Better roads

I am contacting the Treasury and the roads Ministers following the Chancellor’s indication that he wants to see more smaller capital projects to improve our transport systems as part of a package to lift productivity and improve the prospects of the economy.

There are four main areas where fairly rapid schemes could make a big difference.

1. Removing more vehicles from parking on the highway restricting inadequate roadspace and causing blindspots for drivers and pedestrians coming out from behind cars. We need more car parks off highway to replace lost on road places and to increase the number of easily available spaces, to cut down on traffic travelling around an area in search of a parking place. More main roads can be made clearways or have double yellow restrictions as we supply more offstreet parking.

2. Improving the safety and capacity of junctions. Rephase lights to give more priority to main roads, with traffic sensors for sidestreet entry. Put in more turn right lanes to segregate traffic. Replace more light sets with roundabouts which often flow better. Abolish all red sequences for traffic.

3. Provide more bridges over railway lines and rivers, as crossing tracks and rivers is often the main cause of bottlenecks into and out of many of our cities and towns.

4. Provide more bypasses for villages and town afflicted by too much traffic on mixed use streets passing through the centres of settlements.

92 Comments

  1. Brian Corbett
    September 26, 2016

    Your priorities are in reverse: major upgrades to every road in the country are required (the current ‘managed motorways’ program is pitifully inadequate).
    The following should be regarded as the bare minimum:
    Motorways should be 5-6 lanes
    Trunk roads should be 3-4 lanes
    A-roads should be dualled
    B-roads should be widened and straightened.
    Country lanes widened to allow two modern tractors to pass without slowing down.

    The process will take 50 yrs and is a major cause of pitifully inadequate economic growth: why are not ALL non-residential roadworks carried out 24/7?

    I disagree over parking: the norm should be free parking on roads everywhere where there is NOT a hazard: the vast majority of yellow lines are pointless – they simply drive motorists away from town centres and into over-priced (because inadequate) car-parks.

    1. Mockbeggar
      September 26, 2016

      Before widening every road in the country, we need to think about relative travel priorities. The inner lane on motorways is seriously underused because many car drivers are reluctant (or frightened) to be squeezed in between large lorries. Road freight travel in the UK is hugely subsidised by the ordinary car driver. A fully laden HGV travelling at 60 mph does 100,000 more damage to the road surface than an average motor car. The relative road fund taxes are also disproportionate given the average mileage driven by HGVs than by cars. This has lead to a ‘just-in-time’ delivery service which is highly efficient for business but puts enormous pressure on the road system.
      Moreover, much freight traffic is carried by foreign carriers who pay little road fuel tax and have free access to the UK motorway network.

      Washing machines and fridges, however, do not have meetings to attend or family and friends waiting for them.

      A thorough examination should be made of other methods of freight transport., e.g. single container self-propelled rail wagons, canals and coastal transport and so on. Investing in more railheads, rail ‘passing places’ and changing the taxation system to encourage off-road freight transport would free up a lot of trunk road space for human beings/taxpayers.

      1. a-tracy
        September 29, 2016

        Have you any idea how much taxation is paid by the Road Transport Organisations that pay for our motorways and trunk roads time over in fuel tax duty, ved, corp tax, vehicle purchase tax, tax on insurance? Most of the money taken is transferred to public transport projects, buses, rail, etc. rather than be spent on the roads. Just so you can travel somewhere a couple of times each year without seeing a van. What happens from the railhead to the shop to your doorstep?

        How much do you think the goods in the shops would cost if you increase disproportionately the cost of haulage? Most long distance journeys are done in the evening and on night trunk routes many are carried out on A and other trunk roads?

        The Royal Mail found transporting mail by rail too costly and inefficient and stopped much of their rail transportation of mail and postal freight several years ago. Every driver pays taxation on their wages, employees ni, employers ni.

        We should do what France has done this July and have a UK Macron Law, we’re supposed, to be in a free market, with free movement of people and goods but apparently it doesn’t apply to France.

    2. Hope
      September 26, 2016

      Well said BC.

      JR, linking with your previous blog why has the Tory govt not scrapped HS2, cut overseas aid, or at least the £2 billion it sends to the EU to spend? Instead of continually helping banks and greedy bankers why not invest in capital projects?
      How much longer will the Tory govt punish savers, pensioners and the prudent? Idiotic EU fanatic Green already hinting pensions will be cut after 2020 to help the young! How about fulfilling the promise to stop child benefit to children who have never set foot in the country? welfare to immigrants who have not paid in the system, making immigrants pay for health service to stop it being the World Health Service? is this too much to ask from Green the EU fanatic who wants us to pay our taxes to support the 27 countries int he EU and the rest of world?

      1. Hope
        September 26, 2016

        Teresa May has still done nothing to cut or stop immigration. She was responsible for the record amount of people entering this country this year! When we we expect action not hollow empty lying words from politicians?

        Still difficult to get a school place, Doctor appointment, social housing given away to immigrants, even a jusges has complained at the huge increase in cost of interpreters is eating away the courts budget! Not to mention the prison costs, apparently the UK still not deporting foreign criminals back to their home land jails under an agreed procedure! Oh, and May responsible for the hundreds of thousands illegal immigrants lost to her system!

    3. Anonymous
      September 26, 2016

      Brian Corbett – In addition, build more towns, new cities… concrete over everything.

      The fact is we’ve already gone way beyond optimal population levels for this country. Crowded roads (as with a shortage of housing) are a useful indicator to The People as to the state of things.

      Build it and more will come to fill it.

  2. Lifelogic
    September 26, 2016

    Indeed all very sensible suggestions. The clear aim of government road management over many years (under all governments) has been to block the roads as far as possible for cars, trucks and vans. This using bus lanes, bike lanes, 20mph speed limits, huge road blocking islands, anti car traffic lights, congestion zones, environmental zones, one way streets, no right and left turns and the likes. Their bonkers line was, we do not build more road space as it only encourages more people to use it! Indeed, they use it to get to work, visit their relatives, go to the shops, go on holiday, drop the children at school …… is that not what roads are for? They also wrongly believed that trains and buses were more energy efficient and less congesting. Door to door in general and all aspects considered they are neither.

