“You get the traffic you build for” is an axiom that all of Oxfordshire’s localities should live by. Years of research conclude that building more roads generates additional traffic, and reducing the amount of road-space evaporates some traffic.

This post is about evaporation. As the image implies, some of the traffic switches to other modes; some chooses completely different routes. It’s fallacious to think of traffic as water, which has to find a way through. Some of it actually goes away.

In terms of the research, Rachel Aldred in Motor traffic on urban minor and major roads: impacts on pedestrian and cyclist injuries (page 2) cites Cairns S, Hass-Klau C and Goodwin P (1998) Traffic Impact of Highway Capacity Reductions: Assessment of the Evidence. Landor Publishing, London, UK).

Todd Litman in Generated Traffic and Induced Travel: Implications for Transport Planning (page 5) cites that same Cairns et al (1998) paper, plus five others:

Such [induced demand] impacts can also occur in reverse: reducing urban roadway capacity often reduces total vehicle travel (Cairns, Hass-Klau and Goodwin 1998; Cervero 2006; CNU 2011; ITDP 2012; Miller 2006) which is sometimes called traffic evaporation (EC 2004).

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets in April hosted a city-centre meeting on the two councils’ City Centre Movement and Public Realm Strategy. This meeting was organised by OLS on behalf of the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel.

We were extremely fortunate to have the attendance of most stakeholder groups associated with city-centre movement and public realm and are grateful to them and to the two councils and the report’s authors for attending this meeting.

You can comment on this proposal using the form below.

Please join us on Friday, April 26!

OLS members and supporters will gather in the city centre to hand out flyers and stickers to commuters and others arriving by cycle, on foot, or on the bus. We want to say ‘Thank you’ for benefiting our society despite the unwelcoming infrastructure. Active travellers in particular contribute over £2 per day in terms of the health benefits to individuals, savings in NHS costs, productivity gains, and reductions in air pollution and congestion.

Please turn up anytime from about 8:15 am till 10:00 am. We’ll be on Broad Street under an OLS banner. We could use all the shiny faces we can get for this event, rallying people to the cause of active travel and liveable streets!

For a lucky portion of these commuters, there will be twenty pence taped to the flyer — an order of magnitude less than each active-travel commuter’s actual societal contribution. 

There will also be stickers featuring the beautiful OLS logo. We want people to wear them into work and tell colleagues and friends about this quirky campaign with a serious message: It’s time for councils to prioritise active and sustainable travel.

Find out here about the OLS visit to Waltham Forest — family friendly (bring scooters!) but not family-exclusive!

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets in January 2019 hosted a Mini Holland briefing for Oxford city and county councillors and officers and other community leaders. We are grateful to our two presenters from Waltham Forest who shared their invaluable experience with this exciting project.

Below is an excerpt from the presentation.

Waltham Forest Councillor Clyde Loakes (pictured) delivered this speech at the Healthy Streets conference in London, 2018. His speech was transcribed on Twitter by Chris Kenyon (@boxbikelondon). (Click here for the original Twitter thread.) Here is Chris’ rough transcription of Clyde’s speech:

I have been a councillor for a long time, since I was 27… I’ve spent more time dabbling in bins than anyone should and I have the scars from looking into car parking schemes.

I spent years talking about encouraging a shift to bikes and walking without actually doing the things that make a difference. If I am honest – I was tinkering with parking schemes and pandering to car owners. I was not delivering for our community.

Then I got a chance to do something extraordinary. We won our Better Waltham Forest mini-Holland bid with low traffic neighbourhoods and protected bike lanes. We had signed up to deliver a huge public health implementation at pace.

Surprisingly our plans for a human centric, better community provoked rage, protest and the use of four-letter anglo saxon words from a 500-strong group. Removing £100 million from our social services budget, nothing, but if you talk about parking…

But a ground-up movement of residents and fellow councillors championed a progressive intervention for our streets, making them better for everyone. We went house to house and made the case.

In the local elections in May this year and worried by what was being said on social media, the local press, in public meetings and on protests – I drafted my resignation letter.

