Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Pete Owens
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby Pete Owens » 7 Nov 2019, 10:21am

Horizon's post gets to the nub of the issue.

There are two world views when it comes to looking at planning transport infrastructure resulting in opposing understanding of cause and effect.

One is that people will adapt their behaviour to take advantage of whatever infrastructure is available. Provide stuff without regulating demand and it will get used. On this view building more roads is counter productive as the extra traffic they generate clogs up the places they lead to. This is conventional market economics: Supply & Demand.

The other is that traffic should be treated in the way we would as a force of nature. It sees motor traffic as inevitable. People will travel X miles by car however the infrastructure is organised - so you build roads to accomodate that traffic: Predict & Provide.

70 years of building roads on the predict & provide approach has conclusively confirmed the supply & demand model.

pwa
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby pwa » 9 Nov 2019, 9:18am

Pete Owens wrote:Horizon's post gets to the nub of the issue.

There are two world views when it comes to looking at planning transport infrastructure resulting in opposing understanding of cause and effect.

One is that people will adapt their behaviour to take advantage of whatever infrastructure is available. Provide stuff without regulating demand and it will get used. On this view building more roads is counter productive as the extra traffic they generate clogs up the places they lead to. This is conventional market economics: Supply & Demand.

The other is that traffic should be treated in the way we would as a force of nature. It sees motor traffic as inevitable. People will travel X miles by car however the infrastructure is organised - so you build roads to accomodate that traffic: Predict & Provide.

70 years of building roads on the predict & provide approach has conclusively confirmed the supply & demand model.

You have also to factor in the effects of traffic movement on economic activity. Could our economy function at its current level with a lot less traffic movement? I ask a genuine question rather than a rhetorical one. My suspicion is that a lot of our economic growth over the last half century has been built on people moving around a lot.

reohn2
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby reohn2 » 9 Nov 2019, 9:31am

pwa wrote:
Pete Owens wrote:Horizon's post gets to the nub of the issue.

There are two world views when it comes to looking at planning transport infrastructure resulting in opposing understanding of cause and effect.

One is that people will adapt their behaviour to take advantage of whatever infrastructure is available. Provide stuff without regulating demand and it will get used. On this view building more roads is counter productive as the extra traffic they generate clogs up the places they lead to. This is conventional market economics: Supply & Demand.

The other is that traffic should be treated in the way we would as a force of nature. It sees motor traffic as inevitable. People will travel X miles by car however the infrastructure is organised - so you build roads to accomodate that traffic: Predict & Provide.

70 years of building roads on the predict & provide approach has conclusively confirmed the supply & demand model.

You have also to factor in the effects of traffic movement on economic activity. Could our economy function at its current level with a lot less traffic movement? I ask a genuine question rather than a rhetorical one. My suspicion is that a lot of our economic growth over the last half century has been built on people moving around a lot.

It's not the moving around that's the problem,it's how.
It's the private one or at most two occupant private car that creates most of the problems.Most private cars are used twice a day,to a place and back whether that be for work or pleasure.It's that type of use that clogs(even when not in use) and pollutes.A lot of commercial traffic would move far more efficiently should a lot of private travel be moved onto efficient public transport.
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Vorpal
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby Vorpal » 9 Nov 2019, 9:40am

pwa wrote:You have also to factor in the effects of traffic movement on economic activity. Could our economy function at its current level with a lot less traffic movement? I ask a genuine question rather than a rhetorical one. My suspicion is that a lot of our economic growth over the last half century has been built on people moving around a lot.

The economy *has* been built on people moving around a lot, but that doesn't mean all that movement is necessary for economic prosperity. Also, the question is wrong way round.

The economy and economic management should not drive society, but rather support it's goals. That means that we need to shift the economy for sustainability.

I don't know if we can tell at this point whethere that means moving people & stuff around much less, or if it means finding other ways to do so.

What we can be certain about, though, is that at a local level, at least, both are possible without harming the economy. Initiatives to increase active travel have improved local economies & the economic benefits of active travel are well documented.
http://www.urbantransportgroup.org/medi ... ive-travel
https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/re ... ve-travel/
https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publicatio ... nd-cycling
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pwa
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby pwa » 9 Nov 2019, 9:45am

reohn2 wrote:It's not the moving around that's the problem,it's how.
It's the private one or at most two occupant private car that creates most of the problems.Most private cars are used twice a day,to a place and back whether that be for work or pleasure.It's that type of use that clogs(even when not in use) and pollutes.A lot of commercial traffic would move far more efficiently should a lot of private travel be moved onto efficient public transport.

I'm sure you are right that commercial traffic on the roads would move more freely if there were fewer cars out there. But with regard to the economy, the man or woman on their way to work who has also to drop kids off with the child minder or school nursery will use the car to do that (initially) multi-function journey, then continue alone in the car because that is what they started out in when they had kids in the back. And they will continue to work to make money. In that way, like it or not, the car is one of the cogs that make things work. As well as being one of the problems.