    I recently drove across London in the early hours of the morning and, even though there was very little traffic indeed, I must have been held up for nearly an extra hour, waiting at red traffic lights, for no sensible reason at all. Most roads would work far better were the lights just switched off. They merely increase congestion waste time & fuel and increase pollution. Indeed when the lights breakdown and are off, they do indeed work better.

    20 mph limits no in much of London are just too low, even the cyclists go faster than that. 25 is far rather more sensible. I assume that, like most speed limits, they are set too low so that they can indulge in motorist mugging. Even some dual carriage ways have 30 mph limits. The limits are endlessly changed for no good reason, to confuse and mug one assumes. Or to create jobs in all the “speed awareness schemes”. I am all in favour of sensible speed controls but not as a mugging and pointless job creation scheme for the state sector as we have now.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      It seems John McDonnell wants to tax more in order to “invest” more in manufacturing. So he will take the money off businesses and people, then waste half of it in the process, then invest it for them doubtless in the sort of daft things that government do.

      Might it not be better if he left the money with the people and business so they could invest it themselves and do so far more efficiently?

      It is the usual loony lefty approach, it will as usually do far more harm than good for the economy and jobs.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 26, 2016

        It seems there is a difference between the two socialists (come Father Chistmas) Osborne & Mc Donnell. One wants to destroy countless jobs with a minimum wage of £9 per hour and the other to destroy even more with the higher £10.

        Why not just go for £10,000 per hour and kill all the jobs?

  3. Prigger
    September 26, 2016

    Increasing traffic flowings as a result of a Constituency MP’s actions is a plus for many voters.

    Like facilitating the exit westwards of Calais predators upon our Land, it also encourages more and more and more to drive here.

    Obesity is uncomfortable to a walker. The NHS has got it not quite right as usual. Overpaid and narrow-minded as a result of impoverished British poor education.Walking burns off few calories they say. They are right. But it is impolite and uncomfortable to eat and walk. Time, not to eat.

  4. Mark B
    September 26, 2016

    Good morning.

    We have a, Roads Minister ?!?!?!?!

    I suppose we also have a, Minister for bad weather and one for lost kittens up trees as well ? And here is me thinking that that Monty Python sketch about the Ministry of Silly Walks was supposed to be comedy.

    Like water flowing from stream to river and out to sea, just by solving the problem of flooding here does not mean that the problem is itself solved. It just moves further up and / or down. To solve it you really need to understand what is the root cause and tackle it there. More or better roads are nice, but does that actually address the underlining issues ?

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      “More or better roads are nice, but does that actually address the underlying issues?”

      So what are they underlying issues according to your line of thinking? To me it is just can I get to and from work, a friends house, the shops, airport or on a holiday quickly without spending hours stuck in a traffic jam? When I get their can I park without driving round in circles looking for a space. If I can I will cause less pollution and spend less time blocking the roads for others and be more productive too.

      1. Duyfken
        September 26, 2016

        One of the “underlying issues” is too many bloody people.

        1. bigneil
          September 26, 2016

          That’s a LOT politer than the term I would have used.

        2. Lifelogic
          September 26, 2016

          Rather like housing. Too many people too few houses and too few roads/doctors/hospital beds …… Perhaps if government spend money rather more efficiently occasionally and only allowed immigration where people were a net asset to the country and the economy.

        3. Mark B
          September 26, 2016

          Thank you 🙂

      2. Timaction
        September 26, 2016

        All roads lead to overcrowding and increases in population. When are the legacies getting a total grip on immigration?

      3. Hope
        September 26, 2016

        Mark B, in Somerset they wasted money on barriers to swing across roads, but can claim money is spent on flood defence. Replace perfectly good wooden fencing for no return on preventing flooding. The EA has spent a lot of money which it has claimed is on flood defence but in reality does absolutely nothing to prevent future flooding. Very little dredging has taken place only a token amount. I suspect because it will not act against the EU directive on the environment etc. We are leaving the EU so get rid of the EA and many other quangos to reduce public spending. The EA is of very limited value to the taxpayer or those affected by floods. £1.2 billion saved by making one decision.

        1. acorn
          September 26, 2016

          See what you are up against JR? Everybody is an expert now, in this case on catchment area draining. Dredge a whole river and watch the poor sods at the seaward end, get wiped out by the torrent of water that upstream dredging fanatics caused.

          Once you start digging up the roads to make improvements, the mainstream media will be accusing you of utter incompetence and people like Hope, expert in transport infrastructure, will be telling you exactly how you are getting it wrong.

        2. M.A.N.
          September 26, 2016

          Dredging is NOT prevented by EU regs, this was exhaustively examined at the time. The DE wanted the areas to flood, I don’t know what the ministers opinion is on this. As an aside JR, regarding the work place levy, is it, or is it not EU derived?.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      A Roads “the blocking of” Minister, it always seemed to be. Or a let us milk the motorists with our clever cameras and parking rules so we can employ even more motorist muggers in future.

      1. stred
        September 26, 2016

        Another way of extracting money from motorists came up last week. I normally licence my cars using the helpful v11 form, which gives a number only, as their computer knows whether we have an MOT and insurance. Unfortunately, I live in Skunkvlle-on- Sea where the postmen like to have a competition over who can wear shorts for longest, as winter sets in, but are not too good at reading the name of the road they are delivering to.

        One of my v11s was missing. Now, as they have the information and the owner is only trying to give them a large amount of money, one would have thought the DVLA would be happy to email, text or tell you the number on the missing form. But NO. The v11 is ‘complimentary’ and they ‘can’t’ let you know it. The owner has to find all the docs and go to a main post office. Could this be because they know that many owners will not be able to find the docs in time and will then have to fill in another form and pay £25 for a replacement/

        1. Lifelogic
          September 28, 2016

          Indeed the tax filing systems are more and more like that too.

    3. Antisthenes
      September 26, 2016

      Two valid points. Firstly should government be the solver, planner and controller of such thing as constructing adequate infrastructure or anything else come to that. Governments either cause problems and/or solve them in the most costly, wasteful and inefficient way. Secondly are we ignoring root causes and expending our energies on addressing just the symptoms ensuring any improvements achieved are at best temporary or more likely negligible.

