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"Smart" Motorways, Waste of Billions?

Frank WilsonFrank Wilson Posts: 991
edited June 2016 in The cake stop
As a regular motorway user (circa 50K a year) I question the wisdom in spending billions on "Smart" Motorways. Quite apart from the cost, the disruption caused to commuters / motorway users is horrendous with some of these "upgrades" going on for three and four years to do 20 miles of motorway.

For me there is a far more cost effective, less disruptive way to ease the traffic flow and that is to restrict HGV's to the inside lane.

Whilst I realise this would be unpopular with hauliers experience shows me that the minute a HGV pulls out to overtake another the middle lane slows right down, some cars in the middle lane then move to the outside lane slowing that down. Bearing in mind that when two HGV's are evenly matched speed wise an overtake can last half a mile to a mile especially if a hill appears and the balance of speed changes due to load.

Certainly on some European motorways they have HGV restriction zones with regard to overtaking (declines / inclines / busy junctions etc) so it is obviously workable.

Posts

  • homers_doublehomers_double Posts: 6,445
    You propose it and I'll second the motion.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • ProssPross Posts: 22,145
    I've driven regularly on the section of the A42 where lorries are banned from overtaking for a large chunk of the day. It gets ignored there and probably would if you confined them to one lane on the motorway. The single biggest cause of delay on motorways is drivers of all types of vehicle driving to close to the vehicle in front. Not only does it result in more crashes but you get the ripple effect as everyone has to brake progressively harder. The other downside of putting all HGVs in one lane is that the lane would wear out far quicker and you'd have more cost and delays as the lane is out of use more frequently for maintenance.
  • kingstoniankingstonian Posts: 2,085
    I drive along the M3 every day and the bloody roadworks creating a so-called Smart motorway are driving me nuts. I've no idea if the outcome will be any better, but I suspect I won't notice any difference.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 839
    The variable speed limits help on the M42. It is not just lorries but people in cars driving too close that cause slow downs when one person taps their brakes and a ripple is caused as people behind do the same as they can't absorb the speed variation in the far too small a gap.

    It does take a while to fit them but the lorry restriction you suggest would not solve the issue smart motorways are designed to help with.
  • marco67marco67 Posts: 91
    Having driven on the continent - The Netherlands and in particular Germany, lots of their motorway network restricts HGV's to lane one during peak times - and they keep to it, I'm sure the fines are hefty.
    I'd love to see the same here in the UK, but as Pross suggested, where it does exist here in the UK - and i'm familiar with the stretch on the A14, it is un-policed and completely ignored by HGV drivers and if they want to overtake uphill doing 1 mph more than the vehicle they're overtaking, they will.
    I'm also a fan of the French system that restricts HGV use on the Autoroutes at weekends, leaving it free for the Dutch and their caravans to clog the Route du Soleil ;-)
    Ciao Marco
  • arthur_scrimshawarthur_scrimshaw Posts: 2,602
    So commuters who choose to work too far away from where they live - or vice versa (i.e. lifestyle/economic choice) should get preference over lorries etc who are delivering goods (i.e. they have no choice and an essential part of keeping the economy going)?
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,476
    well - hopefully they can use these smart motorways to stop the tailgating and the middle lane hogging ...

    I'm fortunate enough to only occaisionally use motorways - but when I do it seems littered with people thinking the middle lane is for those travelling at over 50mph .... despite there being clear road ahead of them and queues of vehicles waiting to pass them on the right ... If they just moved over it would save a load of hassle.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,243
    Dunno, but the M42 seems to work pretty well compared to other motorways with the same traffic... the M25 is probably beyond hope... the M6 could do with a revamp and some form of ban to lorry-to-lorry overtaking in the busy stretches/times
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,707 Lives Here
    Live close enough to work to cycle??
  • sniper68sniper68 Posts: 2,894
    Restrict HGVs and Cars towing Caravans to the hours 18:00-06:00 on motorways and jobs a good 'un :mrgreen:
  • BelgianBeerGeekBelgianBeerGeek Posts: 5,230
    marco67 wrote:
    Having driven on the continent - The Netherlands and in particular Germany, lots of their motorway network restricts HGV's to lane one during peak times - and they keep to it, I'm sure the fines are hefty.
    I'd love to see the same here in the UK, but as Pross suggested, where it does exist here in the UK - and i'm familiar with the stretch on the A14, it is un-policed and completely ignored by HGV drivers and if they want to overtake uphill doing 1 mph more than the vehicle they're overtaking, they will.
    I'm also a fan of the French system that restricts HGV use on the Autoroutes at weekends, leaving it free for the Dutch and their caravans to clog the Route du Soleil ;-)
    Just pushes the trucks onto the minor roads. As someone who was once foolish enough to "enjoy" a nice lunch at a French roadside cafe, this is a terrible idea. Time is money, and HGVs hammering through small communities is a poor idea.
    An idea not yet posed - why not let every vehicle use any lane as it wants to. Pass anything on the road, whenever and whichever side. I can't help but think half the problem in the UK is our "fast lane" mentality.
    Ecrasez l’infame
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 3,980
    Restrict motorway use to 18:00 to 06:00 except for special permits. I would hand them out at a huge cost to cover extra traffic.police to catch flagrant rule breaking. I of course have a lifetime permit in a higher class that shows it's my motorway and everyone has to pull over to the hard shoulder to let me pass. Tugging.their forelocks in a subservient way. Failure to do so results in fines, relegation to permitless motorway travel and publicly humiliated in stocks by the side of the motorway stretch they.committed their heinous act of disrespect.

