Congestion Versus The Environment (And The Solutions)

Major cities throughout the world have a serious problem: congestion.

Of course, congestion is a known issue. It’s incredibly frustrating to be sitting in traffic for hours on end, not able to get where you want to go, having to waste your life as you wait to crawl forward another inch. Congestion is a big problem in ever-more populated cities, especially around rush hour times as employees descend on a city, when movement grinds to a halt. On a purely logistical level and in terms of productivity, congestion is a problem.

There is a bigger issue with congestion, however – and it’s one that politicians and campaigners the world over need to accept. Congestion is a major contributor to the fact that the air quality in so many cities is horrifically bad. Congestion is, to put it mildly, damaging the environment.

How Is This Happening?

When a car sits, idling in traffic, it’s basically just pumping out waste particles – including damaging carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides – into the air. These chemicals are a major contributor to climate change, and they reduce air quality to levels that can damage health. Smog is becoming an ever-increasing problem throughout the world’s cities; cars sitting idling in traffic, going nowhere, pumping out these fumes, is a serious reason for this.

So reducing congestion isn’t just about making life easier and less frustrating; it’s a necessity for the health of the planet, and the people that live on it.

What Are The Solutions?

There are many solutions for congestion itself, depending on how much effort the city in question wants to make. All traffic measures should be designed to keep traffic moving, but this is often hampered by pedestrian crossings. Bridges, for example, are preferable to an endless array of pedestrian crossings, as bridges do not slow traffic.

Then you can look at the vehicles themselves. Motorbikes may have a bad reputation, known as much for horrific crashes and frequent need for motorcycle attorneys and road safety campaigns as much as anything – but they can truly help congestion. A motorcycle can keep moving, thanks to its small profile, when cars have to grind to a halt – we’ve all seen motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic. That might be annoying in the moment, but in terms of emissions, it’s pretty much ideal.

Motorbikes aren’t the only option, either. Electric cars are becoming more and more standard, and charging points are beginning to spring up in the same way gas stations once did. Electric cars are perfect for city driving, as they have a small range and their lack of speed is not an issue. While they don’t ease the congestion, they do at least make it less damaging.

The final solution is societal: we need to get rid of the rush hour. Staggering work times and allowing for flexible working patterns will stop the sudden crush of vehicles on the road at 5 pm, leading to better-flowing traffic through the rest of the day. This alone could make a significant difference, but few businesses have shown the inclination to separate from the traditional nine-to-five.