The Campaign for Better Transport has put together the 2014 Car Dependency Scorecard listing how different towns and cities measure up for public transport, cycle and walking facilities and sustainable transport.
According to the research, the UK’s worst town not to have a car is Peterborough, followed by Colchester, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Wigan.
While Peterborough was singled out for its weaknesses in public transport infrastructure and heavy reliance on cars, signs of hope were noted, with many cycling regularly and therefore the scope and will for active travel should the council act on that.
Milton Keynes, being spread out over a wide area, means people have longer distances to travel, with a road system geared up for car use rather than cost-effective public transport. Colchester’s poor score came being ranked lowest for accessiblity and planning.
Of all the cities, residents in Colchester are least likely to be able to get to primary school, work or the town centre by walking or public transport – a problem exacerbated by developments spread out around the edges of the city.
At the top of the table is London, Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton & Hove and Newcastle.
The capital’s extensive public transport facilities, coupled with policies that encourage alternatives to driving, make it the least car dependent city in the survey. The report added: "The capital’s control of its transport policy offers lessons for other cities and policy makers keen to reduce car dependency."
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport said: "To be good places to live and work, towns and cities need good transport. The most successful places in our research give people a choice in how you get around. They have good quality public transport, plan new development thoughtfully and make it easy and safe for people to cycle and walk.
"There is a lot that Government can do to make our cities less car dependent. What emerges strongly from the research is that local control often goes hand in hand with smarter policies and better targeted investments. More devolution to English cities could mean more integrated and greener transport networks that make our towns and cities better places."
The press statement closed on a salient point for councils weighing up building more roads: "There are also a number of cities where bypasses are currently being considered, such as Stockport, Norwich and Northampton. The policy decision must be made here whether to concentrate on building new roads and becoming more like the car dependent cities towards the bottom of the scorecard, or to choose another direction as cities at the top have done, with investment and encouragement of alternative modes of transport."
For more reading on the fascinating topic, head to www.bettertransport.org.uk