If you’ve sat in a traffic jam recently on Britain’s roads, you’re not alone. It will come as no surprise to anyone who regularly drives in the UK that our roads are very busy, but the proof is now in that they’re actually the most congested in the whole of the EU.
The proof comes from a study of EU cities performed by Inrix, and reported on by The BBC. Inrix, a data analysis organisation, spent time studying traffic data from over 120 European cities and identifying “traffic hotspots.” These are “pinch points” where drivers have to slow down to 35% (or less) of their expected speed for at least two minutes.
It turns out that here in the UK, we have over 20,000 of these hotspots across 21 of the cities studied. This is by far the highest number of any EU country. Behind us, by a long way, is Germany, with 8,517 hotspots, and Italy, with just over 5,000. Without doubt this means many UK drivers suffer more frustration on the roads than anyone else across the EU.
Which of Britain’s Roads are Worst?
Unsurprisingly, London is right at the top of the list, with the M25 singled out as the place in Britain where people are most likely to suffer gridlock. The worst hotspot of all is the Northbound M25 between junctions 15 (M4) and 16 (M40).
Scotland is next on the list with the Edinburgh bypass named at Britain’s second worst hotspot, and Glasgow’s A8/M8 junction closely behind.
With over 20,000 of these hotspots across the UK, it’s almost impossible to avoid some of them on any cross-country trip. Factor in Britain’s rather unpredictable weather, and things look even worse.
Hopefully, investment announced as part of the recent Autumn Statement may finally see the nation making some headway with these almost-perpetual jams. £1.3 Billion of funding has been announced, over £200 Million of which is specifically to address “pinch points.” With over 20,000 of them identified in this study, Britain clearly needs every penny of it.
Do you think Britain’s roads are too congested? What do you think is the main cause? Share your opinions in the comments below.
The biggest issues causing jams are:
people not giving way to side roads at busy junctions… zip systems need installing…
Road works on motorways with no work men ever! Maybe open the lanes up unless people actually working.
Lane hoggers doing 70 in inside lane next to someone doing 68 in the middle Lane an not utilising the 10 car gaps to their left to move over.
Idiots breaking at every corner an every car that passes.
Idiots buying houses on a 60mph instead of in the country side then complaining till the roads become a 30mph
Idiots doing 40mph in a 60mph which are usually dash cam b*** ends. Using the reason “it’s not compulsory speed just advisory” well Mr Smith get a bus!
Turning most cities into empty bus lanes reducing them from 2 lanes into 1.
Too much control over people living near major roads not allowing expansion
And of course plenty more!
Everybody wrong except you and what a disjointed rant,
“Idiots buying houses on a 60mph instead of in the country side then complaining till the roads become a 30mph”
What does this actually mean as it does not make sense, are you saying that people should not buy houses in certain areas because they may want to get the speed limit reduced, what utter selfishness, another me, me, me driver.
People reading this news item have been asked to share their opinions. If you can’t accept people have differing opinions to yours without the need to berate them, then maybe you shouldn’t read them. Just a thought
News?! Crossing the Thames is a joke via either the Blackwall Tunnel or QE2 arrangement. The Rotherhithe and Tower Bridge crossings are in dense urban areas and difficult for most to get to and from. Every time I’m stuck trying to cross the Thames – how about the Greenwich ferry? – I wonder how much this costs the economy. Yet, according to Wikipedia, “The Thames Gateway Bridge was a proposed crossing over the River Thames in east London, England. It was first mooted in the 1970s but never came to fruition. In November 2008, Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London, formally cancelled the entire £500 million scheme.”. Check out how China has recently built many crossings of the Yangtze River (much larger than the Thames) at Wuhan. And we’re whining about their productivity?
I think one of the culprits of road congestion around here are the people on the school run. It is plain to see that during school holidays and during half-term breaks, the traffic levels drop drastically.
In the West Midlands converting M5 and M6 to so called smart motorways is a total waste of time and money. large stretches are limited to 50 without any workmen DOING anything and just being used as a cash cow to generate more money for the Treasury
On Tuesday I sat on M6 southbound junction 18 for well over one hour. Even the trucks switched off, ridiculous.
It’s just me me me as far as you are concerned isn’t it, did you ever consider that the hold up you were in was due to a serious accident and the motorway had to be closed whilst injured people were being rescued… What an objectionable person you are.
