Penny Searles' blog: Getting around congestion problems
06 March 2017
How many of us are now sitting in traffic jams daily? OK, how many of us are already getting angry just thinking about traffic jams? What can be done about it is one of the most important questions being posed to the industry right now.
Of course, traffic congestion is not just detrimental to our inner calm, but poses a real health problem too in the form of pollution.
So, unless we embrace the traffic and take to breaking out in song like La La Land, what can we do? Here are a few ways in which companies are looking to combat this issue, hopefully some of which will have a huge impact on all our futures.
I know this isn't a particularly new idea, but hear me out. Many cities have encouraged car sharing ideas, things from various apps trying to connect potential sharers and carpool lanes have all helped, just a little. But I think the dawn of the autonomous car could be a real game changer and I am not alone in that belief. The theory goes that once driverless vehicles are commonplace, people will be less inclined to own cars and more inclined to use Uber-esque services.
This could lead to fewer cars on the road. When added to the theory that driverless cars will drive more efficiently, requiring less space on motorways for example, we could see congestion decrease. Although this theory has been disputed and some claim driverless tech will increase congestion, at least initially.
Depending on how the tech is implemented will impact how effective it is, but we have already seen ideas for driverless buses so we are quietly hopeful, the tech will be more beneficial than not.
Whilst we are on the subject of public transport, why limit ourselves to the roads? Surely taking our transport options to the water would be an easy way to reduce congestion.
Water taxis already exist in one form or another in most cities, but the problem is that it is only useful if you live and work by the water.
Reports show Elon Musk's brilliantly named 'The Bore-ing Company' beginning work on digging a tunnel underneath Los Angeles. He is even considering combining it with his Hyperloop project.
There is a potential snag with Musk's plan, a paradoxical phenomenon known as 'induced demand', which suggests that less traffic encourages more people to consider driving. Meaning that any short-term loss in congestion would eventually be nullified by a larger volume of vehicles.
I have a couple of other issues with the huge tunnel idea, one being ventilation to combat the vast amount of pollution down there, and there is the issue of space again. Most cities already have huge underground rail and pipe networks, is there room for a road too?