Sustainable road policy?

Table of contents


Definition and Description

Transport is a primary factor in environmental, social and economic development due to its association with aspects of accessibility levels, goods and people’s mobility. An investigation into the development of transport necessitates implementing a regular systematic efficient plan, which will look to improve the whole transportation system for the long term. Sustainable transport is strictly needed to change the quality of life for the better. Consequently, sustainable transport is considered to be founded upon a set of interrelated instructions which aims to improve people’s mobility based on the criteria of safety, social equality, minimum land use, recycling materials and lower impacts on the environment.


Green Highway Vision

The Highway Agency (HA) suggested the version 2030 project in 2003. The main objective of this project is to enhance the mobility of goods and people in the UK over thirty years and to predict, estimate and meet what the mobility needs in the future by considering three scenarios: global economy, sustainable lifestyle, and control and plan. Twelve visions have been proposed from this process, each depending on the aforementioned scenarios with a particular vision behind each one. The Green Highway is one of these visions and indicates to an interactive future with progressed sustainable principles such as: constructing sustainable roads and operating maintenance through using resources efficiently; “Green” materials application; high use of waste product recycling; and the re-assessing of highway design codes, considering the implications of climate change. In addition to this, noise-impact reduction and keeping biodiversity are taken into account through using eco-environment designs.

Mobility Vision

The second is vision 2050 which was proposed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in 2010. This vision imagines the sustainable future in a wider scope and attributes a longer period to make governance and business sustainable. This will be achieved by following a pathway which requires essential changes in lifestyle and policy. This pathway is supported by nine elements that link the present and the sustainable future in 2050. For instance, Mobility vision aims to improve the access provision universally for the insurance of safety and low impact mobility in order to make the best sustainable economy. In this context, to make reductions of the high volume of transportation and the information and communication technologies (ICT) it will use. Vehicle efficiency has improved through using sophisticated new technology and the alternative energy source, such as electricity, resulting in a significant decrease in the adverse impacts on the environment. Moreover, the intelligent transportation system (ITS) provides active enforcement and comprehensive mobility management which leads to safety improvement.

Vision Two

These visions relate to walking and cycling in the UK in 2030. It aims to introduce cycling and walking as an eco-friendly mode for getting rid of the current negative transportation impacts by considering three sustainable visions. This also looks at the future through the concept of social building, by concentrating on five locations in the UK to imagine these impacts on a typical city. For example, a car-free, public transport oriented future encourages the use of mass transport, walking and cycling, meaning a lower volume of cars which is the main mode currently used. The significant factors that share in this vision are exploitation sophisticated technology for cars design, electric cycles, improving walking path and bicycle lanes, and small electric modes for freightage goods. These will make a city have improved sociability, a high level of safety, reduce pollution and noise due to transport, and generate high accessibility.


Addressing Sustainability Dimensions

Green Highway Vision

Undoubtedly, there are three important dimensions that should be concurrently taken into consideration within implementing any sustainable future transport system: environment, social, and economic. The Green Highway vision considered the creation of sustainable environments through reducing noise nuisance, keeping biodiversity, recycling and using resources effectively. However there are other environmental aspects, such as land use and air pollution, which are not presented and impact on health more than noise. The social sustainable is presented in this vision but without clarifying how it will improve the transport sector and reduce its impacts on environment or cause an improvement in the community (Colantonio, 2007). Furthermore, the life quality enhancement results from the social sustainability (Polese and Stren, 2005). Moreover the lifestyle scenario encourages local communities to work together to achieve sustainability for life and to enhance life quality through improved technologies and lifestyle dependence that will reduce energy use and reliance on cars. The people’s tendency to choose sustainable areas to work and live is encouraged by taking land use plan into consideration (HA, 2003). Also the concept of road construction and maintenance operations with new advanced technique are viewed without indicating to its economic dimension. As well as these processes of road infrastructure, enhancements will promote the economy through revenues from tolls and taxes (Marks, 2002).

Mobility Vision

Comprehensively depending on the exploitation of advanced technology is the main principle of the mobility vision practicability. The environmental sustainable dimension is favourably addressed in this vision through implementing different measures, such as: reducing environment impacts; road congestion; accidents in terms of (number and cost). This will lead to a decrease in greenhouse gases and improving traffic by applying Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). Furthermore, the economic sustainable dimension is directly addressed through a concern with active transport accessibility which can enhance people’s mobility. This also includes goods freightage, inventing new vehicles, efficient alternative fuels, such as biofuels, high-efficient fuel aircraft, providing interactive transport infrastructure and new transportation means. Overall, this vision vastly considers most economic aspects. However, because of the high cost of biofuel production due to its dependence on feedstock, such as sugarcane, ethanol can be better for use in a commercial viability (Kojima and Johnson, 2006). However, new transport costs are considered as an important target in the transport sustainability, but it is not obviously addressed (Schwaab and Thielmann, 2001).

