Closure of roads seen as cure for congestion

A BEECHING-style removal of parts of the road network rather than new roadbuilding may be the best response to the congestion crisis, according to a leading academic on traffic growth.

In a lecture given in Oxford last night to launch a pounds 2m research programme on traffic growth, Phil Goodwin, the director of Oxford University's Transport Studies Unit, said that traffic growth cannot be allowed to continue on its projected path, and forms of transport which cause congestion or pollution will have to be made more expensive.

Currently in the UK, the average person spends just over an hour a day travelling 21 miles at an average of 20mph. Forty years ago, people travelled only eight miles per day but forecasts suggest this will increase to 50 miles per day by 2025.

Travel in cars and vans accounts for 86 per cent of all mileage and, in 1989, the Department of Transport produced figures which suggested that traffic would grow by '83 per cent to 142 per cent by 2025', a forecast Dr Goodwin calls 'a mantra of transport policy discussions'.

He argued that, in urban areas, it has become recognised that roadspace cannot be increased to meet such high forecast rises in traffic growth. Britain, however, has lagged behind the Continent in implementing policies to damp down traffic growth but he believes that 'we are poised for a very substantial catching-up exercise'.

Now, he suggested, there will have to be equal recognition of the fact that traffic growth in rural areas, predicted in parts to be between 300 per cent and 400 per cent, cannot be sustained.

The roads lobby may put forward a last-ditch argument suggesting that traffic forecasts are exaggerated, and therefore a bit of extra roadbuilding will be able to cope with new demand. Dr Goodwin rejected this, arguing that the extra traffic growth generated by new roads reduces the benefits of building them.

Dr Goodwin is a member of the Government's advisory committee on traffic growth forecasts, which produced an unpublished report last May saying that new roads generate traffic growth, a concept that undermines the calculations used for assessing the value of road schemes.

The publication of the report has been delayed while ministers consider their response. Yesterday, Frank Dobson, Labour's transport spokesman, called for its publication.

Dr Goodwin said that this induced traffic growth is one of several compelling arguments for actually reducing existing road capacity through 'a Beeching report on the road network'. In addition, as new roads are built, people desert public transport to use them, reducing its viability. The process could be reversed by improving public transport to attract people off the roads, therefore improving journey times.

Dr Goodwin also referred to 'a mathematical anomaly in the science of traffic flow called Braess's Paradox', which states that, in some circumstances, the provision of an extra road results in 'increased overall journey time'.

Moreover, where road capacity has been removed - through the creation of pedestrian areas in towns - they have proved to be successful both economically and environmentally.

Dr Goodwin added that the policy of removing roads needs be addressed carefully.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor