Traffic problems should not dominate mobility planning: PBL


Mobility planners in the Netherlands put far too much emphasis on traffic jams, rather than the problems facing cyclists and people who use public transport, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) said on Monday.

People who take public transport generally take longer to get to work or reach a hospital than those who take the car, especially in rural areas, the PBL said in a new report.

The difference in journey times is most acute when it comes to commuting. Drivers can reach far more places of work within half an hour than public transport users, mainly because two-thirds of companies are not located next to a bus or tram stop.

Some 75% of Dutch households have at least one car, including company cars.

The research shows that 30% pensioners who live in the countryside or on the edge of a town and don’t have a car cannot get to a hospital within 30 minutes and 12% need more than 45 minutes.

Between 10% and 17% of teenagers face a cycle ride of at least 30 minutes to get to school and even longer if they relied on public transport. The lack of public transport can also be a hindrance when choosing schools, the PBL said.

Policy makers can take better decisions if they have insight at a neighbourhood level into access to jobs, healthcare and shops by comparing different modes of transport and times of the day, PBL researcher Jeroen Bastiaanssen said.

‘One of the most important aims of mobility policy is to enable people to get to work, to access services and to maintain social contacts,’ he said. ‘In practice, transport policy has been reduced to combating congestion and facility free traffic flow.’

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