The social sustainable dimension is also addressed in this vision: through the provision of equal mobility for all; safer road networks and decreasing accident numbers close to zero (zero vision); cooperation between transportation companies with other relevant agencies; incorporation of the socio-economic environment with “integration transport system” (ITS) (WBCSD, 2009). However, the usefulness of non-motorised modes, such as cycling and walking, that improve social community and the environment are not mentioned (Tight et al., 2011). The poor class contribution is also not addressed in this vision, which is considered a key element in the social sustainability dimension.

The vision addressed the environmental sustainable dimension through the efforts to reduce noise and greenhouse gases. This was achieved through the use of sophisticated transportation technology such as alternative electrical energy vehicles and “superior aerodynamic” vehicle quality improvement. However, the addressing of biodiversity and land use impacts are neglected. Nevertheless, the manufacture process of electric cars can also impact adversely on the environment due to the fact that the battery is constructed from harmful materials and uses fossil fuels for its power (Anair and Mahmassani, 2012). According to Calle et al. (2012) the use of biofuels can impact negatively on the environment because it increases greenhouse emissions in other ways, such as non-carbon aircraft emissions and the feedstock production process. Furthermore, this could lead to a potential increase in the price of foodstuffs due to this process using a greater amount of land to produce biojetfuel (Tietenberg, 2000).

Vision Two

This vision for walking and cycling concentrated on urban areas. The economic dimension is clearly addressed so that it considers the enhancement of mobility through improving mass transport, increasing freightage transport efficiency, and constructing separate routes for both bicycles and pedestrians. This also includes supporting and encouraging commercial markets to provide pedestrian electronic tools, and electric-powered bikes and vans. Despite the benefit to human’s health and fitness, walking and cycling causes a significant reduction in travel and congestion costs which leads to an increase in productivity by reducing wastage time. Additionally, a massive reduction in road accident costs can be noticed by allocating dedicated routes for pedestrian and bicycles, based on a reduction in conflict points between bicycles, pedestrians and cars; each conflict point is responsible of the occurrence of a crash in any time and, thus, economic improvement (BCBC, 2009).

Social sustainability is vastly addressed in this vision. These will be achieved by applying the equality principle, social consolidation enhancement, public health promotion, and providing high social insurance within that future city which is espoused by this vision. However, it provides the typical social environment inclusion of required needs such as a higher socialised, better communicated, polite and cooperative people which is associated with highest safety levels and health quality. This also suggests roads which have lower car use, dedicate more space for children, and supply all required facilities for walking and cycling. In addition to this is the use of advanced technology in traffic systems, such as automatic vehicle speed reduction system (Tight et al., 2011).

This vision addresses the environment dimension by making a reduction in air pollution which leads to a reduction in CO2 emission as well as less transportation noise due to low car use and a greater dependence on walking and cycling. This also includes less land use, the use of eco-friendly cars and imposing strong car use restrictions. As well as this, the walking and cycling and other non-motorized modes are defined as environmental modes due to their compatibility with clean air and that they generate no noise pollution (COUNCIL, 2007).

Transport problems Area

Developing Countries

According to Gwilliam (2003), developing countries differ from developed countries with respect to of transportation. These differences are characterised by faster population growth, fast urban growth, car ownership, traffic congestion, environmental problems, and road accident and security issues. Movement problems added to the lack of road network quality and traffic management make it very difficult to compare and examine. The Green Highway and Vision Two for walking and cycling were placed to the UK situation to address the majority of the above-mentioned issues with a high efficiency, although it cannot be applied in the developing countries with the same efficiency. However, the “holistic approach [to] improving overall transport” has appeared as a global vision and can address the mobility of urban areas in developing countries. In this vision, the cities are categorized to four kinds, for instance, for addressing finance issues it suggests the participating of both private and public sectors.

