Five ways the world fights traffic congestion

Five approaches that have been tried around the world and how they fared.

London saw reductions in traffic after introducing congestion charging.

Congestion charges

London, Singapore and a growing number of cities across the world have had some success in reducing traffic by charging to use roads at peak times.

Singapore has the most sophisticated approach with a rate that fluctuates based on the intensity of traffic on the road.

Drivers are charged through an in-car unit with a cash card that automatically links with over-head Electronic Road Pricing platforms equipped with sensors and cameras.

Road-space rationing

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One of the most drastic anti-traffic policy measures was implemented in Athens in the 1990s.

Cars with licence plates ending in even numbers can only enter the city at peak times on even days of the month, while cars with odd numbers can only do so on odd days.

“That policy didn’t really work well as so many people ended up owning two cars,” said Stanisljevic.

In many cases the second car is a cheap second-hand vehicle that ends up adding to pollution in the city, she says.

Vehicle ownership restrictions

Several countries limit access to vehicles in various ways. In Bermuda, for example, residents are limited to one car per household.

The system has worked quite well with many people using mopeds or public buses and ferries to get around.

Singapore also restricts vehicle ownership through a quota system with residents required to bid for a Certificate of Entitlement to own a car.

The per-capita car-ownership rate in Singapore is approximately 12 cars per 100 people. Cayman’s vehicle-ownership rate by comparison is 63 cars per 100 people. Such restrictions would likely be a hard political sell in Cayman without better public transport.

Cycle infrastructure

Several European cities have invested heavily in cycle infrastructure. The Netherlands has cycle-specific highways for two-wheeled transport, while cities like Copenhagen have invested heavily in bike paths.

London has also been successful in encouraging more commuters to use bicycles through a mix of improved infrastructure and a sustained promotional campaign.

While cycle lanes have been introduced on most new roads in Cayman there are few journeys that can be completed exclusively in bike lanes and no cycle-specific routes.

The weather and the lack of a ‘cycle culture’ such as exists in Europe are other factors that inhibit biking as the solution to congestion here.

Better town planning

“Work, live, play’ is the mantra of ‘new urbanism’ town-planning philosophy that seeks to reduce dependency on cars by clustering homes, schools, shops and entertainment in mixed-use zones.

In many cities and islands, including Cayman, the opposite has occurred, forcing people to commute long distances between home and work.

Rethinking the way we build, is highlighted by Joseph Kane of the Brookings Institution, as one of the best things governments can do to reduce traffic congestion in the long term.

Camana Bay is the best local example of this type of development with is new residential builds expected to increase the number of people who can live and work within the town.

Similar philosophies have been promoted for the revitalisation of George Town and Cayman’s development plan, currently in the works, will consider that approach as it looks to formulate a zoning map for the coming years.

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  1. Cayman Compass, surely good public transport should be among your list of five. Bermuda’s car ownership restrictions have less impact because of their excellent public transport system, both land and ferry! Such ownership restrictions will not work properly in Cayman until the public has reliable options.

    A good public transport system assists with traffic congestion issues in any country but until Cayman has a system (what exists now cannot be considered a system – merely a poor “service”) there will be no meaningful improvement.