Thursday, 5 August 2010

First Minister aspirant tells us what he thinks we want to hear.

Scottish Labour leader Ian Gray, quoted in today's Press and Journal (we really must get out of the habit of reading it, we're convinced that it's bad for our state of mind), says that he will 'deliver' the Aberdeen bypass, and might probably maybe stop the destruction of Union Terrace Gardens. If that's what people want. If we agree to let him become First Minister.

Is he winking at us?

It will be uncontroversial if we point out that any given politician will say what he or she thinks will sell to whatever constituency he or she is trying to impress at any given time.

A politician seeking endorsement by the Aberdeen electorate will therefore trumpet their ability to 'deliver' a bypass simply because the residents of Aberdeen are assumed to be in favour of the new road. The citizens, long ago having been convinced by the roads/motoring lobby that the road will ease congestion in the city, are easy prey caught by this new-road-lure.

We so very much wish that it were true that congestion could be solved by the simple, seemingly common-sense expedient of building more roads. But, unfortunately, world-wide and decades-long experience of the building of relief-roads, bypasses and linkroads confirms without even a hint of doubt that it is not.

There is plenty reading available on the research, and it's not even in obscure journals, its on Wikipedia...

The Lewis-Mogridge Position
The Downs-Thompson Paradox
The Braess' Paradox
Induced Demand

We urge readers to research these often counter-intuitive effects of the building of roads on traffic congestion before giving their support to a road-building programme. More and more, in every part of the world from Australia through Asia to Europe and even including the USA where the car is King, it is realised that more roads means more congestion and that the only thing which will reduce congestion is fewer journeys undertaken by car.

It's a cliché and a truism to say that one of the definitions of madness is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. So why do we expect that building additional road capacity will have a different effect this time? It will not; it will merely impoverish us and our picturesque surroundings.

Moreover it will militate against any attempts to improve our already appalling air quality in Aberdeen, while offering only a brief respite, if any at all, from the congestion which will continue to erode the livability of the town we love.

1 comment:

MIke Miller said...

Ah - Other Aberdeen a breath of fresh air and so full of good sense as ever! Road building never solved congestion and it never will. When the M25 was built as the orbital road around London it promised to "empty London of unnecessary traffic". In fact traffic volumes increased - not only on the M25 (which is now at peak times a car-park effectively) but on the main routes into London as the M25 acted to facilitate car traffic over other vehicles. It took the sense of 'red' Ken Livingston via the implementation of bus and cycle lanes and latterly road charging (congestion charging) to make any real difference. 30 years ago I cycled in central London and it if I saw more than 2 other bikes it was a miracle. Now London facilitates a large movement of population on 2 wheels and has just implemented a cycle hire 'velo' scheme having learnt the lessons of Paris. With good will and imagination Aberdeen could do the same but it will never happen when people stay wedded to their 4 wheel drive guzzlers and cherished plates.