Top 5: Unintended consequences

 

With the Brexit vote still providing unintended outcomes galore and Usain Bolt, the world’s most efficient form of active travel, responding to taunts by promising to run faster, here’s our top five unintended consequences in transport.

1) More roads mean more traffic

It’s been known for a while that new and widened roads can be self defeating as a way of tackling congestion as they can simply encourage more people to use their cars. These days this effect may still be an unintended consequence (albeit that many schemes actively promote increased growth and mobility) but no-one can say they weren’t warned.

2) More diesel means more death

In 2001, the then chancellor Gordon Brown introduced a fuel duty tax break on diesel on the basis that the fuel produces lower CO2 emissions than petrol. The number of diesel vehicles on the country’s roads more than doubled subsequently – and probably consequently. The tax break remains in place today.

Unfortunately, it’s now recognised that diesel vehicles contribute significantly to toxic NO2 air pollution and around 40,000 premature deaths annually. Last year former Labour minister Lord Drayson said the products of diesels are ‘literally killing people’ and in June the then transport secretary (Sir) Patrick McLoughlin hinted at a change of tack that the Daily Mail called an outrage: ‘First we were bribed to buy diesel cars. Now they want to tax us for doing so. ‘

3) The ‘West’ Indies

”Local
Which way is East? The Columbus monument in Barcelona

It’s a little (well) known fact that when Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, he was in fact trying to find a route west to the East, blindly hoping that the world would turn out to be round. In doing so, he invented Transatlantic travel, leading to the Titanic, Concorde and people trying to row across for charity.

Other unintended consequences of the colonisation of the Americas include, the introduction of lung cancer (tobacco) and obesity (chipped potatoes) to Europe, not to mention the murderous grey squirrel. At the same time, conquistadores took many diseases to the Americas that were fatal to many of the people already living there.

4) It’s not rocket science

The invention of the United States of America also led to man taking one small step onto the moon and it’s often said that the scientific developments NASA produced have also had some surprising spin-offs.

OK, so they didn’t actually invent Velcro, Teflon, Tang or computers, but NASA’s failed efforts at a new space food led to the technology to make nutritional supplements for infant formula and its invention of the camera-on-a-chip CMOS sensor, which is found in camera phones, led directly to the ubiquitous selfie.

5 ) No consequences, in fact

The not-so-new town of Milton Keynes is often cited as an example of the failure of segregated cycling infrastructure to deliver cycling activity. In 2014 the Green Party complained that ‘the percentage of cyclists in Reading has not increased over the last ten years, despite government and council initiatives’. In 2001 4.1% of the town’s commuters used a bike to get to work and 10 years later in, the figure was ... 4.1%.

Earlier this year, the then transport minister Robert Goodwill boasted about the Government’s efforts to promote cycling, while admitting that it had little to no knowledge of the outcome: ‘The Department for Transport does not centrally hold figures for how many bicycle lanes have been constructed, as this is a matter for local areas. The Department has provided funding to local authorities to implement cycling schemes for instance through the Cycling Ambition Grants, Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Local Growth Fund and Integrated Transport Block’.

 

Also see

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Career Grade Drainage Engineer

Swindon Borough Council
£19,092 to £40,680 p.a
Working in the asset management team, you’ll support the work of the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and Highways Authority. Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Assistant Director (Planning, Regeneration & Transport)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£87,791 per annum  
This is an exciting time to join Rotherham and make a real difference. We are looking for an outstanding Assistant Director who will bring... Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Highway Construction Project Manager

Brent Council
£50,442 - £53,526 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an accomplished highway construction project manager to support the delivery of two high priority highway schemes. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Signals & UTMC Manager

Bristol City Council
£42,683 - £45,591 (from 1st April onwards)
Looking for someone with proven management experience, enthusiasm, creativity, vision and good communication skills. City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Highways Estimator

Ringway
Competitive Salary
As the Highways Estimator you will join a busy environment and become an integral part of the team. Hounslow (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Ringway

Principal Highways Project Engineer

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,106 - £35,229 per annum
The post holder will be responsible for project managing the delivery of two highway projects on the Key Route Network. Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Traffic Schemes Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
£22,021 - £29,636 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to play a central role with the Traffic Team in the maintenance of the highway network... Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,055 to £30,756
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team! Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Engineer – Traffic Regulation

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,866 to £25,463
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Environment Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£29,909 – £32,233 Grade 11 - £33,136 - £35,229
All Environment Officers lead, project manage and/or co-ordinate large environmental projects... Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Quantity Surveyor

Leicester City Council
£30,756 - £33,136 pro-rata per annum
Working in the Highways Maintenance Group, you will be responsible for the operational highway maintenance activities Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicester City Council

Highways Engineer/Inspector

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22956 - £32637 per annum
Highways Engineer/Inspector - PermanentThere are plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Royal Greenwich.Royal Greenwich is undergoing a huge trans England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Project Engineer

Derbyshire County Council
Grade 13 £39,867 - £43,282 per annum
Derbyshire County Council is looking for an enthusiastic, enterprising and experienced laboratory manager Derbyshire
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Engineer - Bridges

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
We have a vacancy for a Structures Engineer working within the Bridge’s team! Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will be required to lead the delivery of a wide range of highway improvements and maintenance projects... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Highway Supervision Engineer x 2

Somerset County Council
£24,657 - £28,221 per annum
You should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, confident, work well within a team environment and strive to support the deliver high quality services. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Senior Development Infrastructure Officer

Somerset County Council
£29,055 - £33,136 per annum
You should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, confident, work well within a team environment and strive to deliver high quality services. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Development Infrastructure Officer

Somerset County Council
£33,136 - £37,107 per annum
You should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, confident, work well within a team environment and strive to deliver high quality services... Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Highway Design Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,136 - £37,107 per annum
You should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, confident, work well within a team environment and strive to deliver high quality services. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Improvement and Asset Managers – Highways

North Yorkshire County Council
£42,683 to £45,591
We have exciting opportunities for Improvement and Asset Managers to join our highways service at North Yorkshire County Council. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council