Climate Change

The greenhouse emissions which are from transportation sectors are estimated about 24% globally, and it will increase 2.1% annually (Wright and Fulton, 2005). The CO2 emission was separately estimated to be about 22% in 2012 and was recognized as a main cause of climate change (IEA, 2012). However, addressing climate change can be seen in all three visions in different approaches, but vision two is the more effective because of its preference of the non-motorised modes such as walking, cycling and using eco-friendly mass transportation modes. The Green Highway vision aims to adopt the highway design code with the impacts of climate change instead of carbon cutting. Furthermore, the Mobility vision tends to reduce future greenhouse gas emission depending on the technology use with the presence of all transport modes.

Equity, social impacts and inclusion

The equity is considered to be a significant aspect due to its extensive influence by any transportation planning decision. However, it can be more effectively addressed through vision two, rather than other visions, because it is focused on increasing the concept of social sustainability (BCDC, 2009). Moreover, public transport accessibility, cycling and walking is crucial to make society more active, but in the mobility vision the economic improvement is taken into consideration depending on the sophisticated transportation mode technology. In addition to this, the equity improvement can be achieved by providing equal mobility.

Resource use, waste and global pollution

Resource use is a potential option in vision two through low car use as well as greater dependence on walking and cycling. In turn this makes a significant reduction in the consumption and use of resources, such as car manufacturing or backup materials, and this leads to the reduction of waste resulting from scrap. However, the Green Highway vision addresses this issue through the high efficiency resources consumption and full attention to recycling concept application. Moreover, the Mobility vision encourages aircrafts and vehicles markets to depend on alternative fuel and observe that this may lead to an increase in resource consumption, such as compound materials which are used in the aircraft manufacturing. However, the potential for recycling carbon fibre has been was found (Job, 2010). Conversely, other modes need mass use of resources as well as the technological advancement, and ultimately, global pollution is inevitable.


The Green Highway vision concerns the addressing of biodiversity conservation through constructing of wild movement green bridges and tunnels, and water ponds. However, the Mobility vision has an adverse impact on biodiversity due to its dependence on using the largest land area to provide biojetfuel as an alternative future energy (Kojima and Johnson, 2006). Furthermore, biodiversity has not been influenced by the vision two for concentration on improving road network infrastructure in urban areas.

Energy Security

According to DECC (2012), the transport sector contributed about 38% of total energy consumption in 2011. The Green Highway vision can impact positively in the reduction of energy consumption to some extent through focusing on road infrastructure improvement and implementing recycling materials interns to reduce energy consumption by implementing recycling and minimizing the road distance. However, in the Mobility vision, the energy security is addressed efficiently by introducing alternative fuels such as biofuel to replace fossil fuel which leads to energy security effectively (Kojima and Johnson, 2006). In the scope of foodstuffs and climate change, decreasing it seems not compatible and the increasing desire and the biofuel’s wide spread will pose a risk to food security and climate change (Field et al., 2008). Additionally, in vision two the focus on walking and cycling as well as lower car use plays a significant role in energy security; moreover, the aircraft and electric bicycle manufacturing require energy.


Safety is an issue that is directly related to public life. However, this issue has not been considered in the Green Highway vision. Nevertheless, the safety is addressed in vision two through the use of alternative biofuels which are characterised by low carbon emission as well as zero vision which address safety through reducing the accidents number to close to zero. Furthermore, safety is addressed more efficiently through the use of technology that reduces vehicle speed automatically and allocates segregated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

Landscape and heritage

The Green Highway vision damages landscape and heritage because of their adversely influence on the transportation infrastructure improvement process (Seiler, 2001). Though, in the Mobility vision the largest land use is to provide the requiring energy and may adversely impact the landscape. However, in vision two, improving the transportation infrastructure is based on the existing reality; therefore it does not impact on the landscape.


The Green Highway vision addresses noise through the use of noise barriers and a defeatist road surface. However, the Mobility vision addresses noise reduction through the use electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and aircraft with superior aerodynamics deployment. Furthermore, vision two contributes to the reduction of noise through low car use, walking and cycling and using electric modes.

Air pollution

The Green Highway vision addresses air pollution to some degree, but not directly. However, the Mobility vision addresses this issue interactively through low carbon emission from transportation, using electric vehicles, hybrids, eco-friendly ships and aircrafts. In addition to this, it is significantly addressed by vision two through low car use, depending on walking and cycling.

Severance and pedestrian issues

The Green Highway vision does not address severance and pedestrian safety. However, there is full attention given to public safety in the Mobility vision through pollution reduction and low carbon mobility. Moreover, vision two addresses this issue more effectively through improving pedestrian and cyclist’s mobility by allocating separate lanes for their movement and low car use.


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