World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 18, No. 4. October 2013

The three articles in this Autumn 2012  issue make an important contribution to transport de­bate and point clearly to different ways of viewing some of the key public policy issues currently underpinning transport and urban planning thinking.

– – – > To obtain your copy of WTPP 18/4 click here.


– John Whitelegg, Founding Editor

Kenworthy’s “Don’t shoot me, I’m only the transport planner” subjects the world of traffic and transport planning to a detailed forensic analysis to show that the design and use of transport and land use models, predict and provide and other traditional meth­ods and approaches are fundamentally flawed. Automobile dependence and sup­port for higher levels of automobility has gone hand in hand with a set of false as­sumptions and methods that are still re­sistant to challenge even though a clear evidence base for such challenge exists.

Gargett analyses traffic growth data in 25 countries and shows that much of the traf­fic growth we have accepted as inevitable and likely to continue into the indefinite future has stalled. We are now in a world where traffic growth is far more uncertain than at any time in the past and the chal­lenge for politicians and planners globally is to respond to this changed set of cir­cumstances with new policies not predi­cated on growth.

Kenworthy and Bradley in their “congestion offsets” article return us to the need to generate new policy ide­as and suggest a radical approach to deal­ing with congestion. They suggest that congestion should be handled in a way dif­ferent to that employed by the London and Stockholm charging regimes and should be viewed as a phenomenon that is caused by over use of a common resource (road space) by one group and under-use by another group. The under use group are financially rewarded for their modest be­haviour.

We welcome comments on con­gestion offsets and on all articles in this is­sue of World Transport Policy and Practice.

The high human cost of indifference

For 18 years this journal has expressed varying degrees of discontent and disbe­lief around the limpness and weakness of public policy designed to deal with over 1 million road deaths every year globally, equivalent to about 3000 each day. WTPP has always taken the view that death, misery and tragedy on this scale is sim­ply unacceptable in a civilised society and should be eliminated.

It will be a lasting monument to all those involved in public policy and road safety in the period 1945­2012 that large scale human tragedies are tolerated and human problem solv­ing skills that could reduce this appalling total are so rarely deployed. One of the more usual rebuttals to our stance is a ref­erence to road traffic “accident” statistics and the fact that deaths and serious inju­ries in most so-called developed countries have declined. This would now appear to be slightly off the mark. Recent UK road death and injury statistics have shown an increase in death and injury:

Key points

  • The annual number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police has increased, by 3 per cent, from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011. This is the first increase since 2003.
  • The number of people reported killed or seriously injured has also in­creased by 2 per cent to 25,023 from 24,510 in 2010 – the first annual increase since 1994.
  • The total number of casualties (slight injuries, serious injuries and fatali­ties) in road accidents reported to the po­lice in Great Britain in 2011 continued to fall, by 2 per cent, from 208,648 in 2010 to 203,950 in 2011.
  • Total reported child casualties (ages 0-15) have continued to fall, by 0.5 per cent in 2011 to 19,474. The number of children killed or seriously injured also fell, decreasing by 4 per cent to 2,412 in 2011, from 2,502 in 2010.
  • Vehicle traffic levels are broadly stable after falling for 3 years. The overall casualty rate for accidents reported to the police per billion vehicle miles continued to fall to 666 per billion vehicle miles, com­pared to 681 casualties per billion vehicle miles in 2010 but the killed or seriously injured rate increased to 82 per billion ve­hicle miles.

Source: UK Department for Transport, June 2012  –

Any increase in death and injury can be described as a “blip” and ignored but equally it can point to a lack of “bite” in the overall approach to dealing with death, injury and tragedy and we would argue that road safety policy in the UK has not yet got to grips with the urgent need to adopt a total ethical approach along the lines of the Swedish Vision Zero road safety policy.

UK road safety policy lacks a clear sense of determination to eliminate death and seri­ous injury, is accepting of anti-social and criminal behaviour on the part of speed­ing motorists and those who drive ag­gressively and without care for vulnerable road users and does not implement the kind of cycling infrastructure to be found in Denmark or the Netherlands or the kind of car-free infrastructure to be found in Freiburg in southern Germany.

It is very clear that driving a car brings with it an element of aggression and predisposition to violence. This was described in 1995 by Helmut Holzapfel in Volume 1, number 1 of this journal. Violence and aggression are not compatible with a civilised society and deeper thought, determination and implementation are needed to get rid of these behavioural characteristics.

