Treat the disease, not just the symptoms

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In the editorial “Clogged arteries” (Nov. 13), you editorialized at length on the difficulties faced by St. John's drivers. You speak of Kenmount Road as a “symptom,” and ask for a prescription — but you address only symptoms. You are not getting at the disease. You prescribe more, newer and wider roads, but this is 1950s thinking.

Surely you’ve heard of “road-induced traffic”?

This theory states that the existence of car infrastructure increases the likelihood of car use — and it’s been proven both positively, through countless studies of the tendency of new roads to become congested, and in the negative, when roads that seemed indispensable, like the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, the Scarborough Stub in Toronto, or Milwaukee’s Park East Freeway, were demolished — with no measurable increase in traffic congestion.

The fact is, building new roads to fix traffic is like buying a larger belt to cure obesity — and it’s literally the ones in cars most in danger of obesity.

Do we really need more roads leading to more parking lots with more single-use big box stores, offices and gyms? Me, instead of driving my car to the gym, I prefer to ride my bicycle to a restaurant. I can always park right in front, too — and it doesn’t cost me a dime.

OK, it’s frustrating to drive into St. John’s, with all the congestion.

I get it.

So where is your call for an integrated regional transit plan? Surely you realize a single bus will remove 40 or more single-occupancy cars from the road. Meanwhile, the ones in danger of “clogged arteries” are the ones stuck in cars. Get outside — walk to the bus stop, or ride your bike to work. If you think this is impossible, well, maybe now you’re starting to look at the actual “disease.”

Forget about treating the symptoms. Traffic congestion is a fact because the options are paltry.

Don’t you think the prescription that’s actually needed is one that makes active transportation and excellent public transit options truly viable in the Avalon region?


Jacob Allderdice

St. John’s

Geographic location: Embarcadero Freeway, San Francisco, Toronto Park East Freeway Avalon

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Recent comments

  • Luke
    November 24, 2013 - 22:36

    Thank you for sending this in. I don't understand how this concept isn't widely understood in this city like it is in many other cities around the world. Building wider roads only delays the problem of congestion by 5 years. The key to reduce congestion is to have better city planning (i.e. denser living, not suburbs) and focus on walkers, bikers and public transit. This isn't an unrealistic request, it has been implemented in great cities all around the world like Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; Copenhagen, Denmark; Ottawa and Vancouver.

  • Brad
    November 24, 2013 - 20:35

    Be helpful if people weren't going 30 km/h below the speed limit on Prince Phillip Drive. No wonder traffic is backed up. If you can't comfortable drive with the flow of traffic, get off the road as it is dangerous.

  • Fact Checker
    November 24, 2013 - 06:45

    This guy wants the 'ideal' subway / bus system of New York and then says "it’s frustrating to drive into St. John’s, with all the congestion." HA HA HA reftoration allhre