initiatives to increase walking and cycling; is it any wonder that car use has continued to increase when there is still planning bias in favour of personal travel by private car, there has been little change in the real cost of motoring and many of the facilities that have been installed to encourage cycling are simply appalling?

The trends show that whilst there has been a decline in the number of trips people make there has been a corresponding increase in journey distance and time spent behind the wheel of the car. The accompanying growth in motorised transport has resulted in a 52 per cent increase in carbon dioxide emissions from domestic transport sources since 1980, which now account for 23 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions. If these trends carry on the UK will be failing in its responsibility to tackle climate change. Our towns and cities are set to become even more blighted by traffic and with little hope of halting the growing obesity epidemic as our kids grow up encaged from the natural environment and not knowing how to use their limbs.

The release of these figures come on the back of Transport select committee report in which chairwoman GwynethDunwoody stated: "This is a terrible picture of failure. The DfT has not presented any evidence to convince us that the next five years will bring a radical change in performance."

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