It is plain to see that too many people is the problem, not the road system. Everybody drives everywhere, even to the shops, taking the kids to school. When the government finally realises there are too many people on this overcrowded island, Maybe something will be done. Cutting down trees and hedgerows to widen roads etc: is a short term fix with long term consequences. Trees are our lifeline. Destroy them at our peril, only to make way for yet more polluting vehicles! MADNESS!!!
Drivers doing 40mph in a 60mph zone (causing unnecessary queues) and then they break the speed limit in the 30mph zone which is just coming up. This really annoys me.
Basically drivers going to slowly and breaking unnecessarily.
Not relevant to this discussion, but drivers going way to fast and taking dangerous overtaking risks.
I agree that the M25 is horrendous what ever time of day you are using it. The variable speed limits are really annoying.
Just one more example of the UK, and in particular England, being overcrowded / overpopulated. The next most current and glaring example being hospital and ambulance waiting times. Either government spending must increase urgently to deal with these problems or border and immigration control has to become meaningfully effective.
Very soon the alternative will be chaos and anarchy!
Too many vehicles for the infrastructure…..which may lead to the assumption there are too many people in this small island say compared to France or Spain
insufficient and inefficient public transport, resulting in too many cars on the road
What a surprise! After decades of insufficient investment in our infrastructure, and unfettered population growth, this was inevitable. And all the Government do is change the hard shoulder on our motorways to an extra lane and add so-called “Smart Signage”, controlled by people who are anything but smart.
In general public transport is much too expensive and although more reliable than it used to be, still room for improvement.
In particular the grid lock round Coventry station is a direct result of a ridiculous new road system – a supposed ‘improvement’ – take out a roundabout and create a limited access, confusing alternative and close one of the exit roads with a bus lane – wow!
Lots of reasons for traffic congestion. Most of what I can think of have been included already. If I may reiterate:
Overcrowded Island; Too many people driving; too many people driving badly; Poor infrastructure; Poor management of the main highways, with particular regard to roadworks, and the use of information supplied on the overhead gantries; Poor management of accidents – allowing traffic to continue to enter motorways when they are closed further along.
One of my own frustrations comes under the heading of Poor Driving; when drivers on motorways in whatever lane, but especially dangerous in the fast and overtaking lane, brake sharply because their satnav has warned them of a (normally non existent) speed camera. I’ve seen it happen so often….speeding/harsh braking/accelerating again until the next gantry/harsh braking. It sends a ripple backwards until cars are nearly stopping a distance behind them.
Anyway, just an opinion.
Away from London, accidents are the main cause of delays. Too many inexperienced or inept drivers on the road.
The practical part of the driving test is too easy. Drivers should be retested every five years on the practical. At fault drivers who cause major accidents should be banned.
The effect of the pinch points is only apparent when an incident occurs. Otherwise we just accept it’s a slow section of the route. Incidents occur because road users cause them, inattention from distractions seems to be the current precursor of many incidents although poor skills also have contributed. If more road users took post-test courses they would be more aware of the need for full concentration, appropriate speed control and consideration for other road users. Lastly we don’t have the police traffic resources to match the road population leading to a culture of bending the rules. We have a invested millions in signs, signals and traffic management systems to reduce congestion only for road users to ignore them all in favour of self interest.
Agree that too many vehicles for the current road systems. Redesigning these is not the only answer since it’s mostly just a quick, but expensive fix. Investing more into mandatory driver awareness programs , policing, and incentives for car size and economy might be part of the solution. It’s sadly funny to see a traffic jam in a small town such as Nantwich caused by an inept driver in an SUV that is obviously too large to maneuver in many areas. Perhaps drivers would be road tested in the vehicle they own/rent.
Also agree that distracted and reckless drivers cause jams and crashes. Too fast AND too slow are both issues. Again, mandatory, practical driver programs and testing might be one solution. Cheshire Fire Department has simulator to demonstrate how usage of phone while driving slows reactions. But it’s not just phones. Eating, drinking, smoking, reading, applying makeup, shaving, programming sat navs, and even changing clothes while driving are some distractions causing driving issues that we have witnessed and reported.
Having just driven 40 miles north on the M 25 I observed that there was 50% more traffic. A 50mph would solve a lot of problems. Three weeks ago the journey took 3hrs this time 1h 15min so 50mph would mean we all get to our destination on time.
