Thursday, September 29, 2005

City of Cyclists debates Congestion Tax as it struggles with Traffic Grid-Lock

World wide the debate continues about congestion taxes or road fees as they are called in Copenhagen. In Sydney we could call them road tolls as you can argue that they already exist- the only problem has been that the new Cross City Tunnel with its expensive tolls has forced more traffic than planned to divert through the maze of surface roads with accompanying road changes and traffic snarls. William and Park streets in the CBD are now bumper to bumper car parks most days. However, on a recent lecture in Sydney Dr. Enrique Penalosa, Former Mayor of Bogota Colombia, advised us that traffic jams are the environmentalists and new urbanists' good friend as frustrated private vehicle drivers abandoned short car trips in favour of alternate transport modes such as walking, cycling and public transport. Increased patronage for alternate transport force governments and private sector providers to upgrade services and infrastructure to meet the growing demand and raised expectations of the new consumers. The irony is that the CCT and increased petrol prices are already forcing a rethink on transport usage in Sydney. The figures are showing a increase in patronage of rail and bus services in the inner city. Reminds me again that we had to have a 'petrol summit' focused on reducing the price of petrol and not a summit to decrease dependency on petrol in our city (see my earlier blog on the petrol summit).

On a related thought - was I dreaming when late on Tuesday night I heard US President George Bush ask people to think twice before making a car trip to help conserve petrol stocks? But then the White House issued a clarifying statement a few hours later saying the President still firmly believes that using a private motor car is a fundamental freedom and right to all Americans.

Copenhageners ready to pay to drive As traffic congestion grows in the capital city, Copenhageners warm to the idea of paying road fees

Jan JÃrgensen / Scanpix Denmark

Heavy traffic in Copenhagen down town

With local residents purchasing more cars and commuters adding to the congestion, road fees might have a future in Copenhagen.
Bumper to bumper traffic in many parts of the city led six out of ten residents to support the idea of road fees in a survey conducted by Epinion for national public service station DR.
Motorists were somewhat more reserved in support of the idea, but 40 percent were nevertheless positive to the idea of road pricing. The fact that even motorists did not completely reject the idea of road fees could be attributed to their recognition that cars have a negative impact on the environment, according to Per Homann Jespersen, a traffic researcher at Roskilde University.
'Nobody is a motorist all the time, so even though people have a car in Copenhagen, they still want a good urban environment,' said Jespersen.
Local residents are behind the wheel in 80 percent of the trips made in the capital.
A majority of city councillors in Copenhagen are prepared to institute road fees, but the Liberal-Conservative state government and its support party, the Danish People's Party, are opposed to legislation that would open the door for road fees.

No comments: