Comparative car use: UK & elsewhere

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  • Comparative car use: UK & elsewhere
  • Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    In light of the current thread on the extinction rebellion’s advocacy that we “build cities that transport people, not cars”, I got thinking about other countries/cities I have spent time in, and could not think of one that was as bad as the UK.

    One day in Montreal last year, I was walking from my hotel to the train station on what should have been one of the busiest streets at one of the busiest times of day. It was absolutely freezing outside, yet you could have watched the tumbleweeds blowing across the road. Why was this? The metro system, deep underground, was moving like clockwork, and people just didn’t feel the need to drive.

    That’s just one example, of course, but I would be interested to know what people’s experience is in other countries.

    Is the UK better or worse by your reckoning?

    tjagain
    Member

    The only other country I have a fair amount of experience of is the netherlands – the UK is much much worse for relying on cars

    baboonz
    Member

    Spain also depends very heavily on cars, more so than the uk.

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    Montreal is very good for North America as is Toronto but that’s in the centre. Generally North America has very poor public transport infrastructure and hence they are very car centric. The UK in my experience is average for public transport use for a small country with +60million people. Some areas are hugely dependent on public transport – look at London

    Premier Icon bikebouy
    Subscriber

    France, Italy and Spain are heavily reliant on personal vehicles. It’s the geography innit. We may think they’ve got better train infrastructure, and they have, but getting from point to point involves vehicles.

    The UK being geographically smaller you’d think we’d have cracked the point to point transport infrastructure, but we haven’t because nobody wants it and the government don’t really care either. They’re just after your taxation for usage and it’ll be a very long time before they decide what to do about the £28bn they’ll loose if EV vehicles take over and the loss in tax and vat revenue..

    willard
    Member

    Sweden is odd… It’s big, so people have to use cars to get between towns/cities, but we do have a superb rail network and busses are good too. In Stockholm, I cannot think of a worse way to get round than by car (mainly because parking is terrible). Cycling is easy, subway really efficient and many good bus routes.

    Saying that, I took the car last night to the other side of town and it was easy enough to do, although I found out that I could have taken the subway easily enough as well.

    kerley
    Member

    The US is pretty bad. Spent a few weeks working in Columbus and Delaware and they don’t even have pavements. I walked from the office back to my hotel (around 1 mile) and everyone though I was crazy. After walking along grass verges to get there I saw why.

    Quito in Ecuador is pretty congested with cars, though they do have lots of buses

    Edinburgh is a weird one. The bus network and provision is really good, but there is quite a lot of congestion – the streets are very narrow. Buses could be improved by having more cross city buses – at the moment you often have to come in from the outskirts to the centre and back out again to move radially around the city (more spokes in a wheel than a spider web). Having a one hour single ticket that let you change buses would help a lot too.

    Manila’s pretty bad but I’d say if you were to average out the UK then it is on a par with the Philippines in general.

    footflaps
    Member

    Spent a few weeks working in Columbus and Delaware and they don’t even have pavements.

    Same in silicon valley, last company had an office in SunnyVale (or was it Dale*), no pavements either….

    * one exists, the other is in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    footflaps
    Member

    Worst place for driving I’ve been to is Lagos Nigeria, no public transport and no pollution controls for cars / trucks.

    Premier Icon tomd
    Subscriber

    Edinburgh is a weird one. The bus network and provision is really good, but there is quite a lot of congestion – the streets are very narrow. Buses could be improved by having more cross city buses – at the moment you often have to come in from the outskirts to the centre and back out again to move radially around the city (more spokes in a wheel than a spider web). Having a one hour single ticket that let you change buses would help a lot too.

    I agree with what you’re saying. I used to live just outside Edinburgh and got the bus to work 1 day a week or so. The Edinburgh buses were great in terms of cost and frequency, really amamzing. The problem was the traffic. I could cycle the 9 miles to the city centre quicker than get the bus (the bus averaged ~9mph at rush hour). If they got radical and really create some proper bus routes it would be a game changer.

