In many towns and cities outside London, we have come to associate our freedom to move conveniently between work, home and shops with use of a private car.

Our lives are busy, complicated and demanding, and in badly designed urban areas, a car feels essential.

However, with transport accounting for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions and rising, with road transport responsible for 86 per cent of that, sustainable transport planning is fundamental to meeting carbon reduction targets.

Coupled with spatial planning, transport planning can also improve health, the economy and quality of life.

There are four ways to reduce transport carbon emissions, and all need to be pursued:

  • fewer trips
  • shorter trips
  • using more sustainable modes of transport
  • increasing vehicle efficiency and occupancy.

Linking transport and urban planning can greatly enhance the effectiveness of policies to achieve the first three objectives – for example by thinking strategically about:

  • appropriate sites for urban extensions
  • the ability to connect to existing settlements
  • the location and connectivity of homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, leisure facilities and green spaces
  • the role of street patterns and design in making it easier to walk, cycle or take public transport to school, work, leisure or shopping, rather than drive.

The benefits of sustainable transport planning also include a healthier environment through less air pollution. There are fewer road traffic accidents and the growing restrictions placed on children’s lives and movement can begin to be eased. There is a more resilient local economy through increased footfall, a positive effect on property values and reduced costs from traffic congestion. There is improved social cohesiveness with open and public spaces all more inviting to go to and linger in with less traffic. People have better journeys, by whichever mode, with fewer cars on the road.

More about transport


Transport advice

Browse our advice about sustainable transport planning.

Transport examples

Examples of good practice in transport planning and management exist in the UK and around the world.

Transport policy

Local authorities have a crucial role to play in developing sustainable transport.

Transport leadership for local authorities

Local authorities have a key opportunity to link the creation of more sustainable communities and improving quality of life with transport planning.

Transport benefits

Sustainable transport improves our health and quality of life as well as helping to combat climate change through reduced carbon emissions.

CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield