A busy day for team Greenpeace in Belgium yesterday. At 8 in the morning activists blocked traffic on the Ring around Brussels, the busiest traffic 'knot' in the country. After safely re-routing traffic, 30 of them unrolled a 180 square meter green carpet on the road and used it to visualise the alternatives for the planned road expansion of the Flemish government. In the run up to regional elections in June, they wanted to put these road expansion plans on the political agenda.
The message was clear: continuing to expand road infrastructure does not match with the urgency of climate change, and will not lead us to a good result from the Copenhagen climate summit at the end of this year. Emissions from road traffic are still rapidly increasing, and to turn this around we need not only fuel efficient cars but also less traffic on our roads.
In fact, several studies show that expanding road infrastructure does not solve congestion problems anyway, because new capacity is overtaken by an increase in new cars on the road in just a couple of years.
Governments need to invest in a modal shift, in order to get more cars off the road.
If they fail, the road ahead will start looking like the highway to hell.