Apart from all the obvious behavioural difficulties and ill-discipline, the two prime reasons we have excessive conjestion are
1] We live on a small densely populated island
2] Our development planning since WW2 has for a number of reasons, failed to avoid dense route focus generated by the attractions to public of development. When challenged, planners repeatedly respond that they are not given the funding to pro-actively plan development. In many similar ways, planners also have some responsibility for much of the town flooding which arises. [Conversion of pre-existing rural landscape to highly impermeable developed area is substantially responsible for flooding, though there are other reasons.]
I think a simple solution is to allow planners to produce development proposals which would assist the reduction of both traffic and rainwater concentrations and sit on planning applications until it is shown that they assist such a proposal. This, I’m sure, would cause politicians, particularly Tories, to be prodded by developers to vote for better funding of our planning system.
The general standard of driving is very low. People hog middle lanes on motorways at 55-65 mph, they talk on the phone in spite of repeated warnings not to, the list goes on. This, coupled with the lack of investment in infrastructure leads to gridlock.
People may complain about the variable speed limits but I’m old enough to remember the M25 before the variable limits were introduced and I can say that although I don’t like being limited to 30, 40, 50 or 60 mph, it does keep the traffic moving and it does reduce the gridlock. I dread to imagine the state now if the variable limits had not been introduced esp on the M25.
I am particularly interested in the Oxford to Cambridge expressway: “Last week the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published their interim report into the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor. The government welcomes the report and will commit to an Oxford to Cambridge expressway, providing £27 million in development funding”; I suspect that development funding will go to consultants – not actually building this road.
Not surprising at all.
On the one hand the car industry and consumers are respponsible:
1. Size: Cars have become supersized the past 10 year even the MINI countryman is now bigger than the original Range Rover. The UK has highest optake of SUVs and Crossover vehciles in Europe. The wider the car the less space and the reduced spacial awareness of many motorists. This means on-street parking reduces main carriageway width. It stops filtering of traffic at T Junctions increasing queue lengths and stop start driving. Buers are sold on so called safety of large cars – in fact collisions are now more likely as there is less gap to aim for. Sitting up higher doesn’t mean visibilty is better overall – I lost my 9 year old nephew to an SUV collsion in a 20 mph zone. He died outside his house witnessed by his family who were unable to stop it. The driver was not speeding. He couldn’t see the lad over his bonnet. All SUVs have similar blind spots.
2.Technology: “In Car Entertainment” and mobile devices all distract drivers from their priomary task. Lookout is reduced. Consideration for others is reduced and general awareness reduces. So called safety systems make folk assume everything will be alright if I just pull out in front of someone no matter what their approach speed!
On the other: Councils and Govt have restricted roads to a huge extent compared with the early 1990s:
1. On street obstructions: Bollards and solid hashed areas have increased even on A roads leading to less space for overtakingTractors/ cyclists in safe manner. In Nottingham Cycle lanes have been built in place of dual carriageways with a large curb – whilst it might seem safe to some, it actually prevents vehicles turing into an empty cycle lane in an emergency. It also causes more stop start pollution from standing traffic – hardly good for the lungs. 20 mph zones are replacing 30 and 40 mph. This also raises pollution as shown by DEFRA in their study of emissions in London. 20 mph zones had around double pollution levels of 40 mph ones.
The council have unwittingly encouraged the uptake of larger SUV type vehicles by building extremely steep speed humps of such dimensions that they damage suspension and wheel alignment on all vehicles. The Govt is changing the tax rules so larger cars & SUVs will pay the same road tax as a supermini that emits under 100g/km CO2.
Dual carriageways have been shut down into single lane roads (eg: A17 Newark, A6 Bedford to Luton at Clophill, etc, etc…). Others have been restriicted from 60mph down to 40 mph with average speed cameras. All this discourages thinking ahead, planning careful overtake manoeuvres that improve traffic flow.
Many of these problems can be addressed but only with serious changes to our own mindsets, car manufacturers global car product design ideas and Govt policies that prioritise traffic flow and driver improvement over supersizeme consumerism and technological dead ends.
