Past, Present and Future
In the late 1950s, after a post-war economic boom, London and other Western European cities were starting to encounter the growing impact of the motor age that many US and Canadian cities experienced over a decade earlier. The problems were manifest in a variety of ways, as described by Gerard Drake, director of the first London Traffic Study: acute and growing traffic congestion; central area parking shortages; increased incidence of road traffic accidents; decreasing patronage of bus and tram services; financial difficulties for the railways, even though suburban commuter services are overcrowded; the need for restrictions on the individual’s use of his private vehicle to improve traffic flow and promote safety in the interest of the general public; and last, but certainly not least, mounting pressures for greatly increased capital expenditures for the construction of new highways and the modernization of existing main roads (Drake, 1963, 81). In response to these growing concerns, the UK minister of transport, Ernest Marples [1907–1978], who had already endorsed an inter-urban motorway programme, introduced three activities concurrently: (a) he formed the London Traffic Management Unit; (b) he initiated major studies of traffic in London and Glasgow; and (c) he asked a senior civil servant, Colin Buchanan [1907–2001],1 to look into problems arising from the car (Wootton, 2004).
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