Building new roads leads to more new roads

Last month I stumbled across an article from 2006 called Induced traffic. Again. And again. And again. It was first observed early last century that building new roads generates new traffic.

So 1925, 1937, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1996, now 2006: for 80 years, every eight years on average, there has been the same experience, the same conclusions – even, for goodness sake, more or less the same figures. The evidence has been consistent, recurrent, unchallenged by serious countervailing evidence but repeatedly forgotten.

Building new roads creates more traffic which leads to building more new roads. This is why I’m so disappointed with the AWPR, Aberdeen’s new ring road which will open in the coming weeks. There’s no segregated bike path on the new road and cyclists will be banned from using it. There’s not even a dedicated bus lane. The new road will encourage us to sit in our cars and create more traffic in the long term.

Transport Scotland’s response to criticism from cyclists is that the new road will take traffic away from other roads in the area by making them less busy. My response to that is two-fold:

a) There may be a reduction in traffic initially but this will be temporary due to induced demand and generated traffic.

b) Transport Scotland assumes that cyclists are out for a Sunday leisure ride and want to be on winding, country roads with no destination in mind. But cycling is a legitimate form of transport and if there was a direct, safe, convenient, and efficient route from Deeside Way to the airport and Balmedie Beach then people would have the choice of going by bike instead of by car. All too often cyclists are sent down winding back streets which make cycling less efficient and so people choose to go by car instead. If we want to get people out of cars and onto bikes then we need to make cycling safe, convenient, and efficient.

The CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) has a good video which explains the problem with building new roads:


Photo from the CPRE’s, The end of the road? Challenging the road-building consensus


2 thoughts on “Building new roads leads to more new roads”

  1. I have a sneaky feeling that the coming self-driving vehicles will change everything. It might take 20 years, but it’s going to happen – people will stop buying their own vehicles. You’ll put a request in to get a vehicle from A to B, and it will turn up at your house on-demand. It’s ridiculous that so many people own cars that sit unused almost all day.

    1. Yes, I’ve heard that and think you might be right. Most cars sit unused for much of the time. Electric bikes are also a game-changer, I think. They will allow people to extend journeys by bike and cycle in hilly places.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s