      Certainly governments initiate worthy programs that would not have been started or prosecuted by any other body. Regrettably governments also do so for many more not worthy programs. Needing considerable resources to sustain them and creating many more symptoms that need to be treated unable to deal with the root causes because it would not be politic to do so.

  5. Cllr morgan
    September 26, 2016

    Be careful about removing on street parking. Residents in town centres and local businesses rely on this amenity. They live and work in the area and pay rates. They r not just passing thru.

    More off street parking is needed and to preserve our market towns we could consider going underground as they do in france.

    1. Know-dice
      September 26, 2016

      Too true, but too many of them still park on the street even when they have “off street” parking.

      On the subject of traffic lights – am I imagining it? that in the last few weeks traffic lights around Reading and Wokingham seem to have been deliberately re-timed i.e. slowed down to further inconvenience traffic.

      After a recent trip to Holland, the roads in the UK (south of England) are a real disgrace, pot hole everywhere 🙁

  6. Lifelogic
    September 26, 2016

    People, after all, do not want to drive endlessly for hours everyday. They just want to get from a to b to c to d efficiently and quickly. This so they can do their jobs and get to and from where they need to go. Also, get ready for the driverless revolution. We already have it in factories and mining and it is certainly on its way. Driverless taxis, cars, buses, trains and trucks will save a fortune and will change everything. It will arrive rather sooner than most people think I suspect.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/22/get-ready-for-the-driverless-revolution-it-promises-to-transform/

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    September 26, 2016

    If the current invasion drives the further sub division of rooms in houses then by the time off street parking is increased the streets will be blocked again. Thats London for one! Prescotts scheme of jamming in houses anywhere likely robbed areas of off road parking I think.

    There exists the want to flog a garage and garden(s) that originally went with a house….its more than a want, it happens a lot and I think its wrong. The garage becomes something commercial in a residential area..store of baths for instance. Too many people in too confined areas and billed to get worse.

  8. Richard1
    September 26, 2016

    Excellent initiative. If a fraction of the money earmarked for HS2 were spent on roads instead we would see far greater economic benefit as well as many lives saved.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      Why has HS2 not been cancelled yet, the sooner it is the more that is saved. The project is clearly an economic basket case.

  9. Anonymous
    September 26, 2016

    Good post. We need to sort out overcrowding too.

  10. Fred
    September 26, 2016

    How about removing some of the ever increasing number of traffic lights placed at every conceivable junction and on every roundabout? Of the forty or so sets of lights near me perhaps 10 are beneficial the rest could either be eliminated completely or replaced with mini roundabouts. The excuse is always safety but I notice that whenever the lights malfunction traffic moves much smoother and without incident. It would also save a huge amount of money – or perhaps thats the problem, lots of money spent means lots of opportunities to earn “commissions”?

    1. bigneil
      September 26, 2016

      Roundabouts mean we make a decision for ourselves. Traffic lights mean we are just that little bit more controlled.

    2. Jerry
      September 26, 2016

      @Freed; “near me perhaps 10 [sets of traffic lights] are beneficial the rest could either be eliminated completely or replaced with mini roundabouts.”

      But at some junctions, if they were roundabouts, there is so much traffic from the major through routes those trying to join from the more minor ‘feeder’ roads would get little chance and thus people ‘take chances’ or congestion builds.

      As for when traffic lights fail, drivers tend to drive with far more caution, an exception doesn’t prove the rule…

  11. Jerry
    September 26, 2016

    “Replace more light sets with roundabouts which often flow better.”

    I’m glade that you appear to now acknowledge that roundabouts are not always the cure, indeed there are many roundabouts that only work as road junctions because traffic lights have been added!

    As for on-street parking, what is the problem generally, were real problems exist they are in areas were any government or LA will loose many votes because people quite like parking close to their properties, especially ex-council houses, at least around here! Also parked cars do tend to help calm traffic in residential areas, yes there is an associated risk to pedestrians but that needs education, both on the part of the pedestrian and motorist – off at a slight tangent, I can’t remember when I last saw a PIF on TV about such dangers, perhaps Ofcom could revisit the need for these short information films, and surely if people can be made to watch trailers, adverts or corporate logos on the broadcasters media streaming players etc why not also make us watch PFI.

    Also you will not rid through or main roads of on-street parking, unless you propose to stop those with Disabled Blue Badges from parking close to were they need to attend, for some having to use a car park located perhaps well away from their destination will make the difference between attending and not – my point is that the road might actually becomes more unsafe because of unexpected (but not dangerous) parking, never mind the dangers of higher average speed of through traffic to pedestrian – unless of course more pedestrian controlled traffic light crossing points are installed…

  12. alan jutson
    September 26, 2016

    The most simple method to help traffic movement and parking in the future, is to make all new developments have a minimum width for roads which will allow parking on at least one side, whilst still allowing for free movement of traffic.

    At present new developments have such narrow roads that the only way any cars have a chance of street parking, is to use bump up the cub and use some of the narrow pavement.
    Many developments have no off street parking for visitors, tradesmen, social workers, doctors etc, so these people have to park in the road.

    The stupidity of the cry “make them use public transport brigade” even when no public transport exists in the area, and the deliberate planning restrictions on off street parking, and the use of winding narrow roads on new developments has lead to chaos over the past decades on new estates.

    1. David L
      September 26, 2016

      I have a friend on the Jennetts Park estate in Bracknell; a new development with such restricted parking that he always has to come to my place for us to meet up. Should I park outside his house I risk being clamped! In the “parking areas” behind the properties vehicles are jammed in every which way. Tensions arise as residents find nowhere to park…complete madness, and repeated at so many other locations these days.

  13. Newmania
    September 26, 2016

    That all seems reasonable. I also think someone should have review of procurement for civil engineering public works . I think everyone notices how astonishingly slow any work is .
    In other countries the work begins , goes on and the finishes. Here, the work begins and becomes a fact of life for a year or two . Finally when everyone has entirely forgotten what the purpose was supposed to be it ends
    Why is it so slow ? Can we not get tenders in with some real competition, it clearly isn`t happening now , I would look around Europe for ideas and alternatives , they are so much better at it

    1. alan jutson
      September 26, 2016

      Newmania

      Just returned from a holiday in the South of France only to once again be reminded that they and other European countries seem to have a far better infrastructure in place, which is still being continually uprated and extended.

