Key policies and strategies for congestion relief, improvement of air quality and road safety management

In order to address the existing and future transport-related socioeconomic and environmental challenges such as traffic congestion, air pollution and road accidents and fatalities in Asian cities, the following sets of key policy measures and strategies can be used.

Alternative modes of transport

Improving alternative modes of transport to personal cars is one of the significant ways to reduce congestion and improve mobility and connectivity. Better public transport systems such as bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT) and non-motorized transport (NMT) help to improve mobility and connectivity, and provide transit for all sectors of society, including vulnerable groups. They further reduce the social costs of roadways and parking and provide support for compact and mixed urban development.

Improving public transport systems

Making public transport systems more safe, smart, efficient, convenient, punctual and affordable to all sectors of society, including the poor, women, children, youth, elderly and the physically disabled, will help to reduce the use of private cars and will eventually support reduced road congestion, air pollution and road accidents in urban areas.

Promotion of non-motorized transport

Non-motorized transport includes walking, cycling, three-wheelers and rickshaws, which can provide part of the solution to congestion. In most of developing countries, NMT is unsafe, uncomfortable and inconvenient to use. Improving the quantity and quality of pedestrian streets, footpaths, walkways, sidewalks, crosswalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, bicycle-sharing systems and bicycle parking facilities at bus and railway stations can be cost-effective methods to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and improve road safety and public health.

Emission standards and inspection and maintenance

Strengthening automotive emission standards and inspection and maintenance (I/M) systems are major components of overall strategies to reduce emissions and improve the safety of vehicles, drivers and road users. I/M is one of the most cost-effective ways of improving vehicle performance and efficiency and brings a higher return in safety and environmental benefits in the long run. Studies show that proper vehicle maintenance through a regular inspection and maintenance system can result in 3-7 percent lower fuel consumption and thereby reduce C02 emissions (Koike, 2002).

Transportation demand management (TDM)

Transportation demand management, which is also known as traffic demand management or travel demand management, is the application of a broad set of policies, strategies and measures for reducing travel demand and managing vehicles in a particular place and time. TDM focuses on reducing traffic congestion and improving mobility options in a specific corridor within existing facilities by better balancing travel demand through cost-effective and improved transportation alternatives that reduce congestion levels, lower vehicle emissions and improve road safety. There is a long list of TDM measures, including congestion charging, road pricing, fuel taxes, vehicle ownership fees, charging for vehicle licenses, parking fees, vehicle use restrictions and parking restrictions, among others.

Smart growth development

Smart growth is an urban planning approach and set of policies that promotes more compact, connected and mixed-use development patterns in walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. Smart growth development places first priority on people rather than automobiles and discourages use of private vehicles, thereby reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and road accidents and casualties. Smart growth encourages high-density centers that allow the close proximity of business, offices, shopping centers, restaurants and bars, amusement and entertainment places, residential areas and public parks which are well connected with cost-effective public transport system.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. This research is not related to the United Nations and the views expressed herein are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.

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