lifestyle transport

What are the three Rs for transport?

Reduce, reuse, recycle – one of the most common environmental mantras, found on posters, in classrooms, and easily imprinted in the minds of citizens around the English speaking world. We don’t all do it of course, but the moment someone decides to tackle waste in their household, the mnemonic is there to help.

It’s a shame we don’t have something similar for transport, because there’s a clear hierarchy of interventions here too, and progress is very slow. If you want to reduce car dependence, this is the order of priority:

  • Eliminate the need to travel in the first place. This is where working from home or video-conferencing can help.
  • Shorten the travel distance. We often do this naturally, choosing the nearest of various options for the things we need. But often it’s a matter of planning – protecting cornershops for example, so people don’t have to drive to out of town supermarkets. Or making sure people can attend a school or a doctor’s surgery withing walking distance.
  • Make active transport easier. Where it is safe and convenient to walk or cycle, people are more likely to choose it. Especially if you can build such good cycle or pedestrian networks that it’s better than taking a car.
  • Take public transport. If it’s a journey that really needs to be motorised, public transport should come first.
  • Use shared transport – such as car-sharing or taxis.
  • Drive only if you must. Preferably in something electric.

That doesn’t reduce very well into a handy and alliterative mental shortcut. I’ve been tumbling about the different ways of saying things to see if I can get words that start with the same letter. No joy so far, but the best I have is this:

If you need to travel somewhere, consider MAPS before you get in your car. Can you…

  • Minimise the journey
  • Active transport first
  • Public transport second
  • Shared transport third

Does anyone have another idea for a useful summary of sustainable transport options? Or have you come across one elsewhere?


  1. STOP – do you really need to travel? can you shorten your journey? can’t we make it so people don’t need to go anywhere?

    SHARE – go with others, on public transport or vehicle share

    SELF POWER – walk, bike, paddle, etc.

    1. SWITCH is better than SELF-POWER – yes it incorporates walking, biking, but is more open and can be extended as in Switch to green power (for example). – electric vehicles, sails on ships, etc. etc. It’s also the last one in the chain: stop and reflect, can you share, if you must, then do it as responsibly as you can: STOP – SHARE – SWITCH

  2. I wish it were easier to get cars refurbished, rather than scrapped. But manufacturers would prefer to sell new ones, whereas I’d like to put a new and more efficient powertrain into mine, along with a new driver’s seat and a quick respray. Then it would be fine for another ten years.

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