More traffic – what a surprise!

Sometimes it appears that people are surprised by traffic congestion. People get angry – why am I stuck in traffic? Where does all that extra traffic come from they seem to ask, as if it were the result of some unseen, mysterious being or force.

We are surprised that people are surprised. It does not take much to work out the causes – more house building – then you get more traffic; all those new developments – ah yes more traffic.

Yet instead of recognising the causes and doing something about it what do we get? More traffic generating development.

For example – ‘Cornucopia’, the new multi-million-pound food and drink visitor attraction currently under construction in St Austell, is expected to create in excess of 100 all-year round jobs when it opens next year. “We’re in an up-and-coming location with excellent road and rail links that already serve other major attractions such as the nearby Eden Project, so we’re easily accessible.” Ah yes good road links! Ideal for people travelling by car which is the way most people will travel to ‘Cornucopia’ as they do to the ‘Eden Project’.

So we widen the roads to St. Austell, dual the A30 and then encourage people to use them which is why traffic levels and congestion just keep on growing! Oh and did you hear about the global temperature figures – they just keep on going up – wonder what causes that?

How Road Capacity Expansion Generates Traffic

Urban traffic congestion tends to maintain a self-limiting equilibrium: traffic grows until congestion delays cause travellers to forego some potential peak-period vehicle trips (indicated by the curve becoming horizontal). If road capacity is expanded,traffic increases until it reaches a new equilibrium. The additional peak-period vehicle traffic that results from roadway capacity expansion is called “generated traffic.”

The portion that consists of absolute increases in vehicle travel (as opposed to shifts in time and route) is called “induced travel.”

Generated and induces vehicle travel have the following implications for congestion evaluation (Handy 2015; Litman 2001):

· Traffic congestion seldom becomes as severe as predicted by extrapolating past trends. As congestion increases it discourages further
peak-period trips, maintaining equilibrium.

· Roadway expansion provides less long-term congestion reduction benefits than predicted if generated traffic is ignored.

· Induced vehicle travel increases various external costs including downstream congestion, parking costs, accident risk, and pollution
emissions, reducing net benefits.

· Induced vehicle travel directly benefits the people who increase their vehicle travel, but these benefits tend to be modest because the
additional travel consists of marginal-value vehicle mileage that users are most willing to forego if their costs increase.

Source: Smart Congestion Relief, Comprehensive Evaluation Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Strategies, 23 March 2016, Todd Litman,
Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Traffic, traffic, traffic!

With all the fuss last week about traffic congestion we thought we would look at traffic issues this week.

The problem of traffic congestion is well known, most people have experienced it. The question is what to do about it?

The traditional approach is to carry out road ‘improvements’ including increasing road capacity, altering the configuration at road junctions. Other approaches include encouraging walking and cycling as alternative modes of transport and planning so that people live closer to their work.

We shall look at these and also more radical and innovative means of reducing car use and congestion.

Building more houses – a few truths

There are three myths of unsustainable development (probably more but lets focus on three).

  1. It will create much-needed affordable housing for locals in housing need.
  2. It will create lots of extra jobs
  3. It will create green spaces

Affordable housing – most of the new housing will not be affordable or for local needs. We estimate that 71% of new housing is to accommodate people moving to Cornwall. At current planned rates the population will reach one million by 2100.

Extra jobs most of the jobs referred to in planning proposals are again to accommodate the extra jobseekers (each new house will need one new job). They are not extra jobs to deal with unemployment.

Green spaces odd that building houses creates green spaces when the green space is already there and most of it will disappear under new housing and roads!!

Cutting back on congestion

What needs to be done?

Having a realistic housing target

Reducing travel generating developments

Devising a tourism transport strategy that limits car use

Charging motorists for facilities such as ALL car parking

Making it compulsory for all events organisers to establish a travel plan which cuts car use

Investing in public transport

Creating the internet infrastructure to ‘visit’ shops and facilities prior to making a purchase

Being more thoughtful as individuals about whether we need to travel and if so the most sustainable mode to adopt.

Cornish motorists say they have never seen anything quite like tonight’s traffic

Thats the news headline from the West Briton

Heavy levels of summer traffic are being reported all across Cornwall tonight – with some motorists saying they have never seen anything like it.

Vehicles are reported to be stuck in stop-start traffic in all the usual hot-spots, including Penzance, Newquay, Truro, Bodmin and St Austell.

One held-up motorist added: “The traffic has been bad recently, but tonight is especially bad.

“There has been endless queues of stop-start traffic all day long, particularly this evening.”

Others have told us how it has taken them well over an hour to complete journeys from Truro to Falmouth and Redruth to Penzance.


Anger and surprise may well be the main responses of motorists.

But increasing congestion should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Congestion has increased and will increase because:

The population is going up. More housebuilding has resulted in more people moving to Cornwall and that means more cars;
As towns extend outwards people are further away from facilities and car use goes up;
More out-of-town retail parks – leading to more traffic;
An extension of shop opening hours – resulting in more traffic
An increase in events which draw people in to an area – invariably by car;
An increasing propensity to travel – for evenings out, to pick up a snack;
A tourism sector which is car dependent.

Building more roads is not the answer, making constant changes to road junctions is both expensive and largely pointless. Schemes to encourage walking and cycling ignore the reality that many of the people travelling are not local residents.

So what is to be done?

Lets wait and look at the options.

A chance to make a difference!

From It’s Our Cornwall

Message received that deserves a bit more publicity … You know how the planning system is biased to support big developers – they just have to threaten to appeal and any council who in representing their citizens views opposes them has to cave in because they can’t afford the cost (we’ve had cases like that in Launceston). A friend has got the opportunity to close the loophole that allows this to happen – please do bung her a couple of quid to help get the case heard – it will help us all.