Congestion is a simple case of supply and demand — where demand exceeds supply.
It is primarily the fault of national and local government to meet demand that is directly responsible for most regular congestion. Rather than accept their responsibility and do something about it, the powers that be try to tell you it's your fault.
It's like trying to lay the blame for overflowing drains on the rain for having the audacity to fall out of the sky. It couldn't possibly be because the drains haven't been made big enough. This is the barmy mindset that has become prevalent in the UK.
In some cases is the long term failure of national government to accept that an increase in car ownership and usage will require a better national road network — that is why many of our motorways and trunk roads are frequently congested.
In other cases, local authorities induce congestion by allowing large housing or retail developments without upgrading local roads at the same time.
In the worst cases, local authorities maliciously create congestion by imposing bus lanes, 'traffic calming' obstructions, unnecessary traffic lights, turn bans, closing off side streets. This is done because they arrogantly think they have the right to tell you how you should travel.
We are told by the authorities that gridlock is imminent, and that we must use our cars less because selfish drivers are clogging up the roads. Road tolls, parking fee hikes and a multitude of oppressive anti-car policies are 'justified' using this claim.
At one point, anti-car campaigners had forecast numbers of cars on the roads year-on-year which were demographically impossible. By simply extending the line on a graph showing the growing trend of car ownership, these statistically challenged types forgot the simple fact that no matter how many cars are owned by households, there needs to be an 'adult' (17+) with a driving licence to drive a car for it to be on the roads. Forecasts have been revised downwards ever since, but to keep the scaremongering going, they are not revised downwards by much.
It is the authorities, not drivers, who are responsible for much of the increasing congestion we face day after day. This much is clear from traffic surveys from 1998 through to 2000, which show that traffic on major urban routes is generally CONSTANT OR FALLING. Certainly there has been marginal growth in traffic overall, often around 1%, but this is due largely to increased motorways traffic, surely a good place for traffic to be (if our motorway network wasn't one of the shortest and worst funded in Europe, that is).
So, if traffic on major urban routes is static or falling, but we experience worsening congestion and delays, how is this happening?
Below, the ABD reveals major causes of congestion on UK roads, which relate to
a) removing road space, and
both engineered to keep congestion, not cure it; to make car use unpleasant; and hence to justify anti-car policies and their associated taxes and charges.
b) slower flow rates
Remember, these will increase congestion EVEN IF TRAFFIC ON MAJOR URBAN ROUTES REMAINS STATIC OR FALLS FURTHER:
- side roads are closed, confining traffic to fewer routes
- roads are narrowed, restricting flow
- roads get bumps, humps, pillows, tables, gates, and chicanes to cause delays
- ever more bus lanes, multi occupancy lanes, and pedestrianisation schemes remove road space
- bus lay-bys are deliberately filled in, to make cars wait behind a bus when it stops
- roads get arbitrary and unnecessarily slow speed limits to hinder progress
- cars are deliberately 'gated' at traffic lights, to cause delays to motorists
- one-way and ring-road systems are made car-unfriendly
- road digging by various agencies is badly co-ordinated, it at all
- drivers are sent all round the mulberry bush by misleading signs instead of the most direct route
Don't let them kid you that congestion is your fault
In London, plans in the 60s to build multiple concentric ring roads were reduced to just two (The North & South circular roads and the M25).
In Birmingham, an excellent two way ring road around the city centre was entirely demolished on one side of the city, forcing all traffic to go the other side, and effectively doubling congestion.
In Leeds, a clockwise one way ring road means that a vehicle has to drive all the way around the city if they only want to go a few hundred yards anti-clockwise! Poor signage for exits from the 'inner loop', mean some people end up going round twice!
In Glasgow, it has took decades to complete the M74 south of the city centre.
In Aberdeen, the much needed Western Peripheral Route wase delayed by government pandering to anti-road campaigners instead of getting on with the job.
Many other cities and towns suffer congestion because successive governments have dragged their feet on building countless much needed bypasses.
ABD Press Releases about Congestion