    Of course the slightly less exaggerated version of that is...I don't like HGVs and caravans so let's pick on them.

    IMHO HGVs fully laden contributing to the economy is preferential to a family driving to their holiday, social gathering, shopping mall, etc. Or a solo businessman/woman travelling to work. Or many other journeys. Of course I wish we could use rail freight hubs and take a lot of HGVs off the road for.longer journeys.

    Also I'd prefer a way to use rail to take car use off the roads. Perhaps families traveling to Cornwall for a holiday drive on to a train then either sit in a carriage at the front or another express train. Other routes are available.

    I doubt.that's practical because we're a nation of motorists, we buy HGV transported goods and yet we want unrestricted motorway travel. Get real! Compromise. Anything made in the UK could rise in price if you slow HGV traffic. Smart motorways seem to be all about controlling flow of traffic. The idea of doing 50mph to get there faster has merit. How can you do that? By not addressing the root causes in any way but at least ban HGVs from centre lanes just to try and speed up car travel. Can't see that going well personally. Live with the roadworks, it's the best idea out there that's not completely unpalatable to politicians and planners.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,303
    An idea not yet posed - why not let every vehicle use any lane as it wants to. Pass anything on the road, whenever and whichever side. I can't help but think half the problem in the UK is our "fast lane" mentality.
    When it's busy the M5 seems to get it all back to front: everyone crowding into L3 because they don't want to get 'stuck' in a 'slow' lane, and with virtually no-one in L1. Last time it was like that I went into L1 and for long stretches L1 and L2 were going faster than L3. At one point there was virtually nothing in L2 either, and I was (ahem) cruising nicely in L1, while L3 was grunting along. Bonkers. Unfortunately people don't engage their brains when they are driving - if only they would/could work out that if you use all three lanes properly, everyone would get to their destination faster.

    But they don't use their brains, hence the advantages of managed motorways (if they are managed properly).
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 3,980
    We already get HGVs on a narrow A6 stretch of the road to avoid the Lancaster bottleneck. They probably come from Heysham or the industrial estates between Lancaster and Morecambe. They're headed north so choose.junction of 35 to miss the traffic over the river Lune and around the edge of Lancaster to junction 34.

    Result of this is horrendous at times if you're cycling it. All to take a rat run that's probably no faster. If anything changes on motorways for HGVs that force them on to smaller roads I think that's a big.mistake.
  • LookyhereLookyhere Posts: 987
    marco67 wrote:
    Having driven on the continent - The Netherlands and in particular Germany, lots of their motorway network restricts HGV's to lane one during peak times - and they keep to it, I'm sure the fines are hefty.
    I'd love to see the same here in the UK, but as Pross suggested, where it does exist here in the UK - and i'm familiar with the stretch on the A14, it is un-policed and completely ignored by HGV drivers and if they want to overtake uphill doing 1 mph more than the vehicle they're overtaking, they will.
    I'm also a fan of the French system that restricts HGV use on the Autoroutes at weekends, leaving it free for the Dutch and their caravans to clog the Route du Soleil ;-)
    Just pushes the trucks onto the minor roads. As someone who was once foolish enough to "enjoy" a nice lunch at a French roadside cafe, this is a terrible idea. Time is money, and HGVs hammering through small communities is a poor idea.
    An idea not yet posed - why not let every vehicle use any lane as it wants to. Pass anything on the road, whenever and whichever side. I can't help but think half the problem in the UK is our "fast lane" mentality.

    French HGVs use N roads 'cause it saves them the tolls, HGV use at weekends is restricted to perishable goods and the french, indeed most of europe, dont have full on Sunday trading like we do.
    Your second suggestion would lead to more accidents, most drivers dont know their cars/vans or lorries have mirrors/indicators.

    if you want less delays, the solution is more road building, we have unprecedented car/lorry use, yet when did we last build a new road or M-way? we cant reopen the railways, so its roads.
    Our total failure to build on the Greenbelt means we build houses away from cities (where most well paid employment is) to smaller towns which means more commutes, those towns then need Tescos etc so more lorries & so it goes on.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,303
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,243
    Live close enough to work to cycle??