      Aware France has a much larger land mass (with a similar population) than the UK, but only once in a couple of weeks did we have to pay for parking 6.50 Euro’s (underground car Park in City Centre, with security cameras and secure access doors) for 12 hours duration.

      Any main road which was undergoing improvement or repairs seemed to have men working overnight and/or at weekend periods.

      A couple of years ago parked in one of the main underground car parks in the centre of MonteCarlo, turned out it was half the price of parking in Reading !!!!

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 26, 2016

      Of course they are! 🙂

    3. zorro
      September 26, 2016

      Yes, this really annoying. 200m stretches of ‘upgrading’ dual carriageway taking 18 months to complete, and leaving queue creating, emission creating one lane contraflows. Rarely anyone seen working there, what’s the scam JR?

      zorro

  14. alan jutson
    September 26, 2016

    All well and good using double yellow lines John, if alternative parking is made available close by.

    Many a trader has lost a fortune or gone out of business when yellow lines have appeared outside of their premises and prevented customers from parking.

    Perhaps if we removed some chicanes, speed humps and other such obstructions, traffic may move a little more freely.

    Park and ride schemes seem to work reasonably well when thought out properly, although security camera’s need to be installed at such places, as they appear to be a car thieves paradise without them.
    The buses serving them need to provide a very regular service as well.

    1. bigneil
      September 26, 2016

      “security camera’s need to be installed at such places, as they appear to be a car thieves paradise without them.” but from the council’s view – which is cheaper – -a security camera system – or – a notice saying they take no responsibility?
      In Nottingham there was/still is? ( haven’t been for years ) a Park and Ride – -right opposite one of the worst areas. I would NEVER have parked there.

  15. Ian Wragg
    September 26, 2016

    We could make a start by getting foreign registered vehicles to make a financial contribution to our infrastructure. We have a Hungarian car parked on our street for about 4 years. The police are aware but make no effort to enforce the law.
    If my car was untaxed or insured it would have been crushed by now
    Then again I’m a tax paying Brit.

    1. bigneil
      September 26, 2016

      This raises a question. I believe that if my car is not taxed, then the insurance is not valid. So does this apply to foreign registered cars? And is there any way of the police checking THEM? We all know of ANPR checking all OUR movements for insurance, tax and MOT – what about all those who drive here from abroad? If they are not taxed/insured – what happens if we are involved in a collision with one of them? How do our police even check they have a valid license to drive here – or anywhere? Fake passports are easily available – fake driving licenses must be even easier to get.

  16. Ian Waddell
    September 26, 2016

    There are broader policy changes that could ease the burden on our creaking roads infrastructure. It is about time we thought differently. Incentives for business to employ local people, for example. This could be a much cheaper way of achieving the same result as building more expensive roads.

    We also need to make rail travel a financially attractive alternative and increase the capacity of our major rail routes particularly into the capital.

  17. JJE
    September 26, 2016

    How about fixing all the potholes in the existing roads? Or isn’t that glamorous enough to satisfy the vanity of the minister?
    I can’t se the point of building new roads if we can’t afford to maintain the ones we already have.

    1. Martyn G
      September 26, 2016

      I so agree. I live in one of the richest counties in England (Oxfordshire) and the roads – especially the ‘B’ roads – are, literally, falling to pieces, making riding a bike a hazardous nightmare, let alone destroying car suspensions, as has happened to a friend of mine. There seems to be a deliberate policy of not repairing or updating roads here, other than where absolutely essential on the ‘A’ roads and one wonders what all of the fuel and council taxes taken from us is actually used for.

    2. Bryan Harris
      September 26, 2016

      Excellent points JJE

  18. Bert Young
    September 26, 2016

    The volume of traffic has increased beyond belief . On Wednesday of last week I had the misfortune to travel on the M25 to Tonbridge . Going there and returning to my home in South Oxfordshire was a nightmare . Indicated speeds seem to be ignored , there were no signs of Police , traffic was at a standstill in many places ( adjacent to Heathrow it was unbelievable ) and exiting the M4 was denied by my Satnav ! – I had to proceed as far as the Theale exit before winding my way back .

    All the points John makes are sensible but , if the sheer volume of traffic is not dealt with , all the points raised would be meaningless .

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      Indeed well the government have increase the population through immigration yet deliberately constricted the roads and not build many new or better ones. The green religion convinced them every one would travel by public transport or bikes. Which anyway are not actually any more energy efficient door to door.

      The best way to reduce congestion is to improve broad band and video conferencing and provide sufficient roads, underpasses, overpasses and parking. That and do the road maintenance very efficiently for a change.

      Road charging with electronic systems instead of fuel and road tax would help too. This as you could charge more at peak times. Thus deterring travel by a price mechanism, rather than by delay and huge inconvenience.

      1. Jerry
        September 28, 2016

        @LL; “Road charging with electronic systems instead of fuel and road tax would help too.”

        Blair’s Labour government considered this, such was the outcry about privacy [1] the idea was dropped like a very hot potato, I seem to recall even quicker than the idea that we should all have to have (and perhaps carry) ID cards.

        If there is to be a radical change in how motorists are taxed the abolishing VED and placing extra tax on road fuel is as good as road pricing, with little or no invasion of privacy.

        [1] never mind the fact that it would be a fraudsters paradise, ‘You pay for your road use, you pay for my road use’ sort of fraud…

        1. Lifelogic
          September 28, 2016

          Well it is not much different to the Oyster tube card which track you just the same or credit cards, cameras and mobile phone tracking. Yes there should some protections.

          1. Jerry
            September 29, 2016

            @LL; Most people do not use Oyster cards, there is a whole country outside of London and the Home Counties you know … and anyway, if I remember correctly such cards can be bought and topped up anonymously by cash payments (PAYG). People also have choices about the use of a credit/debt card, cash being the most obvious but there are also pre-paid charge cards (the use of which, as with Oyster cards, is not necessarily constant with who actually funded it).

