With its close links to motorways, national rail lines and Heathrow airport Slough is a transport hub. This chapter, however, focuses on road transport only. Road transport encompasses not only private car use but also public transport, commercial (freight) vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Roads are not only used for transport but also as places for living, working and leisure, creating a complex system in which both beneficial and deleterious effects on health can arise.

Road transport provides access to opportunities for education, work, social contacts and leisure. It can facilitate physical activity as part of everyday life through walking and cycling, enabling people to maintain good health and to help prevent conditions including obesity, circulatory disease, diabetes and some cancers. Bad transport planning however can work to increase injury and polution, promoite inactivity, limit independence and disrupt social networks.

(Source: Faculty of Public Health: Transport and Health)

What do we know?

Since the 1970s, travel by bicycle, bus and on foot have declined in the UK. Travel by car has increased not just because journeys formerly taken by other modes have transport have been replaced by car journeys, but also because the number of journeys we make and the distances we travel continues to incrase.

The increasing affordability and convenience of car travel have been a factor in increasing our frequency and distance of travel but has also resulted, over the last half centurty, in a change in planning of our towns to accommodate more cars which sometimes discourage pedestrians therefore resulting in a reinforcing cycle. In recent years the potential negative effect of this trend have been recognised and efforts made towards making towns and cities more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

(Source: Faculty of Public Health: Transport and Health)

Facts, Figures and trends

Travel challenges and opportunities are directly affected by car ownership. Figure 1 shows the number of cars (or vans) available to Slough households per number of people based on data from the 2011 Census. There are around 1.2 cars or vans for every person in Slough. The majority of households do have access to one or more cars.

Figure 1: Ratio of car (or vans) to persons 2011

Figure 1: Ratio of car (or vans) to persons 2011

Source: Census 2011

People with access to a car tend, not surprisingly, to use their vehicles for many if not most trips - even short ones. Figure 2 shows the proportion of residents who travelled to work by car compared to other forms of transport based on data from the 2011 Census.

The majority of people in Slough travel to work using a car or van – a higher proportion than the national average. More people in Slough use the train or the bus to get to work. Fewer participate in active travel, i.e. walking or cycling.

Figure 2: Method of travel to work 2011

Figure 2: Method of travel to work 2011

Source: Census 2011

This relatively low participation in walking and cycling is also shown by the Sport England Active People Survey published by the Department for Transport in August 2012 Walking and Cycling Statistics.

Data on air quality, noise and road safety, which also affect people's choice of mode of transport, are included in other sections of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) including the sections 'Environment' and 'Road Safety'.

National and local strategies (current best practices)

National Strategy

Local Strategy

Slough’s Third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) sets out strategy for the 15 years to 2026. It is backed up by Implementation Plans which outline short term actions. The LTP3 has 5 themes covering community cohesion; health and wellbeing; community safety; environment; and economy and skills. This is in recognition of the wide impact that transport has across the borough.

This section focuses on the health and wellbeing theme which is broken down in the LTP3 into 5 headings:

  1. Air quality: measures to reduce pollution from traffic
  2. Healthy active travel: promoting and facilitating more walking and cycling
  3. Noise: working with DEFRA on action plans for areas with significant traffic noise
  4. Neighbourhood links: better access for communities on foot and by cycle
  5. Comfortable and convenient travel: public transport interchanges, ticketing and information.
Supplementary documents to accompany the transport plan are available for Accessibility, Cycling, Walking and Smarter choices.

Local Sustainable Transport Fund project details are available here: Smarter Travel Slough.

Local Activity

  • Air quality and Sustainability
    The council has now completed installing the rapid charger in the town and subsequently installed further charging units in its car parks through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
    Further bids have been submitted for the funding of an Electric car club and a bid will be submitted to the Office of Low Emission Vehicles for funding electric buses. This will be a joint bid with Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) and First Bus.
  • Healthy Active Travel
    The council’s bid to the DfT Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) was successful in securing a fourth year of financial support for the ‘Transport for Slough’ project. The ‘Transport for Slough’ project aims to encourage more and more schoolchildren (and their parents) and people who work in the borough to walk or cycle; the project supplements existing initiatives to promote the benefits of active travel. The LSTF has paid for the expansion of the Slough Cycle Hire and the more recent Bike Hub. Further investment has gone into schools and businesses to deliver behavioural change.
  • Neighbourhood links
    The Transport for Slough project includes provision of an East-West cycle link from the town centre westwards to the Slough Trading Estate and local links to serve communities in the area. We are now consistently delivering 750 bikeability spaces every year to school children. In September 2015 the Council with HAL will introduce a 24/7 service from Slough to Heathrow using the 7 series buses, reducing the need for car use.
  • Comfortable and convenient travel:
    A better link has been provided between the town centre bus and rail stations as part of the Heart of Slough project. Further investment has been put into new bus shelters, better footway links to stops and more real time information to make bus travel more attractive as well as an extensive programme of works related to the Better Area Bus Fund reducing journey times to Heathrow and reducing congestion.

The council has been successful in securing funding for 5 major schemes all of which look to improve air quality and 3 look to improve public transport use.

What is this telling us?

One of the aims of the DfT Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) Transport for Slough project is to promote more walking and cycling in the borough but it is too early to have had an impact.

What are the unmet needs/service gaps?

Department for Transport (DfT) funding for the DfT Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) Transport for Slough project is supporting the council’s active travel initiatives up to March 2015 but longer term funding will be needed to continue this work. LTP3 funding for the improvement and maintenance of pedestrian and cycling facilities is subject to competing demands for investment in other transport sectors.

Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations:

  • feedback from General Practices on local transport issues would be helpful
  • more exploration needed on links between public health function and local transport policy
  • JSNA could be improved in future with addition of local data extracted from the LTP3 Supplementary Strategy Documents when updated; and information on the progress of the LSTF Transport for Slough project.

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