Executive summary

1.1 Background

After declaring a climate emergency, Brighton & Hove City Council commissioned Ipsos MORI to hold a climate assembly focused on reducing carbon emissions from transport and how this can help the city towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The assembly was conducted online – the first assembly in the UK to be held entirely online following the onset of national lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic – across 5 sessions between late September and early November.

Recruitment was conducted by the Sortition Foundation through a stratified random process, creating a group of 50 people reflecting the demographics of the city’s population.

The assembly considered the key question, “How can we step up actions to reduce transport related carbon emissions in the city?”

1.2 Headlines and recommendations

This executive summary briefly outlines the key recommendations from the assembly. The main body of the report explains these recommendations in full, how the assembly developed them, and the caveats and conditions that apply to each.

The assembly strongly supported taking action to reduce transport emissions, recognising that wide-ranging changes to the way we travel will be necessary, as well as challenging.

The recommendations generated by assembly members focussed on:

  • reducing travel by private vehicles
  • increasing active travel
  • improving public transport
  • the importance of engaging the residents of Brighton & Hove in developing and implementing any changes

In summary, the assembly’s 10 key recommendations, ranked in the assembly’s own order of priority, are shown below.

Please note that the rankings should be seen as a guide to the relative importance of each recommendation.

  1. A car-free city centre
  2. The public transport system should be affordable/accessible
  3. Creation of healthier low traffic/pedestrianised communities
  4. The council should actively consult and engage with the community
  5. Introduce mobility hubs - a mobility hub is a recognisable place which provides and connects up different types of travel, like cycle hire, station, parking and transport information
  6. Cyclists should be prioritised over cars through well-designed dedicated cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure
  7. Introduce a park and ride to minimise car use in the city
  8. Make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car
  9. Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose and educate/expand citizens' knowledge
  10. There should be a focus on incentives rather than sanctions as interventions

The recommendations are viewed as a suite, rather than standalone ideas. They should all be implemented together in order to be as effective as possible.

The assembly wanted the council to focus its efforts on making sure there is no need for private car use (unless someone is disabled/has a blue badge), focussing on improving alternatives and communicating those alternatives.

Assembly members were sensitive to the language used in the recommendations, leaning towards a focus on what is gained rather than lost.

The assembly want the council to recognise the diversity of the residents in Brighton & Hove, particularly in terms of needs and how tailored communication approaches would be required for different audiences.

The assembly kept a strong focus on changing mindsets through interventions, campaigns, and prioritising active travel.

1.3 Implementation

Physical barriers, like poor or non-existent infrastructure, were seen as the biggest barriers to reducing car use. To address physical barriers, the council should:

  • improve infrastructure
  • raise awareness of improvements
  • motivate citizens to use public transport or travel by walking or cycling

To address citizens’ expectations that public transport will not be convenient and reliable enough to reduce their car use, the council should consider demonstrating the reliability and convenience of an improved transport network.

To address citizens’ habits, the council should consider interventions that enable them to plan their journeys, change routines and provide positive feedback.

To address social and cultural norms around prioritising the driver, messaging may benefit from emphasising public health benefits, and the reinvigoration of communities while also addressing climate change.

Communication may also benefit from challenges to false assumptions about other people’s habits.

2. Methodology

Brighton & Hove City Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in December 2018 and has committed to becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.

To help shape how Brighton & Hove City Council combat climate change over the next decade, Ipsos MORI was commissioned to run a citizens’ assembly.

A citizens’ assembly is a body of selected citizens who meet to learn about, discuss, and make recommendations on a particular issue through a process of structured deliberation.

The assembly focused on transport strategy and how this can help the city towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Carbon dioxide emissions from transport account for one-third of the total emissions from Brighton & Hove, and they are reducing more slowly than emissions from housing and industry. The city council therefore chose transport as its focus for this assembly.

The assembly took place across 5 sessions in September, October, and November. It was held online as the COVID-19 pandemic meant that face-to-face meetings of large groups were unsafe.

Given that Brighton & Hove City Council had declared this topic an emergency, postponing the assembly to a time when the pandemic had subsided was not an option.

The assembly considered the key question, “How can we step up actions to reduce transport related carbon emissions in the city?”

2.1 Advisory board

Materials were developed in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council with oversight and input from the advisory board.

The advisory board provided check and challenge throughout the process, suggested expert speakers, and contributed to planning and the development of materials. Particularly stimulus materials used in the discussions with assembly members.

The board brought together diverse views and perspectives from:

  • academics
  • specialists
  • activists
  • local councillors
  • council officers

They met 5 times between July and December 2020, with ongoing communication between meetings throughout the process.

2.2 Recruitment

Recruitment was conducted by the Sortition Foundation, which specialises in bringing together randomly selected, representative groups of people.

In line with best practice, assembly members were recruited through a stratified random process, creating a group of 50 people reflecting the demographics of the city’s population.

A range of selection criteria were applied:

  • gender
  • age
  • ethnicity
  • long-term illness or disability
  • occupation
  • car ownership
  • area of the city

Anyone aged 16 and over who was permanently resident in the UK, and who lived at an address that received the invitation could apply. Though only one person per household could be selected.

The postcode address file was used as a basis for mailing out 10,000 invitation letters across the city.

From the 702 applications received, a randomised process selected people who fit the demographic quotas.

At the end of this chapter is a table that shows the target quotas and demographics of those recruited. Note that we over-sampled from BAME communities, almost doubling the 11% population figures to 20%, to ensure better representation of the diversity inherent within this broad statistical category.

Some people were not allowed to apply:

  • elected representatives from any level of government
  • paid employees of any political party
  • council employees working in transport, planning, policy, or any politically-restricted post

In line with good practice in encouraging full participation, assembly members were each paid a £250 honorarium.

This recognised the time they gave up in order to take part, and ensured that a diverse range of people – including those on low-incomes or with caring responsibilities – could take part.

The profile of attendees for each session can be found in the appendix, which illustrates the demographic breakdown of the assembly members.

2.3 Structure and dates

The assembly took place online – the first assembly in the UK to be held entirely online – across 5 sessions between late September and early November:

  • Tuesday 22 September, 6pm to 8.30pm
  • Tuesday 6 October, 6pm to 9pm
  • Saturday 10 October, 10am to 1pm
  • Thursday 5 November, 6pm to 9pm
  • Saturday 7 November, 10am to 1pm

The first session, on the evening of 22 September, focused on engaging assembly members, making them comfortable with the technology and the group environment, and setting the scene for the rest of the assembly.

Assembly members heard presentations on:

  • climate change
  • public health
  • the local context for sustainable transport

They discussed what they thought are the biggest climate change challenges.

The second and third sessions, on the evening of 6 October and the morning of 10 October, made up the learning phase of the assembly.

During these sessions, members were presented with more information and had the opportunity to ask questions of expert presenters.

In session 2, on 6 October, assembly members considered:

  • local bus services in terms of their speed, reliability and price
  • mobility hubs
  • car-free, or low traffic, city centres 
  • road user charging
  • electric cars
  • parking in terms of its availability and cost

In session 3, on 10 October, assembly members talked about:

  • low traffic neighbourhoods
  • strategic cycling networks
  • an active travel behaviour change campaign
  • 3 case studies about the experience of disabled and migrant citizens

The deliberation and recommendation-forming stage of the assembly, sessions 4 and 5, took place a month later on the evening of Thursday 5, and the morning of Saturday 7 November.

This break between sessions 3 and 4 allowed assembly members to reflect on what they had learned, before coming back to deliberate and develop recommendations.

In session 4, on 5 November, assembly members heard presentations on behaviour change and the future of transport.

They discussed the interventions they would and would not support being implemented, their conditions for those interventions, and the trade-offs that would need to be considered.

In session 5, on 7 November, the assembly discussed and agreed on headline recommendations and the conditions that need to be applied to any intervention for them to be acceptable to the community of Brighton & Hove.

At the beginning of each session, assembly members gathered in plenary for introductions and expert presentations.

They then moved between the main plenary session and smaller breakout discussion groups of 5 or 6 assembly members a number of times during each session.

During plenary sessions, facilitators were invited to pose questions from their group to the expert presenters.

2.4 Deliberation

The assembly members were split into 10 breakout groups of 5 members each. In each of the 10 breakout groups, discussion was facilitated by experienced moderators from Ipsos MORI, who used a detailed discussion guide to structure the conversations and ensure all the topics were covered uniformly.

A professional note-taker was also assigned to each group to transcribe the discussions, and many groups also had an observer. This was usually either staff and/or councillors from Brighton & Hove City Council, or a member of the advisory board.

While assembly members and facilitators all appeared on screen, so they could see and talk to each other, note-takers and observers were asked not to use their camera, and to remain muted throughout, to ensure they posed as little distraction to assembly members as possible.

Assembly members were assigned to a different breakout group for each of the 5 sessions, to ensure they were exposed to as wide a range of opinions as possible from fellow members, with these groupings arranged to represent people from a range of ages and genders.

Following each of the sessions, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document was compiled by the Ipsos MORI team. Questions were passed to staff and presenters to answer and then published in the public domain.

These FAQs, along with videos of the expert presentations and summaries of the advisory board meetings, were all published on the assembly website.

2.5 Ranking exercise

Before the penultimate session on 5 November, the Ipsos MORI research team analysed data from the previous sessions and pulled out 10 key recommendations.

These were put to the assembly members, who were asked to tweak and prioritise them in order to ensure that their views were reflected accurately.

2.6 Technical report

The research materials used across the assembly sessions – the discussion guides and stimulus materials used by facilitators, as well as all other supporting materials and more methodological details – can be found in the accompanying technical report.

These materials were produced by the Ipsos MORI team, with input from the city council and the advisory board.

2.7 Interpretation of findings

When considering these findings, it is important to bear in mind what a qualitative approach provides. It explores the range of attitudes and opinions of participants in detail. It provides an insight into the key reasons underlying participants’ views.

Findings are descriptive and illustrative, not statistically representative. Often individual participants hold somewhat contradictory views – often described as ‘cognitive dissonance’.

Participants are provided with detailed information over the course of the 5 sessions, and thus become more informed than the general public – particularly so given the highly immersive nature of a citizens’ assembly.

It is important to note that the opinions of the assembly members presented here represent their belief in what is true, regardless of what may or may not be happening in Brighton & Hove.

For example, some of the assembly’s recommendations and associated conditions may resemble a service that already exists in the city.

The fact that this is unknown to assembly members is, itself, a key finding from the process which should be reflected in the city council’s response.

2.8 Assembly member demographics profile

The final target profile was agreed between the city council, the advisory board, and Ipsos MORI to reflect of the demographic diversity of Brighton & Hove, while ensuring representation across all key groups.

  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
Male 50 25 46 23
Female 50 25 52 26
Other 0 0 2 1
Total 100 50 100 50
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
0 to 15 0 0 0 0
16 to 24 20 10 22 11
25 to 44 37 18 38 19
45 to 64 28 14 23 12
65 to 74 8 4 10 5
75+ 7 3 6 3
100+ 0 0 0 0
Total 100 50 100 50
Geographical area
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
Area 1 - Woodingdean and Rottingdean Coastal 10 5 6 3
Area 2 - Queens Park, Hanover and Elm Grove, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, East Brighton 22 11 24 12
Area 3 - Hove Park, Withdean, Patcham, Preston Park, Hollingdean and Stanmer 24 12 28 14
Area 4 - Central Hove, Goldsmid, Brunswick and Adelaide, Regency, St. Peter’s and North Laine 24 12 26 13
Area 5 - North Portslade, South Portslade, Hangleton and Knoll, Wish, Westbourne 20 10 16 8
Total 100 50 100 50
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
Professional occupation or technician 27 13 28 14
Operator or elementary occupation 7 3 6 3
Service occupation 15 7 14 7
Skilled trade 5 2 6 3
Student 13 6 14 7
Not in the labour force - retired 8 4 10 5
Not in the labour force - other  19 9 16 8
75+ occupation 7 3 6 3
Total 101 50 100 50
Car ownership by household
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
Yes 68 34 68 34
No 32 16 32 16
Total 100 50 100 50
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
White British 71 35 72 36
White Other 9 4 8 4
BAME 20 10 20 10
Total 100 50 100 50
Long-term illness or disability
  Target % Target number % recruited Number recruited
Yes 9 4 8 4
Yes, limited a little 10 5 12 6
No 81 40 80 40
Total 100 50 100 50

2.9 Acknowledgements

Ipsos MORI would like to thank assembly members for giving up their time and engaging with such dedication throughout the deliberations. We also thank the advisory board for their extensive input into making the process as effective and engaging as possible, the expert speakers who gave up their time to contribute their knowledge, and to the council officers who commissioned the project and worked with us to navigate developing materials.

Advisory board

  • Gary Fuller, Imperial College London
  • Lesley Murray, University of Brighton
  • Nicola Khan, University of Brighton
  • Julie Doyle, University of Brighton
  • Dominic Kniveton, University of Sussex
  • Matthew Adams, University of Brighton
  • Phélim Mac Cafferty, Brighton & Hove City Council Green Party
  • Nancy Platts, Brighton & Hove City Council Labour Party
  • Prof. Samer Bagaeen, Brighton & Hove City Council Conservative Party
  • Chris Todd, Transport Action Network, Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth
  • Rosie Sauvage, XR
  • Simon Burall, Involve
  • Rania Van Den Ouweland, Youth Strike 4 Climate
  • Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation
  • Mark Prior, Brighton & Hove City Council 
  • Gavin Stewart, Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership

Expert speakers

  • Jillian Anable, Institute for Transport Studies at University of Leeds
  • Kathleen Cuming, Brighton & Hove City Council 
  • Benjamin Skinner, youth speaker
  • Mark Prior, Brighton & Hove City Council 
  • Andrew Boag, BusWatch
  • Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council
  • James Ashton, Nottingham City Council
  • Martin Harris, Brighton & Hove Bus Company
  • Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council
  • David McKenna, Street Spirit Design
  • Nichola Khan, University of Brighton
  • Rachel Aldred, University of Westminster
  • Christopher Hammond, Southampton City Council
  • Penny Atkins, University of Brighton

Brighton & Hove City Council Officers

  • Rachel Williams
  • Simon Newell
  • Chloe Sands
  • Kirsten Firth
  • Paul Holloway
  • Andrew Renaut
  • Mark Prior
  • Nick Hibberd

3. The assembly's recommendations

The climate assembly agreed 10 key recommendations for reducing transport-related carbon emissions in Brighton & Hove.

The list below outlines these recommendations, with the conditions and caveats that the assembly insisted be considered alongside each recommendation.

It’s important to note that, while the recommendations below are listed in order of preference as agreed by the assembly as a whole, all 10 recommendations had strong support across the assembly.

Assembly members wished to see all 10 recommendations addressed, rather than for some recommendations to be cherry-picked at the expense of others.

The recommendations were considered as a whole package of necessary, interdependent measures which would help reduce transport-related carbon emissions while, simultaneously, engaging residents in the changes, building the trust and support necessary for the changes to be successful.

Priority 1

Car-free city centre

Dependent on improved public transport infrastructure being in place. Additionally, dependent on private transport infrastructure, in other words walking and cycling. (by “private transport” assembly members meant modes of active travel).

Exceptions must be made for people who need cars (and other vehicles), like blue badge holders and deliveries. Those who can use other means should not use cars. 

Priority 2

The public transport system should be affordable/accessible

This includes a ticketing system that encompasses all public transport.

Pricing should be relative to other forms of transport (in other words taxis).

Open ended/flexible season tickets should be introduced.

Reconsider the times that buses are on the road, to ensure that there aren’t excess buses on the road with no one in them.

Options should be well communicated.

Priority 3

Healthier low traffic/pedestrianised communities

Including school streets.

Exceptions must be made for people who need to use their car (like disabled people, or for deliveries) but those who can use other means should not use their car.

Start small to demonstrate the value.

Messaging should include pictures or videos of where this has been implemented so people can easily see how a familiar place used to look compared to what it looks like after the changes (for example, George Street).

Need to make it clear that residents can get in and out of their own low traffic neighbourhood with ease.

Benefits should be clearly conveyed (in other words, wellbeing, thriving community, reinvigorated local area).

