What Strategies Would You Use To Reduce Traffic Congestion?

A car gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want — until everyone else decides to go the same way and you end up in a massive traffic jam. Motorists’ association the NRMA has proposed a 10-point plan for reducing congestion in Sydney, which suggests some interesting strategies that could be applied in any Australian city.

Here’s the NRMA’s proposed approach (taken direct from its press release announcing the report):

1. The appointment of an anti-congestion Director to keep Sydney moving
2. Development of a motorway management team designed to pro-actively manage delays and/or incidents on a daily basis
3. Appointment of more traffic signal staff to proactively respond to delays or incidents on the road network
4. Review parking restrictions on major roads – the last major review was undertaken in the lead up to the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000
5. Faster clearance of traffic incidents – creating time limits to clear incidents
6. Provision of reliable and up to date information through the use of a dedicated traffic and transport radio network, proactively using variable messaging systems, providing live traffic leads via mobile and or email notifications daily
7. Promote flexible working hours to reduce demand during peak hours
8. Improve the forgotten transit lanes and highlight them using orange
9. Remove traffic signs that give motorists the wrong information
10. Adopt challenging performance measures to avoid motorists having to endure lengthy delays such as those experienced on the F3 freeway

Here are some of my immediate reactions to that list, which does contain many sensible suggestions:

  • I appreciate that the NRMA is an advocate for drivers, but I can’t help thinking that “improved public transport” should be one of the priority suggestions. Similarly, different approaches by drivers themselves (such as casually renting a car when you need one) don’t rate a mention.
  • There’s not much mention of technology (rather than extra people) to improve traffic management (though real-time information obviously does fall in this category).
  • Is it really realistic to propose a time limit for clearing accidents? I never got the impression that wrecked vehicles were being left on the road just for the pleasure of it.
  • Flexible working hours are a great idea but require major cultural change.

What ideas do you think are missing from this list? Which ones would you see as the highest priority? Park your best thoughts in the comments.

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