Azara Blog: Cambridge ruling elite wring their hands over Newmarket Road

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Date published: 2007/01/12

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Traffic chaos on Cambridge's Newmarket Road looks set to continue, with the route expected to still be gridlocked in 15 years' time after thousands of new homes have been built on the Marshall's airport site.

Transport bosses have commissioned a number of studies to look at ways of getting the city moving, and want 60 per cent of journeys from new developments in Cambridge East to be car-free by 2021.

Martin Higgitt, from consultants Steer Davies Gleave, which has been drafting the Cambridge East sustainable transport study, claims thousands of new homes built on and around Cambridge airport will not generate extra traffic because fewer people will use their cars to commute into the city as they move into the new homes.

But Mr Higgitt admitted there was no hope of reducing gridlock on Newmarket Road in its current form because drivers would always use roads to capacity.
The city council's environment scrutiny committee said the answer could be to reduce road capacity, forcing people out of their cars and on to buses, bikes and pavements.

Coun Marian Holness, East Chesterton, said: "It's very well known if you increase capacity for cars on roads, that capacity will be reached.

If we want to reduce the number of cars coming in on Newmarket Road and reach our goal, why not make it one lane?"

Mr Higgitt said: "You could argue that by building more on Newmarket Road you are reducing capacity.

The problems on Newmarket Road are principally due to the Cambridge ruling elite, including the city council and transport bureaucrats. They are the ones that have allowed endless retail development in that one spot. They are the ones that have effectively made Newmarket Road one lane right at the retail parks (how Councillor Holness has the temerity to say it is not already one lane is amazing, you have to wonder if she has ever been on Newmarket Road).

The ruling elite always say there is no point in adding road capacity since the space just fills up (those dreadful peasants insist on driving their cars). Well if you add demand and remove supply it does not take a genius to figure out the situation will get worse. But of course that is what has happened and what will happen more in future. The algorithm of the ruling elite is simple:

  1. Notice that the roads are congested.
  2. Increase demand for and decrease supply of road space.
  3. Notice that congestion gets worse and complain about drivers.
  4. Go to step (2).

The fundamental problems are that the ruling elite have no clue about urban or transport design, and instead of doing anything positive, they just spend all their time trying to screw car drivers. Of course eventually they will succeed, because they will ban ordinary people from driving (by introduction of a "congestion" charge, if nothing else).

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