Glasgow has announced plans to reduce the number of kilometres travelled by car in the city by 30 percent within this decade as part of efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
The Scottish city’s new draft transport strategy also aims to tackle poverty, support economic growth and create more liveable neighbourhoods by boosting public and active modes of transport.
Almost 30 percent of vehicle journeys in Glasgow are less than one kilometre, and the city says there is significant potential to reduce the carbon emissions created during those trips.
Speaking to capitaltribunenews.com, Councillor Anna Richardson, Glasgow’s Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said: “The strategy is essentially setting direction of what we intend to do, and what we need to do to reach our net-zero carbon target for the city by 2030.
“At the same time we’re looking at how we reduce inequality across the city, giving everybody access to the jobs, services and education they need, and making sure that no groups feel that they can’t access public transport or that they’re not safe to walk and cycle on our streets.”
The strategy includes the creation of a city-wide network of segregated cycling infrastructure, and a liveable neighbourhoods initiative that will support more local access to essential services and enable shorter trips by walking and cycling.
Approximately half of all households in Glasgow don’t have access to a private car, and the city wants to enable any resident to reach most of the city by bike within 30 minutes.
It is estimated that the new infrastructure will cost up to £475 million (US$647 million) and the council claims the network could provide a £1.8 billion benefit to the city through a wide range of environmental, economic, health, road safety and community impacts.
Reducing car travel
According to UK Department for Transport estimates, 1.7 billion miles were travelled by motor vehicles in the Glasgow city area in 2020.
This represented a sharp drop in vehicle miles travelled due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – prior to this, figures for 2019 showed a peak of almost 2.25 billion vehicle miles per annum.
As part of plans to reduce dependence on the car, a new metro system which is expected to cost £16 billion and take 35 years to complete is currently being mooted by the Scottish Government.
The Clyde Metro would target deprived areas, extending 15 kilometres out from Glasgow city centre, and places where connections are poor.
The scheme could include light rail, bus rapid transit and metro rail, and would complement the services currently on offer.
Glasgow’s bus operators are also currently working towards developing fare capping technology – set to be rolled out over the next two years. Councillor Anna Richardson, Glasgow’s Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction
The city currently has a system of private bus operators, meaning customers could be charged multiple times if they change services to reach their destination.
“We don’t want people to have that problem, so we’re looking at how to roll this [fare capping] out across the bus and subway network – that’s the next challenge,” added Richardson.
“But we’re absolutely committed to push on those issues, I think it’s really important that the whole network is simple to use, and that people know that they’ll get the best fare regardless of how their journey turns out to be that day or week.”
No e-scooters, yet
Over the past two years, dozens of UK cities have conducted e-scooter trials to assess how the micromobility modes could be integrated into the transport ecosystem, but Scotland’s devolved government has to date opted not to take part in the scheme.
Despite this, Richardson believes there may be a place for the devices in the future.
“I think the whole e-scooter debate is a really interesting one that’s happening at the moment in Scotland.
“We’re open to considering trialling them, but they’re not legal on Scottish roads so we’re not in a position to introduce them at the moment.
“And If they were introduced, it would need to be in a way that would not create any unfairness to those who are already a road users, so we would want to be absolutely clear that they don’t impinge upon pedestrian space and that they’re used safely.
“I think the most appropriate place for e-scooters would be within cycle infrastructure, but always thinking about those who are most vulnerable – we don’t want any negative impacts on the experience of using the streets.”
The policy framework for the Glasgow Transport Strategy will go before the council’s City Administration Committee for final approval.
Image: EDDIE (Flickr)
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