Traffic congestion needs to be tackled more urgently
We need to reverse the policies that have created delays and congestion. In the last fifteen years many local authorities, especially in urban areas, have been adopting policies aimed at discouraging car use and promoting walking, cycling or public transport. Often the stated justification for these policies is false or exaggerated claims about the effects of car use on the environment, health or road safety. In many cases, however, the real motive has been a political or ideological aversion to the freedom for individuals to travel where and when they want, which private motor vehicles provide.
Putting these policies into practice has meant road space being reallocated for bus or cycles lanes, more traffic lights being installed or their timings altered, roads closed to through traffic, and the introduction of so-called ‘traffic calming’ measures. The result has been a reduction in capacity of the road network in the areas affected, creating congestion, delays and frustration. Many traffic calming schemes have been introduced to mitigate the impact of drivers finding alternative routes through residential streets to avoid the manufactured congestion on main roads.
The ABD is not opposed to public transport, cycling or walking – indeed, it supports the rights of all individuals to choose the most appropriate mode of transport for the journeys they wish to make. The road network needs to be managed, however, to maximise the capacity and safety of all modes. So, for example, bus lanes should only be introduced or retained where the total passenger capacity in buses and private vehicles is greater than without the bus lane. Cycle lanes, as well as reducing road space for other vehicles, are disliked by many cyclists who find it safer to ride with the traffic than in a narrow lane near the kerb.
By removing unnecessary bus and cycle lanes, and optimising traffic light timings or removing them altogether, main road capacity could be restored, reducing the temptation for drivers to find ways round bottlenecks by using residential roads. Intrusive and vehicle damaging traffic calming schemes, especially road humps, could then be removed. This approach has been adopted successfully in, for example, the London Borough of Barnet. Other authorities should drop their antipathy to car drivers and adopt the same approach.
The ABD also supports the construction of more roads, or road widening, where traffic demand suggests it is required. In addition improving junctions can often improve the capacity of the road network. There is usual good economic justification for such measures if the time wasted by drivers in traffic jams is taken into account.
Traffic congestion can be solved if the authorities put in more resources to tackle this problem, and changed their policies.