Transport behaviour expert defends road building

One of the UK’s leading behavioural scientists has backed road building, saying some government advisers’ experience is at odds with the majority of the population.

Writing in the Spectator Magazine, Ogilvy vice-chairman Rory Sutherland, who is co-order of the book “Transport for Humansargues that transport policy is too London-centric.

“The people leaning their folding bicycles against the walls of the corridors of power hence enjoy an influence completely disproportionate to their numbers, and have an experience of transport entirely at odds with the rest of the population,” he writes. “They have come to believe that using a car is a choice, and a bad choice at that. They see it as their mission to do everything they can to get people to give up their cars, as though driving were simply an outdated vice, like smoking or bear-baiting.”

Suggesting a car is vital for the majority of the population, Mr Sutherland, who is keynote speaker at this September’s JCT Traffic Signals Symposium, argues road building will help boost the economy.

“For most people and almost all businesses, independent motorised transport is a necessity,” he continues. “Some 88% of all miles travelled in the UK last year were by car, van or taxi.

“One of the few infallible ways to spur economic growth is road-building, since it expands the sphere of scope of buyers and the catchment area of people selling things. Yet for some reason there is a complete lack of political will for promoting road-building. I don’t know why. Anyone starting a ‘Motorists’ party’ in 2023 could easily find themselves the next Nigel Farage.”

The JCT Traffic Signals Symposium takes place on 14 and 15 September at Nottingham Trent University, with the MOVA User Group and opening social event taking place the night before. Highways News is media partner of the event and co-owner Paul Hutton will be moderating a session.

(Picture – Rory Sutherland, right, with his Transport for Humans co-author and co-JCT keynote speaker Pete Dyson, courtesy Pete Dyson)


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