Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 9989
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Can we finally agree that building roads increases congestion?

Postby horizon » 2 Nov 2019, 7:35pm

AFAIK it has long been known that road widening and building increases traffic congestion.

In a light hearted article in the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman makes reference to a 26 lane highway in Texas and simply takes it for granted that building such roads merely adds to congestion - we have 100 years of experimental proof of that:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... y-not-help

But then the Guardian also reports on the letting of the contract for a new road tunnel under the Thames:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... sadiq-khan

To Sadiq Khan it is self-evident that increasing capacity will reduce congestion. To everyone else, it is utter madness.

My plea is that should you this Christmas hear a relative saying that they were caught in a traffic jam and that it is time to widen the road, please politely point out to them that that will actually increase congestion, not reduce it.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

User avatar
gaz
Posts: 13884
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Kent, car park of England

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

Postby gaz » 2 Nov 2019, 9:42pm

“Building more roads to prevent congestion is like a fat man loosening his belt to prevent obesity” attributed to Lewis Mumford, 1955.

Even so eight lanes of A2 are scheduled to become fourteen lanes of A2/M2 in the proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing.

LTC.png
Freedom of the open road
2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 9989
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

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

Postby horizon » 3 Nov 2019, 12:44am

From Tim Jones, project director for the Lower Thames Crossing:

For too long the Dartford Crossing has been the only way to get across the Thames east of London. It is a vital gateway but carries more traffic than it was ever designed for and drivers there suffer from regular delays.


(My emphasis.) Hmm, well, there we go then.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

pwa
Posts: 11273
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

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

Postby pwa » 3 Nov 2019, 7:49am

I have always accepted that to some degree building new roads leads to more traffic. But I don't think every single bit of new road is a bad idea. That is taking the concept too far. Local to me a new road is being made as part of a large housing development and it will act as a by-pass for a village that has been blighted by traffic for generations. The narrow lane through the village has been used by artics with no viable alternative, along with a lot of car traffic. In a few months from now the new road will take nearly all that traffic and put it on a modern road designed for the purpose. That might encourage some people to drive more, their journey having become a bit easier, but in this particular case I think that is a price worth paying. My point here is that this should be a case-by-case thing.

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4553715 ... 6?hl=en-GB
Llysworney. It gets busier than this. And it is not a rat run with a more sensible, wider alternative. It is the main route from the A48 to the nearby trading estate.

Stradageek
Posts: 666
Joined: 17 Jan 2011, 1:07pm

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

Postby Stradageek » 3 Nov 2019, 8:32am

In my experience road building just moves traffic jams to the next pinch point - but I did enjoy a comment from an M25 traffic officer when asked what would happen if the M25 was widened to for lanes, answer "they'll fill it", five lanes?, "they'll fill it", six lanes "they'll fill it" - this comment was recorded 15-20yrs ago.

Village by-passes I can see a case for but I've seen far too many cases where the village by-pass priority list is based on how many rich and influential people (and/or local councilors) live in each village :?

User avatar
Mick F
Spambuster
Posts: 47831
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

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

Postby Mick F » 3 Nov 2019, 8:51am

............... and I've seen too many villages die because of their bypasses.
Shops die, pubs die, service stations die, and schools die.
Mick F. Cornwall

Mike Sales
Posts: 4202
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

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

Postby Mike Sales » 3 Nov 2019, 9:05am

pwa wrote:I have always accepted that to some degree building new roads leads to more traffic. But I don't think every single bit of new road is a bad idea. That is taking the concept too far. Local to me a new road is being made as part of a large housing development and it will act as a by-pass for a village that has been blighted by traffic for generations. The narrow lane through the village has been used by artics with no viable alternative, along with a lot of car traffic. In a few months from now the new road will take nearly all that traffic and put it on a modern road designed for the purpose. That might encourage some people to drive more, their journey having become a bit easier, but in this particular case I think that is a price worth paying. My point here is that this should be a case-by-case thing.


The village I live in is also an example. It was made horrible by trunk road traffic. The bypass has removed that.
The bypass is one of a chain of "improvements" which has made possible and encouraged more and more traffic.
The road through the village is still a run for traffic, including lorries, going too fast and making it dangerous. It is much less busy but still a reserve for motors. Children still have to ride on the pavement, as do some adults. The Council declines to use traffic calming to make it more civilised.