But guess what… I got the largest majority I have ever had. Every Labour councillor that had backed the scheme showed a significant increase in votes. It was amazing. So it was popular once built… but was it impactful?

We commissioned Kings College to see the what the health impact of the scheme was. Again if you believed the local press – no one was now walking or cycling as a result of our work. Again… I prepared my resignation letter.

The impact of what we have done is enormous and it’s impacted public health measurably. DfT data shows that not only did the borough have the largest increase in walking last year, the increase is so large that life expectancy has been extended for residents.

Oxfordshire’s transport arrangements are strained. The annual budget for maintenance is £15 million. For context, this is double the amount cut from children’s services in 2016 (Oxfordshire County Council, 2016). Yet this is only a fraction of the estimated £400 million needed to put the county’s road infrastructure right (Oxford Mail, 2018). Added to this is the 40% growth in population expected by 2040 (Oxfordshire Growth Board, 2017). Without changes, this means a tremendous consumption of the county’s financial resources while continuing to suffer connectivity failure as a result of induced demand (Downs, 1962; Goodwin, 1996; Hills, 1996; Zolnik, 2018).

This failure reflects the limited efficiency of single-occupant car travel. The 13-mile journey from Witney to Oxford takes an estimated 1 hour and 15 minutes on any weekday morning (Google Maps, no date). By contrast, the ten-mile car journey from Houten to Utrecht (Netherlands) takes an estimated 30 minutes. The reason: appealing alternatives. Every 15 minutes a train takes travelers from Houten Station to Utrecht, with a journey time of 10 minutes. Likewise there is a safe, mostly segregated cycle route connecting the two. Advances in electric bicycles bring such commutes more easily within reach of a wide range of ages and abilities (van der Zee, 2016).

Downs, A. (1962) ‘The law of peak-hour expressway congestion’, Traffic Quarterly, 16(3), pp. 393–409. Available at: https://goo.gl/wXLsHC.
Goodwin, P. (1996) ‘Empirical evidence on induced traffic’, Transportation. Springer Nature, 23(1). doi: 10.1007/bf00166218.
Google Maps, (no date) ‘Google Maps transport journey estimate. See https://goo.gl/DVY2iN’.
Hills, P. (1996) ‘What is induced traffic?’, Transportation. Springer Nature, 23(1). doi: 10.1007/bf00166216.
Oxford Mail, (2018) ‘Oxfordshire’s crumbling network needs solution fast warn councillors’, Oxford Mail, 31 March, p. 4. Available at: https://goo.gl/KoDH9u (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Oxfordshire County Council, (2016) Future Arrangements in Children’s Social Care. Oxfordshire County Council, p. 17. Available at: https://goo.gl/vaVMgy (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Oxfordshire Growth Board, (2017) Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy. Oxfordshire Growth Board, p. 5. Available at: https://goo.gl/WJ7mYE (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
van der Zee, R. (2016) ‘Could intercity cycle highways revolutionise the daily commute?’, The Guardian, 30 June, p. 1. Available at: https://goo.gl/T8T3xM (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Zolnik, E. J. (2018) ‘Effects of additional capacity on vehicle kilometers of travel in the U.S.: Evidence from National Household Travel Surveys’, Journal of Transport Geography. Elsevier BV, 66, pp. 1–9. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2017.10.020.

The “Inspector’s Report on the Torrington Place to Tavistock Place Public Inquiry” was released on May 18 and is available here. Read more

Did you know that Oxford is home to one of the biggest “last-mile” cargo-bike logistics operations in the UK? Pedal & Post has 10 cargo-bikes covering the entirety of the city every day.

Riding a bike may be easier than walking for two-thirds of disabled cyclists, but they often remain invisible to society. Many don’t realise that more than a quarter of disabled commutes in this university city are made by bike.

Read more

Do people cycle in all seasons? In Copenhagen, pictured above, 75% of the city residents keep cycling through the winter months.

This study of Swedish households found active-travel commuters “to be much less sensitive to weather changes than non-commuters”.

There is even such a thing as a Winter Cycling Congress.