            The problem with electronic road pricing is that the tracking goes a lot further than any tracking possible by other methods, even mobile phones (that are optional, can be switched off and perhaps even the battery removed), road pricing not only tells the highway authorities, their partners and anyone else who might have a valid legal claim on such data, that you started your journey at location A and travelled to location D but that you passed through C & B first – in that order and how long your car was sat outside houses No. 33 and No. 91 respectively…

            The only 100% protection from fraud is not giving the fraudsters an opportunity, short of draining someone else’s fuel tank there is no way a fraudster can hack fuel use derived road pricing.

    2. ChrisS
      September 26, 2016

      I picked my wife up from Heathrow at 5pm one Thursday. We are very familiar with the area as we were both brought up in Maidenhead ( my wife was born in Wokingham ).

      However it’s a long time since we lived anywhere near and the traffic was truly shocking. To get to Reading on the M4 from the terminal took 2 hours !

      I couldn’t help notice that most of the vehicles were top end quality cars with just one occupant in business attire. The whole area is now a mass of glass office blocks where these people clearly all go to work. What a waste of time and effort !
      Haven’t their employers heard of home working ??

      With email, one to one video calling and electronic conferencing it’s completely unnecessary for any office worker to go to their office more than three days in a week. I can pick up a handset and Skype my son in Thailand whenever I want so what is the problem ?

      Instead the hapless souls and millions more in London spend three hours every day sitting in their cars or on a train. A complete waste of time and effort.

      1. Jerry
        September 28, 2016

        @ChrisS; Even if email, video conferencing etc. is an acceptable way of conducting business such IT is all well and good in a Home Office environment but it is utterly useless, for many who might dearly wish they could work from home, without even a half decent broadband or a fibre connection to the internet – do not assume that everyone is equal to what you or I have, many are still on very low speed connections, in some surprising locations.

        Hopefully the government will get a grip on this (as the telecoms backbone provider(s) clearly have no commercial wish to), and soon, otherwise it will fast become an election issue, perhaps a decisive one with the floating voter.

        1. Chris S
          September 28, 2016

          Jerry :

          I certainly accept your point about poor broadband : we have to pay for fibre just to get sufficient speed to stream the BBC iPlayer. Successive governments and the regulator have allowed BT to get away with poor service standards for years.

          It’s particularly galling that the copper network was bought and paid for when BT was in public ownership. Openreach should be separated from BT and run entirely independently and held much more accountable by OFCOM.

          However, I was talking about office workers in the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire area where most would have much faster broadband than we have in Dorset.

          Home working would not be a problem for the vast majority of them. If even 20% of them stayed at home on each day the traffic would be dramatically improved and journey times greatly reduced.

          1. Jerry
            September 29, 2016

            @ChrisS; Do not make assumptions, there are some very surprising omissions in even half decent broadband coverage, hence the current outcry. Most people ‘out in the sticks’ accept that their area is of low commercial value for and thus of less priority for BT but that should not be the case in our Cities and major Towns.

            Who is going to police who should attend their workplace and who should work from home (never mind the fact that for some a HO is impractical due to domestic issues, some or all of the time, should these people have to find new employment in your brave new world?…

      2. Jerry
        September 28, 2016

        @Chris; Might I ask why your wife did not use public transport, after all Heathrow to Reading is not an impossible journey surely (even for many with disabilities), even if one has to travel via Paddington! Was your wife’s trip for business or pleasure, has it not occurred to you that those people dressed in “business attire” (what ever that means these days…) might actually have had a far more valid reason for travelling in their cars than you and your wife had?

        1. Chris S
          September 28, 2016

          I should have made it clear that we live in Dorset, not Reading.

          Trains would mean going into London to get on the Waterloo to Bournemouth line. We have used coaches successfully but with two large cases it was easier and much more convenient for me to pick her up on this occasion.

    3. Jerry
      September 26, 2016

      @Bert Young; “and exiting the M4 was denied by my Satnav ! – I had to proceed as far as the Theale exit before winding my way back .”

      Sorry, run that past us again, never mind what the satnav said, was the exit open or not, what did the matrix signs say?…

      You comment that the volume of traffic has increased beyond belief, I can well believe it has, not because there is any greater number of cars but because satnavs are sending everyone the same way (until the Highway Agencies and other providers of traffic monitoring trigger a congestion report, by then for many they are by then the congestion)!

  19. Nigel
    September 26, 2016

    There is a huge shortage of parking at most stations, which leads to roads nearby being full of parked cars. Imposing parking restrictions si not the answer. More station parking needs to be built. It is revenue generating.
    More people are using the trains, and should be encouraged to do so.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      It often makes no sense to encourage people to use trains car are often more efficient, convenient, flexible and cheaper (even after the tax/subsidy penalty they suffer).

      Perhaps better to build the houses and flats closer to where they work and have more roads and parking.

    2. Bryan Harris
      September 26, 2016

      Nigel – YES, totally agree

      I would add that something should also be done about parking at schools. It causes mayhem 2 or 3 times per day, as the quantity of spaces is inadequate, but worse, the cars are seen parked just about everywhere, making local congestion worse. It might help if the cars were not parked in excess of 30 minutes each time.

      Shouldn’t Mothers be encouraged to walk their offsprings to schools rather than using the 4by4’s. After all the catchment area isn’t that big.

    3. Jerry
      September 26, 2016

      @Nigel; Indeed but which government(s) instructed BR, Rail-Track and now Network Rail to sell off land that could have been (or was being) used for railway station parking – my local town centre around the railway station has a on street parking problem, this being a commuter station, there used to be a very large railway goods yard, of the original yard about 1/10th has been given over to -limited, and very expensive- station parking, the rest has been either sold off for commercial use or for housing. Also which government deregulated many of the bus services so that there is now no longer the needed links between trains services and bus services that built up areas need and often removed the need for those living in outlying areas to drive to and from the railway station – or just into the town centre.