Priority 4

The council should actively consult and engage with neighbourhoods within the community

There should be community advocates who act as middlemen between the community and the council, with a clear definition of their role and support from the council.

The council should focus on educating the whole community, listening to them, and adapting their plans according to the feedback provided.

The council should consider the methods of communication.

The council should measure community involvement.

The council should report back to the community about what was done with their feedback and why, proving that they're listening. 

Priority 5

Introduce mobility hubs

A mobility hub is a recognisable place which provides and connects different types of travel. For example cycle hire, station, parking and transport information.

Research and consult on what mobility hubs should look like locally.

Mobility hubs should be in local neighbourhoods.

Greater city-wide availability of bikes.

City-wide rentable e-bikes.

Retrofit the BTN bikes to become e-bikes.

Make sure they are by a taxi rank, bus route and/or train station.

Transport resource distribution; everyone should be able to access one.

Cargo storage attachments should be available for the bikes.

Priority 6

Cyclists should be prioritised over cars through well-designed dedicated cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure

Cyclists should be actively encouraged to be safe and mindful of others.

Enforcement is needed around car users’ parking habits – if the network is squeezed into roads.

Priority 7

Introduce a park and ride to minimise car use in the city

There should be no need to use a car in the city centre – it should be easier not to use a car if you are a commuter or visitor.

Ensure linking transport infrastructure is in place and well communicated with full city information at the park.

Use public transport as the primary means of getting into, and travelling around, the city centre.

Priority 8

Make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car

Public transport should be faster, affordable, and more reliable.

Priority 9

Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose and educate/expand citizens’ knowledge

Should emphasise public health issues and gains.

Should emphasise climate change.

Educate/expand people’s knowledge of the impact of their actions.

Communication should be tailored to address the concerns or lifestyles of different types of residents.

Should be framed not as ‘if’ but ‘when/how’ it happens.

Information should be accessible to everyone.

Priority 10

There should be a focus on incentives rather than sanctions as interventions

Prioritise restrictive measures over charging-based measures.

Measures must account for disproportionate impacts on citizens.

4. Session 1 - introduction to the assembly and the topic

4.1 What we did

The first session, held on 22 September, introduced members to the assembly, explained the process, and set the scene for discussions exploring climate change.

Before attending the session, assembly members were sent introductory reading materials outlining the purpose of the climate assembly, the urgency of the climate crisis, and the ways in which climate change impacted upon Brighton & Hove.

The materials were designed to give members an overview of the assembly process and provide some useful contextual information about climate change to help ground conversations.

In this session assembly members were shown 4 expert presentations:

  • Climate Change and its Impact on the Economy and Youth by Benjamin Skinner, Youth Campaigner
  • Climate change and public health by Kathleen Cuming, Public Health Consultant
  • Sustainable Transport by Professor Jillian Anable, Professor of Transport and Energy at the University of Leeds
  • Local Context: An introduction to Transport and Carbon Reduction in Brighton & Hove by Mark Prior, Assistant Director – City Transport at Brighton & Hove City Council

After watching these presentations, facilitators guided the assembly members through discussions in small breakout groups. The assembly explored the following topics:

  • Thoughts on the climate assembly objectives
  • Initial ideas for possible interventions
  • Barriers to implementing interventions
  • How to inspire willingness to make changes
  • Understanding which interventions the public might support, and why

In the breakout discussions, the assembly members generated clarification questions which were answered by the expert speakers upon return to the plenary.

Any unanswered questions were put to the experts in writing and their answers were shared with the assembly after the session.

4.2 Findings

“I am really deeply concerned about the climate crisis. That’s my political and personal perspective […] it’s important to me that we shouldn’t leave the future in a worse state than we inherited it.” - Assembly member, session 1.

Members strongly supported the aims of the climate assembly. There was broad agreement that urgent and radical action is required to meet the 2030 net zero goal set out by the council.

The assembly had a broad awareness of the climate emergency and the potential implications for Brighton & Hove, the UK, and beyond.

Members recognised that the assembly provided them with a unique opportunity to influence the council’s actions.

Although their appetite for change was apparent, members’ perception of climate change varied. During the discussions, 2 distinct perspectives on how to approach climate change emerged.

On the one hand, climate change was viewed as a global issue which demanded systemic change and a “total rethink and change of our economic model.” [Assembly member, session 1].

On the other hand, members felt that a more bottom-up approach was required, emphasising the importance of individuals making changes to help reduce carbon emissions.

Initial ideas for future interventions

Members were extremely engaged with the climate assembly content and this was reflected in the discussions.

The assembly touched upon a wide range of measures and interventions within breakout groups, many of which were recurrent across multiple groups.

The interventions that members put forward fell into 2 main groups: improving public transport and encouraging active travel.

Improving public transport

“Public transport is really important; we have to improve it to be able to offset cars.” - Assembly member, session 1.

Members felt that improving public transport was key to reducing the reliance upon and use of cars.

They emphasised the importance of affordable bus travel and stressed the need for public transport to be seen as a more cost-effective alternative to driving.

The assembly felt that the current public transport system was disjointed, with suggestions that introducing a park and ride scheme would improve residents’ and visitors’ options for travelling into the city centre.

There were also suggestions that the council look at implementing more radical transport interventions, such as a tram system.

Overall, members felt that if the affordability and convenience of public transport could be improved then it would play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions.

Encouraging active travel

“I feel more vulnerable on the roads as a cyclist than I do in a car.  I think a lot of people feel that way, and that’s why they don’t cycle.” - Assembly member, session 1.

The assembly recognised the importance of interventions which aimed to increase the uptake of active travel.

They felt that walking and cycling are not particularly safe and suggested interventions to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists would increase uptake. Measures mentioned spontaneously included:

  • better quality cycle lanes and pavements
  • segregated cycle lanes
  • priority road markings and traffic light signals
  • pedestrianisation of the city centre

Members noted that not everyone has access to a bicycle and supported the introduction and expansion of bike-sharing schemes to address this.

Discussions highlighted the variety of ways in which the current system failed road users.

Members referenced pop-up cycle lanes, which they believed had been implemented (in part during the course of the pandemic) without thorough consultation, as an example of a good idea which was poorly executed.

Members repeatedly acknowledged the importance of getting interventions right first time, and stressed that, whatever the council decided, it was critical that interventions were accompanied by intelligent road planning.

Barriers to implementing interventions

Discussion around the barriers to implementing interventions were thoughtful and illustrated the fundamental tensions underlying wider debates around climate change.

Barriers fell into 2 categories: attitudinal and practical.

Attitudinal barriers

“It’s very hard to think about how what you do will make a difference to climate change” - Assembly member, session 1.

Assembly members discussed how their motivation to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint is hindered by the belief that they alone cannot make a difference individually.

Climate change is often presented as a global problem, assembly members suggested – this made it more challenging to see how small changes, like taking the bus, could have any impact.

Members felt that it was important to overcome this perception and embrace an “act locally, think globally” mantra.

Instead of waiting for global action, they emphasised the importance of empowering individuals and communities to adopt a more environmentally conscious approach to everyday decisions and actions to reduce carbon emissions.

Discussions highlighted some key tensions about who members believe should be responsible for tackling the climate crisis.

On the one hand, members were frustrated by the implication that the onus was on them as individuals.

On the other hand, there was a sense that it is unrealistic to expect the government to intervene in every situation.

The assembly emphasised the importance of understanding how different perspectives influence the support for, or resistance to, interventions. 

Practical barriers

“I would love to cycle, but in most scenarios, it’s too far or too dangerous. I think the cycle routes need to be extended. I wouldn’t be able to get to the cycle route because of the danger of traffic.” - Assembly member, session 1.

Members stressed that poor infrastructure was a major barrier to the accessibility of active travel and public transport options.

Barriers to active travel included:

  • safety concerns
  • poor weather
  • hilly terrain
  • poor quality roads
  • uneven pavements
  • insufficient street lighting

In the context of public transport, members referenced the cost and length of journeys, limited capacity to accommodate disabled users or parents with prams, and a more general lack of awareness about what public transport options were available. 

The assembly was concerned about how the needs of different road users might be balanced.

There was a strong feeling that interventions which prioritised one group over another would merely exacerbate existing tensions between groups and damage the support for future interventions.

For example, members felt that measures to encourage active travel may contribute to increased congestion or displacement of traffic to other areas of the city.

How to inspire willingness to make changes

The assembly were strongly in favour of measures which sought to encourage rather than penalise.

Members felt that overcoming attitudinal barriers would require winning “hearts and minds”.

Suggestions included:

  • tailoring the approach to appeal to groups with different values and priorities - for example, focussing on creating a safer planet for future generations will appeal to some, while emphasising the health benefits of active travel and carbon neutrality will persuade others
  • sharing knowledge, educating others, and conveying the urgency without being patronising - members felt that providing people with the information necessary to make up their own minds was key, they emphasised the importance of ensuring that everyone could engage in discussions and make informed decisions
  • demonstrating that individuals can make a difference - members felt that it was important to overcome perceptions that individuals were unable to contribute to achieving the carbon neutral target, they stressed the importance of clearly communicating the positive impact of interventions, and empowering people to make these changes

Understanding what the public might support and why

“You justify the use of your car for all sorts of different reasons, and the break-up of the usage of cars is so complex.” - Assembly member, session 1.

The assembly acknowledged the importance of understanding why people behave in the way they do.

They felt that better understanding of why specific measures proved more favourable, would facilitate more effective interventions.

However, they also recognised that the factors contributing to individuals’ support or resistance to specific measures were complex.

As discussions demonstrated, members felt that the barriers and facilitators were heavily context dependent.

Although addressing the practical barriers may increase support for interventions among some groups, members emphasised the need for a wider cultural shift to address the attitudinal barriers.

5. Session 2: learning about public transport and car use

Key findings

Members strongly supported the car-free city centre because they felt that it would have a significant impact on reducing emissions while also re-prioritising road space to benefit pedestrians and cyclists.

The assembly was also in favour of improving public transport, both in terms of affordability and usefulness of services. Members felt that investment in public transport was critical for the viability of other car use interventions.

Generally, members were less keen on interventions which they perceived to be a punishment, like charging road users. The use of financial deterrents was seen to disproportionately impact low income groups while failing to encourage more sustainable behaviour change.

Members highlighted the importance of effective consultation and evaluation of future interventions. There was a strong feeling that the impact of measures would depend on careful planning and implementation, without which some measures may be counterproductive.

Members stressed the importance of reducing travel by private modes of transport. Although some measures offered a degree of compromise between public and private transport, members felt that interventions should aim to promote long-term, sustainable behavioural change rather than a quick and easy fix.

Members emphasised the need for the council to clearly communicate how interventions will contribute to the carbon neutral goal, be transparent about public spending decisions, and ensure that measures are evidence-based.

5.1 What we did

The second session, held on Tuesday 6 October, marked the start of the ‘learning phase’ of the assembly.

Before the sessions, assembly members were sent an information pack which provided:

  • an overview of key transport statistics
  • what Brighton & Hove City Council are already doing
  • an overview of the key topics
  • case studies of successful carbon reduction interventions used in other cities

The information pack was designed to provide useful context to support the discussions during the learning phase.

In this session, assembly members were shown 4 expert presentations which related to the topics presented in the information pack.

There were 2 presentations on public transport and 2 on car use:

  • Local bus service provision by Martin Harris, Managing Director of Brighton & Hove bus company
  • Local transport user experience in Brighton by Andrew Boag, Chair of Brighton Area Buswatch
  • Reducing car use in cities by Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council
  • Workplace levy and electric vehicles by James Ashton, Transport Strategy Manager at Nottingham City Council

After watching the videos, facilitators guided the assembly members through a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of a range of different public transport and car use interventions.

In the context of public transport, members explored:

  • mobility hubs
  • improving the speed and reliability of bus services
  • making bus travel more affordable

In the context of car use, members discussed:

  • creating a car-free city centre
  • implementing charges for road users
  • reducing parking availability and increasing cost
  • investing in electric cars

After the discussions, assembly members formed questions in their breakout groups which were then answered by the expert speakers upon returning to plenary. 

5.2 Findings

Public transport interventions

The assembly recognised the importance of public transport in reaching the net-zero target.

Members emphasised that reducing the cost and improving the quality of public transport services is key to encouraging the transition from the use of personal vehicles to public transport.

The assembly agreed that public transport needs to offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative to car use in order to successfully convert people from using one type of transport to another.

Improving bus services and reducing the cost of travel

“If you can get somewhere you need to go for cheaper than a bus, then why would you get a bus? Price is something that has a huge impact on engagement with bus services.” - Assembly member, session 2.

The assembly strongly agreed that bus travel must be more affordable than other forms of transport.

Members highlighted that many residents are currently priced out of using the bus because other modes, such as cars or taxis, are perceived to be more cost (and time) effective.

Members felt that affordability was key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of public transport.

However, there was a degree of scepticism surrounding the feasibility of improving affordability. Members queried whether the council had jurisdiction to influence decision-making around fares and service provision.

Although members supported state subsidies for public transport in principle, they emphasised the importance of transparency surrounding public-spending decisions.

Members expressed the need to understand why different people made journeys using different modes of transport.

There was some concern that without a comprehensive understanding of gaps in provision, current levels of demand, and the barriers and facilitators to public transport across different demographic groups, any interventions may be ineffective.

The benefits of increasing the uptake of public transport are dependent upon which groups are converted. Unless interventions successfully increase the uptake of public transport among those who drive, the overall impact on emissions will be negligible – public transport must be attractive to the right people.

The assembly felt that it was important to assess the wider implications of public transport interventions on other road users.

Although members supported the interventions in practice, they were concerned about the potential negative implications of implementing such measures without sufficient consultation and evaluation.

There were concerns that increased demand for buses would lead to more buses on the road, increasing congestion and, in turn, emissions.

Members supported measures which aimed to mitigate bus-related congestion, like designated bus lanes and traffic light priority systems.

Overall, there was a strong feeling that increased demand would need to be carefully monitored so as not to adversely impact other road users.

Looking beyond price and efficiency, the assembly felt that the comfort, convenience, and accessibility of public transport contributed to the overall attractiveness of public transport as an option.

Members referenced the importance of:

  • a clean and safe environment
  • bus shelters at bus stops
  • ramps
  • priority seating
  • the availability of additional help for elderly and disabled users 

It was also suggested that the relative success of any public transport intervention would be contingent upon effective consultation, careful planning, and clear communication.

Mobility hubs

“The interchangeableness of our city…because we’re small we can use those quickfire advancements…mobility hubs would allow people to choose what’s relevant for what journey they’re making.” - Assembly member, session 2.

The assembly also emphasised the importance of creating a more joined-up public transport system.

Although the concept of mobility hubs was less tangible than the other interventions discussed, there was broad support for a ‘hub’ model.

Members recognised the benefits of combining several different modes of transport in one location, notably rail travel and e-bikes.

The perceived benefits of mobility hubs were two-fold: they promote a range of transport options, including active travel, and help to reduce the number of cars on the road, particularly in the city centre.

Members viewed park and ride schemes favourably, despite the caveat that they may predominantly benefit visitors and would not provide a viable alternative for the majority of local residents travelling into the city.

Car use interventions

The assembly was strongly in favour of reducing car use, feeling that it was vital for reducing emissions long-term.

Although measures to restrict car use were perceived as more radical, members felt that they represented a necessary compromise.

The assembly strongly favoured interventions which would have a clear, well-evidenced impact on carbon reduction.

Car free city centre

“It would be good to have larger pedestrianised areas in the city. Trees, plants, benches, nature corridors, it might make the place more attractive for walking and cycling, plus it would push cars out.” - Assembly member, session 2.

When discussing a car-free city centre, members emphasised the additional benefits to reclaiming and reprioritising road space.

These ranged from improving public health, creating safer streets, promoting active travel, and the opportunity to design a more pleasant environment.

The assembly felt that the wholesale exclusion of cars from the city centre was more equitable and the benefits and drawbacks were more evenly distributed across different groups than other measures, particularly financial disincentives. 

However, members highlighted some important caveats to car restriction measures. Firstly, they felt that certain groups, namely blue-badge holders, delivery drivers, taxis, and tradespeople would need to be exempt from restrictions.

The assembly also raised concerns about the effectiveness of car-free interventions, suggesting that the success of measures aimed at restricting car use would depend on the effectiveness of public transport interventions.

