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Pathways to an inclusive low-car city

Creating low-car futures must be a process which actively involves disabled people in order to overcome the challenges and barriers they face

23 February 2022
A visual representation of the difference between equality and equity. In the equality situation, four people with varying height or disability requirements are attempting to use the same bicycle. In the equity situation, the same four people use four bikes adapted to those requirements (from the report)
A visual representation of the difference between equality and equity. In the equality situation, four people with varying height or disability requirements are attempting to use the same bicycle. In the equity situation, the same four people use four bikes adapted to those requirements (from the report)

 

In collaboration with University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy, climate charity We Are Possible have published a report detailing pathways to achieving an inclusive low-car city. It explores the problems experienced by disabled people in our cities, and the impacts of the low-car transition on disabled people.

The report's findings translate into a set of specific policy recommendations outlined at the end of this report.

With transport accounting for 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, a transition away from mass private car ownership in cities is needed to tackle the climate crisis. Creating these low-car futures must be a process which actively involves disabled people in order to best overcome the daily challenges and barriers they face.

One study participant said: "By getting more people who are able to use public transport using public transport, cities would be more open for disabled people to access it by whatever means.

"We also need substantial improvements to walking, wheeling and cycling environments as well as a public transport system accessible to all -  giving everyone more car-free options."

Another was more direct: “It would just be an impossible existence for me if I wasn’t allowed to have a car”.

Disabled people are really concerned about the climate crisis and they know that massive changes are needed to meet our climate goals. Our new report looks to the future of car-free cities with accessibility for all. 

This is particularly important where a situation of 'transport disability’ already exists, where the limited accessibility of different available transport options further disables certain groups in society, including people with a variety of impairments , the elderly and children.

Around 20% of the UK population have some kind of impairment that limits their day-to-day activities, with access to suitable transportation being a key barrier to participation in everyday life. In 2019, people who said they had a mobility difficulty made, on average, a third fewer trips than those without. The barriers disabled people face tend to fall into broad categories: inaccessibility of the built environment, inaccessibility and poor connectivity of public transport and barriers for those disabled people who currently rely on a car.

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