Recently ? When did you discover this? As a retired motorhomer I only occasionally have a staycation because of the appalling traffic jams. Whilst accidents do happen it appears no one does anything to resolve the hold ups, The first you know of it is a police officer standing at a junction next to a diversion sign and that is where the assistance ends, you are left to find your own way around it whilst the Satnav continuously tells you to turn around when possible. A couple of years ago near Burton on Trent there was an RTA on the bypass. After an hour of crawling we got to the front of the queue only to be directed off the road. We pulled off the road into a McDonalds for an hour but the traffic did not get any better. We set off to continue our journey but by then schools were turning out.when we finally arrived at our destination the on board trip computer recorded and average speed of just two mph.
So different in France. Nowadays we drive to the nearest ferry terminal, then the holiday starts.
A lot of traffic (local not motorway) might be removed if it was safer to be a pedestrian or cyclist. Anyone who has been to Belgium, Holland etc. will have been amazed at the cycling networks, and drivers attitude (and consequently – cyclists attitides. Admittedly the flat landscape is also a bonus – but I have just undertaken some work 14 miles away, and would love to cycle instead of taking the car -but just don’t feel safe.
I drive, but also cycle, run, and walk – but using these latter forms of transport I am constantly insulted by drivers who think the road is just for them. Example: I walked 3 miles along an A road without a walkway the other day, so no alternative than to walk along the side of the road. Some drivers waved at me to get off the road – to where? Many others were very courteous and allowed me room as they passed., and to these we exchanged a friendly wave and a thank-you from me
Consider – non-car users are creating space for drivers. A well thought through programme of cycle and pedestrian networks could be part of the solution
Anyone else find it ironic that the busiest and worst gridlocked area is near Heathrow, yet they want to expand it…..it will only get worse
Stating the bleeding obvious the cause is because there are a lot more cars on the road now on this tiny island and as the population grows and more people want to drive the situation is just going to get worse.
What happened to the mirror signal manoeuvre that we were taught years ago when we took our test. It seems that a lot of people assume that signal gives them the right of way to change lanes hence causing a hazardous situation and potentially an accident. The mirrors should be used every 30 seconds both left and right especially on these so called “Smart Motorways ”
While we are on the subject of smart motorways, they seem to be a recipe for disaster.
Take the M6 in Birmingham for example 4lane running is fine until the inside lane becomes priority lane for the next exit. Understandably local traffic benefits from this but at this point a bottleneck is formed as the motorway changes from 4 lanes to 3. When the motorways were first constructed for 3 lanes and a hard shoulder for emergencies, the hard shoulder was designed for emergencies and increased drainage ie the camber was increased to speed up the egress of water. Now running traffic over the hard shoulder increases wear and tear to the onside suspension and tyres of the vehicle. On the whole vehicles only get checked at MOT and service maybe . I wonder how many unsafe vehicles are on the road where the drivers are blissfully unaware.
As to speed limits on the motorway I think that a minimum speed limit should be imposed because I think that a slow car poses far more danger to cause an accident. If someone wants to travel at that speed keep off the motorway.
Of course this is to do with immigration
How can you increase population by 350000/yr without a dire effect on infrastructure.?
It’s easy to identify causes – all the previous contributors are right up to a point, but deciding what the priorities for action should be is not easy. Anything which “clogs the arteries of commerce and industry” should be top of the list for attention. I think it may be time to consider road pricing with lower or free tolls at night time like on some bridges/tunnels. Perhaps lorries and vans which are travelling empty should be obliged to travel between 10pm and 5 am (subject to spot checks) unless their dispatchers can find a return load for them. Perhaps there are just too many courier vans in existence and their numbers should be capped in some way – too many drivers chasing too many next-day deliveries? I can’t help wondering whether a way could be found to make firms like Amazon, who pay peanuts in tax to our country’s budget, should not be made to pay another way. How about a great big toll gate at the exit of every Amazon warehouse in the country, so nothing leaves without paying a toll! The problem there is that the drivers are usually self-employed and working for peanuts too.
Part (but not all) of the “solution” needs thinking outside of the box / questioning tabus and assumptions with the aim of making better use of the existing infrastructure before destroying the environment with more roads. E.g.
– minimum as well as maximum speed limits
– reduce the time when cars are kept “frozen” after an accident before being moved off the carriageway in order to restore traffic flow
– restrictions on daytime movement of slow bulky loads, low loaders, circus etc convoys
– penalties for lane hogging (which would reduce the temptation to tail gate offenders)
– inducements for contractors to minimize lane closures for roadworks – penalties for inactivity and delays. Rewards for night-time and 24/7 work.
