John Redwood is the MP for Wokingham.
Traffic lights are so un-Conservative. They are part of the top-down, government knows best model of bossing us about. So many sets around the country have phasings designed to drive the most even-tempered motorist into a bad mood. Main roads burdened with traffic receive too short a green phase. Right turning traffic shares a lane with the rest and blocks progress across the junction. All red phases for all motorists and vans at a junction allow phantom pedestrians to cross in both directions at the same time, yet they never turn up to do so. The first thing to do to get Britain on the move is to replace traffic light sets with roundabouts where possible. They flow better, relying on the judgement of motorists to proceed safely whilst keeping the flows going. Where lights persist, they need rephasing.
Whilst we are reviewing the junctions, we can also raise safety and improve flows by putting in right turning lanes where possible to segregate traffic. We could allow turning left on red, treating a red light as a stop sign at the junction. One of the main causes of delay and frustration is the poor design and limited capacity of road junctions.
Many towns and cities are clogged by the absence of bridges. There are far too few ways over the railway lines in many urban locations. Level crossings are a hazard and need replacing with bridges. Some cities also suffer from too few river bridges. In London, with an apparently good number of river bridges, there are still plenty of jams as there is insufficient central area bridge capacity. The Victorians were busy adding to bridge capacity. Our era has not built a new central London road bridge. In my area, we desperately need an additional river crossing over the Thames as our economy expands rapidly.
Utility companies and others have a passion for burying their networks under main road carriageways. They should be stopped from doing so. Every time there is a gas leak or a water burst, a road has to be closed, the tarmac dug up, and the offending pipe located amidst a spaghetti of cables, wires and pipes. Cables and pipes should be routed in secure and accessible conduits under pavements, verges, or at the back of properties. The initial capital cost would be higher, but the subsequent savings on maintenance, access and replacement would be huge. The utilities would also find their reputation improved, as many people harbour simmering resentments at the delays they cause them trying to get children to school or themselves to work by car. Builders have long since abandoned putting wires into plastered walls in offices, but run them in accessible spaces between floors so they can be replaced without other building works.
England is in need of a large increase in road capacity. More capacity would cut accidents, reduce journey times, reduce exhaust pollution and improve lives. Building some new and better roads would also help, but that takes longer and costs more. My ideas can be immediate, relatively cheap, and popular. No wonder it’s hard work getting them adopted.