With growing populations and cities becoming bigger than ever before, one of the largest problems which governments of big cities are facing right now, is traffic congestion. Congestion causes many different types of problems, not only does traffic mean that everything runs slower with longer journey times but also congestion does great harm to the environment. On top of these issues, tourism can also be damaged as the result of a city which runs to a standstill each day, and for these issues, governments are seeking novel ways of overcoming the congestion problems in their cities.
I spoke with the Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union Umbertto de Pretto, to see what some of the world’s biggest cities are doing about their congestion issues.
Many cities around the world are trying to push more and more people into cycling to and from work, and about town when they need to make short distances. In order to encourage people to do this, many cities have placed cycle lanes in busy areas, as well as plenty of bike storage. One of the most successful incentives in this regard so far, has been the rental bikes which many cities now use, which people can pick up and put down once they are finished. The rental bikes work in conjunction with a phone application and using a bike for the first 30 minutes is usually free, with a small charge for usage after that time.
A bus or a metro can take a much larger number of people than a car, whilst occupying almost the same amount of space. It is for this reason that more and more cities are pumping investment cash into modernizing, improving and installing public transport throughout. London for example has recently undergone a major renovation of its underground network, to ensure faster travel times and a better and faster service, to encourage more people to ditch cars and use transport. London are not alone, many cities such as Los Angeles and Mexico City have made huge investments into their public transport in their efforts to minimize congestion.
Some cities like London have also created what they call congestion zones, usually these are in the region of the city center. In order to drive in these congestion zones, you need to pay a duty and any car which is found to be driving in these zones when they haven’t paid, are charged a hefty fee. This has proved to be a great success with every few people wanting to pay the required money to drive in these zones, thus creating less congestion, and ensuring that busy areas are much quieter, especially during peak times.
Many cities are also looking into new technologies such as pedestrian pods which will act like cable cars above the city. Whilst many of these advancements are still in the trial stages, they could provide some great options for the future.