– stop HGV’s being “governed” > overtaking with 1/2 mph speed differential (expect opposition to this!)
– any more contentious ideas???
So true!! having driven for a living for the past 20yrs and holidayed by driving across Europe for the past 15yrs.
I have seen the increase in ‘Hotspots’ and find by getting an early start or having a late finish;
I could find a route that kept the average speed more ‘realistic’ and the time wasting to an acceptable level but there are certainly ‘no go areas’ at certain times of day and night!
I was cycling into the city in the middle of the rush hour. I got just south of Southwark Bridge and a bloke was sitting in a big open top BMW stopped at the lights. I said “Excuse me mate, if you don’t mind my asking, but why are you driving this huge car on your own in the middle of town and occupying all this road space.”
His reply says it all: “to piss people like you off”.
Now thanks to Southern Railways greed and intransigence (which RMT and ASLEF have seen through) we are going to see more people like our charming chap described above using the roads and feeling morally justified.
It is obvious that Southern really want to move towards one man operated trains, or at least a second bloke on the train who is there to collect fares rather than check the passengers safety, or that the train is ready to leave each station, which is what the guard does now.
We now have technology to monitor all car usage: stop vehicle tax and tax actual usage of the road. You use the road, you pay. Use the money to:
Extend the tube to Motorway service stations on the M25 and railways to Motorway service station in the rest of the country. Run frequent, cheap coaches to other big cities down the hard shoulder, or in designated lanes on the Motorways.
Using a bike to get around! Now there’s a thought…
I saw this reported in rather more detail on the BBC News web site for Scotland, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-38156700
I find some of the figures rather dubious, specifically those relating to the Edinburgh City Bypass. The three westbound hotspots listed are actually one continuous stretch of road. In my experience the worst segment of those three, Dreghorn Barracks, is actually where the traffic starts to sort itself out from the congestion caused by traffic joining at Lothianburn Junction (the A702) and Dreghorn Junction to the east, and quite soon runs fairly freely down to the Hermiston Gait junction. Conversely, the the run Eastbound *from* Hermiston Gait is very commonly dreadfully slow in the afternoon and evening all the way to the Baberton junction, and doesn’t really start to clear until you get almost to Dreghorn junction. And yet the study claims that it’s the eastbound section *beyond* there which is worst.
Basically, the data presented doesn’t seem to tally with the experience of a regular user of one particular road which is highlighted as being particularly bad. The report on the BBC News web site didn’t explain where Inrix got their raw data from, nor do Inrix themselves, as far as I can see. They talk a lot about their analytics tool, but any such tool is wholly at the mercy of the well-proven Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) rule, ie unless you can demonstrate that your raw data is robust, your results will always be questionable.
Only one English city, London, is quoted in the article and the Autumn Statement is otherwise irrelevant, since it relates only to England in respect of road infrastructure. Glasgow and Edinburgh are in Scotland and the Scottish Government has financial control over all roads within that country.
It’s perhaps not surprising that people haven’t mentioned the lack of investment in alternatives to motor vehicles such as using a bicycle. I am prepared for the differences in opinion to this but along with adequate investment in public transport, this would go a long way in reducing congestion. Outside of motorways, more people on bicycles in segregated lanes, more room for cars in built up areas.
The big issues in the country are not just the poor road system as some would think but also that of poor drivers. There are many drivers on the roads that are not uptodate with the current road traffic laws. They clearly do not know the do’s and don’t to be able to drive effectively on britains current system. As a forklift truck driver, I have to refresh my licence every three years to ensure that I am uptodate with current regulations, and that I am fully aware of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to operating a vehicle that has, the capacity to seriously injure or kill another person. The same goes for lorry drivers. Now I would suggest that this should be the same for car and van drivers alike, that they should be made by law to refresh their licence at least every ten years to ensure that they are able to safely drive a vehicle on public roads, and that they are aware of all road signage and markings under current road traffic law.
Yet they are spending millions on HST to get passengers somewhere 15 minutes earlier to join a traffic jam!!!
The only reasons why Britain’s roads are the most congested in Europe are simple. There are too many cars. Too many cars per family, no car sharing and little use made of alternative transport, for example, cycling, public transport and walking. Britain has the largest car ownership in Europe. It has become second nature to simply jump into the car for all journeys, even those of two miles or less. Unless we change our attitude to cars then no manner of money thrown at the problem will solve our congestion.