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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby Vorpal » 9 Nov 2019, 10:15am

pwa wrote:I'm sure you are right that commercial traffic on the roads would move more freely if there were fewer cars out there. But with regard to the economy, the man or woman on their way to work who has also to drop kids off with the child minder or school nursery will use the car to do that (initially) multi-function journey, then continue alone in the car because that is what they started out in when they had kids in the back. And they will continue to work to make money. In that way, like it or not, the car is one of the cogs that make things work. As well as being one of the problems.

But it isn't like that everywhere. In Denmark, schools and nurseries are within walking distance of home in villages, towns and cities. Folks use buggies or bikes: kids walk or cycle to school. In rural areas, busses collect school kids.

The Netherlands pay people to cycle to work, through tax breaks. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/ ... only-ones/

The Norwegian government are trialling schemes to get people to use active travel and public transport by providing substantial discounted public transport passes, free hire bikes, and other benefits.

There really is no need for most parents to drive, yet because the assumption is that they will, many things have been organised around that, including the scheduling of after school activities, work start times, etc. School transport & flexible start times for jobs that can allow it would fix that. Initiatives to allow people to work from home, and subsidies for public transport and cycle-to-work schemes would also help. Even better, pay folks for commuting by active travel.

I bet that if the government had to bear the direct cost of transport, there would be much less school 'consolidation', and many more villages schools staying open, and even being expanded.
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reohn2
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby reohn2 » 9 Nov 2019, 10:35am

pwa wrote:
reohn2 wrote:It's not the moving around that's the problem,it's how.
It's the private one or at most two occupant private car that creates most of the problems.Most private cars are used twice a day,to a place and back whether that be for work or pleasure.It's that type of use that clogs(even when not in use) and pollutes.A lot of commercial traffic would move far more efficiently should a lot of private travel be moved onto efficient public transport.

I'm sure you are right that commercial traffic on the roads would move more freely if there were fewer cars out there. But with regard to the economy, the man or woman on their way to work who has also to drop kids off with the child minder or school nursery will use the car to do that (initially) multi-function journey, then continue alone in the car because that is what they started out in when they had kids in the back. And they will continue to work to make money. In that way, like it or not, the car is one of the cogs that make things work. As well as being one of the problems.

There's no 'one size fits all' in this puzzle,there are a few different answers,the private car has become the one size because it's been allowed even encouraged to be the only answer for many people.
Restrict it's use provide alternatives restructure travel and things will change by necessity,as it is the private car is costing us our health and lives as well restricting necessary transport on roads not designed for the purpose not to mention the car litter on the streets.
The past 60 years has proven that building ourselves out of the problem has not solved it so far.IMO it's time the UK started thinking differently.
Last edited by reohn2 on 9 Nov 2019, 10:37am, edited 1 time in total.
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pwa
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby pwa » 9 Nov 2019, 10:35am

Vorpal wrote:
I bet that if the government had to bear the direct cost of transport, there would be much less school 'consolidation', and many more villages schools staying open, and even being expanded.


I agree. Yesterday on the BBC's Welsh news there was a piece about cancer sufferers in parts of Wales having to bear the cost of travel to and from distant facilities for treatment. One case highlighted was that of a young girl from Anglesey who was travelling from home to hospitals in Liverpool and Manchester for treatment, and that sort of treatment can mean five days a week of very unpleasant procedures with a long unpleasant commute at either end, paid for by the patient or their family. Consolidating facilities ignores the cost to users in terms of time, effort and money, and it ignores the cost to society of having all this movement going on.

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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby Vorpal » 9 Nov 2019, 10:56am

pwa wrote:
Vorpal wrote:
I bet that if the government had to bear the direct cost of transport, there would be much less school 'consolidation', and many more villages schools staying open, and even being expanded.


I agree. Yesterday on the BBC's Welsh news there was a piece about cancer sufferers in parts of Wales having to bear the cost of travel to and from distant facilities for treatment. One case highlighted was that of a young girl from Anglesey who was travelling from home to hospitals in Liverpool and Manchester for treatment, and that sort of treatment can mean five days a week of very unpleasant procedures with a long unpleasant commute at either end, paid for by the patient or their family. Consolidating facilities ignores the cost to users in terms of time, effort and money, and it ignores the cost to society of having all this movement going on.

In Norway, because of much lower population density, hospital consolidation is necessary. However, the specialist hospitals in the cities have low cost hotels attached to them where both patients and families can stay. Those on low incomes or with long term illnesses do not have to pay. It is still disruptive to daily life, but at least they do not have to commute long distances on top of tiring treatments. They also have specialist transport 'health busses' with ambulance staff that run between population centres.
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irc
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby irc » 9 Nov 2019, 10:59am

Ask the residents of Dunkeld, Blair Atholl, Kingussie, Aviemore etc whether building new roads works. The new A9 built in the 1970s and 80s removed 90%+ of the traffic from these towns. Likewise the M74 bypassed Hamilton and all the towns between Hamilton and Gretna. Neither new road is overloaded 40 or 50 years on.

Likewise Stepps, just north of Glasgow was made a much more pleasnt place to be after the M80 bypassed it.