If public transport could not provide a viable alternative to driving, members worried that measures to restrict car use may be ineffective.

The assembly was also concerned about the potential for traffic to be displaced and create congestion in surrounding residential areas.

As reflected in earlier discussions, members felt strongly that the implementation of a car-free zone would require thorough consultation and evaluation.

Members supported a car-free city centre in theory but were reluctant to fully support the measure without seeing a detailed plan of the proposed restrictions.

Charging for road use

“You shouldn’t just be able to pay a fee to be able to do it. Should have to go, ‘I need to deliver in that area,’ or, ‘I need to get to my business with this vehicle’, not just, ‘I’ve got 100 quid’.” - Assembly member, session 2.

The assembly had mixed views on charging road users. Despite reluctance to increase the financial burden on Brighton & Hove residents, members did agree that it should cost more to drive than to use public transport.

Those who were uncertain about charging road users felt that it would be more acceptable if charges were applied exclusively to visitors.

Members recognised that the measure gave the council flexibility to implement gradually, adjusting and targeting prices accordingly.

Members were positive about the revenue that road-user charging would contribute to the council, with the caveat that there would need to be complete transparency about how prices were set and where the money would be spent.

Those who supported road-user charging interventions did so on the condition that revenue would be ringfenced for investment in improving the transport system.

The assembly’s main concern with charging road users related to the wider message that it would send out. Members felt it would create an unfair “pay to pollute” system where those who could afford to pay would continue driving.

Although charging may serve as a deterrent for some, the primary motivation for behaviour change was purely financial. For these reasons, members felt that road-user charging did not represent a sustainable, long-term solution.

The assembly also discussed the potentially regressive nature of financial deterrents. Members felt that introducing variable rates for older, high-polluting vehicles would disproportionately affect low-income groups who were more likely to own older cars.

Overall, members were sceptical about road-user charging, feeling that penalising drivers would exacerbate tensions and hinder consensus building.

Parking availability and cost

“To have reduced parking could be stressful, and I find that people are parking places they shouldn’t be because of reduced parking.” - Assembly member, session 2.

There were conflicting views on measures to reduce the availability of parking. The assembly was unconvinced by the efficacy of parking reduction interventions.

Members were concerned that removing designated parking would increase on-street parking, create obstructions for pedestrians and cyclists, create accessibility issues for certain groups (like wheelchair users and parents with prams), and increase congestion.

Members felt that difficulty parking already served as a deterrent, and worried that removing parking altogether would merely exacerbate tensions between residents and other road users.

The suggestion of a workplace levy on parking was generally well received. However, members were sceptical about how employers would respond to the charge and raised concerns about the charge being indirectly passed on to employees – for example, through salary deductions.

Overall, the assembly did not see measures to reduce the availability of parking as a key intervention. Although members recognised the issues surrounding parking, they did not feel that this intervention would make a big impact.

When discussing parking, some members were unclear on the relationship between parking availability and carbon emissions.

As expressed in earlier conversations, the assembly was more sceptical of interventions which did not have a clear and demonstrable impact on carbon reduction.

Members strongly emphasised the importance of clear communication in order to demonstrate the role of interventions to reduce parking availability and carbon reduction.

Electric vehicles

“Clearly the emphasis needs to be on reducing cars in general. I think it’s a bit of a distraction to focus so much on electric cars.” - Assembly member, session 2.

Finally, the discussion of electric vehicles provoked a range of opinions. Electric vehicles were viewed as the least tangible of car use interventions.

It was widely felt that the future of transport is electric, and that it was important to begin investing in the necessary infrastructure to ensure that Brighton & Hove could support the transition to electric vehicles in the future.

Assembly members strongly supported the continued investment in bikes, electric buses and taxi fleets.

But members identified 2 key drawbacks: cost and infrastructure. Although there was a desire to switch to electric in the future, price was a major barrier to electric vehicle ownership.

The other significant barrier was the lack of infrastructure, both within Brighton & Hove and across the UK as a whole.

Supporting the switch to electric would, assembly members believed, require significant investment from the council.

They supported gradual investment to facilitate a switch to electric in the medium to long term, rather than costly and ambitious wholesale change.

There was some concern about the wider sustainability of electric vehicles. The assembly was unconvinced by the net carbon neutrality of producing electric vehicles and questioned the extent to which this would reduce personal car use and ownership.

As was echoed in earlier discussions, there remained a tension between the personal and public models of transport.

Although electric vehicles were seen to offer a compromise between low emissions, convenience, and the comfort of personal travel, members expressed concerns that they failed to address the more fundamental need to limit the reliance on personal vehicle use.

Reflections on public transport and car use interventions

Members across the groups consistently emphasised that the success of both public transport and car use interventions was dependent on the following considerations.

To be effective, both interventions must work in harmony. Reducing car use relies upon the existence and perception of public transport as a viable alternative, while increasing the uptake of public transport relies upon car use being more expensive and less convenient.

The success of any of these measures depends on achieving public buy-in, consensus-building between road users, and individual commitment to the net-zero goal. Support is contingent on effective public consultation and clear communication. Members felt that it was critical that both residents and visitors understood how interventions and behaviours contribute to the carbon neutral goal.

Members were emphatic about the importance of careful planning, design, evaluation, and implementation of measures. Public support for certain measures depended on well-evidenced reasoning and transparent decision-making.

The assembly emphasised the urgency of the climate emergency, and supported measures which would have a significant impact. Members felt that there was an appetite for more radical, long-term solutions rather than quick fixes, urging the council to be bold in their plans.

6. Session 3: learning about active travel, accessibility and inclusion

Key findings

Overall, people were in favour of the active travel themes discussed in the assembly. However, alongside the enthusiasm was an acknowledgement that significant investment in public transport will be required for these initiatives to be viable.

Assembly members also recognised that a shift to active travel is only part of the overall solution, and that taking steps to decrease use of personal vehicles will be required in tandem with these measures, in order to reach the goal of lowering carbon emissions in Brighton & Hove.

Members felt strongly that a behaviour change campaign should focus on positive messaging, with a few short, memorable, repeated messages.

In response to case studies about the experiences of people with disabilities, and people who rely on personal transport for their trade, assembly members emphasised a need for Brighton & Hove to recognise that different people have different needs and, with this in mind, look at proposed changes with a holistic perspective.

Making cycling safer and accessible for less confident cyclists was seen as a priority. The importance of segregated cycle lanes was a common theme across all groups. There was also an acknowledgement that an uptick in active travel, on its own, would not bring about the required drop in carbon emissions.

Assembly members were clear in the view that people will not be willing to give up their cars unless they know there is a usable, efficient, accessible and affordable alternative. Particularly for travel in bad weather, and for people who have disabilities or additional accessibility needs, like families with small children.

6.1 What we did

Session 3 took place on the morning of Saturday 10 October. Assembly members were shown 4 expert presentations:

  • Liveable Neighbourhoods, presented by Councillor Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council
  • Cycling Networks, presented by Professor Rachel Aldred, University of Westminster
  • Accessible and Inclusive Street Design, presented by David McKenna, Street Spirit Design
  • Migrant and Refugee Communities, presented by Dr Nichola Khan, University of Brighton

After watching these presentations, assembly members moved into breakout sessions where they discussed the benefits and drawbacks of:

  • low-traffic neighbourhoods
  • strategic cycling networks
  • active travel behaviour change campaigns

Members also considered 3 case studies to help them think about how changes to the city could impact the lives of disabled and migrant citizens.

6.2 Findings

Active travel interventions

Low traffic neighbourhoods

“If it were only people walking and you didn’t have to look over your shoulder for traffic, it would be a much nicer experience.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Assembly members were in favour of low traffic neighbourhoods, latching onto the benefits of pedestrian prioritisation and a feeling of greater safety, as well as less noise and pollution.

These factors were linked to a theme of better health outcomes, as well as helping to reach the overall goal of lowering carbon emissions.

The idea that low traffic neighbourhoods would increase feelings of community ownership and boost local commerce, by making businesses more accessible and attractive, was another a theme across the groups.

People also thought back to the first COVID-19 lockdown, when some roads were closed to vehicles – they had positive memories of being able to access those spaces more safely as pedestrians and cyclists.

Members liked the idea of re-greening and beautifying public spaces with more plants, trees, and flowers.

This was tempered by an acknowledgement that public spaces need to be accessible for people with disabilities.

For example, ensuring that street furniture does not impede access for people with visual or physical disabilities, and allowing vehicle access and parking for people who require it. Assembly members were clear that thoughtful design, with these things in mind, will be essential.

A key concern across the groups was that a low traffic neighbourhood scheme would result in displacement (rather than elimination) of vehicles and their associated pollution – this was repeated across the groups.

Members were also concerned that residents would lose access to parking near their home, and that practical, everyday tasks such as getting shopping from the car to the house would be made much more difficult.

These and other concerns, around congestion and parking shortages, emphasise the need for accessible, affordable public transport in conjunction with these active travel measures, to ensure that people have a viable alternative to personal transport.

“Reallocation of road space [and] potential impact on road and bus spaces [are drawbacks only] if it's poorly designed.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Behavioural concerns were also raised – primarily that the School Streets initiative would be reliant on parents marshalling their peers, which might make some people feel uncomfortable.

There was a consensus that there is likely to be a lot of resistance to some aspects of low traffic neighbourhoods, but that this resistance could be overcome by clearly communicating the benefits and mitigating the drawbacks as much as possible.

In addition to these concerns, members’ approval of low traffic neighbourhoods was conditional on planners’ consideration of hospital areas, to ensure emergency vehicles have unimpeded access.

Members also pointed out that use of appropriate and safe physical barriers, like bollards (rather than markings or signs), would be necessary to successfully implement low traffic neighbourhoods in Brighton & Hove.

A minor theme emerged around experiences of poorly positioned barriers in other centres, which assembly members suspected caused more accidents than they prevented.

There was an expectation that there will be a lot of resistance to this idea.

Strategic cycling networks

"We need to be radical. It can’t be a slow shift. We are, I don’t want to be negative, but we are running out of time. We need to do a set of radical behavioural changes. We will then be incentivised to cycle.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Assembly members had mixed responses to the proposition of strategic cycling networks. The health benefits and low level of associated carbon emissions were seen as positives that could be used to encourage cycling.

Making cycling safer and accessible for less confident cyclists was seen as a priority, as was ensuring cycling networks are in fact strategic – integrated with the road system and functional for practical use, not just leisure or tourism.

One suggested workaround was for A-roads to be dedicated to motor traffic, while B-roads could be designated cycle routes, where motorised traffic was reduced to a single one-way lane to make space for segregated cycle lanes.

However, there was a general feeling from members that they would expect a lot of resistance to cyclists having priority over cars. Cycle lanes will take up car space on the road and if they're not used, this will create more congestion and, in turn, more carbon emissions.

Tied to this, the importance of segregating cycle lanes from road traffic and pedestrian pavements came through as a strong theme across all groups. Along with a theme, from those who cycle already, of feeling vulnerable on the road.

These themes were further emphasised during discussion of the case studies later in the session, with the caveat that implementation of cycle lanes would need to accommodate vehicle and parking access for people with disabilities.

“In parts of the Lanes now, disabled people cannot access because of the closure of Gardner Street. They aren’t putting relevant infrastructure in place. These cycle lanes and walking spaces are good ideas, but you are not taking into consideration or talking to the disability groups.” - Assembly member, session 3.

In addition to the cost of implementing segregated cycle lanes to a modern standard, investment will be required to maintain and clean the lanes on a regular basis.

If cycle lanes are not segregated and are accessible by vehicles, enforcement will be required to ensure cars are not parked over the lanes. Members noted that there is no cyclist-specific equivalent of road tax or insurance, from which funds could be drawn to meet these needs.

There was also a general concern across the assembly about safety behaviours around cycling, in relation to both the cyclists themselves and any victims of their failure to adhere to safety measures.

"A lot of cyclists don’t adhere to road safety. They don’t know the code. They don’t wear helmets.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Assembly members were clear in the view that people will not be willing to give up their cars in favour of bicycles, unless they know there is a usable, efficient, accessible and affordable alternative for travel in bad weather.

Members also stressed the importance of these alternatives for people who have disabilities or additional accessibility needs, and families with small children.

Equally, the geography of Brighton & Hove may deter people from cycling. e-bikes at bike hubs could help to resolve this, assembly members suggested, but the council would need to subsidise the expense.

There was also an acknowledgement that an increase in active travel, on its own, would not bring about the required drop in carbon emissions.

Active travel behaviour change campaign

“You don’t [need to] lecture to people. It’s providing them with information to enable them to see the benefits of it. Equally, there needs to be a listening to their concerns and not just dismissing them because they don’t fit in to the plan.” - Assembly member, session 3.

There was a general sense of positivity around the idea of a campaign to promote active travel, with the caveat that messaging should help people feel empowered and engaged in change, rather than talked down to.

During discussion of this topic, members referred back to the earlier sessions of the assembly and reminded each other that leisure trips are some of the most polluting, regardless of whether or not cars are used for work commuting.

The surprise around this information emerged as a theme at the time and was evidently memorable.

Members pointed out that the majority of infrastructure is already in place for walking, although a consistent point across the assembly was the need for improvements to the city’s pavements.

This came across especially strongly in relation to making sure pavements are accessible for users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Again, this topic was tied into the need to improve public transport infrastructure, with members noting a requirement for improved bus shelters.

As with the other active travel ideas, a widespread concern about the behaviour change campaign was the relatively small impact this might have on carbon emissions.

However, there was a general view that it was a good idea to try a variety of different measures, and that these could, together, underpin the acceptance and uptake of measures.

“Lots of small things will add up and it needs to be alongside other measures as well, not our only strategy. Any positive impact is better than no impact.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Members across the groups consistently fed back that a behaviour change campaign should focus on:

  • emphasising the positive aspects of active travel, like health benefits, in relation to active travel and the street closures required for it to work, which would reduce pollution/emissions in those areas
  • listening to citizens’ concerns and finding ways to address those concerns
  • repeating a few simple, short, easy-to-remember key messages, rather than many complicated messages getting confused or lost
  • encouraging reduction of car use and increasing active travel and public transport use
  • promoting improvements to public transport, widely and clearly
  • equipping, enabling and inspiring people to make good choices, to avoid people feeling nannied and made to do things they don’t want to do

“People will think it's being done to annoy them. You've just got to make it clear that you're doing it to make positive change and show people the benefits.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Accessibility and inclusion

Assembly members were presented with 3 case studies, to help them think about how the future of Brighton & Hove can be shaped to accommodate the needs of people with different abilities and skills.

The case studies brought out strong themes around fairness and equality of access.

Assembly members readily related the case studies to their own and/or friends and family members’ experiences of being limited in their lives by inadequate public transport infrastructure.

A key takeaway was that members felt public transport should empower and enable people, rather than inconveniencing them.

For example, members were opposed to the idea of people with additional mobility needs having to pre-book public transport, because this would mean an additional layer of planning and organisation that a non-disabled person would not have to think about.

Similarly, a case study about cycling brought out a consistent theme that cycle lanes should be clearly marked, and physically segregated from both road traffic and pedestrian pavements, for everyone’s safety.

This came through strongly in all groups across the assembly. This topic also drew out themes of ensuring cyclist proficiency and requiring cyclists to have insurance and wear safety equipment, for example a helmet.

A case study about a migrant living in Brighton & Hove, who uses a vehicle for his livelihood, initiated discussions about how different groups are affected by climate change in ways that we may not expect.

Assembly members had various views about how best to mitigate this scenario and considered possible solutions, such as retraining for a different job or grants to enable people to upgrade to an electric vehicle.

As in the previous case studies, the conversation about this topic brought out themes of social justice.

However, another view emerged around the point that everyone will have to make sacrifices in the fight against climate change, and that people who drive for a living will need to change with the times, like everyone else.

“The issue here is easy to solve but it involves a radical shake up of social structures. We need to support migrant workers [and people who have] precarious gig economy jobs.” - Assembly member, session 3.

Practical implications

Assembly members emphasised, throughout this session, the importance of considering the needs of people with disabilities, as well as people whose livelihoods may be affected as a result of some of the measures discussed in the assembly.