Mike Sales
Posts: 4202
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

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

Postby Mike Sales » 3 Nov 2019, 9:12am

Mick F wrote:............... and I've seen too many villages die because of their bypasses.
Shops die, pubs die, service stations die, and schools die.


I have seen many villages in which these amenities have gone, which are not bypassed. I think that the death of villages (and town centres) is down to motorisation in total, not bypasses, which are a symptom, or an attempt to adapt our society to hypermobility.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 7168
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

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

Postby Bonefishblues » 3 Nov 2019, 9:14am

Mick F wrote:............... and I've seen too many villages die because of their bypasses.
Shops die, pubs die, service stations die, and schools die.

Presumably very prevalent in your neck of the woods Mick.

Oldjohnw
Posts: 2893
Joined: 16 Oct 2018, 4:23am
Location: Northumberland

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

Postby Oldjohnw » 3 Nov 2019, 9:15am

I live the far North East of England where the A1 is a pretty inadequate road. There have been campaigns for decades by all parties to have it dualled. Promises have been made but no action.

I am - and I am in something of a minority here - of the view that this is not the solution, obvious though it might appear to be. What we need is better public transport to connect us with Newcastle 60 miles south. We should be looking at lower carbon solutions. Traffic always expands to fill the available road space.
John

Mike Sales
Posts: 4202
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

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

Postby Mike Sales » 3 Nov 2019, 9:18am

It is a mistake to focus on bypasses. They are seen by highwaymen as a link in the chain of improving a particular road, to enable more and more traffic.
The villagers my be fighting for their village to be bypassed to relieve an unbearable situation. The Highwaymen see it as a part of a grand scheme to get more and more big fast roads, and big, fast traffic.
That traffic will at some point be making other peoples' lives unbearable.

User avatar
Mick F
Spambuster
Posts: 47831
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

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

Postby Mick F » 3 Nov 2019, 9:27am

Bonefishblues wrote:
Mick F wrote:............... and I've seen too many villages die because of their bypasses.
Shops die, pubs die, service stations die, and schools die.

Presumably very prevalent in your neck of the woods Mick.
Yes.

Off the top of my head, Probus, Five Lanes, and Zelah.
Loads of places on the Old A30 Launceston to Exeter have changed completely and become forgotten backwaters.

On the other hand, one of the huge bottlenecks was Dobwalls. The A390 and the A38 joined through the village and then split again beyond heading for Bodmin one way, and Lostwithiel the other.

The village was clogged with tailbacks for miles, but now the Dobwalls bypass is up and running, the village has relaxed. People can park their cars, the shops and the school are thriving. Not been into the Highwayman Inn for some years so I don't know how that's faring. Dobwalls is a much nicer place now, but it is a big village and can perhaps survive happily.
Mick F. Cornwall

Bonefishblues
Posts: 7168
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

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

Postby Bonefishblues » 3 Nov 2019, 9:35am

Mick F wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:
Mick F wrote:............... and I've seen too many villages die because of their bypasses.
Shops die, pubs die, service stations die, and schools die.

Presumably very prevalent in your neck of the woods Mick.
Yes.

Off the top of my head, Probus, Five Lanes, and Zelah.
Loads of places on the Old A30 Launceston to Exeter have changed completely and become forgotten backwaters.

On the other hand, one of the huge bottlenecks was Dobwalls. The A390 and the A38 joined through the village and then split again beyond heading for Bodmin one way, and Lostwithiel the other.

The village was clogged with tailbacks for miles, but now the Dobwalls bypass is up and running, the village has relaxed. People can park their cars, the shops and the school are thriving. Not been into the Highwayman Inn for some years so I don't know how that's faring. Dobwalls is a much nicer place now, but it is a big village and can perhaps survive happily.

Wadebridge also seems to be doing well - due in no small part to the Camel Trail I think?

User avatar
Mick F
Spambuster
Posts: 47831
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

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

Postby Mick F » 3 Nov 2019, 9:37am

Wadebridge is a town and a thriving one at that, so that's not a good example.
Mick F. Cornwall

Bonefishblues
Posts: 7168
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

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

Postby Bonefishblues » 3 Nov 2019, 9:45am

Mick F wrote:Wadebridge is a town and a thriving one at that, so that's not a good example.

I suppose I was drawing the parallel with your Dobwalls example that there's no reason to go there now it has been bypassed (flown over, actually!) but is clearly doing well, in no small part due to cycling.