There have been remarkable advances in technology in terms of transportation to date. Since cars came to fruition, cities and towns have struggled to keep up. You only need to look at the larger cities in the world to see the endless lanes that have been added to motorways to allow more traffic, only for an increasing number of cars to congest them. That is all starting to change as city councils are starting to take a new approach to the commute.
City planners have started to radically revise how they plan a city. While once it was about big open streets to fit as many cars as possible, things are changing. London is a prime example. Between 1996 and 2010 London has lowered capacity for private vehicles by 30% and other cities are doing the same. While in the past cities wanted to make it as easy to come to the city as possible they are now saying come to the city but don’t use your car.
This is partially driven (excuse the pun) by environmental concerns but the real driver (I know I’m sorry) is congestion. The average commuter in London spends 74 hours a year in traffic alone. This is having a huge impact on mental health, business profitability, the environment and the overall appeal of the city. When choosing a place to live one of the first things people now consider is the commute.
Cities are tackling this problem by removing cars from the roads and forcing people to opt for public transport. This is just the first step in a greater plan. The next step is to get more people to walk to work when possible.
One of the largest costs to a government is health spending. Almost half of the people in the UK do not exercise enough and while that is a depressing statistic on its own, it is an expensive statistic too. Cities are being encouraged to get more people to walk to work instead of drive, or even the bus.
Studies have shown that if you live under 2.2 miles from your work you may be better off walking. While a bus may take about 30 minutes and the walk may take 55 minutes the difference is less significant when you consider the time taken to walk to the bus, waiting time, delay time and the cost to your happiness of having to share a bus if it is overcrowded. When you weigh it all up, walking is often the best approach.
Watch out for cities that will push the walking option even more in the future.