Cars. Problematisations, measures and blind spots in local transport and land use policy

Robert Hrelja, Land Use Policy, vol. 87

Goals concerning reduced car traffic are found in most European cities, indicating a potential change in local transport policy and land use planning, which have traditionally been very car-centric. This paper analyses goals and measures to reduce car traffic in Swedish municipalities’ long-term transport and land use plans. Theoretically, the paper is based on an understanding of policies as parts of ‘problem representations’ that create particular ways of understanding car traffic as a policy problem, which in turn influence the measures seen as appropriate or inappropriate. The results indicate that changes are underway. At the heart of these changes are narratives about city development in which municipalities understand the ‘attractive city’ as one where cars are defined as a problem to be addressed. However, the dominant policy problematisation produce several ‘blind spots’. Regional car trips, including travel to out-of-town shopping areas, are left unproblematised in this representation of the problem, meaning that measures addressing such trips are ignored in policy making. The paper builds our understanding of how policy practices influence the potential for change towards sustainability by discussing whether municipalities are doing enough to address the big problems with cars.

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