If you purchase question house you should expect to live with the existing environment not just expect things to be changed because you have arrived and don’t like the location you have chosen. Similar idiots watch tv programmes about living in the country, move there and then try to turn the location into the one they have just come from.
Further to my previous comment I have to say that I can freely drive for quite long distances where I live without encountering much traffic, but I live in the unsophisticated outback!!!
A lot of the infrastructure is poor with too many traffic lights and roundabouts and often now roundabouts with traffic lights as well and pedestrian lights just before and immediately after roundabouts. What this and too many speed bumps – so called traffic calming has gone over the top.
However, the maim problem I see is the appalling driving standards . Drivers drive around roundabouts at speeds with the clear intention of stopping cars entering the roundabouts. Indicating is a thing of the past – particularly on, entering or leaving roundabouts and dithering idiots who sit at green traffic lights appearing to be waiting for a different shade of green to appear. I would have no worries about getting secondhand indicator bulbs from a Car Breakers – most would be as good as new! UK drivers used to be good but they are now amongst the worst in the world – appearing to be either half asleep, unaware that anyone else is on the road, or full of aggression – no in between. If you need to work out how bad so many drivers are just watch how they both drive round and park in Car Parks – especially Supermarket Car Parks. I took and advanced drivers course many yaers ago and my Examiner said to me – look at how and where drivers park and you will quickly be able to see the competents from the incompetents
Lots of interesting Comments and as a regular user of the M25 between Junction 15 and 16 I agree with most of the comments. Having spent my whole working life on the design and supervision of construction of roads including supervision of construction of the section of the M25 between junctions 15 and 16. The fundamental problem is there are considerably more vehicles on the roads than there were when the roads were designed and the forecasts have been exceeded, they are currently adding lanes to the M25 which will help. However the amount the government has announced in the Autumn Statement for roads spending is peanuts compared with the £57 Billion for HS2 which unlike the M25 does not take any goods will not reach its capacity and will probably run not more than half full most of the time.
Well as bad as it is,and it is its gonna get a whole lot worse. Roads not repaired. Needless bollards protecting a crisp packet, that occurrence is wide spread. Diversions, new bus lanes cycle lanes, some of the bike lanes are more lethal than no lanes. Manufactures making cars wider. The change in the law,or not of undertaking. Long lines of haulage that nudge in and out of middle lane as they,re revs dictate,not allowing anyone use of the first lane if you wanted, only to be tailarsed by some git in a beamer. They intend to Rothschild the motorways then the highways. The purple conduit you see cable tied up the motorways has nothing to do with smart technology.Its the innards of the pay as you drive scheme going in. In part funded by the Rothschild’s. When it gets bad we will demand changes and that’s what we will get. It’s Agenda 30 that was 21.Read it. Oh and the reason why things are so bad and the roads are worse. One the councils know what’s coming and they are going to be doing a lot of digging up in the future to implement the system. Problem, reaction, solution.
The basic reason for jams in this country, apart from all of the others cited in previous submissions, is simply a 20% increase in population over the past ten years or so, not marched by a 20% increase in road mileage.
Too many unnecessary short journeys moving one person an easily walkable distance in a car (and often a particularly large car). Too many cars parked on the side of the road, even where parking is restricted, even when legal parking is available a short distance away, creating unnecessary chicanes. Why are ‘through’ roads clogged up with parked cars? However well designed roads are, however many new highways are created, the basic problem with lies with the way that people use cars in the UK.
Sorry everybody, but if you are sitting in a jam, you ARE the traffic. Think why you are travelling. Can you work remotely? Can you use the train or bus? Do you really have to travel, or is there an alternative?
I have to visit my son at university in Birmingham to take essential supplies. Do I use the M1 – hell no – the M40 is lovely if you haven’t tried it, but the M1? Are they mad with all those road works taking years to complete? Give me a length of lead piping and I’d encourage the planners to get on with their work, and have it open in a week. Even Top Gear proved that they could resurface a complete road overnight, but our menders like to take their time, because it keeps them in work and they haven’t the motivation that good management could bring.
Then the A47 near Norwich. They closed the whole lot overnight. The sign said “Road Closed. Find alternative route.” Thanks guys, that’s really helpful. They weren’t even working on the whole thing, only small bits of it. Contrast with the A428 near St Neots. They closed short sections of it with detours, and it was done in no time, with a beautiful surface you could skate on. It’s all to do with the contractors. Some are good, some are crap.
