Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Children's Play Council (IT 49)

  The Children's Play Council welcomes the broad thrust of the Government's Integrated Transport White Paper. In particular, the document recognises the damaging impact of road traffic growth on society, including children, and contains useful strategies for reversing this damage.

  The Council is particularly pleased to note the White Paper's support for piloting the "home zone" design mode for residential streets, which has successfully used in many European countries to create genuine "streets for people"—where children can play, neighbours can meet and chat in comfort and the car driver is a guest. Home zones embody many of the core ideals of the White Paper—striking a better balance between drivers and other road users, creating a better environment, promoting sustainable transport choices. They could be said to bring the issue of car dependence literally to people's front doors.

  In Europe, the `home zone' model incorporates legal measures to give priority to pedestrians. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions has stated that road traffic legislation does not allow such measures to be introduced by highway authorities in the UK. The Council believes that such powers would be very helpful, if not vital, for successful introduction in the UK. Over 200 MPs, who have signed Helen Brinton MP's EDM on the issue, agree. Hence we would be keen for the Select Committee to explore the need for new legislation.

  On the question of traffic growth, the Council (as a supporter of both Road Traffic Reduction Bills) is disappointed that the White Paper was not more ambitious in its aim. There are already too many cars on the roads. And for the sake of giving children the freedom that they deserve to move around their localities, we must reduce the level of motor vehicle traffic. We would ask the Committee to press the Government on the importance of setting targets that aim to achieve real reductions.

  Finally, the Council welcomes the White Paper's proposal to conduct a national review of speed limits. Speed is relevant to many of the White Paper's concerns, including quality of life, road safety, modal use and pollution, as cogently argued by the recently-established Slower Speeds Initiative. In both urban and rural areas, constant streams of cars are travelling at speed a few feet from people's front doors, severing communities and isolating residents—especially those without access to the car, such as children and many older people. The Council is keen to see this review deliver real benefits, and asks the Committee to explore in more detail the Government's plans.

Tim Gill


Children's Play Council

September 1998

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