They also talked about implementation of safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians, to keep everyone safe. There was a general sense of not wanting anyone to be left behind.

The key themes were that Brighton & Hove should:

  • recognise that different people have different needs and, with this in mind, look at proposed changes taking into account the whole picture - it's important to ask for input from different user groups – like people with different mobility needs, cyclists, and people who use a vehicle for their trade – and to test ideas before putting them in place, so funds aren’t wasted
  • improve pavements and kerbs, remove obstructions like lamp posts and street furniture that get in the way of people with additional mobility needs, and add more ramps to allow flexibility around where people can cross the road without having to navigate a drop kerb
  • in areas that are pedestrianised, allow access for vehicles carrying people with disabilities who won’t otherwise be able to access those places
  • implement greater enforcement of disability parking spaces
  • redesign cycle lanes so that they are segregated from both road vehicles and pedestrian pavements, for the safety of all
  • provide cycle routes that link key destinations and are functional, rather than just for leisure and tourism
  • design changes to the city to enable people with disabilities to live, as much as possible, like their non-disabled peers – they should not be disadvantaged or held back from spontaneity by having to pre-book their lives
  • invest in electric vehicles for the city’s taxi fleet
  • provide retraining for those who are likely to lose jobs due to climate change, like drivers

7. Session 4: reflecting and forming recommendations

Key findings

The assembly supported measures that prioritise the pedestrian. However, improved public transport and active travel infrastructure must be in place, and reliable, for interventions that reduce car use to be acceptable. Interventions should alleviate the need for a car.

The assembly supported measures that make public transport more attractive than driving a car, mainly through improving bus services. They also supported mobility hubs and an improved strategic cycling network, flagging the importance of having a joined up public transport network.

The assembly want the council to prioritise effective communication and promote the benefits of interventions. Restrictive measures should be used alongside measures that encourage changed behaviour, but the latter is the preferred approach.

Measures that impact everyone equally are preferred over those that would disproportionately impact those on a lower income, and exceptions to bans, like those associated with the car-free city centre, should be made based on need (not money).

The assembly raised the importance of careful planning and wider community engagement and consultation.

7.1 What we did

In the fourth session, on 5 November, the assembly came back together to begin forming their recommendations.

Following the third session, researchers at Ipsos MORI analysed the discussions held throughout the learning phase.

The session started with the chair playing back the analysis of discussions so far and giving the assembly time to reflect on them.

This included tensions that arose through discussion, in other words divergent views across the assembly on specific topics.

The assembly discussed behavioural barriers to reducing personal car use and a series of tensions around the uncertainty of future technologies and the council’s approach to:

  • behaviour change
  • inequality
  • communication

Following this, the assembly watched 2 final expert presentations on behaviour change, followed by discussion and a Q&A session. The expert presentations were:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of different transport technologies, presented by Dr Penny Atkins, University of Brighton
  • Changing behaviour in Southampton, presented by Councillor Christopher Hammond, Southampton City Council

Finally, the assembly discussed the key trade-offs of potential interventions previously explored in the learning phase. Focussing on their priorities and working towards recommendations, including their caveats to any intervention being implemented.

7.2 Findings

Reflections on analysed feedback/presentations

Members expressed support for the general prioritisation of public transport and active travel over personal car use.

However, they wanted more focus on mobility hubs, including park and ride, low-traffic zones, and supporting disabled citizens and refugees.

They emphasised the importance of needing a bus service that is convenient, cycle infrastructure that supports day-to-day use, and of addressing safety issues around active travel.

Electric bikes being used by residents and businesses was flagged as important, more so than electric cars.

Assembly members expressed disappointment that trams were unviable, but recognised the issues raised.

Finally, assembly members raised green energy as an important consideration that had not formed part of the discussions.

“Nothing we’ve seen in the assembly is taking responsibility for producing green electricity.” - Assembly member, session 4.

Behavioural barriers

Aside from physical and environmental factors, like mobility issues and the cost of public transport, the assembly suggested the following key reasons that citizens may not reduce their car use:

  • perception of public transport being significantly less convenient than cars
  • perception that the car is cheaper - the car is a sunk cost and already paid for, but public transport means spending money at point of use
  • sense of comfort and safety, compared with public transport
  • habit and general resistance to change
  • enjoyment experienced when driving, for example a sense of freedom
  • national culture of instant gratification and individualism
  • driving a car as a status symbol, associated with affluence compared to using public transport
  • other barriers, like weather, carrying heavy shopping and taking care of children

Resolving tensions

The assembly strongly supported an approach to interventions (and associated communications) that emphasised persuasion and reward, rather than sanctions – in other words, carrots rather than sticks.

The assembly wanted the council to promote the benefits of any intervention – for example, stressing the health benefits, while linking to ‘the big picture’ of addressing the climate emergency.

The assembly stressed that the council should focus on what is gained rather than lost – for example, calling the ‘car-free city centre’ intervention a ‘clean air zone’.

“I think there has to be a mixed approach, as in a mixture of rewards and fines – 80% carrot and 20% stick. I think for the most part you want to be the positive voice of change or else you’re just saying you are going to inflict some sort of thing on people.” - Assembly member, session 4.

The assembly wanted the council to support, rather than penalise, citizens and avoid furthering inequality where possible.

This meant supporting people with higher emission vehicles to change their mode of transport.

And using models that stop cars driving in an area altogether. In other words, using models than ban cars rather than models that charge car users to be in certain areas. Some people can afford this more than others, so this could create a ‘pay to pollute’ mindset for those who can afford to.

A caveat to the implementation of banning models was to make exceptions where there is a genuine need to drive, like blue badge holders.

Further suggestions around addressing behavioural barriers included:

  • researching interventions and engaging the wider community before implementing anything, to ensure they are trustworthy solutions - this was paired with a view that the council should be bold and not hold back
  • leading by example - the council should demonstrate their own changed behaviour, thus emphasising the importance for collective action
  • demonstrating viability - building public trust in the reliability of public transport and knowledge in the (renewed) public transport network
  • lifestyle changes - decentralised communities, shops delivering to customers’ homes and setting up car share systems
  • stakeholder engagement - involving local media, community champions, business and influencers


Reducing car use

The assembly strongly supported a car-free city centre, though there were concerns about displacement and several caveats.

The car-free city centre was felt to be viable only if introduced in tandem with an efficient and joined up public transport alternative, including cycling options. This comprised a park and ride scheme and effective signage informing residents and visitors how to get around.

Assembly members wanted to see some flexibility around these restrictions. For example, enabling cars to drive through the city centre at certain times, relating to a gradual introduction of the intervention, and ensuring exemptions were in place for those who need it – blue badge holders, taxis, and tradespeople.

Notably, assembly members frequently mentioned making the area more attractive and prioritising pedestrians as key reasons for their strong support. They also stressed the importance of the area being accessible and well-lit.

Those that were unsure about their support for this intervention wanted to see a detailed road plan. This reflects earlier discussion around a need for thorough consultation with the wider community.

Overall, the assembly felt that charging road-users, and parking charges, would be unfair on those with less money and could encourage a ‘pay to pollute’ mentality in those who could afford to do so.

They felt it better to focus on providing alternatives to driving and restricting access in order to change everyone’s behaviour.

Importantly, the assembly repeatedly emphasised a focus on alleviating the need for a car rather than simply taking away the infrastructure for driving one.

There were divergent views on reducing parking availability. Some assembly members felt it isn’t a priority and would cause undue stress on drivers.

Others made the case that the inconvenience would effectively disincentivise drivers and, therefore, aligned with the objectives of reducing car use.

Finally, electric vehicles generated divergent views. Those who opposed them felt the lack of infrastructure would be a barrier, or that electric cars are too expensive.

Others were unconvinced of the carbon-neutrality of the production of electric vehicles and expressed concern that they don’t deal with the core issue of reducing personal car use.

Those in favour felt they were still a better alternative to diesel cars and expressed support for investing in an electric taxi fleet.

“One of the important things is that electric vehicles or hydrogen buses are still really polluting. We need fewer cars on the road, not just slightly less-polluting cars. Otherwise it misses the point.” - Assembly member, session 4.

Increasing public transport use

When discussing interventions to increase public transport use, the assembly strongly supported interventions focused on making bus services more attractive than driving a car.

This included improving the reliability and convenience of bus services, as well as affordability, accessibility and cleanliness. Further to this, the assembly described a need for the public transport system to be well joined up and easy to use as one system.

Mobility hubs, particularly at train stations, were also supported in conjunction with e-bikes, car clubs and car shares. E-bikes were emphasised as a priority, to overcome the hilliness of Brighton & Hove and encourage active travel.

Park and ride was supported on the premise that it would get tourists and commuters off the roads.

Finally, assembly members discussed their desire for a tram network. However, it was largely recognised that the expense and lack of flexibility would make it less useful than improved bus services.

“For me as a bus rider, buses are unreliable, and they can be quite anti-social depending on when you’re travelling.” - Assembly member, session 4.

Increasing active travel

The interventions to increase active travel were, simply, supported.

There was strong support across the assembly for low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets, again prioritising the pedestrian.

One break-out group emphasised the successes of George Street and New Road, saying that these successes should be promoted and built on. Again, the importance of having a joined up public transport and active travel system, for this intervention to be viable, was raised.

Strategic cycling networks were also supported, particularly if it included e-bike infrastructure and ensured cyclist safety, like adding lighting to cycle lanes.

Much like their concerns around traffic and parking displacement when considering the car-free city centre, assembly members expressed concern about car users parking in cycle lanes and a loss of road space leading to increased congestion and pollution.

Where the former can be resolved by the physical separation of cycle lanes previously discussed in session 3, or penalising those who break the rules, the latter is a more complex issue that was repeatedly raised throughout the deliberations.

Some assembly members felt that all supported interventions working in tandem would enable reduced car use, where temporary and rushed measures such as the recently introduced cycle lanes have caused increased congestion.

“I feel like we’re doing a rushed job trying to solve a very big problem. They brought in 20mph speed limits. The police said that they can’t enforce it. Everything’s being done in a rush.” - Assembly member, session 4.

The assembly emphasised the importance of behaviour change campaigns, deeming this intervention ‘necessary’. Though with the condition that it is reliant on the infrastructure outlined in discussions being in place.

Finally, the assembly again reflected on the importance of listening to the community through consultation and wider community engagement. In particular, the assembly want cyclists to be consulted on the strategic cycling network.


In a final discussion on overall priorities and timescales, the assembly shared the following reflections:

  • Enable people to imagine the future and be inspired
  • Plan for long-term solutions, not quick fixes; start small and do it properly, then show it being done effectively so people are keen for it to be done in their area too
  • Prioritise the pedestrian and create pleasant spaces that look different, to change people’s mindsets
  • Build a sense of community and shared identity around positive action to address emissions in Brighton & Hove

There were divergent views on which interventions were most important or should be implemented first, resulting in a strong sense that they are all important.

Interventions are dependent on each other to work.

8. Session 5: writing and prioritising recommendations

Key findings

The recommendations are viewed as a suite; they should all be implemented and are dependent on each other to be viable.

The assembly want the council to focus their efforts on making sure there is no need for a car; focusing on improving alternatives and communicating those alternatives.

The assembly were sensitive to the language used in the recommendations, leaning towards a focus on what is gained rather than lost.

The assembly want the council to recognise the diversity of the residents in Brighton & Hove, particularly in terms of needs and communication approaches.

Research and consultation are highly important caveats to the assembly, particularly for the interventions of mobility hubs, low traffic neighbourhoods, and car-free city centre.

The assembly kept a strong focus on changing mindsets through interventions, campaigns, and prioritising active travel.

8.1 What we did

Following the penultimate session on 5 November, the Ipsos MORI project team analysed the discussions to pull out the assembly’s draft recommendations.

On 7 November, the final session, the chair presented the draft recommendations to the assembly. Once the assembly had reflected on the recommendations overall, each break-out group took one recommendation and edited it to reflect more refined considerations around language and caveats.

Assembly members presented the finalised recommendations to one another in plenary and reflected on these changes in their break-out groups.

Assembly members were asked to provide each recommendation with a score for how much impact it would have and then to rank each recommendation in order of importance.

They individually appraised the ten key recommendations, giving them each a score out of 5 for how much impact they thought it would have on reducing transport-related carbon emissions.

Then assembly members ranked the 10 recommendations in the order they felt they should be prioritised by the council. The prioritisation across the assembly was tallied while the assembly wrote letters as their future selves (see the appendix of this report) about the transport system in Brighton & Hove in 2030.

The final prioritisation of recommendations was presented back to the assembly before closing the session.


The 10 priority draft recommendations presented to the assembly were as follows.

The public transport system should be affordable

This includes a ticketing system that encompasses all public transport.

Car-free city centre

Dependent on public transport infrastructure being in place.

Exceptions must be made for people who need to use their car, like disabled people, deliveries and so on, but those who can use other means should not use their car.

Low traffic neighbourhoods

Including school streets.

Exceptions must be made for people who need to use their car, like disabled people, deliveries, but those who can use other means should not use their car.

Start small to demonstrate the value.

Introduce mobility hubs

They should link to train stations.

This should mean city-wide rentable e-bikes.

Introduce a park and ride for visitors and commuters to use

Actively encourage public transport as an alternative means of getting into the city centre.

Ensure linking transport infrastructure is in place and well communicated.

Driving a car should be less convenient than getting public transport

Re-balance the cost.

Public transport should be faster and more reliable.

Cyclists should be prioritised more through well designed cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure

Cyclists should be actively encouraged to be safe and mindful of others.

Enforcement is needed around car users parking habits.

Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose, and educate citizens

Should emphasise public health issues and gains.

Should emphasise climate change and educate people on the impact on their actions.

There should be a combination of ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ interventions

Prioritise restrictive measures over charging-based measures for the stick.

Measures must reflect disproportionate impacts on citizens.

The council should actively consult and engage with the whole community

There should be community advocates.

There should be a focus on listening and adapting.

The assembly were also presented with the below additional recommendations. These were not included in the 10 priority recommendations as they were not as widely discussed and as strongly supported as the others but were still important enough to be considered recommendations from the assembly.

Focus on creating pleasant environments

Pleasant environments include cleaner, more accessible pavements.

All measures should be carefully planned, researched and monitored/evaluated

Measures have to work for the whole area, not just some areas.

But be bold, not cautious or half-hearted.

Address lack of infrastructure and subsidise electric car purchase

Focus messaging on moving away from personal car use wherever possible.

Treat electric cars as a stepping-stone to lower car use.

The citizens of Brighton & Hove should experience changes as a whole community effort

The council should actively demonstrate what’s changing city-wide.

The council should engage businesses across the city to publicly commit to change.

Focus on the identity of Brighton & Hove.

Final recommendation wording

The assembly broadly agreed with the 10 priority recommendations, though reflected on their desire for more detailed information and comprehensive evidence to make better informed decisions.

The assembly’s edited recommendations are outlined below.

Introduce a park and ride to minimise car use in the city

There should be no need to use a car in the city centre – it should be easier not to use a car if you are a commuter or visitor.

Ensure linking transport infrastructure is in place and well communicated with full city information at the park.

Use public transport as the primary means of getting into, and travelling around, the city centre.

The group focused on this recommendation wanted to emphasise that park and ride is for everyone, and that the focus should be on minimising the need for private car use through improved and clearly communicated alternatives.

The public transport system should be affordable/accessible

This includes a ticketing system that encompasses all public transport.

Pricing should be relative to other forms of transport (in other words, taxis).

Open ended/flexible season tickets should be introduced.

Reconsider the times that buses are on the road, to ensure that there aren’t excess buses on the road with no one in them.

Options should be well communicated.

The group focused on this recommendation were concerned that the term ‘affordable’ is ambiguous. They wanted public transport to be more convenient and cost effective, with greater focus on demonstrating that public transport is adapting through a range of options.

Other groups felt the term affordable still needed a clearer definition and emphasised the importance of promoting the changes to encourage use, as the goal of this recommendation is to get people on to public transport.

“I have a problem with the wording. It’s on the premise that public transport’s not affordable at the moment. Could it be a more competitive price? Absolutely.” - Assembly member, session 5.

Introduce mobility hubs

Research and consult on what mobility hubs should look like locally.

In local neighbourhoods.

