an environmental case for more roads?

17 Sep

The Lib Dems are arguing against new roads on Environmental grounds – after all, more roads must mean more cars, no?

Well no, not really. More roads wouldn’t necessarily mean more cars. It would however mean less congestion and therefore less pollution from cars stuck in mile-long tailbacks, though. The number of cars in the country may be rising, but it would rise with or without the building of more roads. Yes I know that every mile of road has an environmental impact of its own, but what if we offset that with potentially shorter journeys and fewer traffic jams? I know this is environmental heresy – and that a flurry of angry emails from greenies will arrive shortly in my inbox, but are we certain that more roads is bad for the environment?

I read that a recent study has claimed that one produces less carbon driving to the shops, than the net carbon produced by walking the same distance. This, the study argued, was because the food we eat – from which we draw our own energy – is incredibly carbon-intensive to produce and ship. I have no idea if this study is at all scientifically sound, but what it does do is highlight the complexity of the current situation. Just by existing we are adding to the problem, so the constant demonisation of car-drivers is hardly fair, is it?

Don’t get me wrong, we should be using fewer cars. It’s a small country and we’d be much better off if we had a decent carbon-efficient public transport infrastructure that people used instead. But we have a culture of car use that won’t be broken simply by taxation and guilt alone. Alternatives must be found that are preferential to the car.

The Lib Dems are talking about better, faster rail links, but we need cross-party consensus and a more considered argument generally. A single high-speed link won’t make a jot of difference – we need wide-spread solutions such as safe, clean school buses to disincline parents from the wasteful school run. Round-the-clock transport provisions that will offer people the chance to really ditch the car. And it needs to be cheap… and not just cheaper than a heavily taxed-car, I mean really cheap.

People are getting fed-up with the constant scaremongering we hear in the media and from our politicians. They offer threats and they offer taxes. What they don’t offer is what we need: real solutions that are practical and forward thinking. In the medium term – while we have so many cars on the road in the first place, it may make sense to build more roads and enjoy the carbon-related benefits of quicker, shorter journeys.

Or is this just madness?

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18 Responses to “an environmental case for more roads?”

  1. ariofarin@web.de September 17, 2007 at 6:10 pm #

    Nope, I think you’re spot on. UK infrastructure is ridiculous, expensive and highly inefficient. And it just takes fucking ages to get from A to B, whether by train, bus or car. Build some three- or four-lane motorways and scrap the speedlimit. That’s what I say. Trust me. It’s bliss.

  2. ariofarin@web.de September 17, 2007 at 6:10 pm #

    Nope, I think you’re spot on. UK infrastructure is ridiculous, expensive and highly inefficient. And it just takes fucking ages to get from A to B, whether by train, bus or car. Build some three- or four-lane motorways and scrap the speedlimit. That’s what I say. Trust me. It’s bliss.

  3. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 9:25 am #

    Ario,Nice to meet a fellow advocate. 🙂

  4. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 9:25 am #

    Ario,Nice to meet a fellow advocate. 🙂

  5. ariofarin@web.de September 18, 2007 at 10:17 am #

    Obviously there’s always a sanctuary for you here in Leipzig if you feel like letting rip 200 km/h on the Autobahn. Really, Berlin is just around the corner. As is Munich if you drive fast enough.

  6. ariofarin@web.de September 18, 2007 at 10:17 am #

    Obviously there’s always a sanctuary for you here in Leipzig if you feel like letting rip 200 km/h on the Autobahn. Really, Berlin is just around the corner. As is Munich if you drive fast enough.

  7. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    Hey dude,I was actually thinking of my number one place to live over the last few days. I have a lot of time on my hands…I decided that ahead of Stockholm, SF, & Zurich, would be Frankfurt. Culture, architecture, industry, and a world-class international (airport) hub.And the autobahn, natch.

  8. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    Hey dude,I was actually thinking of my number one place to live over the last few days. I have a lot of time on my hands…I decided that ahead of Stockholm, SF, & Zurich, would be Frankfurt. Culture, architecture, industry, and a world-class international (airport) hub.And the autobahn, natch.

  9. anja@illmann-walker.com September 18, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Frankfurt?! Ooooooooh dear…… Honestly, there are better cities than Frankfurt *yuk*.

  10. anja@illmann-walker.com September 18, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Frankfurt?! Ooooooooh dear…… Honestly, there are better cities than Frankfurt *yuk*.

  11. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 11:21 am #

    Well, Munich got number one in Monocle Magazine (Copenhagen no.2). Hamburg was high too. But the airport is very important IMO – and Frankfurt is as good as Heathrow and Paris CDG for connections.

  12. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 18, 2007 at 11:21 am #

    Well, Munich got number one in Monocle Magazine (Copenhagen no.2). Hamburg was high too. But the airport is very important IMO – and Frankfurt is as good as Heathrow and Paris CDG for connections.

  13. anja@illmann-walker.com September 18, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    Ok, you are right about the airport, but trust me, you don’t want to actually live in Frankfurt. Munich and Hamburg are great cities, as well as Dresden or Cologne. My favourite airport is probably Duesseldorf, not too big or too small.

  14. anja@illmann-walker.com September 18, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    Ok, you are right about the airport, but trust me, you don’t want to actually live in Frankfurt. Munich and Hamburg are great cities, as well as Dresden or Cologne. My favourite airport is probably Duesseldorf, not too big or too small.

  15. elvie@hotmail.com September 18, 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    As you said, it’s a small country so where will we find the space for these extra roads?Extra roads and motorway expansions only ease congestion for a short time – they soon get filled. In the long term, roadbuilding fuels traffic growth and consequently climate change. I agree with your points about public transport.

  16. elvie@hotmail.com September 18, 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    As you said, it’s a small country so where will we find the space for these extra roads?Extra roads and motorway expansions only ease congestion for a short time – they soon get filled. In the long term, roadbuilding fuels traffic growth and consequently climate change. I agree with your points about public transport.

  17. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 19, 2007 at 6:48 pm #

    Elvie,There are plenty of fields to churn up. Go on Google Maps, the bloody country’s covered in them.New roads should be partnered with plans to reduce car-use in general. The two things can work together.

  18. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 19, 2007 at 6:48 pm #

    Elvie,There are plenty of fields to churn up. Go on Google Maps, the bloody country’s covered in them.New roads should be partnered with plans to reduce car-use in general. The two things can work together.

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