According to the RAC, it’s impossible to ever be more than six miles away from the road network whilst in Britain. That’s despite only modest growth in over twenty years.
There’s No Escape
We’ve got some bad news if you like the idea of just getting away from it all. After analysing an Ordinance Survey, the RAC has concluded that it’s physically impossible to be more than six miles away from the road network whilst in Britain. This might come as a surprise, given our islands’ vast open spaces; especially in the likes of northern England and Scotland. It’s an even more intriguing fact when we consider that, ultimately, our road network hasn’t grown much for sometime. In fact, over the last 20 years it’s only gained some some 5,000 miles. Whilst that might sound like a lot, that’s an increase from 241,490 miles to 246,697 miles between 1998 and 2018.
Whilst the road network has hardly grown in a generation, its usage has skyrocketed. 2% growth has been met with a 15% rise in use. In 2018, we clocked up a collective 328 billion miles. In 1998, we managed only 285 billion. Approximately half of our mileage is clocked up on motorways and A-roads. As it stands, road authorities are focused on adapting roads to modern demands and expectations; rather than creating new ones. This is laid out in the £15 billion ‘Road Investment Strategy for England’ which is already being applied on the A27 Arundel bypass and Lower Thames Crossing.
A Changing Landscape
Britain’s roads are facing numerous overhauls. In particular, our motorways are slowly being converted to the ‘smart’ format; this eliminates the hard shoulder and uses adaptive speed limits to ease congestion. Concerns for their safety have been dismissed by Highways England. Since the 50s, most methods of transport (including rail) have remained fairly stable. Travel by cars, vans and taxis, however, has risen from around 50 billion km to 650 billion km today. In 1951, nearly 90% of households didn’t possess a car. That figure has sat just above 20% for decades now. The problem is, most of our major roads are already operating well above their stated capacities; and whilst road safety has improved significantly, we’re spending more and more time stuck in traffic.
But road authorities and the government have all sorts of challenges to contend with in regards to transport. They need to drastically reduce the emissions caused by human mobility; especially travel by petrol and diesel vehicles. At the same time, they can’t afford to disrupt the road network and other infrastructure which so many millions of people depend on each and everyday. Debates concerning ‘peak car’, the idea that we’re actually at the beginning of the end of the automotive era, simply serve to confuse matters further. Not to mention the rise of driverless cars. Either way, we don’t envy the Ministry of Transport…
Highways England Insists Smart Motorways Are Safe – http://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/highways-england-smart-motorways-safe/
Motorway Misconceptions: Separating The Facts From The Fiction – https://www.autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/motorway-misconceptions/