    IME of travelling to the hinterlands of Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Norway and Finland with work was that they all relied heavily/completely on personal car use for day to day life outside of city centres. The main difference is that intercity connections by public transport and inner city urban public transport are better. The UK manages to be shit in all areas of transport. Norway seemed to be making a big effot on EVs even a few year back though.

    tjagain
    Member

    Every year in Edinburgh someone runs a comparison between the time taken for the same journey by various means. Cars usually come last IIRC. My google fu has let me down and I cannot find it.

    Every year in Edinburgh someone runs a comparison between the time taken for the same journey by various means. Cars usually come last IIRC. My google fu has let me down and I cannot find it.

    Here’s one from London. The bicycle won.

    While London public transport is excellent (lots of money spent on it), the Paris Metro pisses all over it.

    Service provision and frequency just as good. However, no zones and a flat rate ticket is 1.80 Euro

    London tube is £4.90 if you buy a ticket from the machine and £2.90 -> £4.70 if you use contactless

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    If you want to see how not to do it. Try São Paulo, definitely the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. Also massively polluted.

    Just saw today that 100million exits are recorded at Waterloo Station every year. That’s an amazing amount of people moving.

    mogrim
    Member

    Spain also depends very heavily on cars, more so than the uk.

    Depends – most of the people I know living in Madrid don’t use their cars to get to work, for example. And the trains coming in from outside town are always full. But the idea of taking a bike to ride a mile (or 1.6km) to run an errand is totally alien here, it’d be the car 99% of the time.

    koldun
    Member

    @mogrim, Spain is quite reliant on cars for out of town transport (the train network is good for the cities but is a bit hit and miss elsewhere). Public transport in the cities seems generally excellent (from the ones i have visited). I’d still rate Spain as less reliant on cars than the UK.

    mogrim
    Member

    I know it’s hit and miss outside of Spanish cities, I live outside one 🙂

    Premier Icon martymac
    Subscriber

    They’re just after your taxation for usage and it’ll be a very long time before they decide what to do about the £28bn they’ll loose if EV vehicles take over and the loss in tax and vat revenue

    I think you’ve answered your own question there tbh, electricity will need to be taxed to replace the income from fuel duty.
    The government won’t lose anything, if tax on one thing is reduced, something else will go up to fix the shortfall.

    cbike
    Member

    Shanghai.

    Electric motorcycles everywhere. They seem to do what Transit vans do here.
    Trucks and vans very rare in the city – only seem to come at Night.
    Massive roads intended for future demand but pretty good bicycle lanes.
    Good underground network built under the road network cut and cover style.
    Daily use Services and Housing within walking distance of each other.

    Berlin/Germany

    Housing areas have no through routes available as Rat runs. Traffic speeds low. They do like to use a car though.

    Korea
    Big Chinese style infra. Good Rail and Underground and pretty good buses. Obsessed with the car. Congestion at popular leisure destinations. Bicycle not a consideration unless a leisure route. Walking not considered much unless leisure but services close to housing. Vertical Villages in rural areas to save space for agriculture. Walking parks with dedicated retail outlets for walking equipment.

    rs
    Member

    I think you’ve answered your own question there tbh, electricity will need to be taxed to replace the income from fuel duty.

    GPS based mobility pricing, pay by the km to use the roads, variable pricing subject to time of day, etc.

    baboonz
    Member

    @mogrim

    Going into big cities like Madrid and Barcelona are the exception, or maybe it’s just the C.Valenciana that is obsessed with driving.

    If I lived in those, I’d probably own a motorbike.

    However I do think the trend is changing, people are demanding higher accessibility especially for bikes.

    Murray
    Member

    Henderson, Nevada (local side of Las Vegas) is surprisingly good for walking and biking but most people take cars anyway.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    Glasgow has possibly the smallest metro system in the world but has pretty good suburban rail and bus coverage.

    Most people still drive, cycle provision is really patchy to non existent.

