Sunday, July 28, 2013

Turbulent Traffic Flow

I have long thought that we use our roads inefficiently. I also reckon that there is less courtesy on the roads and that lack of courtesy is extended by and to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. We seem to treat roads as  territory and lots of motorists follow the maxim “possession is nine tenths of the law”.

If you ask motorists what causes congestion then you will often get a short-sighted answer such as lack of decent roads or poor road layout or too many bus lanes or lorries or red-light jumping cyclists. When of course the simple truth is that there are too many motor vehicles competing for the same space and when I say compete I mean compete.

Indeed one way of improving the traffic flow along Motorways is to reduce the speed and homogenise the traffic flow.  I certainly reckon that Average speed cameras have helped to improve driver behaviour along stretches of motorway where roadworks are taking place.

There are occasions when I choose to use the Park and Ride system to get into the centre of Cambridge (rather than cycle). This is Newmarket Road – a road with two lanes in either direction. As the area has developed it has acquired an extensive retail park, a small retail park and a Tesco supermarket all within a mile. As well as bus lanes along each side. These bus lanes have quite a few breaks where traffic has to turn left.

Interestingly a news item in the Cambridge News had the idea that houses should be built on retail car parks and not the green belt – seems a reasonable question to me. With the increase in internet shopping and the huge amounts of space “wasted” on those car parks why not.

Another news item reported “Industrial estate redevelopment must not be ‘another cb1’ councillor”. Clifton Road industrial estate has been earmarked for major redevelopment – and the observation is that what was first promised around the CB1 site (railway station area). It is a tough one – stick shopping parks and houses together and you have issues with congestion. Build houses and you have issues with affordability, build multi-storey blocks of flats and people don’t like the look of them.  Although they seem to sell well.

This road gets overloaded – however there are lots of traffic light controlled junctions. It seems to me that the bus lanes are routinely ignored by a sizable subset of motoring traffic. Also during busy times the motor vehicles seem to flood the junctions and frequently block the routes for other directions when the lights change

Like this van that couldn’t wait for the next cycle of lights but had to cover the Bus lane, which meant we were stuck on the bus until the queue in the non-bus lane got moving. Lack of courtesy or failure to read the road? Should there be sin-bins? Why aren’t there sin-bins.

The trials of being a bus driver in the bus lanes of Newmarket Road

Currently motor vehicles are taxed on the basis of the level of pollution they emit. Some think that perhaps they should be taxed on the damage they cause to the roads. Council (Cambridgeshire) pays out more for damages than it does to fix individual potholes.  Interesting there is a lot of pressure on cyclists to wear helmets and insurance companies try to argue that damages awarded to otherwise blameless cyclists should be reduced if they aren’t wearing a helmet.  So if the motorists are paying attention why should they get such levels of compensation.

So  I wonder if they should be taxed on how efficiently they make use of the road network. For instance perhaps a car with only a driver should pay more than a car with a driver and three passengers.

Apparently cars spend an awful lot of their time not doing anything either – they are parked 95% of the time. I guess the question is whether that parking should be free or not. The roads are there to facilitate transportation not parking surely. Now we do have charges for parking in some areas  Which raises several questions including why should some residents be able to turn public streets into their own private parking enclaves? Apparently Barnet has been taken to court for raising parking charges as it was considered a stealth tax. It makes me think that the those residents of Barnet are being ungrateful. Maybe they should remove the restrictions and stop and policing and see how they like that.

This has been reported in the Cambridge News with a story - “Cambridge’s sky-high parking fees ‘should be cut’ after court win”. It seems to me that the residents want the benefits but just don’t want to pay for it. Even worse it seems that in Cambridge the scheme raises £320,000 from residents parking permits but costs around £400,000 to administer it. So the rest of us subsidise their privilege.

Perhaps the councils should sell of the bits of road that are currently used for the privileged few with parking permits and put the money raised to the benefit of their entire community.

The trouble is whilst we have a Highway Code not all of it is mandatory and different agencies deal with transgressions.

Similarly rather than a standard fine perhaps the punishment should fit the crime. In the case of this van driver stopped in the non-mandatory cycle lane – but on double yellows there should be a community service order involving delivering stuff by bicycle.

Cycle Lanes – just the job for parking

And finally some stars on their bikes – Bruce Willis and Goldie Hawn I know – but Philip Seymour Hoffman – smoking and pushing a bike – not someone I know along with Taylor Lautner on a custom bicycle.

And for a bit of weirdness the Daily Mail reports on a Vibrating bicycle seat – or maybe that is a news story you won’t get to see once the filters are in place.

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