Greater city-wide availability of bikes.

City-wide rentable e-bikes.

Retrofit the BTN bikes to become e-bikes.

Make sure they are by a taxi rank, bus route and/or train station.

Transport resource distribution; everyone should be able to access one.

Cargo storage attachments should be available for the bikes.

The group focused on this recommendation concentrated on defining what mobility hubs include, reflecting on how this had yet to be explicitly defined, and explored the importance of e-bike provision.

After making several additions striving to define what mobility hubs should include, they decided to prioritise a caveat that research and consultation should be carried out in order to design them appropriately.

Other groups agreed that they still didn’t understand precisely what mobility hubs look like, supported better bike provision, and felt there should be more focus on public transport links.

Make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car

Public transport should be faster, affordable, and more reliable.

The group focused on this recommendation wanted a more positive framing and removed reference to cost so that it was not misconstrued as charging drivers, when the focus is on changing public transport.

Other groups supported the positive re-framing of language and, in some instances, reflected on their disappointment that the focus is on buses and not trams.

Cyclists should be prioritised over cars through well-designed dedicated cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure

Cyclists should be actively encouraged to be safe and mindful of others.

Enforcement is needed around car users’ parking habits – if the network is squeezed into roads.

The group focused on this recommendation felt that cyclists should be prioritised over cars, but not over pedestrians, and discussed whether cars should or shouldn’t be separated from bikes.

Other groups expressed concern over the phrasing and explicit inclusion of cars. They felt it would be better to focus on ‘cycling’ and ‘driving’ rather than the citizens themselves, and that it would be better to separate the cycling network from the road system as it would be safer and would not cause traffic flow problems.

Healthier low traffic/pedestrianised communities

Including school streets.

Exceptions must be made for people who need to use their car (like disabled people, deliveries) but those who can use other means should not use their car.

Start small to demonstrate the value.

Messaging should include pictures or videos of where this has been implemented so people can easily see how a familiar place used to look compared to what it looks like after the changes (like George Street).

Need to make it clear that residents can get in and out of their own low traffic neighbourhood with ease.

Benefits should be clearly conveyed (in other words, wellbeing, thriving community, reinvigorated local area).

The group focused on this recommendation wanted more focus on the people, rather than the cars, and to emphasise the health benefits and other/additional benefits to local businesses and residents.

Other groups supported the positive re-framing of language and reflected on their desire to see the detail before confirming their support, emphasising the importance of consultation and engagement.

In starting small to demonstrate value, the assembly was suggesting that the “proof of concept” be established gradually, rather than see an immediate and widespread introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods.

Car-free city centre

Dependent on improved public transport infrastructure being in place. Additionally, dependent on private transport infrastructure, in other words, walking and cycling.

Exceptions must be made for people who need cars (and other vehicles), like blue badge holders, deliveries. Those who can use other means should not use cars.

The group focused on this recommendation were concerned about the lack of specificity on vehicles other than cars and wanted to emphasise the walking and cycling infrastructure as just as important as improved public transport. They also saw a need to define what is meant by disabled.

Other groups again reflected on their desire to see the detail and the importance of consultation and engagement. 

“If that came in [the council] would then have to look at street planning, understanding how people move around, and design that all in.” - Assembly member, session 5.

Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose and educate/expand citizens’ knowledge

Should emphasise public health issues and gains.

Should emphasise climate change.

Educate/expand people’s knowledge on the impact of their actions.

Comms should be tailored to address the concerns or lifestyles of different types of residents.

Not ‘if’ but ‘when/how’ it happens.

Information should be accessible to everyone.

The group focused on this recommendation reflected on the importance of understanding different audiences and doing targeted, accessible, behaviour change campaigns.

Other groups reflected that it is important to tell people about the negatives as well as positives, so people know all the facts.

There should be a focus on incentives rather than sanctions as interventions

Prioritise restrictive measures over charging-based measures.

Measures must account for disproportionate impacts on citizens.

The group focused on this intervention wanted to use words that sounded less aggressive and emphasised their support of ‘nudging’ rather than punitive measures.

Other groups supported the positive re-framing of language but felt that sanctions and enforcement are needed to have an impact; that relying on ‘the carrot’ is too optimistic.

The council should actively consult and engage with neighbourhoods within the community

There should be community advocates who act as middlemen between the community and the council, with a clear definition of their role and support from the council.

The council should focus on educating the whole community, listening, and adapting its plans according to the feedback provided.

The council should consider the methods of communication.

The council should measure community involvement.

The council should report back to the community about what was done with their feedback and why, evidencing that they are listening.

The group who focused on this recommendation reflected on the need for a clearly defined role of a community advocate and wanted more focus on the differences between neighbourhoods, as well as transparency about decision-making based on feedback from the community.

Other groups reflected on the importance of engaging with all sectors of the community including, for example, car owners.

Appraisal and prioritisation

The table below sets out the collective ranking from the prioritisation and appraisal exercises, with the most important/impactful being ranked number 1 and the least important/impactful being ranked number 10.

It is important to note 2 things about the rankings: the assembly repeatedly emphasised that all recommendations should be implemented. The rankings should be seen as a guide to the relative importance of each recommendation.

And assembly members acknowledged that, on a different day and with different information, they may have answered differently.

Recommendation ranking
Summarised recommendation Ranking based on prioritisation exercise Ranking based on appraisal exercise
Car-free city centre 1 1
Affordable public transport 2 2
Low traffic neighbourhoods 3 3
Consult and engage the community 4 8
Mobility hubs 5 5
Prioritise cyclists 6 (joint with park and ride) 7
Park and ride 6 (joint with prioritise cyclists) 6
Driving should be less convenient than public transport 8 4
Focus messaging on what's gained 9 9
A combination of carrot and stick 10 10

When appraising, the assembly did not regard engagement and messaging as having an immediate and direct impact on carbon emissions.

When prioritising, they reflected on the importance of changing mindsets, behaviour and expanding knowledge.

The assembly felt that consulting and engaging the community is vitally important to the challenge of lowering emissions, and that, despite anticipated backlash, it is needed to ‘bring people along’.

Those who opposed extensive consultation and engagement with the public did so because they felt it takes too long.

“Consult and engage is my least important for carbon emissions, but I think it’s got to be the start of the process.” - Assembly member, session 5.

Assembly members viewed the car-free city centre and low traffic neighbourhoods as highly impactful, as they guaranteed the removal of cars from an area, thus having a direct impact on carbon emissions.

They also reflected that the transformation of spaces into more pleasant areas would encourage a shift in mindset.

Concerns remained around displacement, and that low traffic neighbourhoods would only make improvements in small areas.

“I ranked low traffic neighbourhoods as my top priority because I think it will have a huge impact on carbon emissions.” - Assembly member, session 5.

The assembly felt uncertain about the impact that prioritising cyclists and park and ride would have, due to there being no guarantee that park and ride or cycle lanes would be used if put in place. They felt that getting drivers to cycle would have an impact, but not simply prioritising cyclists.

There were concerns that, despite it being positive to get visitors off the roads and a car-free city centre being dependent on this intervention, park and ride would not be implemented by the council.

Again, concerns around simply displacing traffic rather than dealing with the issue of personal car use were raised.

Having been presented with their collective prioritisation of recommendations, the assembly reflected on the importance of making public transport affordable and accessible – that public transport being more convenient than driving could have been ranked more highly.

They felt this may not have been prioritised due to it being a natural outcome of the other interventions.

Finally, they reflected on the inter-dependencies of the recommendations and expressed their concerns about certain interventions causing, rather than reducing, pollution.

The importance of all interventions working together was strongly emphasised. The following specific inter-dependencies were raised:

  • car-free city centre is dependent on park and ride and improved public transport
  • park and ride is dependent on improved public transport
  • low traffic neighbourhoods are dependent on improved public transport
  • driving becoming less convenient is dependent on alternatives being in place first

“If you make a bit of a restriction and provide other options, it works together. Especially if public transport is more affordable. ‘Education’ should be with ‘the council will actively engage’ as when you engage, you try to educate, so I don’t understand why they are spread far apart.” - Assembly member, session 5.

9. Implementing the assembly’s recommendations

This chapter explores behaviour change principles that might be considered when addressing the recommendations generated by the assembly.

Key recommendations

Physical barriers were deemed the biggest barriers to reducing car use, which has been the focus of the assembly. Approaches to addressing physical barriers are to improve infrastructure, raise awareness and motivation to use it, and mitigate non-compliance.

To address citizens’ expectation that public transport will not be convenient and reliable enough to reduce their car use, the council should consider demonstrating the reliability and convenience of an improved transport network. Messaging is also likely to benefit from clear explanations on what citizens need to do to effectively use public transport and directly addressing internal conflicts around climate change and personal car use.

To address citizens’ habits, the council should consider interventions that enable them to plan their journeys and reorient routines and provide positive feedback.

To address citizens’ sense of enjoyment, comfort, and safety when driving their cars, the council should consider interventions that ensure and demonstrate that public transport is safe and comfortable. Communication is likely to benefit from emphasising what is positive about public transport compared to driving promoting longer term gains, and providing feedback on progress and impact.

To address owning a car as a status symbol, the council could explore messaging that reinforces being a team player in efforts to reduce carbon emissions and focuses on being someone who has changed their behaviour to reduce carbon emissions as a status symbol.

To address social and cultural norms around prioritising the driver, messaging may benefit from emphasising the harmonious elements of changes around public health, the reinvigoration of communities while also addressing climate change. Communication may also benefit from challenges to false assumptions about other people’s habits.

9.1 Methodology

Once thematic analysis was complete, the Ipsos MORI team analysed the findings through the in-house behaviour change framework, MAPPS.

This analysis enables a more rigorous and in-depth exploration of the barriers to reducing personal car use in favour of public transport and active travel in Brighton & Hove.

The framework also enables the use of behavioural theory to address specific barriers that have been identified. More detail on the MAPPS framework can be found in the appendix of this report.

Analysis and recommendations

The assembly deemed the physical environmental to be the biggest barrier to reducing car use – for example, the cost of public transport or lack of joined up cycling networks.

The assembly largely focused on the physical environment, providing detailed insights into the 2 key approaches to addressing physical barriers: 

  • Improve infrastructure and raise awareness with a focus on motivating citizens to use it
  • Identify and mitigate non-compliance in citizens by enhancing or removing influences - for example, remove the option to park on curbs by using physical barriers

These barriers are addressed through the climate assembly’s extensive recommendations and detailed insight into what is needed from the physical infrastructure in Brighton & Hove, and raises the importance of investing in communication, encouragement, and enforcement.

Non-physical barriers

The assembly raised other, non-physical, reasons that citizens may not reduce their car use and increase active travel or public transport use. 

Outcome expectations

Citizens may not believe that public transport is convenient, affordable, and reliable enough to switch from using their cars.

Approaches to addressing this barrier aim to build understanding and knowledge, and provide feedback:

  • create familiarity with improved public transport and demonstrate that it is now convenient, affordable and reliable
  • be clear about what individuals need to do
  • acknowledge internal conflicts – between desire to reduce carbon emissions compared with the perceived increased cost for individuals – by explaining how things work

Alongside improving public transport and raising awareness, communication is likely to benefit from demonstrating the reliability and convenience of the improved public transport network.

Messaging is also likely to benefit from clearly explaining what citizens need to do to use it and directly addressing internal conflicts around climate change and personal car use.

For example, a message that addresses the latter could be: “we recognise that you want to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions, but not at the expense of getting to work on time so we’re making sure you can do both.”

This campaign could include new signage across Brighton & Hove detailing the new system and share real-life experiences of citizens using the improved network.


Citizens are in the habit of being reliant on their car and so will be resistant to change. Approaches to addressing this barrier aim to enable planning and provide feedback:

  • enable people to unpack their regular car use routine and identify how they can change this routine
  • enhance rewards

For example, this could mean providing an information pack to workplaces and schools which guides employees and students through considering why they make the journeys they do, and how they could do them differently.

This could incorporate a rewards system and resemble the ‘Walk to School Week’ initiative.

Decision forces and internalisation

Citizens enjoy driving and feel a sense of comfort and safety in their cars, compared with using public transport.

Approaches to addressing these barriers aim to build understanding and knowledge, enable planning, and provide feedback:

  • find ways to halt and redirect confirmation bias – in other words, the tendency to favour information that supports one’s prior beliefs
  • promote the value of longer-term gains
  • use feedback mechanisms to give citizens a sense of progression and meaning of the changes
  • use symbols of group identity, signalling their belonging to a group that shares values
  • support people to transform the desired behaviours into their own values and goals

A consideration in the interventions themselves, and the communication around them, is to portray public transport as safe and comfortable.

Given that using public transport is unlikely to be as comfortable as personal car use, communication could focus on the emphasising the positive aspects of public transport compared to personal car use, which confirmation bias often overlooks.

For example, concentrating for the speed and shortness of journeys through dedicated bus lanes, and how people can relax on the bus in contrast to the stress of driving in traffic.  

Promoting the longer-term gains around public health and reduced carbon emissions can be enhanced by providing updates to citizens on the impact their changes are making.

For example, “this year personal car use reduced by X amount, which means X reduction in carbon emissions and X amount of money generated through sponsored walks, which will go into improving X local active travel infrastructure.”

Feeding into the journey planning pack example, this could include an ongoing goal-setting activity.

Brighton & Hove should build on its identity as a place addressing climate change as an emergency and may benefit from a symbol or signal which can be associated with this group identity. For example, a simple logo or image that accompanies a wider campaign strategy. 


Citizens see driving a car as a status symbol, associated with affluence. Approaches to addressing this barrier aim to build understanding and enable connections to be formed:

  • reinforce target behaviours
  • re-frame the identity

Particularly when targeting drivers, the city council could explore messaging that reinforces being a ‘team player’ in efforts to reduce carbon emissions and focuses on being someone who has changed their behaviour to reduce carbon emissions as a status symbol.

Social and cultural norms

Citizens are accustomed to a culture which prioritises cars/drivers. Approaches to addressing these barriers aim to build understanding and enable connection:

  • challenge assumptions around false consensus
  • emphasise harmonious features
  • maintain individual autonomy and control
  • develop a sense of learning and enjoyment

The assembly raised several points around addressing these barriers through their recommendations, including experiencing changes as a whole community effort and shifting mindsets through changing the physical environment to prioritise pedestrians.

The emphasis on harmonious features supports the focus on messaging around public health and reinvigoration of community spaces while also addressing climate change.

Communication around the suite of interventions may also benefit from challenges to false assumptions about other people’s habits and providing them with choices.

For example, demonstrating the prevalence or uptake of active travel by sharing videos of cycling clubs hosting events, and inviting them to join future events that allow them to learn at their own pace.

Initiatives could also, for example, encourage the community to share their experiences as they navigate the highs and lows of changing their behaviour.

This brief behavioural analysis is designed to support the principal content of this report; the assembly’s recommendations and the process of getting there.

Having diagnosed the issues, this analysis is intended as a set of building blocks which the council can use to workshop ideas internally and with citizens of Brighton & Hove that address these barriers.

These, ideally co-created, solutions should then be tested and trialled alongside the refined interventions recommended by the assembly. 

The process of using this analysis to inform interventions and initiatives should reflect the following 2 recommendations from the assembly:

  • all measures should be carefully planned, researched and monitored/evaluated
  • the council should actively consult and engage with the community

Throughout the assembly, it was notable that assembly members were not aware of consultation that is regularly carried out by the council.

The assembly often expressed thanks that they had been engaged in this participatory way.

In keeping with the above focus on co-designing communication and interventions, we recommend basing future engagement with the citizens of Brighton & Hove on the principles and practices of co-production and participation.

The following 3 resources are a good place to start:

10. Appendices

10.1 MAPPS behaviour change framework

To understand the dimensions underlying behaviour, Ipsos MORI use MAPPS; a behaviour change framework based on rigorous academic research (Behaviour Change Wheel/COM-B) and an evidence base of sustained behaviour change.

