Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

More road building will mean more congestion, says Campaign for Better Transport

Congestion on motorways and trunk roads will get significantly worse unless the Government rethinks its transport policy, according to a new report published by the Green motoring lobby group the Campaign for Better Transport.

The report, which coincides with the start of the Department for Transport studies into transport corridors, recommends introducing a number of measures to manage demand for road space to tackle rising congestion.

The Campaign for Better Transport’s report, written by Phil Goodwin, Professor of Transport Policy at UWE Bristol, found 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. Instead, the report recommends that Government rethinks its approach to transport planning, taking account of the impact of smaller journeys and urban and suburban traffic on major roads.

Using existing reports commissioned by central and regional Government, the report shows how simple packages of measures would cut congestion and increase journey times on motorways and trunk roads.

The report 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; and
  • 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 change campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport said: “No matter how wide we make our motorways, they’ll keep filling up, so we have to start giving people alternatives to driving if we don’t want the country to grind to a halt. This is especially true for towns and cities, where 89% of congestion occurs and where widespread road building simply cannot be an option.”

“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.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • I think we need to consider the fundamental reasons as to why we have congestion on our roads. I am a heavy user of the motorway networks and time and time again delays are caused for no apparent reason.
    There are two scenarios that really irritate me. When approaching roadworks and a lane is closed there should be no reason that the traffic has to come to a standstill and then ease up when in the roadworks. Why does this happen? because of the people who insist on driving down the lane to be closed, despite at least 800 yards of warnings, until they reach the cones and cut in causing the adjacent lane to brake which has a snowball affect and ultimately causes a standstill in that lane.
    Secondly are the people who insist on driving in the middle lane of the motorway when there is nothing in the slow lane causing other drivers to drive in the overtaking lane to get past them, again somewhere along the way causing someone to brake heavily which again in heavy traffic will cause a standstill eventually as people brake harder and harder.
    So what we need is re education of drivers. I firmly believe this would cut down on a lot of unecessary congestion.
    It does amuse me on a four lane motorway when I see people sitting in a lane with 2 empty lanes to their left . . . . . . If I undertake them with a clear lane between us is that still an offence ???
    Sorry for the rant.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • By the same token, perhaps we should cancel Crossrail, Thameslink etc etc. The railways are already overcrowded - improving and extending them will only add to the numbers trying to get on the trains! Ridiculous? Yes. Nobody would argue that we should not improve and modernise our railways to cater for todays needs, and similarly we must improve and modernise our roads. It is scandalous that main strategic routes to some parts of the country are little more than surfaced cart tracks.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.