So what can we do to eliminate death and serious injury in the road traffic environ­ment? We welcome articles and debate on this subject but there are 4 rather obvious things that have to be done in a European or North American/Australasian context:

  1. Implement 20mph/30kph speed limits on every road in every urban area and through every village or small settlement
  2. Recruit and train citizens to do speed mon­itoring on their own roads with high quality equipment and recording devices to pho­tograph offenders and registration plates and speeds. Citizens will take responsibil­ity for detection and reporting and existing police and judicial systems will be respon­sible for due process.
  3. Implement a “3 strikes and you are out” policy so that after a 3rd speeding in­fringement the vehicle is confiscated
  4. Design, fund and build high quality walk­ing and cycling routes in all urban areas, villages and settlements so that pedestri­ans and cyclists can maximise the use of traffic free routes

John Whitelegg, Editor


Editorial                                                                                     3

Cover photo description                                                          4

Abstracts and Keywords                                                           5

Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Transport Planner (apologies to Sir Elton John). – – Jeff Kenworthy                                                                         6

Traffic Growth: Modelling a Global Phenomenon.
– David Gargett                                                                          27

Congestion Offsets:Transforming Cities by Letting Buses Compete.
– Matthew Bradley and Jeff Kenworthy                               46

Book announcement                                                                 68

Abstracts and Keywords

Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Transport Planner  (apologies to Sir Elton John) . – Jeff Kenworthy

Abstract:  An historical review of the origins, underlying philosophy, development, use and abuse of land use-transport or traffic models is provided. It is argued that the way these models have been used, and often still are used today, has resulted in extreme automobile dependence with its associated negative social, environmental and economic impacts. Contrasting responses to the predictions from such traffic models in cities around the world are reviewed. The many failures of these models at both a strategic and technical level are discussed. The paper then outlines how cities might respond to the shortcomings of traditional transport planning which uses such models. A key underpinning of the paper is the idea that transport planning can no longer be based on a ‘predict and provide’ approach, which treats traffic as a liquid. Rather, communities must adopt visioning processes based on a ‘debate and decide’ approach, which treat traffic as a gas that expands and compresses according to how much road space is provided for it.

Key Words Traffic models, transport planning

Traffic Growth: Modelling a Global Phenomenon. – David Gargett

Abstract: The levels of traffic on the road are a key feature of transport systems around the world. Understanding the determinants of past and likely future traffic growth is thus important in assessing how we handle the challenges that growth presents. A recent report described the different patterns of traffic growth in 25 countries, and their determinants. The current article is an extract of that report, focusing on three of the 25 countries.

Key Words: Traffic; oil and petrol prices

Congestion Offsets: Transforming Cities by Letting Buses Compete     – Matthew Bradley and Jeff Kenworthy

Abstract: Cities around the world have been unable to keep up with demand for road space, and as a result suffer from congestion. This paper argues that the consequence of this congestion has been not just poorly performing roads, but a structurally inefficient urban transport solution, due to the impact of congestion on bus services. As a way of controlling congestion, road pricing has been rejected by most cities because it is difficult to sell to the public and difficult to deploy. An examination of both the strengths and weaknesses of road pricing is used as a basis from which to develop an alternative method of congestion control, namely congestion offsets. This approach treats roads as a commons, and does not argue for the creation of a market for road space, as road pricing does.

It is argued that congestion offsets would allow congestion to be controlled in a simple and fair manner, thereby enabling buses to emerge as a real competitor to cars in urban areas. The historical absence of congestion control in cities has allowed massive distortions to build up; cities have become awash with both cars and bitumen. Congestion offsets would allow these distortions to be slowly unwound, thus helping to transform cities more into how, it is argued, they should have always been.

Keywords: Congestion, Congestion Offsets, Road Pricing, Bus Rapid Transit, Transit-Oriented Development, Demand Management

– – – > To obtain your copy of WTPP 18/4 click here.

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About the editor:

 Managing Director of Eco-Logica, John Whitelegg is Visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University, Professor of Sustainable Development at the Stockholm Environment Institute, and founder and editor of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice. Research interests encompass transport and the environment, definition of sustainable transport systems and a sustainable built environment, development of transport in third world cities focusing on the relationships between sustainability and human health, implementation of environmental strategies within manufacturing and service industry and development of environmental management standards. He has published widely on these topics. John is active in the Green party of England and Wales and is the national spokesperson on sustainable development.

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