Roles of the road

“Between 30% and 40% of car journeys made by the average UK household are less than 2 miles long.” (via

To put that in a less roundabout way, 30-40% of car trips are completely unnecessary.

Being quick, quiet, clean, healthful, sociable and fun (as just about everyone knows already), the bike is clearly the best option for short journeys around town. Look at local trips in the Netherlands: 35% are made by bike. And in some cities it goes up to 45%.

Should the role of cars be limited only to long journeys? Should transport planners design urban streets with this in mind?

Car free in town

Car-free in town

6 thoughts on “Roles of the road

  1. as a budding transportation planner (still in degree program) i wholeheartedly say yes. urban environments should be for walking, cycling and bus/tram systems. there is still a need for cars in some situations, but planners have gone just a wee bit crazy (no kidding!) in planning for roads. mostly because its easy and plenty of case studies and examples of that model. eventually it will get there, but wont be easy

      • it seems everybody needs me, was talking with a women in a restaurant in london about what my studies were (she recognized my east coast us accent, as she lived in boston for many years, i am from NH anyway) she basically ended with thanking me for what i am doing and saying we need more people like me.

        did i happen upon a real glut in planners or something? are there no planners that are part of the cycling population? there is at least progress in the uk as a whole, you got outside portland or new york city (in the states) and its nothing, its depressing almost.

        i am at leeds currently and am trying to get back in 2 years time to work/intern with Sustrans, so who knows!

  2. And to think I get criticised for cycling when I could walk…

    We’re moving house soon away from a busy road with pollution etc. I know a lot of it is from people driving pathetically short distancews (on a sunny day). What is odd is those I know will look sympathetic and then still drive past our apartment to get 100m…

    And then they say I’m wierd.

  3. John – My brother studied at Leeds – good choice. 😉 With any luck and common sense the coming decade will see egalitarian urban planning replacing the car-centred systems of the 1960s and 70s. Personally I think City of York Council is a good example, with its ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ street planning. Yes, everyone needs you; you’ll not be out of work for a long while!

    Andy – As I’m sure you know, it takes time for people to get used to you as a person who gets about by bike. But after a few months of gently mentioning the health benefits and how easy and fun it is, a few will give it a go and one or two will start joining you for rides, and it’ll all have been worth it. Good luck with the house-moving!

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