From the Blog
Travelling by road
Road travel by road is one of the most popular forms of transport. Regardless of the other services that are available the majority of people cannot resist the temptation to use their own car to run an errand that can otherwise be done on foot, or by maybe even using a bike. As societies have become more affluent the availability of cars is more common. It is estimated in the United States that 95% of all households own a car with the average cars per household being 1.9. Of all of the households in the States 85% of them go to work by using their car.
This has put incredible pressure of road networks and this problem is likely to intensify when countries such as India and China develop further and their households start purchase cars at the same rate. The solution to dealing with daily traffic congestion has been to firstly continuously upgrade the roads, and secondly to improve public transport so much that commuters will choose to leaf their cars at home and take other modes of transport.
The conditions of roads has improved dramatically in recent years but there is nothing that can be done if too many cars are using them. If a motorway is widened from 5 lanes to seven lanes the problems will simply be passed on to the junctions where the vehicles leave the motorway. The reduction down to single file traffic will lead to congestion at these points. For many years in the UK the fastest roads available were the A roads. Then in 1958 the Preston bypass was opened, which later became part of the M6 motorway. The first complete motorway then to be opened was the M1 between Crick and Berrygrove. These motorways contained three lanes of traffic going in either direction. Cars were unable to stop on the motorways unless they broke down, and vehicles could only join and leave the motorway at certain junctions. People could now take a more direct route and be able to travel faster with it journey times being cut as people travelled up and down the country.
The United Kingdom became well served by the Motorways with them serving the most popular routes. The M25 was built in 1986, and this orbital road of London quickly became popular as it enabled its users to travel around the capital without having to pass through the centre of it. The only problem during this period was that more people could now afford to use cars. The building of the new roads just encouraged people to use them. The M25 is a great road to travel around during the middle of the day, but during times when people are going to, or coming from, work it can be an arduous task.
One scheme currently in use to try and control the congestion problem is to use toll roads. There aren’t many in operation but one that has proved successful is the M6 toll road. The road runs for 27 miles between the Coleshill interchange with Wolverhampton by passing the heavily congested Birmingham area. The cost to use the road is five pounds ninety pence which means that many road users are put off from using it. The affect is that those who do choose to pay have a fast route with little congestion. This is the only toll road in operation the UK.
Roads are constantly being upgraded with the M25 in parts now having five lanes of traffic in either direction. Britain’s most recent motorway the M3 has been modified into 13 miles of it being a smart motorway. In reality the best modern technology is used to detect accidents and inform drivers using the road of the conditions that faces them ahead. The road conditions have been upgraded and the hard shoulder can be adapted to be used as a fourth lane in periods of high usage. Building roads has certainly improved over the years but the biggest problem is that too many people use them.