    I do, but every time I take the M6 to go somewhere north is a lottery. People outside of London do have cars... people in London prefer to use trains, as you can get to Edinburgh in the time it takes you to go from Jn 15 on the M25 to Chiswick at times (and I mean it)
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,707 Lives Here
    People outside of London?

    Pfft. Like they ever get out of bed.

    If more people lived closer to work, the world would be a better place.

    When I eventually do leave London I certainly will refuse to live or work anywhere where I can't cycle in. It's not worth the grief.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,243

    If more people lived closer to work, the world would be a better place.

    You've got to blame two factors

    1) having a school system which is so different from area to area, which is never the case in Germany, or Holland or even Italy

    2) Having a house market which is so different in neighbouring areas

    People will likely move to a palce with good schools and big houfor not much money, where there are no jobs

    Basically you have to blame at least 40 years of policies aimed at creating an inequal society
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,707 Lives Here
    Ok.
  • homers_doublehomers_double Posts: 6,445
    I could cycle to work but the fact is I need and use my car regularly for it , probably three times a week so the days I'm not driving to some godforsaken industrial estate I'm bringing the previous days work back in with me.

    Cycling for me is not really an option.

    It could be but would take a lot more effort than is worthwhile and it would disrupt my 35km morning loop.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • RideOnTimeRideOnTime Posts: 4,712

    If more people lived closer to work, the world would be a better place.

    You've got to blame two factors

    1) having a school system which is so different from area to area, which is never the case in Germany, or Holland or even Italy

    2) Having a house market which is so different in neighbouring areas

    People will likely move to a palce with good schools and big houfor not much money, where there are no jobs

    Basically you have to blame at least 40 years of policies aimed at creating an inequal society

    What's a 'houfor'?

    Motorway talk;

    driving-me-nuts-panel.jpg
  • ballysmateballysmate Posts: 13,701
    When the smart motorway was being constructed between J11 and J8 of the M6 it was an absolute nightmare joining from the M5. Now I defy anyone to travel along this stretch and enjoy a 70 speed limit. Restrictions are in place during the quietest periods.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 2,818
    An idea not yet posed - why not let every vehicle use any lane as it wants to. Pass anything on the road, whenever and whichever side. I can't help but think half the problem in the UK is our "fast lane" mentality.
    When it's busy the M5 seems to get it all back to front: everyone crowding into L3 because they don't want to get 'stuck' in a 'slow' lane, and with virtually no-one in L1. Last time it was like that I went into L1 and for long stretches L1 and L2 were going faster than L3. At one point there was virtually nothing in L2 either, and I was (ahem) cruising nicely in L1, while L3 was grunting along. Bonkers. Unfortunately people don't engage their brains when they are driving - if only they would/could work out that if you use all three lanes properly, everyone would get to their destination faster.

    But they don't use their brains, hence the advantages of managed motorways (if they are managed properly).
    Agree with you in principle, but it's like doping, unless everybody agrees to behave properly, the minority that refuse to follow the correct disciplines screw the whole thing up.
    I try to follow proper lane discipline and have the same observations that sometimes you're much quicker in inside lanes when traffic is heavy. There are some drawbacks to the inside lanes though. Middle lane hogs frequently box you in. Middle lane hogs frequently sit in your blind spot for endless miles. Excessively speeding drivers make it difficult for people to move out and make space when they need to. When everybody moves at broadly compatible speeds and flow naturally between lanes, it's a thing of beauty, it rarely happens.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,303
    Having driven from Preston to Bristol on the M6/M5 last weekend, it reminded me why smart motorways offer a practical solution - stop-start a lot of the way, mostly because too many people think they are getting an advantage in heavy traffic by passing as many other cars as possible when the flow gets going again. Result: everyone travels slower, including them, because they keep on having to brake, and then you get the ripple effect. If only everyone would just stop trying to gain a tiny bit of personal advantage, and drive to the conditions, smart motorways wouldn't be necessary.
  • Sirius631Sirius631 Posts: 1,015
    One thing that I've noticed during the long period of road works along the M6 (for both smart motorway installation and replacement of the central crash barriers) is that the use of average speed cameras has improved the flow of traffic significantly. Nobody hammers down the 50mph restriction zone at 80mph, only to slam on the brakes as they reach a camera, any more.

    If only these cameras had been available before they started to implement the smart motorways, they could have avoided the greatest of the expense and disruption. If cameras were permanently on for all three lanes, it would create a population change in behaviour, and remove the need to expand the road capacity.

    Also, it can't be beyond the wit and wisdom of system designers to get the same camera systems to detect the middle lane owners, who pootle down the motorway, substantially below the speed limit, with nothing on their left.
    To err is human, but to make a real balls up takes a super computer.
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