– The creation of completely new roads should be the last alternative – Dagsavisen

Road projects that depend on increased traffic should not be built to be socially and economically profitable, and allow for increased capacity and reduced travel times, says Anders Roth.

He works as a transport researcher at the Swedish IVL Institute for the Environment, and was secretary of the so-called Climate Law Inquiry in Sweden.

Why are such projects not implemented?

The goal should be traffic growth that enables us to meet the climate challenge in a sustainable way. In Sweden, that means traffic could potentially be reduced by 10 percent, Roth answers.

Are there many plans to build more roads in Sweden?

– In the current transportation plan, there are 27 road projects. Eight of them rely on increased traffic to be socially and economically profitable. Roth answers that these eight projects account for more than 70 percent of the cost of road projects.

Four-step models

In Sweden – as in Norway – it often comes to the four-step model, also called the four-step methodology, when a problem is solved in the transmission system. In the Norwegian Public Roads Administration’s brochure “V712 Impact Assessments”, the four steps are described as follows:

Measures that can reduce the need for transportation and affect the choice of transportation.

Measures that provide more efficient use of existing infrastructure and vehicles.

Simple conversion procedures.

Major redevelopment measures or development in a new way.

This methodology is the basis for much of the study and specific planning work of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Dagsavisen has been informed. It is used, among other things, in concept selection studies and in connection with the preparatory work of the National Transportation Plan.

Should more focus be placed on the first step of the four-step model in Sweden?

“Yes, that is how the four-step model is intended to work, and the government says that, too,” Anders Roth answers.

– the last option

– But the Swedish Transport Administration believes it does not have sufficient mandate to do so. Roth continues: We’ve now come up with proposals (in the Climate Law Study) to make that possible.

The Swedish Transport Administration is responsible for planning Sweden’s land, water and air transport systems.

Roth believes that building entirely new roads should be a last resort.

– What measures can reduce urban traffic?

Roth answers: – A combination of carrot and whip, such as higher parking fees, lower speed limits along with better opportunities for walking, cycling and public transportation travel, and more investment in city life.

What measures can be an alternative to building new highways?

Increased investment in alternatives such as freight trains, taller and heavier trucks and more opportunities for more people to use buses and bicycles.

Roth also mentions measures such as reduced speed limits, more bus lanes, kilometer taxes on road traffic, and higher parking fees in cities.

Better facilitation of more walking and bicycle use is one measure that can contribute to less vehicular traffic, according to traffic researcher Anders Roth.

efficient transportation community

– In your climate law query, you are also concerned that both the different plans and the Swedish Transport Administration themselves must contribute to a transport-efficient society. what does that mean?

A society in which there is good access to jobs and communal services, such as stores, kindergartens, and schools, answers Roth.

Energy-efficient means of transportation such as bicycles and public transport should be easy to use. He adds that a transport-efficient society also means transporting goods with a higher degree of packing and more rail transport.

The aspiration for a transport-efficient society is also important in the discussion about the goal of Norway’s transport policy, according to Holger Schlaubitz, president of the Nature Conservation Society.

Low transport should be an important goal in the national transport plan process, he says.

This may indicate a very different approach to the four-step model/four-step methodology than is the case today, according to Schlaubitz.

-If there are too many cars on the road, it’s mostly a study of the wider roads we’re seeing, not traffic-limiting measures, he says.

Extra shock

Schlaupitz also points to examples in both Trøndelag and Agder, where “comprehensive studies based on the four-step methodology” were set aside by politicians, turning roads from two or three fields into four fields with higher speed limits.

When a vehicle’s travel times are reduced, its use becomes more attractive, notes Anders Roth.

It is very appalling that the roads that lead to or enter areas where passenger car traffic cannot grow, according to the goal of zero growth for cities, yet are planned to increase traffic significantly, continues Schlaubitz.

– Examples here are E16 towards Hønefoss, E39 Hordfast, E16/E39 west of Bergen, E6 south of Trondheim and E6 north/east of Trondheim.

Roth points out that a transition from petrol and diesel cars to electric cars will not be enough to meet Sweden’s climate goals. He states that electric cars also need energy, and that minerals and other resources are used when manufacturing these cars.

Schlaubitz also denies that the increased use of electric vehicles eliminates the need for traffic-restricting measures.

– Most relevant in cities

Senior Consultant Anne Kjerkrit at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration points out that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is responsible for developing comprehensive transport solutions. This means facilitating walking and increasing the use of bicycles and public transportation, but also developing efficient and environmentally friendly solutions for vehicular traffic.

– The four-step methodology does not in itself aim to reduce traffic, but rather aims to find alternatives that contribute to solving transportation problems as well and reasonably as possible in light of the needs and goals, says Kjerkrit.

– The first step, which relates to measures that reduce transport needs and affect the choice of means of transport, is the most appropriate with regard to transport in major cities, where the national transport plan stipulates that traffic should be increased by public transport, cycling and walking sequences.

Kjerkrit has many examples of measures being implemented in line with this.

– “Kollektivgata” The Dronning Eufemias gate in Oslo is closed to passenger car traffic during rush hour. Karl Berner Square in Oslo was rebuilt to reduce car traffic and increase access to buses and trams. At Elgsetergata in Trondheim, a car lane has been converted into a public transport lane to facilitate the use of public transport.

– This increases access to public transportation – which in turn helps reduce vehicular traffic, Kjerkrit points out.

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