The Queen’s Speech included 38 new bills. But was it a missed turning for the new Transport Bill?
This week saw the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, delivered this year by Prince Charles. For the first time in 60 years, Her Majesty The Queen was unable to attend the ceremony as a result of “mobility problems”. Unfortunately the same description could be applied to the new Transport Bill 2022, one of the bills outlined for this year’s parliamentary session.
Referring to the Transport Bill, Prince Charles announced: “My Government will improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovations. Legislation will be introduced to modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers.”
We are pleased to see a new Transport Bill, and we encourage any new initiatives and legislation to improve and enhance the UK’s transport infrastructure. But is this part of a long term sustainable plan to deliver a transport system that will serve us going forward?
New Transport Bill on the wrong track
Whilst we welcome investment in “Great British Railways”, a plan to improve our rail network is limited if it is introduced in isolation. It also requires a Public Transport infrastructure to help to reduce our dependence on short car journeys.
It only addresses one part of the problem if we have a fantastic rail system that can only be used if you are prepared to take a slow, congested car journey to the station, then you have to use limited and expensive car parking.
Similarly, we welcome the continued development of electric vehicles and charging points, but again it does not tackle the long term problem of congested roads and the pressures on car parking in busy cities.
Time to park the car
The Government has an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and reduce emissions by 78% against 1990 levels in just 13 years time. In addition to that, we are facing issues in child and adult obesity and their related health issues, climate change, congestion and unsafe roads. Against a backdrop of soaring fuel (and electricity) costs, this looks like another missed opportunity to promote and invest in sustainable, active travel and reduce our dependence on the car.
Commenting on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities referred to his objective of “getting the rest of the country’s transport connectivity much closer to London’s.”
To achieve that, we need joined up transport planning that offers bike share options in towns and cities across the country and at railway stations for the “final mile” of the journey. We need to get more people walking and cycling: active travel is clean, green and improves your physical health and mental well-being.
Scooting into the future
We welcome more regulation on e-scooters. The only way that e-scooters can work safely as part of the urban micromobility revolution is with reasonable and safe maximum speed limits, reliable and effective lights and the recommended use of helmets.
With the right regulations in place and enforced, e-scooters can contribute to modal shift and become another way to reduce car use in congested cities.
Invest in active travel – the future of transport
Prince Charles also announced that the Government ‘will establish the UK Infrastructure Bank in legislation with objectives to support economic growth and the delivery of net zero’.
The UK Infrastructure Bank will offer private and public sector financing and local authority lending.
We would encourage local authorities to plan to invest in active travel and a future proof transport system for their region. By incorporating bike share into their plans, they can create an inclusive, sustainable, active travel system that will help deliver on cutting emissions, ease road congestion and urban parking problems whilst bringing benefits to their community’s collective physical health and mental well-being.
To find out more, take a look at some of Hourbike’s successful bike share schemes.