29 March 2008

Intelligent Traffic Control in Copenhagen

Bike Symbol with Red Flavour
The Mayor in charge of traffic and environment, Klaus Bondam, has a new idea. He has been trying, together with the Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard, to implement road pricing in Copenhagen in order to limit the amount of motorised traffic.

The problem is that the national government is of the right-wing variety and they are blocking the plans. Even though the studies from cities that have road pricing are overwhelmingly positive.

So he has now proposed something City Hall calls '
Intelligent Traffic Control'.

It involves setting up sensors that measure air pollution in Copenhagen and the levels of pollution they report will regulate the traffic heading into the city.

If the pollution levels are too high on any particular day, all the traffic lights on the main roads into the city will turn red and stay red longer than normal. The time the traffic lights are green will be reduced by 10 percent.

Motorists will be informed by the internet or text messages before they leave for work so they can choose alternative transport forms.

"It will create queues on some of the approach roads, but it certainly our hope that people will think about it. The signal we want to send is that you have to use your car with careful consideration", says Klaus Bondam.

He is aware that cars still pollute when they're stopped at a red light but: "There are fewer people in the areas in question than there is in the densely populated areas. But the whole idea is to get people to leave the car at home", he says.

Won't this make life miserable for motorists?

"It's about cutting down on the Co2 emissions that the transport sector is responsible for. Besides, we have to adjust to the fact that more and more people are living and working in the city", says Klaus Bondam.

He would prefer the proposed road pricing scheme, which would charge money for driving into the city, but the national government has blocked that initiative.

"As long as we can't use road pricing, we must use other ideas in order to lower emissions." He is ready to tackle angry motorists.

"I don't mind getting spanked for being unpopular. There are few other things that people get so emotional about than their car. If they don't agree with me, they can vote differently at the next election. I've never disguised what I think", says the mayor.

»Motorists think they're protected from harmful emissions because they're sitting in their car. But that is the biggest old wive's tale. You're exposed to the emissions, maybe even more so than others."

He refers to the fact that 800 Copenhageners die prematurely each year because of pollution.

"Either we can not do anything and let the CO2 levels rise and rise, along with the illnesses that follow", he says.

"Or we can make a choice as a society and say that it's not enough to treat the symptoms. Denmark has a responsibility to lead the world on an environmental level", says Bondam.

He will reserve 7 million kroner for a pilot project.

via: politiken.dk