The Government's new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale
take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.
The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.
Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.
A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green 'in black and white' argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.
The paper, 'Why Commute When you can ComOOt', argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions. The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.
There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London's transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games' venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.
The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton.
There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a Community Interest Company model. The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level.
According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies.
What Eco-Xchange is looking for now is a founding partner and sponsor to support the development of ComOOt to deliver low carbon personal transport schemes to large organisations, local workforces and visitors in the Capital, in time for the Olympics.