Yes, better roads generate more traffic. That is a good thing. Our supermarkets depend on the motorway system to make fast national distribution sysems possible. I like being able to drive to Cambridge in a few hours without needing to go through every town and city on the way.

Even anti roads campaigners enjoy the benefits of a good roads system.

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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby pwa » 9 Nov 2019, 11:21am

Vorpal wrote:
pwa wrote:
Vorpal wrote:
I bet that if the government had to bear the direct cost of transport, there would be much less school 'consolidation', and many more villages schools staying open, and even being expanded.


I agree. Yesterday on the BBC's Welsh news there was a piece about cancer sufferers in parts of Wales having to bear the cost of travel to and from distant facilities for treatment. One case highlighted was that of a young girl from Anglesey who was travelling from home to hospitals in Liverpool and Manchester for treatment, and that sort of treatment can mean five days a week of very unpleasant procedures with a long unpleasant commute at either end, paid for by the patient or their family. Consolidating facilities ignores the cost to users in terms of time, effort and money, and it ignores the cost to society of having all this movement going on.

In Norway, because of much lower population density, hospital consolidation is necessary. However, the specialist hospitals in the cities have low cost hotels attached to them where both patients and families can stay. Those on low incomes or with long term illnesses do not have to pay. It is still disruptive to daily life, but at least they do not have to commute long distances on top of tiring treatments. They also have specialist transport 'health busses' with ambulance staff that run between population centres.

That is what is needed for patients in North Wales. It will always make sense to make use of the large well funded facilities in the big conurbations of North West England, but sick people must not be required to do a lot of travelling. It is inhumane. And they must not be faced with financial penalties for being sick. Simple accommodation must be provided free, and not means tested.

With regard to schools, child care and so forth, yes, I agree that keeping things as local as possible is the way to minimise traffic. But I don't see how public transport could cope, in my area, if all car commutes were to be replaced by public transport commutes. The trains are already rammed at peak times. And I'm not sure the lines and stations could take more trains.

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horizon
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby horizon » 9 Nov 2019, 11:58am

pwa wrote: Could our economy function at its current level with a lot less traffic movement?


No, you are right there, it couldn't. In fact, it would function at a much higher level. There is no economic benefit while a good or person is in transit: this is lost time and lost resources. The cost has to be minimised (at the expense of the environment), otherwise we would be sending lorries just driving round and round the M25 in the (somewhat strange) belief that it would increase economic activity.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby griggsy » 9 Nov 2019, 12:59pm

irc wrote:Ask the residents of Dunkeld, Blair Atholl, Kingussie, Aviemore etc whether building new roads works. The new A9 built in the 1970s and 80s removed 90%+ of the traffic from these towns. Likewise the M74 bypassed Hamilton and all the towns between Hamilton and Gretna. Neither new road is overloaded 40 or 50 years on.

Likewise Stepps, just north of Glasgow was made a much more pleasnt place to be after the M80 bypassed it.

Yes, better roads generate more traffic. That is a good thing. Our supermarkets depend on the motorway system to make fast national distribution sysems possible. I like being able to drive to Cambridge in a few hours without needing to go through every town and city on the way.

Even anti roads campaigners enjoy the benefits of a good roads system.


Was there not a deliberate plan for the A9 north of Perth not to have service stations in order to encourage travellers to still visit the towns just off the new road? Probably not the only factor but these places seem to get plenty of visitors without getting clogged with traffic.

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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby pwa » 9 Nov 2019, 1:10pm

griggsy wrote:
irc wrote:Ask the residents of Dunkeld, Blair Atholl, Kingussie, Aviemore etc whether building new roads works. The new A9 built in the 1970s and 80s removed 90%+ of the traffic from these towns. Likewise the M74 bypassed Hamilton and all the towns between Hamilton and Gretna. Neither new road is overloaded 40 or 50 years on.

Likewise Stepps, just north of Glasgow was made a much more pleasnt place to be after the M80 bypassed it.

Yes, better roads generate more traffic. That is a good thing. Our supermarkets depend on the motorway system to make fast national distribution sysems possible. I like being able to drive to Cambridge in a few hours without needing to go through every town and city on the way.

Even anti roads campaigners enjoy the benefits of a good roads system.


Was there not a deliberate plan for the A9 north of Perth not to have service stations in order to encourage travellers to still visit the towns just off the new road? Probably not the only factor but these places seem to get plenty of visitors without getting clogged with traffic.


I don't know about others here, but I actually like to shop on streets that do not have much traffic. Heavy traffic on a shopping street puts me off visiting. I want to get out of the car asap and enjoy walking around.

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horizon
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Re: Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby horizon » 9 Nov 2019, 1:16pm

irc wrote:Likewise the M74 bypassed Hamilton and all the towns between Hamilton and Gretna. Neither new road is overloaded 40 or 50 years on.


Glasgow jam.jpg
M74 in Glasgow after the opening of the new road

You're quite right, although the photo doesn't do it justice as the shiny road surface makes it look like there are lots of cars on it, which of course there are not and it is simply a mirage.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!