Rural traffic set to double in 30 years

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The Independent Online
Rural roads are set to suffer the impact of car levels that more than double over the next 30 years, according to an environmental report published today. Some counties could even face a three-fold increase in traffic, the Council for the Protection of Rural England warn.

The CPRE has published a map of England showing likely traffic growth on country roads over the next 30 years. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cleveland, Dorset, Nottinghamshire and East and West Sussex could all face a trebling by the year 2025, it predicts. And it says that all the English counties face a doubling by 2025, with the lowest increase forecast for Cumbria (123 per cent rise).

"We may still be some way from 'gridlock' in the countryside, but even quite small increases in traffic levels or speeds can have a big impact on the character of rural areas and whether it feels safe to walk or cycle," CPRE transport campaigner Lilli Matson said.

She added: "The verges and hedgerows of country lanes are being damaged by heavy lorries and speeding cars, while people are increasingly 'driven' into their cars to escape the threat from other traffic."

The CPRE said that building more rural roads was not the answer. Instead, it called for a new approach and suggested:

t Lowering speed limits;

t Action to stop heavy lorries "rat-running" on country lanes;

t Traffic-calming measures;

t More government money to help solve problems on rural roads;

t Action to increase the real costs of car travel, which are now falling;

t More new developments in urban areas which can be reached by public transport or bike or on foot.