Tackling rural car dependency is essential for reducing emissions

A new UK report has found that targeting car dependency outside of cities is critical for reducing carbon footprints.

The Future of Transport Outside Cities report, prepared by Smart Transport and the University of Hertfordshire, reveals that counties outside major cities (‘shire’ counties) account for 74 per cent of the UK’s transport emissions.

The high emissions in regional areas is due in part to a lack of public and active transport options, which means that private vehicle use is the only option for residents.

Transport policy discussions tend to focus on cities, and often negates the needs of rural residents. The Future of Transport Outside Cities report, however, argues that a lack of transport planning for rural areas will result in widespread reliance on private vehicles to move around leads to road congestion and further burden on the UK’s carbon footprint.

The report makes the following recommendations for reducing private car dependency in rural areas:
  • On-demand bus services
  • E-bike hire schemes
  • Improved public transport systems that integrate bus and rail travel
  • Share ride schemes

While the report focusses on the UK, there are valuable lessons for Australia, namely how we can better equip our regional cities with a range of safe and sustainable transport choices.

Australia has one of the worst records for transport-related emissions and energy efficiency. Our transport system was responsible for more than 17.6 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

In Victoria, private vehicles are used for 83 per cent of trips in regional cities, compared to just 56 per cent of trips in the inner Melbourne metropolitan area.

You can read The Future of Transport Outside Cities report here.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.

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