Easy solution? Road needs fixing? Quotes and time estimates. Penalty clauses. Job goes not to the cheapest but those who can guarantee a short timescale and a good quality. Most other trades are reported on by the customer. Why not roads as well? (Oh sorry, I forgot. It’s a closed business with no audit to see if there are backhanders being paid.) Come the revolution…
Maybe this will upset everybody, even me but something pretty drastic is going to have to happen. So what about
1) Extend the fledgling witch hunt on diesel car owners and drivers to include drivers of ‘wide cars’, from our town and city centres. In fact tell the motor manufactures that in say 2020 no private cars over a certain width can be sold in the UK. That certain width to be slightly less that 33% of the average town/city street! That a would allow parking down one side f a street and two circles to pass each other almost everywhere.
2) Do something about the mutton heads who block roundabouts preventing others from getting round to other unblocked exits.
3) Either ban all deliveries to town centres during the normal working day (9 to 5) or compromise and ban all cars from town centres before noon to allow delivery vehicles freer access. Giving access to public transport only during the banned period. OR
4) Close all City/town centre car parks, and ban city centre parking but provide huge park and ride car parks out of town on bus and train route and beef of the public transport services to cope.
5) Knock some sense into the rail operators, why are they running 2/3 and 4 coach trains into city centres off peak? Force the fares to be so competitive that nobody in their right minds would consider driving. I travelled from Ely to Birmingham on a Saturday in a two coat train which was packed almost all the way with people standing in some sections of the journey. I imagine that is normal but WHY?
6) Bring back ‘works’ and ‘relief’ buses and trains,
7) Fix it so that bonafide disabled badge holder can still get around and park but make the fraudulent use of a badge part of the offending vehicles express route to the crusher with no ifs or buts, and black list the badge holder from having another badge.
8) Use containers more for inland movements by rail and water. Provide a ranging of smaller sizes and charge reasonable prices. smaller lorries could then be employed on many deliveries which would be short hops – supplier to rail head or port – train or coaster for long haul – then another short hop from rail head /port to consignee, with empty back to rail head or port or next job. We have computers and software that can handle this sort of thing. Somebody could work out a local radius from rail heads, might need to build more of them and open up some closed routes and build more wagons and locos maybe that could all be done by GB limited!!!
The trunk driver may be no longer be required for trunk runs but could do two or three local hops in the same amount of time. Some loads would be excluded such as abnormal and indivisible loads, some categories of hazardous materials and no doubt there could be others..
I expect a lot of people will now be rushing the type out ‘this is nonsence’, maybe it is but some very hard decisions need to me made by someday and very soon.
Don’t worry folks it’ll be a lot different after Brexit. Tumbleweeds will outnumber the cars.
I am optimistic for the long term, because the one real solution is now at least on the horizon.
The major, recurring problem, as mentioned by many of the previous contributors, is that human drivers are slow, unreliable and inept. The margins required to allow most of us to survive car journeys add further burdens to transport efficiency. Public transport, in spite of subsidies, fails to meet need in most cases, while too many turn to heavily-taxed private transport. The solution, then, must be to prohibit humans from driving on public roads. It will be a long evolutionary process before this ideal can be fully realised, marked by increasing levels of “driver assistance” in vehicles. But is is now some years since the first DARPA competitions in the USA were won by autonomous vehicles, and many motor manufacturers are developing relevant technology. I feel government, especially in the UK, should actively encourage this, as they did in the early days of computer adoption. As the article notes, our need is among the greatest.
To paraphrase Edison, I envisage a time when taxies will be so cheap that only the wealthy will own a vehicle. Most will use an appropriate one for the particular journey or holiday, and, for example, a solo commute to work might be in a single-seater that runs two or three side-by-side in one lane. Again, those unable to drive, such as children or the blind, will be as mobile as everyone else. We might even find that we can stop building roads, and the saving in time and energy will offer a huge economic benefit, apart from a great reduction in road accidents. But, like the ongoing evolution of the internet, it will take a few decades to reach this stage, though some benefits may emerge soon. I follow each step along this road with interest and anticipation.
Nothing to do with 65 million (plus) people being jammed onto a tiny island then?
There is quite a simply answer to all the traffic problems really – everybody should retake a driving test every five years – that would reduce traffic volume by at least 50% and possibly more