Joined-up thought + more cycling needed to stop congestion chaos

Report calls for more coherent approach to solving transport problems

by Tom Henry   July 6, 2009  

Traffic Jam in Croydon Pic: Chris McKenna

A major rethink of transport policy - including encouragement to cycle wherever possible – is the only way to tackle rising congestion, a new report says.

The Campaign for Better Transport says that traffic jams on motorways and trunk roads will simply get worse unless a smarter approach to traffic management is adopted.

Written by Phil Goodwin, Professor of Transport Policy at Bristol’s University of the West of England, the report notes that even if the Government had proceeded with plans to widen much of the M1 and M6 – now rejected as unaffordable – then major roads would still be more congested in 2025 than they were in 2003.

It recommends that the Government adopt some of the measures recommended in official studies on tackling congestion, including:

• Rolling out ‘smarter choices’ programmes, such as travel planning, information, marketing and advice, so that people can make informed decisions about how they travel
• Improving infrastructure and support for public transport, walking and cycling;
• Adjusting the cost of different modes of transport to encourage people to walk, cycle or take public transport;
• Reallocating road space to give priority to the most efficient, productive or socially needy road users;
• Rolling out real-time information and control systems including dynamic traffic control (e.g. ‘green wave’ systems and intelligent traffic lights);
• Improving land-use planning so that essential services are near where people live and work, eliminating the need for long journeys on already busy roads;
• Increasing support for advanced telecommunications systems, to help people work from home, shop online, meet via video-conferencing and improve the way councils manage transport systems.

Richard George, roads and climate campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We cannot build our way out of traffic jams, so it’s time to be tough on congestion and tough on the causes of congestion. Our report suggests some practical solutions which would provide alternatives to those who want them and improve journey times for those who have no option but to drive. If the Government were to follow our recommendations then all road users would benefit - and it would cost a lot less than road building.”

The CTC’s Debra Rolfe welcomed the report: “There are promising signs – many more than there used to be – that this will be taken seriously. The report’s author is well-respected and this is a great example of joined-up thinking as far as transport policymaking goes. Making shorter journeys by bike or on foot is a very sensible solution to a major problem of congestion.”