Transport has key role in shaping sustainable suburbs in post-COVID era, says UTG report

Transport has a key role to play in shaping a new and sustainable future for suburban life, argues a new report, ‘The Good Life: The role of transport in shaping a new and sustainable era for suburbs’ published by the Urban Transport Group.

The report highlights that around 80 per cent of Britons live in suburbs, yet these areas are often neglected when it comes to transport planning, losing out to powerful voices in the city and the countryside. It argues that given that suburbs are where most of us live, there can be no decarbonisation of transport without specific measures to decarbonise transport in the suburbs.

The report presents four foundations of suburbs for a new era: Help people to access more of what they need locally; Provide family-friendly sustainable transport choices; Prioritise gentle densification around sustainable transport infrastructure; Provide reliable, convenient connections to the nearest town or city and key employment sites

In addition to the four foundations, the report urges policy makers to join the dots between transport and the decarbonisation and adaptation of the suburbs more widely, including using community microgrids to power homes and transport, and the integration of blue and green assets, like rain gardens and green roofs, into transport infrastructure.

The report states: “We are a nation of suburbanites. However, the ubiquity of suburban living is often not reflected in transport policy. We frequently fail to fully engage with, or even mention, suburban transport patterns and needs. Instead, cities, and to a lesser extent, rural communities tend to monopolise the policy landscape.”

Rebecca Fuller, assistant director, Urban Transport Group, and author of the report, says: “The pandemic has forced us to move away from the idea that suburban transport is mostly about moving commuters in and out of town and city centres. The suburbs feature many more journey types, made by a diverse group of people, and these journeys now need to be made more sustainably in the face of the climate crisis.

“Far more attention needs to be made to suburban transport planning now than it has in the past. This report sets out the transport foundations for a new era for suburbs, and whilst it presents some potential solutions, it also aims to trigger wider debate about the role transport can play and the specific transport solutions that will help suburbs to thrive in a sustainable and equitable way.”

The Good Life: The role of transport in shaping a new and sustainable era for suburbs – can be downloaded here.