Under Secretary of State for Transport Charlotte Atkins said building more roads can result in more congestion but city clubs can help ease traffic flows by reducing cars on the roads.
Atkins was speaking at the launch of the WhizzGo car club in Camden, London. It follows the announcement that Camden Council has become the first local authority in London to allow companies to run environmentally-friendly car clubs (Fleet NewsNet, March 17).
The MP said: ‘There is a school of thought in the transport world that the Government should build its way out of congestion problems, with a major programme of new motorways and highways across the country.
‘While we are extending capacity where it is most urgently needed, there is clear evidence that building more and more roads does not solve congestion. In fact, it creates congestion.’
The WhizzGo scheme aims to offer inhabitants the use of a car without the associated costs. Cars can be hired for a minimum of an hour.
Praising the use of car clubs, Atkins said: ‘Car clubs shine out like a beacon of rationality on our congested streets – streets brought to a standstill by vehicles with one occupant, perhaps a commuter, a parent on the way back from the school drop-off, or a sales rep.
‘I sometimes think that we British are too concerned with owning and possessing our cars – which means two and three-car families are no longer a rarity. If we are to change the mindset from vehicle ownership to vehicle usage, we need schemes like the WhizzGo London City Car Club to succeed.’
WHIZZGO plans to buy 120 Citroen C3 cars a year as it rolls out its services to urban authorities throughout the UK. Those used in Camden have all been converted to run on LPG so are exempt from the London congestion charge. They are operated on three-year, 30,000-mile HSBC Vehicle Leasing contract hire arrangements.