There are 5 dimensions to the MAPPS framework:

  • Motivation - do I want to do it?
  • Ability - am I able to do it?
  • Processing - how we think about it
  • Physical - does the context encourage it?
  • Social - what other people do and value

Sitting under each of the dimensions are further ways to diagnose behaviour:

Table 1.2

Explanation of table 1.2

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: motivation
  • Category: outcome expectations
  • Objective: providing estimation/predictions about outcomes

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: motivation
  • Category: emotion
  • Objective: shaping feelings/emotions and guiding emotion regulation

Intervention strategy

  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: motivation
  • Category: internalisation
  • Objective: shifting from extrinsic to intrinsic influence

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies
  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: motivation
  • Category: identity
  • Objective: building personal and social identities

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: motivation
  • Category: self-efficacy
  • Objective: facilitating feelings of self-efficacy and mastery for change and persistence

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies
  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: ability 
  • Category: capability
  • Objective: guiding how things are learnt

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: ability
  • Category: routines
  • Objective: supporting the development of habits and embedding routines

Intervention strategy

  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies
  • Planning - developing and maintaining intentions or skills needed to perform a behaviour

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: processing
  • Category: decision forces
  • Objective: changing or tapping into how things are processed and guiding behavioural regulation

Intervention strategy

  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction or outcome discrepancies
  • Planning - developing and maintaining intentions or skills needed to perform a behaviour

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: physical
  • Category: environmental factors
  • Objective: shaping the physical environment, context and resources

Intervention strategy

  • Restructure - changing environment to enhance or remove influences

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: social
  • Category: social
  • Objective: making salient group, transient or situational norms

Intervention strategy

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

Diagnosis and objective

  • Dimension: social
  • Category: culture
  • Objective: referencing social norms

Intervention strategy

  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

Once we have diagnosed the barriers to behaviour change, researchers use an extensive body of research on interventions tailored to each of the categories to inform recommendations which can then be designed, tested and implemented.

These interventions fall broadly into the following building blocks:

  • Understanding - building knowledge, help people see relevance and importance
  • Feedback - providing positive or negative guidance, direction, or outcome expectancies
  • Planning - developing and maintaining intentions or skills needed to perform a behaviour
  • Restructure - changing environment to enhance or remove influences
  • Connect - allowing connections to be formed or making these available as informational sources

10.2 Letters from my future self

In the final session, assembly members wrote letters as their future selves about the transport system in Brighton and Hove in 2030. These, anonymised, letters are provided below as written by the assembly.

Letter 1

As I walk on the sea front towards the centre, I can’t help but emphasise how grateful I am to live in such a beautiful city! I look around and I feel I’m in a painting, the streets leading to the centre are full of flowers and plants. 

Once in the city centre the air is still fresh and I can smell the flowers. The city is buzzing but there are no cars...it’s all pedestrian streets!

I can see many parents walking with their children towards the cafes and the shops. A few tourists around taking pictures and enjoying our city.

The tram has definitely made a big difference to our city especially for the elderly and tourists!

I love Brighton and Hove!

Letter 2

The last 10 years have seen a lot of changes, which is a very positive thing. I am driving a fully electric vehicle to work as opposed to the old Diesel you are driving now and it is charged by 100% sustainably sourced electricity.

I work a lot closer to home for work-life balance reasons mainly, but also as I’ve become more aware of the impact travelling long distances has on the environment still.

I go into Brighton city centre a lot more than you do because it is a more pleasant place to be now it is pedestrianised, it’s also a nicer cycle in since the improvements to the network of cycle paths.

Letter 3

Wow its great how there’s loads of pedestrian areas.

Still got pesky cyclists whizzing around but everyone is accustomed to it.

I am surprised how many people use the park and ride.

Letter 4

It’s 2030, life today has changed to the better. The air is clearer and so is the pollution. No more unnecessary traffic, and more people on the streets confidently. It’s definitely took a lot of commitment from the people to make this change and now I thank that.

I’m glad Brighton has invested in trams, although it was expensive and took some time to build. With no doubt it was the best and more sufficient investment. Tickets now compared to 2020 are so much cheaper, 70% cheaper.

Everything now is not only eco-friendly but people-friendly, we are all trying to help our environment and make life easier and positive for us. These changes had made me more at ease I feel more secure and safe in my environment.

This is because my city Brighton and I are aiming to always achieve the same goals and have the same mindset when it comes to transportations.

Letter 5

Dear Me!

My main mode of transport is now cycling . There is an excellent web of segregated cycle lanes across Brighton & Hove. My daughter and I cycle to her school, and she has provision to leave her bike there. I walk or cycle to the station when I need to commute to London for work.

We don't own a car, but we are members of a car club, with a fleet of electric cars. We use the car for visiting relatives/friends outside Brighton and other trips away, but not much within town.

Where cycling is not possible, we use buses to get around town. The buses are very frequent, cheap and reliable. We use an Oyster-type pay as you go system. There isn't much traffic on the roads, so the buses can move quickly and journeys don't take long.

All the changes are very positive, and the city is cleaner, healthier and much  more pleasant!

From Me!

Letter 6

Dear Me, 

I'm writing this letter to you as you're taking part in the Brighton & Hove climate change assembly and I bet you're wondering what changes have been made over the last 10 years!

So, you've started a wonderful, well-paid and fulfilling career working close to home - and as you commute into work on a daily basis (not far - just to Hove) your day starts off at the bus stop, which is within a 5-minute walk from home. There's a bus every 10 minutes or so (there used to be one every 7 minutes but as I'm sure you'll know, that ended up with a lot of congestion and travel time was actually longer - as well as being hard to predict when the bus would come). Now, although the time between buses is longer, you know exactly what time it'll be there and also exactly how long it's likely to take (with a 10 minute margin) so it's a lot more reliable getting in to work and you don't have to worry about things like super long journey times just because it's raining outside and people can't be bothered to walk. 

You've also been taking the old lady you volunteer out in the wheelchair more often, although she's now almost 100 (!!). It's so much easier wheeling her around on the pavements because they've been smoothed out and now have easy access on and off the pavement at multiple points. She's also now able to access the city centre proper, and no longer has to limit herself to Hove, because of the pedestrianisation of the city centre. Equally, you're able to go out with [anonymised] more often now that there isn't such an issue with step access on and off the pavement and also into shops, pubs and restaurants. Everything has been thought through to enable smooth access to the same things as able-bodied people have access to. 

You still live on [street name] and the traffic outside has improved immensely, you no longer get kept up at night by the noise of cars (aside from the reduction in traffic, lots of people have also moved to electric cars which are a lot quieter) and the buses are no longer so noisy now they're hydrogen powered. 

The high street culture in Brighton is flourishing because it is so much more accessible, and people actually enjoy coming into town for a pootle and a bit of window shopping (don't worry- COVID will be on its way out soon so you won't be stuck at home for much longer!)

The trains have also massively improved, so if you ever need to commute into London these are now high speed, and the days of train cancellations and delays are a thing of the past. You can also always get a seat which is a bonus, because I hate to tell you that your [health condition] is just going to get worse over the next 10 years. 

Overall, Brighton has become a national leader in the Green movement, and it couldn't have come a moment too soon. Everywhere else is struggling to keep up with the changes Brighton has made and we're now being consulted by many other cities on the progress we've made so far. It's a buzzing, green, clean community with great new infrastructure and street architecture and is a place where everyone has the same access and air pollution is no longer causing the same problems it did in 2020. 

A pat on the back to you past-names, this assembly was instrumental in moving the agenda of climate change/air pollution to the fore and all of the changes made have been positive to everyone in the community.

Letter 7

Wow, what a lot has changed in the past 10 years, in both the way the city looks and functions, and in the way you live your life day-to-day. 

It's incredible to think that in 2020 it was possible to drive into the centre of Brighton. That the shared spaces that are now used as market squares and community spaces were once filled with cars. Of course, back then, it was more convenient to drive into town - the cycle route we use now didn't exist, instead you were competing with cars and buses on the road (hardly a safe journey for anyone, let alone a family with young kids on the backs of bikes). In 2030 we let our children, now teenagers, cycle into town on their own, which we definitely would not have done back then. When the weather doesn't work for cycling, we don't think twice about getting the bus - another big change from the past when we would have got straight in the car.

It's also amazing to reflect on the changes in our local community of Westdene. While we sometimes walked child’s name to school in 2020, we would also drive quite often. This was the case for lots of parents and the streets around the school in the mornings and afternoons were a nightmare - rammed full of cars, not enough parking and a real safety issue for the kids. Now parents wouldn't dream of driving and the community is so much better for it. In addition, the local community has thrived now that there is less traffic around the shops on Eldred avenue. The cafes spill out onto the pavement and there are new independent businesses in addition to the few that were there 10 years ago.

The changes have been incredible, and we hope that they continue. 

Letter 8

I walk out of my flat on street name in central Brighton to the lovely pedestrianised zone. its lovely to see the people, the cafe culture and the new planting of trees and flowers. I pop up to Edward Street on foot and get a bike to go to the station, really happy that my ticket includes bike ride, train ticket to London and entry to the Tate Modern. I am also able to recycle my old radio at the mobility hub which is really handy. A good day.

Letter 9

Can’t believe how much process Brighton has made to help our city achieve my every ambition we have become among the cleanest cities in Europe thanks to 15,000 people contribute to our future outlook.

I don’t need to travel to much, except on our great bus service and rail network.

Back in 2013 our city looked dirty, also full of pollution, we now have ambitions for my 16 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren to have our planet liveable again.

People are now engaged with one another more readily because they are proud, we have achieved through unity and self-confidence,

Bravo to us all 

Welcome to the new era 

Letter 10

I love the changes that have been made to transport system in Brighton & Hove. 

My local neighbourhood is car free now and there are trees, benches and communal gardens. Lots of small independent shops have opened up so I don't need to drive to the large supermarkets. There is a sense of community now, and it feels safer and the air is cleaner.

When I go into Brighton (by bus) there are hardly any cars because tourists use the park and ride scheme and the mobility hubs. The air feels cleaner and it is a more pleasant experience. 

The centre of Brighton is completely car-free so the buses are quicker and more frequent, and have become more affordable and accessible.

Letter 11

How are you doing? Still handsome as ever eh?

I got up this morning and looked out my window at Brighton. Wow, you wouldn’t believe the difference a decade can make!

Even though sea levels of continued to rise, the sea front looks about the same as it has done. Thanks to the measures we put in place after 2020, we have managed to slow the rate at which the ice caps are melting and have also somehow managed to stave off a big melting event in Antarctica.

Life goes on much as it has, except now we’re living in the future! Why just this week I had to go to a meeting in London. Rather than driving to the station, I walked down to the mobility hub about a quarter mile from my house. There I got an electric bike and took it to the rail station, where I was able to get my train just on time. Coming back, I had had a few jars so I decided it wasn’t smart to cycle back home. I got one of the new electric buses and was home just before 7pm.

My parents are coming to visit next week, they’re older and tend to still drive everywhere. I told them about the traffic measures to prevent people driving into town, so they’re going to leave their car at the Caroline Lucas Memorial Park n’ Ride just north of town. It’s really cool, they managed to dig down into the earth and built one of those really fancy self-raising parking structures. You leave your car there in long term parking and then take an electric shuttle bus into town.

Well, anyway, just remember that it’s important you did all this stuff back in 2020. Thankfully we’re not like Southampton who sank!

Kind regards,

You (from the future!)

Letter 12

I’m 38 – hopefully I’ve never had to go back to commuting +16,000 miles per year by car (following the effects of WFH during Covid). Remote working has really helped reduce unnecessary car journeys and I’m working full-time from home. As a result, we will have gone from two cars to one economical vehicle which is necessary for us to have with a partner who commutes outside of Brighton during unsocial hours and is considered a 'key worker'.

Getting in and around the city will be easy – either through walking or catching the bus. If I do have to go into the office, I’ll be able to easily catch a bus to Preston Park train station and travel along the coast in-line with regular train services.

Family who live outside of the city will be able to visit us easily – either through using the park and ride or through arriving at the train station and being able to easily get on a bus and travel to the outskirts (using the mobility hub system).

During weekends/leisure time, we’ll be able to travel easily East-West of Brighton to visit friends without needing to jump in the car. I’m happy that the city has become more accessible and that there are easy, regular and accessible ways for me to use public transport for leisure travel.

Letter 13

Well 10 years have passed since they have made Brighton & Hove a 'car free city’. A lot of good has come out of this we have been able to lower the cities emission the air is fresher and less polluted but for you, as a disabled person, things have not been so great, all the talk about not forgetting about those who may rely on cars due to disabilities have been pushed aside and forgotten.

The buses are not as accessible as they could be and they still continue to hike prices even though they have easier access routes. I am penalised because I am disabled, the parking for disabled people is non-existent or they have put our bays in areas that are unsuitable to us.

My carers struggle to take me even to the doctors and hospital appointment that I have. I am at time verbally abused for using a car and told I am faking my conditions just to be lazy.

If I take the bus, I struggle to get on easily as well as being made to fold the walker. I am sometimes waiting a long time to get on the buses as they cannot grant me access.

Cyclist have priority with no care to others. The number of times I’ve been bashed by cyclists who have paid no attention to road traffic signs has increased.

I have become isolated for living in close proximity to the town I shop more online then go to town because it is easier and safer for me. If I do arrange to go to shops, I go outside of Brighton. Because the UK had been short sighted for so long on where they invested money and made improvements, they are over the last 50 to 60 years they are thought they could make these bold radical changes quick and fast.

The residents of Brighton were listened to but not heard. Life has become harder for disabled and those who do not look to be matching what the council envision.

Letter 14

So just dropping you a line to update you on how things are going with in Brighton in regard to that climate assembly thing you're taking part in. It's going great! 

The entire city centre stretching down to the seafront into Kemptown and across some way towards hove is 'car free' now. Of course, that doesn't mean there's no cars at all but there's a heck of a lot less! Those with exceptions such as blue badges or delivery drivers/business owners etc. Can still get about as needed but other than that, the 'roads' are clear of motor vehicles. If you can call them roads! It's mostly pedestrianised, multi-use areas with plenty of green space with great cycle access and really well implemented public transport.

Talking of public transport, it’s now is now totally free and under public ownership! It's clean, convenient and accessible to all. Indeed, all public transport across the county is the same, the Greens still run the council here… and indeed now run the country! We’ve also re-joined the EU! Covid got a vaccine! Animal agriculture was ended! Everyone is vegan now! Climate change reversed! Back lives matter! It’s all fixed! Yay us! 

Of course, this is [name] 2030 from the super optimistic alternate future... I very much hope you're coming here and not the more dystopian cynical place that regularly occupied my mind 10 years ago! 

Well, good luck for both our sakes. See you in the future.

Letter 15

Dear me,

Retirement has brought many changes. The fact that I no longer have to travel to work every day has made the transport changes less of a day-to-day concern, but the encouragement of an integrated public transport network has allowed me to give up the car, which is a huge relief.

The fact that electric cars are available, as and when needed, has been a huge benefit, but faster, cheaper and more comfortable public transport (and the fact that I no longer have to work, or to ferry children about) has made that less important.

The cycling network has perhaps made the biggest difference - being able to get safely (thanks to the dedicated routes), and quickly (ditto), and without too much discomfort (thanks to the e-bike) has made me both healthier and happier than I might have expected at this stage of my life.

A fifteen minute trip into the pedestrianised area around Duke Street - The Lanes - Old Steine has been an unexpected but welcome pleasure.

Letter 16

Wow, those ten years passed quicker than ever! Brighton is still the best place to live in the UK. Remember back then when winters were spent indoors because it was just too freezing to cycle everywhere like usual? It used to be all too easy to just jump in the car when I didn’t want to get wet for a quick trip to climb at Portslade or to go to the shops. Now I know it will be much more inconvenient and, for the first time ever, actually much more expensive than using public transport. How perverse that we used to have things the opposite way around!

Thank god the buses now come close enough to home to get out and about. And I’m so very glad the council grew a backbone and nationalised local buses so that the profits could be funnelled into improving transport in the city rather than into the pockets of global conglomerate shareholders. It was crazy we allowed that to happen for so long and that we didn’t use all the methods we had available prior to nationalisation (licensing, tolls for bus lanes, etc.) And how much cheaper it is to run the buses now that the streets aren’t congested with private vehicles. Now it’s easier to get into town cheaply and with the cars off the road - it’s the first time buses that are actually quicker than cycling.

