Today saw the release of Road File 2007/08 from the Road Users’ Alliance (RUA); an edition which clearly highlighted the paucity of motorways in the UK in comparison to other EU countries.
The RUA Road File stresses the adverse impact that a lack of road capacity is having and will have on the UK’s economy, as well as safety and the environment.
On the economy, the effect that an insufficient motorway network will have on foreign investment was raised, as was the problem of congestion on business productivity, echoing Eddington’s research that congestion costs the UK £7-8 billion a year.
Public demand for more roads was also an issue which the Road File could not ignore, reminding us that in terms of cost, time and convenience, the car comes out a winning option. Unfortunately for car lovers, this high demand is simply not being met in the UK, whereas our European neighbours appear to have quite a bounty of highway…
A comparison with Germany:
- Motorway density: For every 1000km2 of land in the UK, there are 15km of motorway. In Germany, there are 35km of motorway.
- Share of GDP on building motorways: In the UK, for every billion dollars of GDP, there are 2km of motorway. In Germany, there are 5.5km.
Question: Is it right that £45 billion is collected from motorists every year, yet only £7.5 billion is spent on roads?
- Ratio of motorways to cars: The UK has 8,000 cars for every km of motorway. Germany has half the number of cars for every km.
So, the pressing question from the RUA- why can’t the UK build more roads?
If the road network capacity is not increased, congestion will have to be reduced by other means. One suggestion, of course, is road user charging, which in turn would produce revenue to help fund the construction of an increased road network.
In research conducted by the Department for Transport, over half of those questioned (55%)said they believed that the amount of £ motorists pay should relate to how often, when and where they use the road.
Finally, the creation of motorways can bring about both environmental and safety benefits:
- Replacing a 2 lane road with a motorway would decrease carbon monoxide emissions by 48%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 61% and CO2 emissions by 26%.
- Motorways are 5 times safer than single lane roads.