We seem to have a mismatch between what people experience about traffic in Cornwall and what the data tells us.
The view on the street is that traffic levels are getting worse the data is more nuanced. Trips down, traffic levels lower than a decade ago.
What do we make of this?
Well it’s not some sort of cover up. There is an applied and accepted methodology which is used. The DfE do point out that there are surveys can only provide an estimate of what is happening. Traffic counts capture the data for a short period and could therefore under (or over) – estimate traffic levels.
The DfE point out that although people are making fewer trips there are more people around so overall traffic levels will rise.
Are the figures the result of short term changes or volatility in the data and are under-estimating what is happening.
Some of the oddities in the Cornish data may reflect local conditions. The new east-west link road in Camborne-Redruth is not included in the figures but may account for some of the decline in adjacent roads.
Minor roads are excluded – is it possible that more people are using minor roads to avoid congestion on the major roads?
What is the impact of tourist traffic on the situation? This would be hidden in the trip data. In fact some of those individual leisure trips undertaken by people could well be trips in Cornwall not where the people live.
It does look as if a revamp of recording traffic is needed:
Actual coverage of selected minor roads.
Traffic counts for road corridors – including both major and minor to capture changes in total rather than just major road traffic.
Greater clarity about how the figures on the major roads are collected – how often, are there gaps?
Is the methodology appropriate?
Without an improved system the public will find it difficult to reconcile their experiences with the data!