The role of citizen groups in urban transport policy in France and Britian


C Wood
P Blancher

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban


Whether in Britain or in France, public participation in elaborating and implementing public policies has become a must. Transport policy is in the forefront, due to the many conflicts arising in connection with the building of infrastructure, changes in traffic management, etc. People are more and more aware of the adverse impacts of transport projects, and more and more sensitive to the quality of their environment: the nearby environment for many, the broader or even global environment for some. Nevertheless, if public participation is meant to gather a large consensus, it also raises questions and doubts, and appears difficult to implement. The r61e of citizen groups is often questioned. They can be spoken of very highly as representatives of society, or they can be branded as trouble-makers. Decision-makers mention the difficulty of finding proper representatives, the multiplicity of demands, often contradictory, etc. When decision-makers have no alternative but to deal with citizen groups, they may argue that it is at the expense of "genuine" public participation. Citizens often feel that public participation is a mere marketing operation, or even sheer manipulation. After some general considerations, we shall present some lessons we have been able to draw from the situation in Britain and in France (mainly the Lyon agglomeration), as part of a study, funded by the French Ministries of the Environment and Public Works, on the r61e of citizen groups in urban transport policy I. Without denying the limitations, we shall try to show the positive contribution of the complex, and therefore rich, range of volnntary groups, in a long-term perspective.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.