  20. Chris
    September 26, 2016

    A priority should be to get rid of desk bound planners/modellers who approach traffic problems with too narrow a focus (and who seem to lack basic common sense). The seem to come up with “solutions” to traffic flow problems which actually create worse problems than they were trying to solve, often because they are focused on solving a particular problem in isolation, and they do not consider the wider, and just as important, effects of their “solution”. The A329M/M4 junction changes spring to mind – ill thought out, and the source of new major traffic flow problems, with, I believe, safety issues in the lane designs/widths.

  21. MikeP
    September 26, 2016

    Others have made some excellent suggestions, especially as to the width of major roads and of new housing development roads. I would also cite Exeter as a good example of park and ride being hugely preferable to city centre queuing and parking.
    I doubt your list will ever get implemented John but I’d add three more points to it:
    – ‘ex dual carriageways’ : there seems to be a craze for building dual carriageways, or dualled entry and exit lanes to motorways, then hatching off one of the two lanes restricting capacity back to single lane status again. Just because some idiot had a bit of an incident there once shouldn’t dictate such wasteful changes to road capacity for everyone else. We should educate drivers better.
    – ‘two lanes into one’ queues : every dual carriageway should end with “Use both lanes then merge in turn” signs to overcome wasteful use of, or blocking of, lanes and other selfish behaviours by road users
    – can Network Rail and Wokingham DC please pull their fingers out and get on with the Southern Distribution road. Last I heard they planned to start in 2018/19, which is totally ridiculous given the town grinds to a halt every day with through traffic!! You must know that having accepted huge quotas for new house building it’s way past pay-back time to get roads to carry all the new cars; do planners even think about this in the right way? A new 4-bed house doesn’t even get a double garage so they or their visitors block the roads to park. The occupants will have kids who will be around long enough to own their own cars and they’ll have visitors yet we never build road capacity for such an influx of vehicles.

  22. Graham
    September 26, 2016

    The cost of on(and off) street parking in the London area particularly is outrageous – glad I’m only a casual visitor there.

  23. Bob
    September 26, 2016

    Town Centre Parking

    is often used as a means to squeeze money out of the motorist to subsidise the generous local authority pensions.

    In many cases, with a little imagination parking problems could be reduced by better management of the available space, e.g. continental style diagonal parking.

    Railway Stations

    often have inadequate parking provision. This leads travellers & commuters to leave their cars in surrounding roads. In some cases the residents of those roads are reluctant to take their car out at certain times because they may be unable to find a space in their own road upon returning with heavy bags of shopping.

    I was pleased to see that one of our local underground stations has finally installed secure sheltered bicycle storage, this is something that should be a standard feature in all railway stations as it’s relatively cheap to install & maintain.

  24. Yosarion
    September 26, 2016

    Cars don’t drive themselves, we should have a Maximum for the number of People that can live here on this small little Island. Pavement and Major road parking causes unknown emissions as you have to stop start weaving in and out of abandon cars. it also means people are less likely to walk as they are forced to walk around cars blocking pavements.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 26, 2016

      Cars don’t drive themselves – well actually some do and more and more will do soon.

  25. The PrangWizard
    September 26, 2016

    Could those responsible for designing and building our roads put an imagination head on when they get up in the mornings, and not the routine one they usually wear.

    Take the A43 between the M40 and the M1 – there are about ten roundabouts over the 20 mile stretch. The A43 is the principal route the whole length, all the side roads are minor, often with no vehicles passing on them, yet traffic on the main road has to slow each and every time. I believe that one even has pedestrian traffic lights. Improvements are being made here and there which I imagine will be the creation of slip roads on and off which by-pass the roundabout itself but they will have only a minor benefit to the through traffic if that is all that is being done.

    We need underpasses below roundabouts on all such roads so that the through traffic can pass without delay. There must be thousands of locations which could benefit in such a way. This should be applied to new by-passes as urged in 3. above. It should have been applied to the by-pass around Bracknell. It could benefit 2. above – let’s not think just of roundabouts.

    Having said all this I have expressed very similar views to those of Brian Corbett. It’s time we had some really bold and long-term solutions. Fiddling around by creating ‘smart’ motorways is something of a sick joke. The use of the word ‘smart’ is indicative of PR and not much else.

    I know it is argued that something is better than nothing but the ‘somethings’ often add up to next to nothing.

  26. Denis Cooper
    September 26, 2016

    Off-topic, JR, I find some parts of your Telegraph article today really worrying.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/25/goodbye-eu-goodbye-austerity-britain/

    “Leaving the EU … is not something to negotiate with Germany. Offer to continue tariff-free trade, send them the letter and then leave.”

    After 43 years of progressively deeper legal and economic and practical entanglement with our neighbours we cannot just up and walk away, even if we have a sovereign right to do that, not unless we want a period of legal chaos when nobody is sure what the rules are and how they should proceed, with all the damaging practical consequences which would ensue for us and for them.

    We need a seamless transition from the present arrangements to new arrangements, with the latter taking over seamlessly as the former expire, without any legal haitus.

    1. Richard Butler
      September 26, 2016

      ‘After 43 years of progressively deeper legal and economic and practical entanglement with our neighbours we cannot just up and walk away, even if we have a sovereign right to do that, not unless we want a period of legal chaos when nobody is sure what the rules are and how they should proceed’

      India and other nations gaining their independence simply adopted all UK law as a holding position, so everyone knew where they were.

      Joining the EU was very complicated and required the repeal of masses of legislation and structures, all done in under 2 years.

      Czech Republic managed to sort her legal and financial affairs rapidly into a workable structure.

    2. David Lister
      September 26, 2016

      (also off-topic, regards Telegraph article)

      I do wish that the “EU imposes Tampon Tax on ways that we do not like, .. a tax on a necessity” is eliminated from your commentary.

      I wear shoes which is also a necessity, and shave using razor-blades which I also find essential. The whole argument regards the Tampon Tax was a silly, infantile, argument conjured up by the UKIP and then supported by Stella Creasey MP. The origin of the complaint was this it is discriminatory which is complete nonsense and should be put to bed. To use it as a justification for leaving the EU is nonsense.

  27. ian wragg
    September 26, 2016

    O/T just to return to our on going non energy policy, on a breezy day like today, wing is supplying 1.4 GW or 4% on a demand of 35 GW. This means that during winter months we can expect on average of 2.5% despite increasing enormously the number and subsidies installed.
    We also have the independent report castigating the government over introduction of incompatible smart meters at a cost of £400 per household saving virtually nothing on the bills.
    When will you announce a proper energy policy.?

