On a mailing list for cyclists, that I belong to, I received this analysis,from Chidambaran Subramanianb, of why road-widening is not a sustainable option:
"Cut down the trees, widen the roads , make them signal free if possible. Good, I am pretty sure that there will be no congestion for a week. Then, with the added cars everyday in the city and the new cars that are coming/going to come, there will be congestion and much more pollution than before. Now people will take another road which is pleasant and tree-laden. Identify that as an arterial road , widen it and hopefully to shut up the stupid cycling community , give a cycling lane. Whether a cycling lane will result in only cycles is something to be seen( I am for shutting off stretches of roads for vehicles but that is off-topic) . Now again, to free up the congestion, we’ll start doing an underpass in an important junction, hopefully widen a residential locality , and try pushing off the pesky residents there by trying something smart like a TDR. Once we exhaust that, we go back to the original road that we widened, decide that its not wide enough, build an aerial expressway which is signal free. After some time that gets congested. Then what?
"Maybe I am a bit shortsighted but I’d really appreciate if someone can enlighten me as to how this scheme is sustainable. And regarding the timelines of the new roads getting congested, I’m not kidding. Look at Palace road,Shesadri road Nrupatunga Road. Does anybody have any figures for the traffic flow before widening and a month after widening , and a comparison of before the widening and now.
"I am a big fan of building highways and making traffic between cities fast and transport cheap. But the cities and villages are basically meant for the people to live and work, and they should be designed accordingly. Not opt for a quickie and repent in leisure."
We don’t have to paint a scenario for the future. Let’s look at the recent past.
I have personally lived, and suffered, through road-widening and three flyovers. The first and second….the Dairy Circle Flyover, and the one near my home (where we lost about 30 trees) the Jayadeva Flyover, which was opened on July 31, 2006:
Within 4.5 years, Bannerghatta Road is as choked as ever. At the third one, at Silk Board, they resorted to an elevated road.
Now, at the site of these 3 flyovers, we have roads that can be widened no more…no trees…very narrow or non-existent pavements….and jammed traffic.
"Those who cannot learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them in the future".