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British cities Leeds-Bradford, London and Birmingham among Europe’s most congested traffic zones
I don't suffer any real traffic where I live, I am stationary for around 10 minutes in my journeys each day. What the above points out to me is how we really should be planning pur cities better. Integration of public transport and things such as freight corridors on roads should be in place now. As citizens we should be pushing our elected representatives for positive change rather than them relying on the our collective ennui to posture, promise and underdeliver. We are responsible, not an invisible they.
A good reason for the knuckle-draggers here in the US to like light rail, even if they never use it. It will make their road trip faster and increase their property values.
With 1/3 of the UK’s population living in cities and the majority of the wealth and economic activity happening within them one has to admire the marketing strategies that results in people buying 155 mph cars that are occupied for a few hours each day - much of it in stationary traffic. The elevated view offered by city domiciled SUV’s is probably more depressing than calming. There is no answer for the UKs crowded conurbations other than prioritised, cheap and plentiful public transport .Birmingham was raised in the name of the car and seemingly fares no better than elsewhere today. It is instructive to move from a PT centric city like London to a Car centric city like Melbourne. Vast swathes of Melbourne (which now sprawls more than 60 miles across) have limited or no viable public transport. My company is about to move a few miles closer to the city centre and a sizeable number of people are resigning as they cannot stomach the additional congestion and lack decent PT alternatives. This is a country with one of the world’s highest GDP per capita incomes. The is in effect a “roads” lobby of vested interests (that includes car companies) which stymies decent investment in PT and sees more investment in road “improvements” than public transport infrastructure.
Move to Milton Keynes; the grid system ensures we don't grid lock even at the busiest of times.
I might be the only person here who has a (favourable) interest in cars and who has also made a broad study of urban plannning and architecture. I hold two views which are not as contrary as one might think. I think travelling in cars is lovely and I also think moderately densely populated cities are socially optimal and environmentally sound. Paradoxically, designing urban areas for cars makes car ownership a mandatory chore and prevents city life occurring above a low level.
The future is very long. So, rather than despair, we need to start now and gradually re-engineer the density back into cities. Make car ownership unnecessary but don´t punish it; make PT a fabulous experience (try it in Switzerland, for example or Germany where it´s a pleasure) and slowly use good design and regulated market mechanisms to replace low density single-use areas with higher density multiple-use areas. What we can´t do is carry on as if traffic jams, shopping malls, suburban sprawl and long commutes are any fun or any good. The odd and pleasant result of my prescription is that when you used your car it would be a delight and when you didn´t you wouldn´t feel shortchanged. And our cities would be better places to live,
That was probably a more well argued and finely nuanced comment than most people were expecting.
I'm not sure the cities themselves are the problem, if the issue is car-commuters, then is the answer to spread workplaces out and nearer to where people live? While there are obvious benefits to grouping business sectors together (eg Canary Wharf), there is no reason why all sectors should be in the centre of any city. The problem is exacerbated in the UK with London being so all-consuming and relatively little space in the country for 70m people. To throw another question in: has there been a city designed in the last 30 years, ie since mass car ownership? And if so, how have then dealt with the challenges?
Moletrap gets it a bit backward: "then is the answer to spread workplaces out and nearer to where people live?" No, the answer is to increase density. This makes it more likely your work is near where you live if you are a generalist. If you are a specialist or work in some space-hungry industry it won´t take so long to get to when you work. Moletrap´s idea to spread things out is precisely what the architects of CAIM (Google it) were thinking and this is how we get the modern, zoned city of long commutes and boring uniform areas. The short answer is mix it up and densify to something like 2200 people per km 2(Cologne) rather than 600 per km2 and resume building streets with four to six story buildings, built with party walls (not freestanding).
Has there been a city built in the last 30 years? Yes, lots of them. All rely on the formula of free standing blocks for offices and homes, low-density semis, motorways, token mass transit and separation of use. If you wanted to build a city like Basel or Rome you´d never get planning permission.
@engineer – Melbourne is based on a grid but lacks roundabouts and European cars imported here are renowned for chewing through brakes discs such is the number of traffic lights. Grid lock still occurs despite a supposedly intelligent traffic light management system.
@bertandnairobi – once people have a car there is a fear it giving it up. My area is becoming high density with multiple 30 storey apartments block spring up. Whilst located just 10 minutes are 2 train stops from the city centre, developers put 5 floors of parking in such towers because they are afraid to market such properties without a parking facility. The result is an increased density of cars as well as people. The train station has of course not been upgraded to cope with the increased patronage! Another issue is a general nimbyism towards increased density in already established areas. Brownfield sites are available but insufficiently profitable to developers unless government cleans up them up. I love cities and have lived in them all my life, I also love cars but find the direction that car culture has been heading at odds with the actual needs of modern life. What use is 600 bhp anywhere?
There really is no viable solution unless you discuss Draconian government action that forces cars our of the hands of the average person. The Soviet Union never had traffic jams. However, if companies would employ more tele-commuting for people that would reduce congestion somewhat though, with the kids home for summer break, I would rather sit in the traffic. But as long as people are free to choose where they want to live within their income and are free to work for whichever company hires them you are going to have traffic. Maybe the driverless car will help until they get a virus or are hacked as most congestion is down to people not being able to drive properly in the first place.
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