In a sane world we would be adopting policies to reduce traffic congestion.
There are three elements to a policy framework: – car numbers; development strategy; and traffic demand management.
Car numbers reflect household numbers and prosperity. A rising population means more cars. As incomes rise the desire to have more than one car in a household increases. In Cornwall an additional factor is rurality which in itself pushes car ownership up. This is particularly the case with a diminished public transport system.
Increasing development leads to additional vehicle trips. This is particularly the case where development is designed to encourage car use. For example, retail outlets which seeks to attract trade from a wider area than the local town. New outlets are often located adjacent to the road network allowing for and encouraging traffic movement. As towns expand, the distance between town centres and housing areas increases limiting potential for walking.
Traffic demand management
Traffic demand can be increased or diminished depending on the policies adopted. Making car use cheaper in time and money encourages demand. Adding capacity to the road network encourages people to make extra trips. Car parking charges can affect car use.
Perhaps a fourth element is attitude and beliefs
Car use is now regarded as both necessary and a right by significant elements of the population. A resident of Falmouth sees no issue in travelling to say St.Ives to visit a restaurant. Rather than using local services and facilities people choose to travel to other towns and out-of-town locations. Not to do so is probably seen as being backward looking and restrictive. Yet such mobility comes with a price – congestion being one but also greater development pressure and pollution.
Taken together these factors propel car levels and usage upwards.
Where do we go from here?