Friday, 14 October 2011

Why widening and building more roads is not the answer

The usual ‘solution’ to a congested road network is to widen roads or build more freeways. However, it has been proven that building more road space does not relieve congestion in the long term. It just encourages longer or extra trips, with demand for even more roads, or induced demand. Building lots of roads makes cities bland and alienating, and difficult to walk, bike or take PT in, unfair to people who can’t or don’t drive. Also, the amount of roads needed to satisfy every possible travel need is impractical, consuming large amounts of land, and, unbelievably expensive
On the other hand investment in public transport or active transport (walking and biking) are cheaper and carry more passengers than road investments. They also take up less land and are future-proof; they not only can cater for population growth but will stay useful with global warming and peak oil.

In conclusion, building lots of roads will not solve congestion problems, which reminds me of a good quote by Orlando, Florida traffic engineer Walter Kulash, “Widening roads to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity”. If drivers want more roads then at the very least they should pay for them.

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