The anatomy of congestion

  • 14/05/2003

The anatomy of congestion

Rows of human hands hanging on inside claustrophobic buses, trams and metros…Bodies packed like sardines, jostling against each other...Tempers at breaking point. And outside, more chaos - thousands of cars, jeeps, vans, two-wheelers, three-wheelers…all groaning through a choking haze of pollution in interminable traffic jams that test one"s patience and endurance skills. On cramped roads that are virtual death-traps for the unwary pedestrian or bicyclist. Every day. Almost every hour. This is the city of today.

The scenario, however, is not unremittingly bleak. Travel today is relatively faster and people across the world are traveling more than ever before. But at a cost: urban roads are choc-a-bloc with vehicles. The air chokes millions. While the affluent scramble for more road space, the not-so-lucky are getting cramped into increasingly smaller areas. The dream of mobility generated by the private motor vehicle is gradually turning into a nightmare of immobility and pollution.

Crisis of mobility
In 1998, a consultation paper by the uk government on fighting traffic congestion and pollution through road user and parking charges estimated that 1.6 billion hours were lost by drivers and passengers on Great Britain"s roads due to congestion in 1996: 80 per cent in urban areas. London, in fact, has been forced to ask motorists entering the city centre to pay a congestion tax of