So, kerbs are tarmac are my favourite subject, but I do keep an eye on the bigger picture and the thing which caught my eye was the continuing growth of motorised traffic in the UK.
The former "greenest government ever" must be pleased to see that motor traffic growth has now (provisionally) increased for the ninth quarter in a row meaning that George Osborne's need to spend on the road network is being vindicated.
The Department for Transport helpfully distills the full set of information into a handy infographic which I reproduce here.
So, what juicy snippets do we have? Well, motor traffic is now 0.1% above the previous (and pre-recession) peak of 2007 and is the highest rolling annual figure ever; 314.6 billion vehicle miles, so a big well done there for beating the previous Labour government into second place as the most pro-driving-government-ever-until-the-next-one.
Q4 of 2012 was a lowish spot on the traffic growth curve, but it is noticeable how the growth of light goods vehicles (LGVs) has significantly outstripped other types, although it had been doing so since 1993. Perhaps "white van man" has almost single-handedly kept the economy going?
Looking at long-term trends (over 20 years), traffic (based on mileage) has grown 19% overall. Car mileage is up by 14.1%, LGV mileage is up by 69.6% and HGV mileage by 3.3%. Where the traffic has been growing is interesting, 44.6% on motorways, 22.5% on rural 'A' roads, 25.2% on minor rural roads, 0.7% on urban 'A' roads and 7.1% on minor urban roads.
The motorway figure is interesting as much of of the network was in place before 1993 (have a look at CBRD's excellent maps for the development of the motorway network) and so it shows that the original capacity has slowly been used up. Of course, we have had additional lanes added in places and hard-shoulder running/ smart motorways in places as a fudge for new road space.
Rural 'A' roads have also had growth, but there have been lots of 'A' road schemes compared to motorways. Urban 'A' roads are an interesting point because even after more than 20 years of pro-car leadership in the UK, growth on these routes is only 0.7%. My guess is that these roads are well-established and in order to expand capacity in a major way, we are talking about knocking down many of our high streets and other urban areas which hasn't been in vogue for a long time (and not very popular with the people living and working there!) We also have city and urban governance which might be more geared to public transport than road building.
The data does show growth on minor rural and urban routes and these are the ones not suited to high volumes of traffic simply from a geometric or a geographical point of view. Minor rural routes will include villages which have been bypassed (but traffic remains) and in urban areas, we are talking about residential areas on the whole.
For a publication which I think should probably stick to the facts (and leave the armchair punditry to amateurs like me), the killer claim is that traffic growth is likely a reflection of growth in GDP (although it also suggests that lower fuel costs might had helped too).
For my mind, this is a political perspective best left to a minister's speech, but we ignore this at our peril because it shows that this thinking is truly embedded in our politics and there are no plans to try something different. It is far worse for local communities as the Chancellor wants to invest heavily in the motorway and strategic road which will pipe out traffic into our villages, towns and cities which are struggling now. Answers on a postcard please.