National News

Transport Committee to kickstart conversation on national road pricing

Image: © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
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How will we pay for our roads in the future? That’s the question being asked of the public by the House of Commons Transport Committee ahead of a full enquiry into road pricing, which is due to start in early 2020. Currently, £40 billion of annual income comes from Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty. With the government pledged to fully decarbonise road transport within two decades, alternative sources of income will need to be found in order to keep transport infrastructure maintained. Road pricing could take many forms, from toll roads and congestion charges, to Heavy Goods Vehicle levies and clean air zones.

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said: ‘We cannot ignore the looming fiscal black hole. We need to ask how we will pay for roads in the future and in answering that question we have an opportunity for a much wider debate about our use of road space, cutting carbon emissions, tackling congestion, modal shift and how we prioritise active travel. Tackling the Climate Emergency is essential but this is about more than what we must do to meet that challenge. It’s also about our health and the sort of towns and cities we want to live in.

Funding needs to double to meet government cycling aims

The government risks failing to meet its 2025 target of doubling cycling from 800 million travel ‘stages’ to 1.6 billion.

Following a Transport Select Committee report on its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, the Department for Transport (DfT) admitted: ‘Interim results from the investment models indicate that annual investment per head in England is likely to need to at least double if the cycling aim is to be achieved in 2025.’

The DfT said it intends to develop a long-term fund for local authorities as a successor to the current Access Fund and Cycle Ambition Cities programme. Decisions on funding could come with the next multi-year Spending Review, due in 2020. Ministers will also look at making it easier for projects to go from network design and feasibility to construction, with Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) set to become a core part of this process.

The DfT has also promised that updated guidance on cycling infrastructure design will be published soon. It says the update to Local Transport Note 2/08 (originally published in 2008) has been ‘informed by international design guidance and guidance within the UK including the London Design Standards and Active Travel Design Guidance in Wales.

England recommended to follow Scotland’s parking ban

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The Scottish Parliament has passed a bill banning cars, vans and lorries from parking on pavements and footways throughout Scotland. England could follow suit, after a House of Commons Transport Committee report recommended a ban across England.

The report says: ‘Pavement parking puts pedestrians in danger when they are forced to move into the road to get around a vehicle or where there are trip hazards due to damage to the pavement. People with mobility or visual impairments, as well as those who care for others, are disproportionately affected. It exacerbates, and is a cause of, social isolation and loneliness for people who feel unable to safely leave their homes.’

Driving onto the pavement is already illegal, but it is unclear how widespread this knowledge is as enforcement is low. For this reason, the report also recommends a public awareness campaign.