Summers are better than ever. I still cycle literally everywhere and every single day but it’s so much more relaxing and quicker. Now we’re a big group of people having barbecues on the beach and swimming together. It used to be such a nightmare persuading others to cycle around town with all the cars and the poor infrastructure. How much healthier we all feel! And it was amazing to see just how quickly robust enforcement action and high fines put an end to all the cars dangerously parking in cycle lanes.

How naive we were to think that park and rides could be the future. I still visit London 2-3 times a month like you used to but it’s always by trains now. It’s much better to be able to kick back and not worry about drinking or parking.

It’s also great that the city is less reliant on a single form of income from day-trippers. With 11 million visitors a year and rising, we were at risk of forgetting that there are two sides to emissions arithmetic — we can reduce the emissions per km or we can reduce the distance travelled! 20% of Londoners coming by car is madness and the sheer number of other unnecessary car journeys ended up causing as much harm as dozens of intra-city journeys! How blind we were to not see that one of the most effective measures was to discourage visitors from arrive by car even if they don’t bring their vehicles into the city centres.

And thank goodness the council didn’t waste loads of money investing in electric vehicles. What a waste of time that turned out to be. Marginal and incremental gains were not worth the inefficient use of public funds especially when we were right that driving fundamental behaviour changes and moving away from private vehicles altogether was massively more effective than ploughing energy into producing high-energy-cost vehicles that were obsolete five years later. And how much more equitable this way was rather than rewarding those who could afford to regularly buy expensive modern cars.

I’m glad the council thoroughly consulted the evidence base to channel efforts and funding into the most effective means of actually reducing emissions for future generations. The quantitative effect of a few bold moves was well worth the initial pushback. And look how quickly we all adapted. All those stubborn car owners now love that they can get around in the city centre without being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and barely anyone remembers why they were so wedded to their vehicles. And my friends with special requirements who still need cars are glad there’s more space on the roads and that the subsidised car clubs were a great way to provide them access without reliance on privately-owned vehicles!

Here’s to another ten years!

Letter 17

It all looks pretty bleak at the moment where you are but here’s a note of optimism and hope from the future.

We fixed it! People woke up and started changing their day to day habits, became much less selfish and realised at long last that there is only a finite resource on this beautiful planet. They also stopped chasing the red herring of living on Mars, you’ll be pleased to hear.

After private car ownership was banned and there was a full switch to active travel neighbourhoods, the birds started singing again and there are far more sounds of peoples chat and kids playing than the noise of cars and home deliveries. I can walk everywhere I need to go on a day to day basis, there are a lot more small specialist shops to buy goods and services from and many are cooperatively owned. Supermarkets and out of town shopping are long gone.

I really enjoy working in the community garden up the road and can easily get there on my bike now the cycle route is so safe and fast and I don’t need to worry about being run over or someone opening their car door into the bike lane as cars and bikes are completely separate.

The trains are amazing and so cheap! Whenever I need to go and visit friends or go on holiday there is never even a choice around how to get there, train travel is the fastest, cheapest and most enjoyable method hands down. It’s still lovely not to see the trails of aircraft overhead. No one misses planes, it’s still amazing to me that they were used for so long, what a waste!

The air is much fresher now and the future has been reclaimed for future generations, it feels like we are getting there one bold step at a time.

Letter 18

I am pleased to see the effects of the consultation on the community of the Brighton Climate Assembly. Some of the recommendations have had a positive impact on Brighton and Hove.

It has created local community hubs which were not there before. 

The fact that car use in the city is now reducing and we have found alternate means to run our lives is testament to the adaptability of the people of this community.

If you let business drive priorities you end up with a polluted environment if you let people run it for their benefit you end up with a very different outcome. 

I no longer need to drive to the centre of town and can use public transport cheaply.

Localised car charging facilities helped Woodingdean adapt to the change in the law regarding electric vehicles. 

I am free to walk and cycle in shared spaces without fear of car drivers, this gives me a real pride in the community. 

We are now a model for other towns and cities in the UK having taken bold action. 

Letter 19

I hope you’re still managing to get around at 81!

Brighton city centre is a riot of colour, trees and shrubs which means I’ve been able to volunteer my allotment skills and help to keep the green spaces looking good.

The council have been very good at engaging with the community in a positive and encouraging way and have managed not to ‘demonise’ people who need to use their cars and vans for work, or as a result of a disability. Good and effective communication was the key to carrying the vast majority of the city with them.

My grandchildren are less worried generally about climate change than they were 10 years ago because they can see that Brighton & Hove are doing something positive to make a real difference. And the two who have asthma are feeling the benefits of fewer emissions too.

I’ve been able to continue to use my Blue Badge and get to all the places I need to. If someone can invent a three-wheeled disabled electric bike you may even see me on the cycle track! Ha ha

Take care of yourself.

Letter 20

Dear 2020 Self,

To think where we were in 2020 and where we are now… the city feels like it is breathing again, the air cleaner and the space safer for the community, particularly children. The car free city centre with its trees and plants and clean environment has been rejuvenated with more pedestrianised spaces, although the buses on North Road still sit in queues.

Car parks in the city centre are long-gone, turned into community education, sport, creativity and work spaces. Tourists and out of town visitors leave their cars at the periphery of the city and come in increased numbers to visit our clean, vibrant city and seafront.

The car free neighbourhoods have also reduced pollution, made the air feel cleaner and helped the community to take more ownership of the space.

It took a few years, but the cycle network now really works, connecting up with national cycle networks, the South Downs and commuter routes into the city. It’s how we get around now and the segregated cycle network throughout the city feels safe and has encouraged most people to cycle.

The e-bike subsidy has helped many citizens to buy their own e-bikes so that older people and those living further away can also cycle safely. Young people have been central to this journey and their commitment has been so important in persuading the community and people have seen the benefits, so even The Argus has something positive to say about our green city.

I still work from home, so commuting has become a rarity. We use the car club of electric vehicles if we ever need a car, so no parking problems anymore and the train takes a lot more bikes now so we can travel further afield.

Take care, stay safe and well,

Me, but 10 years older…….

Letter 21

It's been great being able to walk to work through shared streets without the sound of traffic or road rage. The cyclists are so much more relaxed and using their designated space as they feel safer. The need for rushing everywhere seems to have disappeared with the traffic delays and congestion. I don't feel as though I have to listen out for the cyclists, skateboards, scooters etc encroaching on the pedestrianised space.

The bus congestion along Western Road and North Street has reduced due to the better route planning and hubs and the one-way systems around the centre and sea front with dedicated bus lanes. As car access is restricted, they are no longer blocking the flow of public transport/cycle lanes etc.

The increase in e-bikes with cargo carriers has meant I am now able to shop for heavier items, for example DIY/garden centres rather than use the car club as I used to do.

I can also access the Downs on a more regular basis for exercise using an e bike rather than using the car club and being stuck in the traffic trying to get to the A27. The dedicated cycle routes are so much safer to cycle on and have given me confidence to use bikes in more areas.

And so great to no longer hear the "parking rage" around me. Just the sounds of people walking and talking to each other. 

Life feels healthier - less stressful, less polluted, less rushed - and I'm looking forward to the extra years I may gain living in a cleaner city.

Letter 22

I am writing from a vastly improved, cleaner future! Your children, now much older are able to safely walk themselves to school as they are now the priority. I look back to the smelly, congested roads where cars, vans and trucks took priority and don't miss it at all! The worry of crossing roads with small children and what their little lungs were breathing in is a thing of the past in Brighton & Hove.

Buses run just as effectively as they always did, however now, it is cheaper to use them than pile everyone into the car. Not to mention how much quieter they are and less smelly. They take you from one end of the city to the other quickly and efficiently where it is then easy to walk around.

The sense of community in the city centre, which I always found strong as a resident has improved and spread to less densely populated areas. People spend more time together, whether it's on the buses, in pedestrianised areas.

Letter 23

I am glad Brighton has achieved carbon neutrality. CO2 emissions from transport around one third of total emissions and are now zero missions did we reduce transport related carbon emissions in the city? Ten years, the vast majority of emissions was from private.

Therefore, to reduce emissions from cars we needed to:

  • promote electrification
  • reduce the weight of vehicle relative to occupants (less overall energy used) -reduce the total VMT (vehicle miles travelled) -promote mode transfer from private cars to more efficient modes

We did this by:

  • Promote transit – not limited to traditional mass transit Do this by reducing the number of ICE (Internal combustion engine) cars Reduce VMT Promoting ride-sharing Promote active transportation – especially cycling and walking I noted the following https://phys.org/news/2018-11-ways-cities-emissions.html
  • We achieved this improvement by achieving four broad categories: avoid, shift, share, and improve.
  • We avoided strategies that aimed to slow the growth of travel. They include initiatives to reduce trip lengths, such as high-density and mixed land use developments. Other options decrease private vehicle travel – for example, through car/ride sharing and congestion pricing. And teleworking and e-commerce help people avoid private car trips altogether.

We shifted strategies to encouraging travellers to switch from private vehicles to public transport, walking and cycling. This includes improving bus routes and service frequency. We effected pricing strategies that discouraged private vehicles and encouraged other modes of transport that were also effective. Policies that include incentives that make electric vehicles more affordable have been shown to encourage the shift.

Share strategies affect car ownership. New sharing economy businesses are already moving people, goods and services. Shared mobility, rather than car ownership, is providing city dwellers with a real alternative.

This trend is likely to continue and will pose significant challenges to car ownership models.

Improve strategies promote the use of technologies to optimise performance of transport modes and intelligent infrastructure. These include intelligent transport systems, urban information technologies and emerging solutions such as autonomous mobility.

Our research shows that sharing 80% of autonomous vehicles will reduce net emissions by up to 20%. The benefits increase with wider adoption of autonomous shared electric vehicles.


Sixty-four percent of all vehicle kilometres travelled on a global basis are in cities, and this is anticipated to grow exponentially.

Similar: Travel statistics worth noting on where the problems lie: https://twitter.com/jonburkeUK/status/1314517112061399043?s=20

Two thirds of trips are under 5km:

With most journeys being less than 5km, then either a bicycle, or an e-bike is has been shown quicker, produces no GHGs/emissions and takes up much less road space. The more segregated lanes that are provided, the more people younger than me will cycle.

Cargo bikes, and e-cargo bikes are set to revolutionize this sector. If even more speed limits are reduced to 20mph then it actually becomes much more cost efficient to use ultra-lightweight mobility devices like e-bikes than any other form of vehicle. For many personal and business uses an e-bike could become the standard first choice.

If e-bikes have been incentivised and/or subsidised accelerating their uptake.

 bikes/e-bikes are already are the optimal solution. Cargo-bikes allow cargo and passengers to be carried, thus replacing vans and taxis etc.




We now have provided free autonomous vehicle transport from park and ride and rail stations to seafront and along the length of the front, See attached note on how we achieved this.

The world’s first commercial autonomous vehicle service is being operated by Waymo (part of Alphabet Group – along with Google) since 8th Oct, 2020 – complete driverless operation with no Waymo staff in the vehicles: https://blog.waymo.com/2020/10/waymo-is-opening-its-fully-driverless.html

Once automated driving systems are more widely available for other vehicle platforms (only a matter of time now) then new modes of mobility are facilitated. The most exciting of which is probably this: https://www.next-future-mobility.com

Next Future Transportation is developing pods that can travel around residential areas collecting passengers from their doors, and then different pods can physically combine together like a road train (similar passenger density to as bus) as they travel along main roads.

Whilst on the main road the passengers can move to the correct pod for drop off – then when the road train nears the main CBD, town centre, business park etc. the pods can split apart to efficiently drop passengers off close to their destination.

This is like a hybrid of a privately-owned motor car and a bus. It can provide an on-demand and door-to-door service. Yet being ride-sharing it reduces VMT and provides similar convenience to a car – note there is no need to worry about parking.

Note – AVs in cities are almost certain to be battery electric – again reducing emissions on the roads and in the city.

In the future, once AVs are established, then human driven cars can be banned – at that point road furniture (signs for drivers etc.) can be removed, lanes narrowed and more dedicated space for cyclists can be provided – as AVs can be instructed to change behaviour depending on what is required at that time. E.g. if priority is to be given to pedestrians and cyclists then all AVs in a zone can be wirelessly instructed to never exceed 10mph and always give way to vulnerable road users. Or AVs can be instructed to avoid a zone for a street party etc. etc.

If cyclists know that they are much safer around AVs than human drivers, then this will help promote the uptake of cycling – and e-biking.

Letter 24

Dear me!

I have always had such high hopes for change in Brighton and Hove, being naturally optimistic, but long experience has made me accept that change is unpredictable, hesitant and slow. Other towns and cities seem to move faster. Maybe that is a faulty impression, maybe it is a function of the times we live in, or maybe it’s the result of seeing the decades-long delays in major planning schemes in the city. The council was becoming a little bolder back then than it had been and I’m glad that has continued - boldness begets boldness - but it’s a painfully slow process.

What you had hoped I would tell you is that the expansion of housing in the city has not been matched by an increase in car ownership, that the number of car-free households has doubled, that emission-free buses are used by everyone, that work has begun on a tram network. Sorry.

You might have guessed that at my advanced age I was never going to become a cyclist and was not going to walk much more than I did back in 2020. Some things have improved.

Changes to some bus routes - by not running them from all one extremity of the city to another - have made buses slightly more reliable and finding the money to extend bus passes for more citizens, not just us oldies, in quieter times of the day has kept the buses fuller. But without having top priority, buses still have to contend with congestion.

The really significant achievement has been in the middle of Brighton and the city centre, especially around the Clock Tower, used to be one of the most polluted places in the country. Keeping cars out of the centre has reduced this but the change to loss- or no-emission buses has had the greater impact. This improvement has mostly been the result of the council’s going back to and implementing Gehl Architects’ legibility study Public Space, Public Life. That was an example of boldness.

Not much seems to have changed in the next ring of neighbourhoods around the centre. Areas like Hanover still have narrow streets with nose-to-tail parking on both sides of the street. Will we ever get away from cars as symbols of mobility and freedom? The outer suburbs were designed to depend on cars and were never going to be amenable to change.

Back in 2020 I had hoped, as I had for the previous 25 years, that finally the nettle of annexing and funding sites for a comprehensive park and ride scheme would be grasped. The half-hearted scheme using the 27 bus at Withdean never worked as well as the previous dedicated scheme. Waterhall, Falmer, Sheepcoat Valley, Toads Hole Valley and Benfield Valley were such obvious potential sites. Acquiring the land proved to be too bold a move, even though the benefits were obvious.

As for trams, which I have advocated for even longer, it remains my biggest disappointment. A tramway network where no one is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a stop would have cost a lot initially but would paid off over time. It would have removed most cars from the roads, been more efficient, more reliable, cheaper, cleaner and an attractive addition to the city’s visitor appeal. The cost benefit over years would have been considerable, as you had seen during your visits to Strasbourg. However, it was something financially dependent on central government, which chose to make journey times on one route (HS2) a little faster rather than fund up to 200 city-wide tram networks around the country for the same money. Spreading benefits around the whole of society long since ceased to be a core principle of government and local authorities have had to struggle within that constraint. But you know all that. And you know my eternal optimism is tempered by the cynicism of experience.

Love from

Your old man

PS: But how wonderful that the Hippodrome has re-opened as a large-scale theatre and become a major asset to the city’s cultural activity and visitor economy.

Letter 25

Back then you were so wedded to having a car at your disposal to take you anywhere on a whim! How you would love the transformed local area now! Clean air and streets free of cars. Now we summon or book an electric driverless vehicle when we need to go somewhere out of the city but for getting around in town walking, cycling or driverless buses are so much quicker and easier. It feels great to be so much more connected to our communities too; children playing in the street, quieter and safer streets; we can even hear the birds singing once again.

My shopping comes directly to the house at a pre-arranged time in the evening by refrigerated van so no need to spend hours shopping in person. Altogether we have a much better quality of life and wouldn't want to return to the chaos and transport of 2020.

Letter 26

Hi me in 2020,

I’ve been reflecting on the changes that have been made over the past 10 years to the transport system in Brighton and whilst there have been many schemes tried it was not until an integrated scheme was implemented did we see the real benefit, this has resulted in a cleaner more efficient and affordable transport system which has largely removed the need for any form of car usage within the city, although the Zero Carbon emissions target has still to be achieved.

