Price motorists off the road, councils told
CONGESTION charges, car bans and speed bumps should be introduced everywhere to persuade more motorists to walk, NHS watchdogs say.
Local authorities are being asked to price drivers off the road and to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport. Guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice), says cyclists and pedestrians should take priority when roads were being planned or upgraded.
The proposals provoked fury from the motoring lobby, which told the watchdog to “take a reality check” before heaping costs and penalties on drivers.
They said that people relied more on cars as public transport was deteriorat- ing.
Nice said the aim of the draft proposals was to “get people to be more active in their day-to-day lives” by encouraging safe, convenient, active travel that is accessible for everyone”.
The guidance suggests redesigning roads so more space is given to walkers
and cycle lanes, as well as banning cars in some areas, introducing charges for drivers, and traffic-calming schemes.
Prof Gillian Leng, Nice deputy chief executive, said: “We are facing a looming Type 2 diabetes crisis in part caused by people not exercising enough. We need more people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise. People can feel less safe when they walk or cycle. We’ve got to change this.”
Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths and is believed to cost the UK £7.4 billion each year.
Joe Irvin, of the walking charity Living Streets, said: “For decades, our towns and cities have been built to pri- oritise motor vehicles, resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking. The better planning that Nice is suggesting is absolutely necessary. It’s time that towns and cities were built for everyone, first and foremost for those on foot.”
But Edmund King, of the AA, said: “This guidance needs a reality check. Three quarters of the nation’s freight is transported by road. Vital community services rely on a good road network.”
Nicholas Lyes, of the RAC, said many people relied on cars amid growing dissatisfaction with public transport. A public consultation runs until Feb 1.