Motorised travel is often said to have brought freedom and a better life to people and societies across the world.
Much less emphasised, however, are the costs. Ever since the publication of the ‘Brundtland report’ in 1987 there has been a broad consensus that sustainable development rests upon three pillars: environment, economy and society. The economic pillar is thoroughly discussed in arguments for and against particular European transport policies; and environmental issues are well-publicised. The nature of transport’s environmental and economic costs is well-known and generally agreed. But the social pillar of sustainability is often neglected: the social ramifications are unclear and the social/psychological factors supporting unsustainable transport are often forgotten. It is as if the social pillar has become sustainability’s poor cousin.
All types of motorised transport leave their mark on the environment to a greater or lesser extent. The challenge is to find the right balance and mix of policies that can lead to the best possible outcome for society as a whole, both now and in the future. This cannot be undertaken without an understanding of the social issues involved.