Thursday, 30 June 2011

Traffic smoothing in progress

Traffic flow is a costly business.

£3.4bn is being spent on widening the M25 on a 22 mile stretch. £657M was spent on 5 miles to link the M8 and M74 in Glasglow. We are talking over £100M a mile for these types of schemes.

Even putting some car parking on the pavement and mucking around with some tarmac costs around £0.5M

In 1994 the M11 link road was built through Leytonstone effectively cutting a swathe through Waltham Forest between Leyton and Leytonstone. It was 4 miles and cost £250M

It was the subject of a large protest, and heated debates. A government spokesman at the time said

And so the scheme went ahead.
And various promises were made about the improvement in environment in Leytonstone and Leyton areas. Freewheeler wrote a comprehensive article concerning how the proposals for reducing car dominance on these local roads were watered down over time until they were so insipid that they meant nothing.
But what is the M11 link road like now? Has it relieved congestion for those deciding to travel by car through East London?

M11 link road at Leytonstone
Oh. This typical picture taken at around 6:30pm doesn't seem to indicate that a "hugely congested area of London" has been "relieved".

But wait.

The government spokesman also said that 
"The Leyton High Road is choc-a-bloc every day and this will take that traffic away from it and make the area breathable."
Well thank goodness for that. At least Leyton High Road has had the traffic taken away from it and the air is as sweet as summer meadows. Because surely such an expensive and controversial scheme would be an utter embarrassment if even this fundamental aim wasn't realised.

Leyton High Road at the same time
 Oh dear.

But surely there must be something special about the M11 link road that means it hasn't relieved any congestion, but instead caused more? After all, if building more roads in general led to more traffic and ended up making congestion worse then spending billions on road expansion schemes even now would be ridiculous?

Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Well he may have been a smart-arse when it came to relativity but he got this wrong. In the UK it isn't the definition of insanity; it is the definition of transport policy. 


  1. "The experience of my department is that the construction of a new road tends to result in a great increase of traffic not only on the new road but also on the old one which it was built to supersede."
    Leslie Burgin, Minister of Transport, 1938.

  2. To be fair, assertions such as these need to be thoroughly investigated. Clearly over 70 years of the expansion policy hasn't been enough to convince the planners that Leslie's hypothesis is actually correct.

  3. i am from another part of the world so please explain, what are the zig zag lines for ?

  4. They indicate a pedestrian crossing. They are used to indicate no parking at any time, although that is sometimes disregarded by motorists in a hurry. I am actually taking the photo from the crossing location.

  5. That's one heavy traffic! Wew! Road improvements should be planned carefully! Plus, it shouldn't be done during hours when motorists are afoot.. The construction should be done when there are only few motorists, so that people won't be disturbed. Tsk.