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Drive to, not through, the town centre

"Drive to, not through" is a valuable town centre traffic management concept that aims to reduce the vehicle mileage driven in the most environmentally sensitive part of the town. Drivers are encouraged to park at the first car park they reach rather than driving through the town centre streets to access a car parking place closer to their destination, thereby reducing the amount of traffic within the town centre.

Where on-street parking is available in the town centre, it is common for drivers to first of all search for a vacant on-street space, and to go to an off-street car park only when there is no suitable on-street space. This creates unnecessary "searching traffic" which should be avoided as fa as possible. "Drive to, not through" can be achieved through the creation of traffic "cells" whereby vehicles are physically restricted from using routes through the centre, such as in Gothenburg, Groningen and Houten. But it can also be achieved by the creation of specified and signed "parking routes" which guide drivers to the nearest appropriate car park. Ideally the availability of spaces will be shown in real time.

There may be some disadvantage to car users in that the walk from car park to destination may be longer than in the unmanaged situation. But this can be compensated by the certainty of finding a space without the need to search. Also, visitors to town centres will frequently visit several premises in different parts of the town centre, making it less likely that overall walking distance will be increased. The opportunity should be taken to radically improve the quality of the streets and public spaces, and exploit the benefit of reduced traffic in the town centre to make it a more attractive place to walk and to spend time. If this is achieved, people will not mind and may even welcome any extra distance walked to and from their car.

"Drive to, not through" also makes sense as a component of a policy to encourage mode shift from car to walking, cycling and public transport. It is related to the "preferential routing" concept designed to achieve this (see link).   

The origin of the concept and its first use is not known, but the term "drive to not through" is believed to have been coined by Tim Pharoah during the course of the Witney Integrated Land Use Study in the mid 1990s (see link in the right). He has subsequently recommended the approach in other studies, for example Kings Lynn, East Grinstead (see links in the right sidebar).
Protagonist(s)Tim Pharoah


Drive to not through, parking route, town centre parking, parking, traffic management, town centre management