    1. stred
      September 26, 2016

      Re-smart meters. Ours was installed last year and when I found our supplier was charging £200 over the cheapest, I swapped and then found the new supplier could not read it. This now involves pushing one of 4 buttons and reading one of 9 digital numbers, taking a meter reader ten minutes. Now they have written asking for the number of the meter.

      According to articles from the energy website I read, meters installed after October should be readable by other energy companies- but the billions of pounds worth installed already cannot be read on the new system, condemning mugs like me to hours of button pushing. Besides this, the system is being designed by Capita and there have been a number of delays. Also, the frequency of reading is being changed, so even the new meters willbecome redundant.

      Germany has decided they are not worthwhile. However, the ex Deccheads are sure they are just what we need and all the complexity is worth it, as we can’t have a smart grid without smart meters.

      Which brings up the question of smart motorways. The smart Highways England always closes a lane or two if a car or motorbike stops at the side of smart motorways. This is for miles and with speed limited to 40 and the often the vehicle has gone or is off the motorway on a laybye or verge. Having just driven 2400 miles on the continent, this does not happen. Policemen are happy to stand off the road and watch traffic going past at 80. Is this because we have smart risk assessors for everything in the UK?

      http://www.energylivenews.com/2016/09/23/business-group-urges-government-to-review-smart-meter-programme/

  28. Bryan Harris
    September 26, 2016

    John – I agree with the thrust of your points

    1. More free offstreet parking is a priority, motorists are already ripped off enough. When town centres are expanded or added to, it should be a requirement that over the top free parking is made available. We know all too often the planners get the numbers wrong, and if we plan for current numbers we will not really be any better off.

    2. Yes, adding to capacity at junctions and make lights more intuitive – How often do we see a long line of traffic at red while the traffic on the green light is totally sparse.
    It’s also time we brought in cameras at lights where people jump the red light. This dangerous practice should no longer be tolerated, and would mean we didn’t have to make time allowances for it.

    3. Yes – There are also a great many instances where the railway goes over a road, but the access for cars is reduced to one lane with traffic lights – Time we got rid of these old bridges and the unnecessary congestion they cause.

    4. Yes

    5. In addition to 3) I would add that where motorway junctions use a roundabout to control access we are seeing a huge amount of congestion. An excellent job was done recently on improving the A2/M25 junctions in Kent, and this should act as an example to others.

    6. We seem to be adept at creating road blocks/congestion where traffic should be free flowing – Two major examples of this from the area I know, and it is likely replicated elsewhere – a) The Dartford crossing – Always congested due to the way that traffic has to move to 4 lanes from 5. b) Junction 5 of the M25 – a diabolical design that creates congestion daily. We need to get these both free flowing.

    *

  29. Qubus
    September 26, 2016

    In Derby there are inadequate parking facilities for the staff at the local hospital. As a result, they park on the roads nearby to such an extent that parking is forbidden within almost a mile radius of the hospital and householders rent out their drives to NHS staff.

  30. bigneil
    September 26, 2016

    With T.May doing nothing about the mass immigration problem and therefore a few million more every 5 years, arrive, all wanting a car or two to park outside their taxpayer supplied house. Then they’ll want to drive along their taxpayer supplied roads, taking their many ( increases benefits ) children to their taxpayer supplied schools, then nipping down to their taxpayer supplied NHS – where is all the money – (and space ) coming from for more roads? After all – haven’t we got to build( and pay for ) millions more houses for the millions more people who are still coming. Ms May is still handing over £millions a day to the EU – clearly she lives in a world where she thinks we don’t need it. She should take a trip to Specsavers – other opticians are available of course.

  31. James Munroe
    September 26, 2016

    For many years, my journey to work including navigating a large roundabout above a major arterial road.

    There were 4 carriageways entering the roundabout and 4 exit carriageways.

    Traffic lights controlled the flow, onto and off the roundabout, as well as going around the roundabout. But the sequencing never seemed quite right.

    The only times that traffic flowed smoothly, was on those happy occasions the traffic lights broke down…on those days, there was no traffic queued back onto the arterial road, and no ‘snarl up’ on the roundabout itself.

  32. fedupsoutherner
    September 26, 2016

    Cancel HS2 and build some more or make improvements to motorways. The M5/M6 is unfit for purpose. The traffic jams are horrendous the nearer to Birmingham and the midlands you get. The cones for road works, which are non existent half the time are mind boggling and go on for mile after mile with 50mph restrictions. Why does it take so long to complete any kind of road works whether major or minor? As for the suggestion of free parking in the street where people deem it to be safe – are you having a laugh? If you saw where people think it is safe to park in Scotland you would be amazed. Not a good idea John. New estate roads are not wide enough. When I visit my daughter there is nowhere to park safely on the whole estate unless you bump up on the curb which is something I don’t like doing as I happen to think pavements are for pedestrians.

    Potholes must be sorted out properly and not just filled in only to last for a couple of months. Also, there are many country roads where there are worn out road markings and no cats eyes in place. Much to do John and at the rate road works are done at the moment, will take a lifetime.

  33. fedupsoutherner
    September 26, 2016

    Off Topic. I listened to John MacDonald today speaking about Labour’s new policies. I am gob smacked to say the least. More money for wages, more money for welfare, wages paid for and subsidised by the state, less austerity and all paid for by borrowing – it goes on. Another Labour government that will spend, spend, spend and leave the country in more debt. You couldn’t make it up. His final words about the Labour party now being the new Socialist party sent shivers down my spine.

  34. Prigger
    September 26, 2016

    Off Topic:
    John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor gave a speech to the Labour Conference a short time ago. His spending plans are very generous of us.

  35. acorn
    September 26, 2016

    Sounds good JR but it’s not going to happen. Your suggestions are public sector infrastructure goods and Conservatives don’t do public sector spending increases, except by automatic stabilisers.

