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.
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 Travel by car has increased not just because journeys formerly taken by other modes have transport have been replaced by car journeys, but also because the number of journeys we make and the distances we travel continues to incrase.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.
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.
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.
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'.
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:
Local Sustainable Transport Fund project details are available here: Smarter Travel Slough.
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.
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.
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.