Benefits of Roads
Roads enable people from far away places to meet. They speed up communication between people and enable material things to be transported between places.
The car has had a great liberating effect on society. It has broken down class divisions and replaced them with differentiation by wealth. It has given us freedom and enabled a large number of people to travel much greater distances. The world has been building cars for almost a century and with many models to choose from this has enabled people to assert their individuality.
One could say that the car is the machine of democracy because everyone is equal in a traffic jam. On the other hand, the car is the machine of inequality - the status symbol by which the owner can proclaim their level of wealth. As oil runs out and costs increase, the number people who cannot afford to run a car will increase.
Roads and highways provide animals and plants with opportunities. In arid parts of the world the little rain that does fall is concentrated on the roadside, and so plants grow especially well, in a line, alongside the road. Animals feed off the plants that flourish close to roads. Although cars and trucks hit some of these animals, their deaths support the survival of other animals.
Roads are also places were animals live. A road is a convenient strip of bare ground, which is rapidly warmed by the sun. So reptiles, being solar powered, use the roads to 'charge up their batteries'. Roads act as corridors for migrating animals, which must move from one reserve to another in search of food. Some species of rare plants have found a niche on road verges and their survival now depends on them.
In the era of cheap oil and mass production, nearly everyone in the developed world has been able to own a car. But as costs have risen over the past few years, it has become more expensive to run a car. Further, the cost of maintaining a car is greater for lower income individuals, as the base-line cost of running a car, which is the same for everyone, takes a greater proportion of their income. Car ownership is a form of economic discrimination and this discrimination can only get worse as costs increase. In future, unless there is a radical shift to public transport, the poor will be unable to function well in society and will become even more marginalised than at present.