Does building new roads reduce congestion?

Building more roads to cut congestion is not the solution, says a study commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). New roads encourage more people to drive and thus create more bottlenecks in the long-term.

Bus stuck in congestion in London - © ELTIS

According to a study which analysed 86 road schemes and completed between 2002 and 2012, new roads in England not only fail to ease congestion but worsen traffic.  

Ralph Smyth, head of infrastructure at the CPRE, said to BBC Radio 4 that building new roads leads to a "depressing, self-perpetuating cycle of more and more roads". Building new roads in the past did not deliver the congestion relief expected: "They improve it for the first year or so, then traffic rapidly increases." In his interview to the BBC radio he suggested the need to widen people travel choices while investing in alternative modes of transports such as cycling.

Sir John Armitt, deputy chairman of the Infrastructure Commission, said investing in a good road network is key "particularly in the years ahead post-Brexit" to remain economically competitive. 'If you talk to people in the Midlands and the North... they will say they want an improved road network', he added to BBC radio. 

Follow this link to read more and watch the video with Ralph Smyth and Sir John Armitt.