Travel advice helps individuals make green decisions
In areas where local authorities have drawn up plans advising the public on alternatives to making journeys by car, the use of private vehicles has fallen by up to 15%, according to the Government.
More people walk, cycle and use public transport after being alerted to these options, either by personal visits from council-funded travel officers or by local marketing campaigns.
This translates into improvements in air quality and a drop in emissions of pollutants and CO2.
Research looking at districts where such initiatives have been trialled shows it can reduce the number of car journeys drivers make by 10%, and the overall distance travelled by car by 11%.
It also offers value for money for local authorities, claims the Government, giving an average £30 return on every £1 invested over a 10-year period.
"Lots of people would like to use their cars less and sustainable transport more, but need some help to get them started," said Ms Winterton.
"This research shows that where local authorities have worked innovatively to tell people about alternative travel options, walking, cycling and the use of public transport have been boosted.
"This can only bring benefits by cutting congestion, improving people's health and reducing pollution.
"I am also launching the new Essential Guide to Travel Planning to encourage employers to develop sustainable travel plans for their businesses.
"Well-designed plans can reduce the number of people travelling to work by car by 15%, potentially avoiding millions of car miles, and more and more businesses are waking up to the benefits travel plans can offer.
"Having a travel plan is a win-win for the environment, for business and for individuals and I am confident that this new guide will inspire even more people to put one in place."
The Essential Guide to Travel Planning offers advice to employers about creating a travel plan and will be sent to members of the Smarter Choices network and made widely available to employers across the country.