TravelSmart - a better way to goSpacer
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TravelSmart - a better way to goSpacer

 This website is no longer being updated

The TravelSmart Australia website is no longer being maintained or updated but remains here as an archive for your information.


Family riding bikes

In many large cities throughout the world, residents and administrators are realising that our reliance on cars, particularly for single person journeys, is becoming unsustainable.

Traffic congestion and delays, the extremely high cost of advanced road systems, air and noise pollution and our increasing dependence on non-renewable fuels are some of the more readily recognised reasons that people are concerned. In addition, studies are now showing that there are serious personal health and social consequences of high levels of car travel. There is further concern that Australians may be 'building in' car dependency into our children, making our problems much worse in the future.

TravelSmart Australia brings together the many community and government based programs that are asking Australians to use alternatives to traveling in their private car.

TravelSmart programs by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments ask people to make voluntary changes in their travel choices, encouraging people to use other ways of getting about rather than driving alone in a car. For example - using buses, trains and ferries, carpooling or by cycling or walking, or by tele-working.

TravelSmart asks you to think about your travel needs.

Below are some of the reasons why you should think seriously about making better choices for your traveling needs.

TravelSmart is essentially a voluntary program that aims to inform and motivate people for changing their traveling behaviour through personal choice. It does not involve any form of regulations, fees or taxes directed at compelling changes in travel behaviour.

Greenhouse emissions and climate change

The Australian Government is continuing to work towards Australia's internationally agreed target of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 108% of 1990 levels over the period 2008 - 2012.

The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2003 reports that Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be 550.0 Mt carbon dioxide-equivalent.

Cars contributed 8% of national emissions. The fuel used by cars increased by 19% from 1990 to 2003 and their related emissions increased by 25% in the same period.

There are compelling reasons why Australia, in meeting our greenhouse targets, should manage our overwhelming reliance on cars for personal transport.

Polluting your environment

Apart from greenhouse gases, vehicle emissions include air toxics that have detrimental effects on people's health. A number of these contaminants have been linked to causing cancer, birth defects, brain and nerve damage, and long term injury to the lungs and breathing passages.

Air pollution harms the environment by restricting plant photosynthesis, polluting waterways and ultimately altering the global climate. It is obvious that by reducing air pollution caused by vehicle exhausts, we improve the quality of life in the Australian community and protect our unique natural environment.

Your health

The choices that Australians make about their transport modes can result in important health benefits, in contrast to reliance on car travel, which encourages a sedentary lifestyle.

'Active transport' is about walking and cycling, or other physically active ways of traveling, that can be done alone or combined with catching public transport, often involving the benefits of climbing stairs. Brisk walking and cycling can be appealing and enduring ways for people to obtain the required 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.

Physical activity provides preventative and protective benefits for a wide range of health conditions beyond its well-know benefits for preventing cardiovascular disease, including decreased mortality; cancer prevention; improved psychological health (relief of symptoms of anxiety and depression); reduced risk of obesity, adult-onset diabetes and osteoporosis. (Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services. Developing an active Australia: a framework for action for physical activity and Health. Canberra, 1998).

Many car trips can be less than 2km, and can be easily replaced by using walking or cycling, helping to save time and costs by combining needs for exercise with needs for travel.

The infrastructure barrier

Increasingly, the day-to-day operations of Australian urban road systems are becoming a concern to city administrators and residents. Their concerns relate to many different issues: traffic cutting through neighborhood roads, congestion and delays on local roads, main roads and motorways, and poor air quality because of vehicle exhausts.

Underlying this problem is that many of our communities have experienced tremendous growth over the past several decades. Much of this growth has occurred in suburban areas where alternatives to the car are not well established, causing a corresponding increase in the number of vehicles using the roads.

For years, the solution to the rising levels of congestion has been to build more and bigger roads, bridges and tunnels. Better roads and improved accessibility has encouraged still more traffic to occur in these areas, again resulting in increased congestion.

Although road improvements will continue to be an important strategy for providing mobility, governments are finding difficulty in finding the financial resources to build new road systems. Often there is strong public opposition to new and bigger roads that disrupt and detract from urban and residential areas; in addition people living near major road systems are concerned for the noise and air pollution that surrounds these roads and the damage it may have on their health and quality of life.

Walkway for commuters

Your children

Children now tend to be transported to and from many places and activities by car. One third of children in Melbourne spend less than five minutes walking per day. Children who are inactive are more likely to be overweight with the proportion of Australian children who are overweight now reaching 25%. (VicHealth, 2002. Education, Local Government and Health. The Walking School Bus Program Funding Guidelines.)

In South Australia, currently over 70% of children aged 5 - 12 years old travel to school by car. According to a recent survey of Adelaide metropolitan travel habits, this trend seems to be on the rise, with the number of walking journeys to school decreasing by 46.5% since 1986. (Transport SA, Spring 2002. TravelSmart SA News.)

Apart from the negative health aspect from physical inactivity, observations overseas indicate that children who are accustomed to being driven to school are missing out on important life skills - they may be less motivated to get out and find their own way around, they can be unaccustomed to navigating and being comfortable in public places, they may less street-wise and, having less experience in personal road safety, at risk of more severe accidents.