    If you increase the budget deficit, our “independent” central bank, will start itching to put up the interest rate, to stop what it group-thinks will be certain inflation. Until Parliament takes back command of all the resources available to the UK economy, I don’t see a lot of change. More and more has been delegated to the private sector, particularly to spiv city bankers and corporatists. Is that the Brexiteers definition of “sovereignty”?

    As Neil Wilson puts it: “… the state, as representative of us all, takes the resources necessary to create the critical public infrastructure and basic functions – all those that are a natural monopoly or, are best treated as a natural monopoly; plus, whatever is required to fulfil the critical public purpose of the people who elect them (a health service, education, etc). The private sector is then allowed to play with the rest of the resources as it sees fit. The state then takes what the private sector decides it doesn’t want to use and deploys them sensibly for the ‘nice to have’ public purpose.”

    A Sovereign Parliament that is truly in command, is like a Concertina player, where the Concertina is the private sector. The left and right hand of Parliament can squeeze or expand the Concertina to supply the goods and services that Parliament wants first and foremost for the public good.

  36. a-tracy
    September 26, 2016

    Manchester Airport is a good example of a lack of transport planning. It is a key airport for the North West and North Midlands yet the public transport is atrocious. A 30 minute car journey takes 1.5 hours by train and leaves you stranded in a station that has no connecting bus. People that plan road systems for the UK who spend most of their time and career living in London should be banned.
    People who talk of walking everywhere obviously don’t live outside of a City! Poorer areas where the biggest need for public transport are left high and dry, one of the reason people don’t take jobs 15 minutes away from where they live is because public transport adds two hours onto their working day.
    Reduced lane speeds on half used motorways is my big bug bear. A total waste of everyone’s time.

  37. Margaret
    September 26, 2016

    The improvement of roads is vital , but footpaths in our area are in need of prompt repair. It is a case of what is not seen on the main roads can be forgotten. People still do walk and if the pavements were not as treacherous, more would take to their walking shoes.

  38. ChrisS
    September 26, 2016

    Any sensible person would agree that scrapping HS2 and spending the same amount of money on a bigger motorway network would make far more sense and would benefit the whole population not the tiny 5% who are predicted to ever use HS2.

    Not sure of the current figures but Transport Watch produced a paper in 2008 that demonstrated that Motorway expenditure would be have benefit factor 12.5 to 30 times that of normal type rail improvements. I don’t whether the respective cost/benefit ratios have changed much since then.

    http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/facts-sheet-7-rail-versus-road-capital-costs-track

    But we are talking about HS2 here, a totally different level of cost. With HS2, the benefit factor for roads would be much, much greater.

    So, let’s start with some motorways in areas where currently there are none. The East Coast Is one and the South West is another. Then there is the Scottish A9, a notoriously poor road and an utter misery for drivers since average speed cameras were installed along the whole length. Thanks Nicola : I didn’t get a ticket but I won’t be going back for another holiday anytime soon !

    I currently live in Dorset, one of the few counties without any motorway at all.

    Exeter and all points west of Southampton are not linked to central Southern England by even a continuous dual carriageway. We need a South coast motorway linking the East end of the M27 to Dover and the Western End to the Honiton bypass and Exeter plus further improvements to upgrade the existing dual carriageway to Plymouth.

    I’m sure a case could be made for new motorways all over the country. The French certainly don’t have any problem building new ones !

    I am writing this on the LeHavre-Portsmouth ferry having driven 400 miles from Correze today, at mostly legal speeds in comfortably under six hours. By contrast, my frequent 72 mile journey to Exeter, almost always takes 2 hours, even longer in school holiday time.

    As a frequent user of the French Autoroute network I would be perfectly happy to see new British motorways funded and maintained by an electronic toll system. BUT it would have to apply only to new motorways and the capacity would have to be sufficient that the customer can average 60mph without hold ups. Well designed modern toll motorways could safely have their speed limit raised to the typical European maximum of 130kph (80mph). I would also adopt the sensible French reduction to 110kph when it’s raining.

    Of course the Government could always decide to scrap road tax altogether and reduce fuel taxes in exchange for tolls on all motorways just as long as 100% of the capital raised was used for improvements to the network. The French Autoroute company model is quite a good one in this respect.

    NB : Road pricing for all roads would be a disaster and should not even be contemplated.

    Whatever is done to improve the strategic network with the money saved on HS2, a wider series of small improvements are desperately needed in every county. The County Councils all have a well developed wish list. All they need is the cash. Over to you Mrs May.

  39. Ray
    September 26, 2016

    1. ‘Removing more vehicles from parking on the highway restricting inadequate roadspace and causing blindspots for drivers and pedestrians coming out from behind cars’ is a good idea providing it can be achieved without encouraging reckless speeding (the clearer view will result in some drivers feeling they can drive at speed) which would be a problem for (for instance) residential areas; also drivers tend to want to park as near as possible to their destination, sometimes inconsiderately so.
    2. ‘Improving the safety and capacity of junctions’. Those of us who have been involved in this type of work endeavor to do this. ‘Abolish all red sequences for traffic’ – these are typically to allow pedestrian phases to run, it would be often unsafe otherwise.

    3. ‘Provide more bridges over railway lines and rivers, as crossing tracks and rivers is often the main cause of bottlenecks into and out of many of our cities and towns’ -yes, can often improve safety as well but they don’t come cheap and often have environmental and other impacts

    4. ‘Provide more bypasses for villages and town afflicted by too much traffic on mixed use streets passing through the centres of settlements’. -yes, can often improve safety as well but they don’t come cheap and often have environmental and other impacts

  40. Prigger
    September 27, 2016

    I saw the Clinton/Trump debate. Very gentlemanly of Trump! A woman highly educated and intelligent dressed in a kinda orange-cum-red telly tubby trouser suit, Clinton. She said all the right things for someone wanting the vote of every person not quite sure they are American. On account they are not actually American both in mind/ and/or in ethnic and cultural origin.
    Perhaps one day, the US will have a proper election with Americans, only, in mind, spirit and body, eligible to vote.
    The USA has a problem.If they are not careful… they will prove democracy does not work.

    1. Jerry
      September 27, 2016

      Prigger; “The USA has a problem. If they are not careful… they will prove democracy does not work.”

      They already have…

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