The changes were slow in starting, primarily due to the lack of funds in 2021 after the coronavirus epidemic in 2020, and so we only saw the normal approach of higher parking charges, pop-up cycle ways and closing of the more congested roads which simply displaced the cars and did very little to the overall reduction of cars, but did cause outrage from the residents. Even the park & ride scheme introduced to ease the congestion was not popular as it simply moved the emissions out of the city to a new location, which had previously been part a green space, and had little support when the only method of reaching the city centre was the bus service which proved more expensive for a family of four then the increased parking fee.

On reflection I think the change came when we had a fully integrated transport system which although proved controversial has with a number of incentives been widely accepted as it enables citizens to move around Brighton quickly in a much cleaner manner. The heart of the scheme is the dedicated cycle way linking all part of the city and neighbouring towns from Saltdean to Hove, each community has their own transport hub were the residents can access all forms of transport from buses, and taxis to electric cycles and electric buggies (especially welcome for the Blue Badge holders as an alternative to their car). The hubs linked by cycle lanes are used by cyclists and the electric buggies as an alternative form of transport to the buses. The buses still provide a fully integrated link between hubs and across the city as well as being the gateway to towns outside of Brighton, although they are no longer able to enter the inner city as this is now a traffic free zone.

It was a bold decision to remove public parking in the city, from Preston Park down to the sea front there are no car parks of parking meters but this created a wider car free zone around the inner city where only the electric bikes and buggies loaned from the transport hubs are available. The loan of electric vehicles is also available at the park & ride station although the new high-speed rail link from the park & ride station is proving more popular, especially now the cost of parking also includes a day pass on all the city-wide buses for all occupants of each parked vehicle.

The free bus passes for all under-18s and university students was also an essential incentive to increase occupancy of buses outside the normal peak travel times further increasing the justification of making the investment to replace all Brighton's buses and taxis to zero emission vehicles.

Initially the number of visitors was reduced but quickly they increased as they saw the benefits of a cleaner healthier city where local traders put up markets and pop-up events were arranged in the parks and closed-off city centre. There had to be a major change in behaviour but with more people working from home and safer transport for school children using the dedicated buses and cycle trains the need for the motor car has largely been removed with resident using the cycle scheme and public transport rather than their own cars. As the cleaner electric & hydrogen cars become affordable there will be no petrol or diesel cars left in Brighton and car ownership will be restricted to journeys outside of Brighton.

There is still a long way to go before we see carbon emissions reduced to zero, but now we have a fully integrated transport scheme which meets the needs of the citizen and significantly removes the necessity of personnel cars in Brighton. The change in behaviour has reduced car ownership and will soon make the target of a Zero Carbon City achievable

Letter 27

There have been many major improvements in Brighton and Hove since 2020 you'll be pleased to read, but also inevitably some disappointments.

The seafront from The Drive to the Palace Pier is clear of through traffic now, as are North Street, Western Road, Old Steine, St James Street and The Levels. It is a delight to walk through these areas and enjoy all the plants, water features, art and "street furniture"; it is far more relaxed and healthier than before, though two-wheel fascists are still very much in evidence! Our grandchildren can now cycle to school and into town without having to go on the road at all, with just a few crossings along the way.

I love to take my bicycle on the tram out to Shoreham Harbour and have a look round the old fort and then have tea in Shoreham LTN. They built an SMR at Shoreham Power Station (which has just come onstream) and expanded the windfarm out at sea, so it's great to know we now have a completely green electricity supply in Brighton and Hove (though I miss the big funnel with steam coming out!).

Having said that, I'm disappointed that our goal of being carbon neutral in transport by 2030 has not been reached (mainly due to the slow uptake of renewable fuel powered vehicles by taxi drivers and road freight companies and the delayed building of Park and Ride facilities). Unsurprisingly, carbon sequestration and offsetting have not lived up to expectations and the carbon neutral deadline has now been pushed back to 2040.

It's a shame the e-bike and e-cargo schemes didn't work out: too many e-bikes were being stolen and very few people were prepared to be e-cargo drivers at rates that were economical. However, I won £25m on the lottery in 2023 and used it to help fund a West Pier regeneration project which is now home to new venues for live music, theatre, comedy and gastronomy, as well as a new “centre of excellence” in renewable energy. 

All in all, I think there's been huge progress made in many areas, but we are still way behind other European cities and have a lot more to do!


PS. The winning lottery numbers for Saturday 12th August 2023 are 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 5, bonus ball 3. 

Letter 28

Hope this finds you fit and well. I certainly am!

And here is why.

First you would never recognise Brighton now. The city centre has been car free for many years and what an improvement it is. It’s now a pleasure to go into town and not have to dodge the traffic. Also, I meet so many friends and stop for a chat and natter which is often followed by a healthy wheatgrass drink. Yes, the changes that have taken place in Brighton have certainly made me aware of my own health and wellness issues.

The negative aspect about this change is I tend to spend more in the shops as even they have picked up the message and have created a healthy pollution conscience vibrant atmosphere.

Now let me talk about my bike. As you know I had a redundant bike in my garage. In the past I felt it was too dangerous to ride it and felt extremely unsafe. Also, at that time I was working in the intensive care unit and saw so many injured cyclists it truly put me off. Also breathing in all the fumes from the cars gave me a headache. And don’t make me mention that hill I had attempt to cycle up to my home. It felt like a mountain!

Now I have an electric bike. It is truly wonderful. I can cope with the hills. But to be honest I can now peddle up the hill to the house since my fitness and breathing has improved.

Also, I feel so much safer with the designated cycling lanes which are everywhere. No potholes, drains and parked cars to dodge. No excuse for not using the bike eh?

I have my own bike but it is easy to hire one. There is an activity Hub just down the road which provides bikes and all sorts of fitness apparatus. When you return the bike to the hub your hire fee is reimbursed. Imagine!

Now the most amazing news. I have sold my precious car. It was difficult and still is. My weekly visit to the tip has been curtailed and whilst I can compost some of the garden waste not all of it is possible. So, this is proving a problem. Still growing my own fruit and vegetables so you can imagine there is a lot to do but also a lot of garden waste. The weeds are still growing like you wouldn’t believe.

The queue to get into the tip is still the same which must be causing a great deal of pollution.

Now talking about pollution. Remember how the mist from the sea gathered up the pollution from the cars in town and on the seafront? Then, as it rolled in over Brighton it would get caught on the trees opposite the house. Some days it would stay like that all day creating a misty polluted atmosphere.

If you remember it really affected my breathing so I had to keep the windows closed and not go out until the mist had disappeared.

Well that has stopped. The air now is just perfect. There are so few cars coming into Brighton along London Road and Dyke Road. The road outside the house is pedestrianised so it is not a link between London Road and Dyke Road. It has been a wonderful change made by the council and appreciated by its residents.

Car parking has been more accessible, cheap and user friendly. Plus the Park and Ride facility has been reintroduced with great success both for residents and visitors.

Still talking about cars! The council have introduced so many more electric points for electric cars. Also we are encouraged to have one outside our homes. My next-door neighbour, for instance, has one on the outside wall of his home.

I am not terribly convinced about the use of electric cars. There is still a great deal of congestion at certain times of the day. Also I am aware of how they contribute to the pollution from their tyres. Disposing of the tyres and cars must be polluting the atmosphere as is making the cars. I understand that various parts of the cars are made in different countries and then assembled in another country before being shipped here. Certainly not environmentally sound eh?

Remember the awful traffic jams outside the school along Dyke Road? Well that is no more. The school provides fuel efficient buses which transport the children to and from school. Better to have one vehicle filled with 50 children than two people per car trying to get to the nearest place opposite the school. Also children are encouraged to walk which I understand the school placed emphasis through teaching about personal health and wellbeing.

Let me tell you about the most amazing happening which finally convinced me to sell my car. My next-door neighbour wanted to go to London. He arranged for a flying car to collect him from his garden. He then flew all the way to London and landed on the top of the building he was visiting. Like a helicopter but more environmentally friendly. What a wonderful experience and facility eh?

You will be pleased to hear most of the taxis have gone from near the station. Now visitors to Brighton can take a rickshaw. Not the normal rickshaw we have seen in India but an electric one. Visitors with arthritis and other mobility issues can use them, and if needed, to the nearest connection to pick up a solar electric wheel chair. The rickshaws are great fun for the visitors and give a great first impression of what we are trying to achieve here in Brighton.

You must be surprised at me having all this knowledge about living in a pollution free atmosphere! This is thanks to information given out in our local Hub. Do you remember the parade of shops down the road and the common land opposite? Well that has been turned into a Community Hub. The road in front of the shops has gone. This has been resurfaced and now chairs and tables are there providing a most wonderful continental atmosphere. The local Deli provides the most delicious locally sourced food and drinks. We have a wonderful dentist, who chats to us about the importance of dental hygiene a doctor’s surgery which has a pop in to take your vital signs and discuss any problems you might be experiencing. The doctors are astounded how so few people are presenting with respiratory and cardiac problems which in the past was due to a pollution atmosphere.

Included in the hub is a post office which provides wifi and printing facilities. A grocers which organises cookery sessions using local produce and a hairdressing salon. They provide the most amazing massages. This is often required after a long days cycling!!

I visit the Hub on a daily basis. Even if I don’t require anything I meet up with friends. There is always something going on. The common is now used for all sorts of exciting events. For example, last week a local resident, and friend, gave a poetry reading. We even have healthy living events. I learn so much.

The Hub gives the opportunity for people who work from home to work in the Hub so feel less isolated.

I can still practice my Pilates plus there are yoga, meditation and Thai Chi session. They are held in the fitness centre nearby. Its great fun and when the weather is good we practice on the common. So there is no need for me to take a bus as all I need is here on my door step.

Older people, people who live on their own in fact everyone find the Hub invaluable. Importantly, children contribute to the running of the Hub and give ideas of what they want from its facilities. Last week they gave a wonderful performance on the common which involved so many dance moves. They are so fit and full of energy.

The thing I notice most now is how few children have asthma and breathing related problems. Since the reduction of atmospheric pollution, it has had the knock-on effect of them taking more pride in what they eat and drink. They are often seen using the exercise equipment and instead of aspiring for the perfect body are now more interested in having a healthy body.

Do you remember how you used to say how you didn’t feel plugged in to what was going on in Brighton? Well that is no longer. A local councillor often visits our Hub to discuss local events and any changes which are taking place. I feel much more confident and feel I am contributing to a common good.

I am so proud of Brighton for taking up the challenge of creating an atmospheric pollution free city. I know at times it has been difficult but now people can see it was worth it. We have all come together for a common goal and achieved it. The leadership from the council has been impressive. They informed us about the changes to be made and more importantly why the changes need to be made. Some people disagreed. Some people will always disagree. A number of people have some excellent alternative ideas which the council took on board and made the appropriate changes. But I would say generally most people once they understood the importance of a pollution free Brighton were some of the most passionate about implementing the changes. Nothing like a convert eh? They should be cherished. Through the amazing publicity about Brighton we seem to attract people who respect our need for a pollution free city.

Finally, I cannot tell you how the atmosphere has changed here in Brighton both atmospherically and the attitudes of its residents. Most people are positive healthy and more educated regarding the importance of continuing with the progress made to reduce atmospheric pollution. There is still so much to do but I can say that Brighton residents are up for the challenge.

Letter 29

I am writing to let you know what a great place Brighton is to live in. In the last 10 years we have made so many improvements to the city. We have achieved carbon neutral emissions and made the city a cleaner and far more pleasant place to live by creating community areas with virtually no traffic; easy movement around the city via a brilliant public transport system which joins up all options via hubs and is cost effective and easy to pay for via an integrated ticketing system. Visitors to the city love the trams from the northern park and ride to the seafront, and along the otherwise traffic- free seafront from east to west, and also from Brighton Station to the seafront.

As I was always a nervous cyclist, I have really befitted from the improved dedicated cycle pathways and am now cycling more regularly, which has the benefit of supporting my physical fitness. I can also easily use public transport to access most places I wish to visit; especially now I qualify for a free bus pass.

My week now includes regular use of public transport and on the rare occasion we need a car we use the electric cars from the car club. They even have them based in the outer areas like here in peripheral Hangleton nowadays.

The benefits to the local community of Hangleton have been enormous with the local shopping area becoming a super community hub and with increased safety due to the mostly pedestrianised roads and on street facilities, it’s a real pleasure to go to the local shops and takes ages because you always meet people to chat to, and can stop for a very pleasant coffee or lunch. Sainsbury’s West Hove has closed down and the area has been re-designated as a park and ride/transport hub, serving the west of the city and with cycle paths linking into the citywide dedicated cycle network.

I am proud that Brighton and Hove has embraced so many strategies and been a shining light to others in the move to reduce emissions. I can see that many people who were anti-change have now realised there are so many unexpected benefits to the changes; and I am so pleased to see the end of the culture of massive, polluting and unnecessary cars being used as a fashion accessory – something I always took issue with!

The future is looking better and better.

With love,

Your older and wiser self xxx

Letter 30

I’m in 2030 driving my new 4x4, due to a network of micro nuclear fission plants, I enjoy virtually free energy to power my life. Cyclists have their own pathways and as we’ve re-joined the EU, I’m taking advantage of my newly acquired citizenship to go to France at 150mph hands-free. 

Letter 31

I want to see the majority of cars being electric, all public transport to be run from renewable energy. Cheap bus fares, just the price of a coffee for a day ticket, tickets that can be used across all transport, and cycle paths being separate with their own crossing and traffic lights and runs across Brighton & Hove. 

Letter 32

Because of the less congestion for traffic and e-bikes, I will go to the Downs for my exercise more and I will be a lot fitter. There will be dedicated cycle routes to make it safer to get up there.

Letter 33

I am so pleased the council decided to ban cars from the city centre and prioritise walking and cycling. I used to be anxious about walking and cycling after being knocked over by someone cycling on the pavement and sustaining a permanent shoulder injury and having too many close calls while cycling on the road. I cycle everywhere now, and I love it. I am fitter & healthier than I’ve been in a long time.

My favourite trip is to Churchill Square where I can sit surrounded by trees and watch the bees busily gathering nectar and pollen from all the lovely lavender bushes. The air is clean and there’s a positive vibe everywhere. I often take peanuts for the squirrels. There’s so much wildlife it’s wonderful.

I did my fruit and veg shopping from the city centre food growing hubs. Local is best and these hubs would only have been possible in a car free centre. It’s wonderful to see so many horse and carts doing deliveries. It was a genius idea to do this once a month. Who knew we’d return to this mode of transport? The children love it, as do those who remember the old Rag N Bone.

I am so proud of the council taking such a bold approach and setting an example to the rest of the country. The network of car free city centres is now spreading across Europe and there’s even a few in the USA! Onward and upward.

Letter 34

Brighton has changed so much in the 10 years since I took part in the climate assembly. I cycle to work every day in the spring and summer because they have made these amazing cycle lanes that I feel safe enough to ride on. In the winter, I now car share with colleagues of mine, luckily for me, we take my car as I brought an electric one that’s really safe and gets me from A to B in just under 15 minutes. It’s amazing. So many people have taken to getting public transport in the winter now as it's so much more affordable than it used to be.

Not only this but when I have friends and family visit Brighton now, there’s a great Park & Ride near the football stadium that’s easily accessible to Brighton if you’re getting the train or bus as they are both seconds away from the park and ride. It keeps lots of different vehicles out the city and is just so much brighter and cleaner for everyone. It’s amazing!

The council have also been brilliant at communicating and engaging us residents of Brighton and Hove. They have done many consultations with residents of Brighton and Hove with surveys, meetings and get-togethers on how we can improve Brighton and its transport network as a city taking everyone’s views into account! It’s finally starting to become a cleaner, safer and accessible city for all who access it. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Take care and keep looking after yourself and your city!

Letter 35

Today’s Brighton is far from what it was. Do you remember that climate assembly at the beginning? Now Brighton is full of nature and life, the air is clear and there is clean travel. There were no cars in the city from 2026 and we have a hybrid shuttle bus from the park and ride to the centre.

All the electricity is sourced from the wind farms off the coast by 2024 and they are introducing hybrid buses from the government. Hybrid buses starting to greener future. We are still a way off being neutral carbon but we are going to be successful.

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