Congestion in cities- a necessary evil?

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Bad traffic is a nightmare, especially if you’re driving in it. However, bad traffic can also be seen as a good thing for cities. For example, traffic congestion can be seen as a symptom of a city with a prospering economy. To eliminate or at least decrease congestion, the economy would need to be shot down first – and this doesn’t seem very appealing. With no thriving economy, comes lack of jobs, lack of growth and consequently lack of living standards thus comes the argument of whether congestion in cities is actually a necessary evil.

Nobody enjoys stop/start traffic when they have somewhere to be and things to do. Time is arguably one of the most precious things in life, and time wasted sitting in traffic is unnecessary to many people.  The radio helps, but after an hour wrestling with the clutch- even this becomes tedious. Being trapped in congestion leads people to consider different modes of transport for example, public bus services. In London alone, “around 9,300 vehicles operate across 675 routes and more than two billion passenger trips are made on buses each year in London” (https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/what-we-do/buses). Therefore, not only does using public transport help reduce the amount of congestion on the roads, it also reduces fuel consumption and pollution- resulting in economic, environmental and social benefits.

Congestion also decreases the average speed limit in cities say from 30mph to 10-20mph. This creates a safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers/passengers. It is essential for urban vitality that city centres are a safe environment for everyone especially pedestrians, as the more people and footfall within these areas, the more spending and thus a more prosperous economy for all.

Traffic congestion has tried to be tackled in many ways, for example an increase in expenditure on public transport such as bus services, new roads, park and rides etc. However, as infrastructure improves and cities become more accessible- consequently the city becomes more attractive to investors, business and citizens resulting in further growth, further urbanisation and escalating traffic congestion. It seems to be a vicious, unavoidable cycle that comes as a cost of living or working in urban cities, a necessary evil that cannot seemed to be tamed in the long term.

By Millie Doze

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