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Importance of road transport | Understanding tourism

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(Last updated on: 09/09/2020)

Road transport is an integral part of the tourism system. Transporting goods and people, the importance of road transport cannot be underestimated! Whether for the purpose of tourism, or otherwise, there is no doubt about it, that road transport is super important. But why so?

In this article I will tell give you an overview of the road transportation industry and its place within the wider transportation sector. I will also tell you all about the importance of road transport.

What is road transportation?

van parked beside the road near handrail and ocean

Put simply, road transport is the movement of people or goods via road.

Many countries require licenses and safety regulations for road transportation, and road networks are a great way of linking different areas.

The importance of road transport is huge. It is a vital way of connecting people, and moving goods.

The history of roads

Roads have existed as long as humanity has.

In the early days, humans carrying goods from A to B created earth tracks. Where there was heavy traffic (more people walking between certain points) these tracks became more defined.

These were, in essence, the first roads.

Trade increased and animals such as donkeys, horses and oxen were domesticated to carry goods, so these tracks were widened to allow for animal traffic.

In the 4th or 5th millennium BC, wheeled vehicles drawn by animals were introduced.

Historians have found that they were most likely developed in the Ancient Near East at this time, spreading to Europe and India shortly after and to China a while later.

Wheeled transport meant that wider (and better) roads were needed. Natural materials weren’t great for this, and evidence suggests that the first paved streets were built in 4000 BC in Ur, a Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia.

‘Corduroy roads’ – essentially just logs laid over a swampy area – were built in Glastonbury, UK a few hundred years later.

Around the same time, brick-paved roads were built in the Indus Valley Civilisation.

grayscale photography of man and woman riding carriage

With the creation of the Roman Empire, even better roads were required.

The Romans needed roads that weren’t constantly muddy for their armies to trade quickly and safely.

They replaced the existing roads with new and improved ones, introducing the use of deep roadbeds. These were made of crushed stone and this bottom layer meant that water could flow through when it rained rather than turning to mud and slowing the armies down.

Some of these original Roman roads are still used today!

Roman road designs were used elsewhere too. They were also adapted; additional layers were used to stop the dust and drag from wheels and, in the 8th century, the first tar-paved roads were created in Baghdad, Iraq.

In England in 1656, toll roads were introduced.

Generally, roads were (and are) better in cities than they are in suburban or countryside areas.

Types of road transport

There rare varying types of road transport. Just like there are different types of tourism organisations, there are different types of transport.

From private transportation such as cars, bicycles and motorbikes to public transport such as buses and coaches, there are many different ways to travel via road.

Private transportation 

Over 77% of households in the UK own a car.

Because most car-owning households have multiple people living there, 81% of the population actually have access to a car.

This allows for freedom and independence when it comes to accessing schools, shops, leisure facilities, medical centres and more.

The same goes for bicycles, scooters and motorbikes. The freedom they allow cannot be underestimated – this highlights the importance of road transport.

Taxis fall in the middle of private and public transport – essentially they are cars, so they are technically a form of private transport. They allow for private booking, so you can get from A to B if you do not own a car, or if you do not want to drive to/from a particular place.

Public transport

Buses are the most popular form of public road transport.

architecture buildings bus cars

Since 1985, bus services in the UK have been owned and overseen by private bodies. In America, however, buses are publicly funded.

Running on a timetable, buses allow for citizens to travel within towns and nearby cities. This means that people who do not have access to a car can easily connect with areas outside of their immediate vicinity, and it is often more affordable to do so.

Public transport reduces congestion, and bus lanes means that you won’t get stuck in traffic on your way to an important meeting!

Coaches are another form of public transportation.

Coaches are similar to buses but tend to be reserved for either hired local travel (such as school trips) or for long-distance travel between major cities. Coach travel is often much more affordable than train travel.

The importance of road transport

Road transport is important for so many reasons.

Roads are a primary method of transportation, used daily all around the world to transport people and cargo.

There are different types of roads for different needs, and each play an important part in general transportation.

The importance of road transportation comes from the ease with which they allow people to get from one place to another for a variety of purposes.

Roads make a huge contribution to economic development, and bring important social benefits too.

Roads allow people to travel for employment and leisure purposes – commuting to their job, visiting friends or accessing a town or city for shopping, eating out, and other entertainment. This has positive economic and social impacts.

Without roads, movement of people would be much more difficult. It is difficult for a nation to grow and develop without roads. They take children to school, they transport produce, they allow for easy movement between different areas which is important in terms of widening culture and more.

The use of roads in transporting goods

The importance of road transport is significant when it comes to transporting goods.

Whether it’s moving produce from farms to supermarkets, or delivering your latest Amazon order, roads are incredibly important.

Fast food can be delivered via roads, and haulage companies use trucks to transport goods between warehouses and shops.

If there were no roads, and therefore nowhere for trucks and vans to travel, it would take much longer for products to get from A to B.

In the era of instant (or near-instant) gratification, it is absolutely vital that were able to quickly and easily transport goods.

The use of roads in transporting people

When it comes to people, the importance of road transport cannot be underestimated.

Thanks to roads, we have been able to create a network that allows people to move freely between different areas. Those who live in could-be secluded areas, such as farms or in the countryside, are able to access towns and cities.

This is important as it allows them to trade, work and enjoy entertainment.

The economic and social impact of roads on society is huge.

Roads allow children to access schools and therefore become well-educated, and they allow sick people to access medical care.

yellow school bus beside gray concrete building

The list is endless, and roads truly do provide an important infrastructure in terms of local and world economy.

Roads allow for inter-city travel. For example, you can travel by coach to and from different cities, for cultural gain and also for leisure.

If you wanted to take a staycation in your home country, it is likely that you would use road transport for this.

And not forgetting road trips, which make for fantastic adventures!

But even to travel further afield, roads are vitally important. To access train stations, ferry terminals and airports, you must first travel by road.

Roads ensure that people are not isolated and, to an extent, have freedom of movement.

The negatives of road transport

As is common with any great system, there are also negatives. The importance of road transport is huge, but roads do come with problems.

Roads are bad for the environment. This is largely because they cut through animal habitat. Once a road is built, it often kills off some (if not all) animal life in the area around the road. It acts as a physical boundary, so animal life that needs large territory to roam dies off.

There are over 30,000 miles of road in the Amazon Rainforest, for example, which is a huge factor in the deforestation levels. This can be devastating for wildlife and the ecosystem.

Roads also indirectly cause pollution.

The more roads there are, the more cars and other types of road transportation that are in use at any one time.

This is harmful to public health and the environment itself. Research shows that areas with fewer roads, and roads that see less traffic, have better air quality levels.

Road transport can cause accidents. For example, cars are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide. And of course, these accidents occur on the roads for the most part.

So while the importance of road transport cannot be ignored, it is necessary to consider the negative impacts of road transportation too.

The importance of road transport: To conclude

As you can see, there are a plethora of reasons as to why road transport is so important. Both within the tourism industry and for life in general, we need roads to give us the freedoms required to enjoy life as we know it. Good road infrastructure enables us to maximise our social and economic opportunities; providing access to vital products and services that we need as human beings.

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