    Henderson, Nevada

    Another thing you need to consider is that walking a mile in the Summer in Nevada, or Texas, or Sydney might mean actual death. Some parts of the world now seemed locked into a cycle of air conditioned cars being the only way to get round because of the climate change being caused, in part, by everyone driving around in air conditioned cars.

    Loughan
    Member

    While London public transport is excellent (lots of money spent on it), the Paris Metro pisses all over it.

    When it runs but there’s been a strike for weeks and colleague’s daughter living in Paris at the moment is getting quite fit walking the 1.5hrs to & from the office everyday.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    All of this is well and good, but relies upon people living in cities…

    What about the people who don’t actually live in a city… or indeed a town…. What do you propose for them ?

    My nearest supermarket is 7 miles… I don’t live in the wilderness, just a generic village.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    GPS based mobility pricing, pay by the km to use the roads, variable pricing subject to time of day, etc.

    It might work for new cars as they could be fitted at the factory, or as a prerequisite for registration of imported cars.

    But for everything else I suspect a growing ANPR based system is more likely to be the preferred option. Start with big motorways and cities, and expand it to towns. Could be quite effective as it simultaneously
    – provides taxation income
    – penalizes journeys that pass through several towns or go between them (i.e. ones that a train could do).
    – penalizes short trips around town which buses can do. You wouldn’t drive to TESCO to get £5 of shopping if there was a £5 charge to drive there.

    That or everyone just pays a mileage based tax when it comes round to MOT time and it’s recorded. Keeps it simple, still incentivizes EV’s, doesn’t overly penalize the classic/historic vehicles (I resented paying the same tax for the MG doing a few hundred miles a year as the main car doing 10,000-30,000).

    All of this is well and good, but relies upon people living in cities…

    What about the people who don’t actually live in a city… or indeed a town…. What do you propose for them ?

    My nearest supermarket is 7 miles… I don’t live in the wilderness, just a generic village.

    5/6ths of the population live in urban areas. So reducing their car use reduces 5/6ths of the problem.

    Then you get onto EV’s and other solutions for the minorities needs.

    But a lot of the problem is people living and working in different places. How many people living in rural areas actually work locally, or do they live in rural areas because they want to and car ownership makes it possible. It must be an astonishingly small number in the first category. For everyone else at some point it was a choice (and a bad one from an environmental perspective).

    alpin
    Member

    Munich’s public transport is very good with decent links extending upto 70km from the centre of town, but still lots of cars and is car orientated. Might have something to do with BMW HQ and all its other departments being here.

    Traffic is a nightmare. Personally I never drive in or through town unless I’m leaving town. Bike or underground for me.

    Other German cities are similar. Even Nurembuerg, a city of half a million has an underground system.

    alpin
    Member

    mileage based tax

    This is what we need…. Tax based on mileage and times that the vehicle is in use.

    I might cover around 10,000km a year, but 90% of those kms are whilst on holiday, away from towns and not during peak times yet I pay the same amount of tax and insurance as someone who commutes hundreds of km a day.

    Daft.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    I might cover around 10,000km a year, but 90% of those kms are whilst on holiday, away from towns and not during peak times yet I pay the same amount of tax and insurance as someone who commutes hundreds of km a day.

    CO2 is CO2, doesn’t matter if you created it for business or fun.

    Congestion charging and clean air zones are a slightly different matter.

    At the moment I doubt I’ll do 3000 miles this year split between two cars, primarily because I choose to live near where I work so don’t commute. But you could very easily argue that those 3000 miles are almost all ones that could be cut (driving to races, holidays, visiting relatives etc).

    FWIW I envisaged it being about the same as fuel duty, i.e. ~10p/mile for a small hatchback and escalating from there, could be collected in arrears via PAYE a bit like student loans are. Plus say an additional 10p/mile for long trips using trunk routes (to encourage train use) and a £10 charge for entering built up areas (to encourage bus/tram park and ride use). That way you penalize those who have the option to use public transport, and a rural EV trip is charged the bare minimum because you’ll never get a bus between very village.

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