Even fans of life spent behind the wheel must suspect that the current state of traffic in large (and often not so large) cities is hardly sustainable. The number of vehicles in Europe is increasing year by year, which cannot be said about the areas for additional streets, roads and parking lots. New roads are all too often created at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists.
Where to fit all the cars?
How to deal with ever expanding need for the roads is an age-old, complex and still controversial topic in most of the European countries. The conflict between the needs, wants and obsessions of all the parties involved seem to be a zero-sum game.
The problem is growing before our eyes. A virtual parking lot where all Czech (only) passenger cars would stop side by side would occupy an area of almost 80 square kilometers. The area of highways, roads, streets and actual parking areas is calculated at hundreds of square kilometers, and it increases every year.
It is the mobility week that should shed light on the solutions to transport puzzles in the context of their economic, urban health and ecological impacts.
Behavior affects traffic density
The increasing areas of transport structures and ever-increasing traffic are not only related to the growing number of vehicles. Traffic is also increasing with the help of those who flee from its consequences to distant peripheries and recreational areas.
Also, the emergence of large shopping centers contributed significantly more to traffic density in certain locations than the absolute increase in the number of cars.
Even the development of e-commerce brought new courier cars to the streets. At the same time, it reduced the need for consumers to go to brick-and-mortar stores for shopping. It is not only about the number of vehicles produced, but also about the way they are used.
A certain hope, at least for the lungs and ears of people living in the cities, is the emerging electromobility. Even though the roads in peak hour will still be clogged, the level of noise that destroys the health of nearby residents will be reduced. Even if a courier or dad from the family parks on the pavement, lawn and bike path at the same time, at least he won’t be a nuisance with the engine running.
However, until it is possible to replace fossil sources with renewable ones, the health of people around the roads will continue to be damaged by emissions from coal-fired power plants that will power electric cars.
Computer technology also helps to mitigate the impact of traffic. Google developers have harnessed artificial intelligence in attempts to make crossing traffic lights smoother. It is not only a time saving, but it also results in a smaller number of accelerations. Google is also introducing a new option in its Maps to choose a route based on fuel consumption. It will be a useful tool with the potential to reduce fuel costs and the amount of emissions.
All of this won’t do much for professional dispatchers though. Their powerful planning softwares can already effectively reduce the time spent on the road and at gas pumps. On a global scale, this means saving a huge amount of money, energy and pollutants that would end up in the atmosphere or in our lungs.