Acute Hospitals, Parking and Green Travel Plans
CUMMINS P and CRAMPTON G, University of Reading, UK
Hospitals are major attractors ofjottmeys in a locality, as large employers and also as a focus for trips by patients and visitors. It is not uncommon for a District General Hospital serving about 300,000 people to attract more than half a million trips a
Hospitals are major attractors ofjottmeys in a locality, as large employers and also as a focus for trips by patients and visitors. It is not uncommon for a District General Hospital serving about 300,000 people to attract more than half a million trips a year by staff, and a similar number by patients. Journeys by visitors add to the total. Increasingly, over the past decade, the government and environmental bodies have been encouraging the preparation of green transport plans as a means of improving environmental sustainability and reducing congestion.
In the recent Transport White Paper, A new Deal for Transport (DETR 1998), and in Policy and Planning Guidance Notes, hospitals are mentioned specifically as sites to which car travel should be reduced. The White Paper says, for instance, in paragraph 5.24 that:
"We are particularly keen that hospitals are seen to be taking the lead in changing travel habits. By the very nature of their work, hospitals should be sending the right messages to their communities on acting responsibly on health issues. We would like to see all hospitals producing green transport plans."
In our study, a joint initiative by the Research Endowment Trust Fund of the University of Reading, Reading Borough Council and the Royal Berkshire Hospital, we have indeed found emphasis from local authorities on green transport planning by hospitals. However, we have also found that that the question of whether hospitals should indeed be in the vanguard of organisations limiting car use has not been closely considered, especially among local authority planners.
Conversely, in a survey of almost eighty hospitals, we have found that although a few hospitals are among the most innovative organisations in the country when it comes to green transport planning, the majority have been slow to recognlse that they have any responsibilities to improve the travelling opportunities for their staff and users. At the time of our survey at the end of last year, only 9 of the 79 hospitals had a green transport plan in place, although a further fourteen had been approached to prepare one.
We also found that many hospitals' initiatives to control car use are insensitive to the needs of users. This paper discusses these issues, and puts forward some of the factors which should be considered by hospitals and by local authority planners in determining parking provision and green transport plans.
Association for European Transport