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Cars slip down pecking order

The Transport Planning Society met at the ICE last week to discuss some of the latest transport trends.

On the panel were Social Research Associates director Kris Beuret, Crossrail head of planning David Anderson, Transport Times publisher David Begg, and Transport for London's managing director for planning, Michele Dix.

Anderson said the greatest challenge for transport was sustainability, Dix pointed out that this would be set against a population increase of 1M over the coming 25 years.

But Beuret, who tracks changes in public attitudes, said many attitudes were in flux. Beuret said that such changes were taking place in the minds of the public, and gave some examples.

"Cars used to be the highest priority in town planning, but are now the lowest priority, and road space has been re-allocated to pedestrians and cyclists.

"Shared use space – such as pedestrians and cyclists. When pedestrians were first surveyed, they said they were happy to share pavement space with cyclists. Thanks to the increase in popularity of cycling, they are not so keen, and think that now cyclists should take back a part of the road."

Beuret said that the tide was turning against the car, and this could be seen in, paradoxically, the popularity of books by Jeremy Clarkson this Christmas.

"These books were generally bought by women for their partners, buying it for its pro-motoring approach, but these women were rather disparaging of the attitude the book espoused."

Begg said that the dominant mode of transport remained the car, and he was not persuaded by the arguments for road user charging, because, "The public are not engaged," although he said he was himself a supporter of green taxes.

Begg went on to say that he thought local authorities outside London lacked the skills and resources to develop the right transport strategies while London absorbed a disproportionately large amont of funding and resources.

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