Monday, March 20th 2017 at 3:01PM GMT
A new report has found scant evidence that building more roads produces economic benefits. In fact, they soon lead to even more traffic jams, damage the countryside and discourage other ways of getting about, such as walking and cycling.
The End of the Road report has been produced for the Campaign to Protect Rural England by travel consultantants Transport for Quality of Life, and challenges the government claim that the “economic gains from road investment are beyond doubt.”
Highways England is soon to start consulting on which road schemes will receive funding, set to triple to £3 billion a year by 2020.
The CPRE report shows how road building over the past two decades has repeatedly failed to live up claims of reducing congestion. In fact, multiple studies over many years have demonstrated that building roads leads to more traffic in a spiral known as “induced demand.”
Transport academics tend to credit the discovery of induced demand in transport to J.J. Leeming, a British road-traffic engineer and county surveyor, writing in 1969. He observed that the more roads are built, the more traffic there is to fill these roads. The idea was conceived shortly after German mathematician Dietrich Braess released the Braess’s paradox which shows that “selfish” motorists can’t be relied upon to consider the optimal travel times for all rather than just themselves, leading to delays for all.
The lead author of the CPRE’s report is Lynn Sloman, former Assistant Director of the environmental pressure group Transport 2000 fand author of “Car Sick” of 2006.