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Our communities lack self-containment more and more – people spend too much time in traffic jams

Posted May 27, 2018

The way our economy and lifestyle works, we have to commute somewhere every day. It takes time, it is stressful and typically costs us money. And yet we still do not seek to change that with the idea of “self-containment”. An Australian example, underlined by the 2016 census, revealed that the self-containment had decreased since 2011.

People still prefer their cars, even if they have to stay in traffic jams for prolonged periods of time. Image credit: V1213 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Self-containment is characterized as living in the same geographical area. Obviously, it is often a completely unachievable goal, because a lot of people work in place where prices of real estate are extremely high. This means that every morning they have to commute to work and a lot of these people choose cars to get to their work and back. This, of course, has social, economic and environmental consequences. People are stuck in traffic for huge portions of their days, carbon emissions from transport are very high despite advances in technology and a lot of money gets wasted maintaining the congested system of roads.

The bigger the city, the less chance there is to live and work in the same area. For example, only 26 % of residents of Sydney’s inner west live close to their workplace.  In other urban areas it was not as bad – in Brisbane’s west self-containment reaches 31 %, in Adelaide’s west – 49 % and in Perth’s north east – 41 %. Professor Jonathan Corcoran from the University of Queensland said: “For 60 per cent of employed Australians, work was reported to be in the same labour market region as their residence, and most still used private vehicles to get there”. Interestingly, only 5 % of Australia’s 10.7 million employed work from home.

Of course, the biggest issue caused by the lack of self-containment are traffic jams, which are expensive, damaging for the environment, stressful and ugly. However, people simply love their cars even if they have to stay in a traffic jam for a couple of hours a day. It is approximated that Australia has 9.2 million daily commuters. 2016 Census showed that 79 % of them travel to work by a private vehicle. You have to imagine that a lot of these cars don’t even have passengers other than the driver. Then 14 % chose public transport ant 5.2 % walked or cycled to work. If you need a solution to obesity and lack of physical activity, there is your answer – you have to encourage people to go to work by foot or bicycles.

But that’s the thing with the lack self-containment – a lot of people live too far from work to even cycle or walk there. And so they are stuck between choices between public transport and cars. Until public transport becomes significantly faster than cars we will not see a change.


Source: University of Queensland

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