Sunday, December 08, 2013

Traffic congestion, traffic safety, and how NOT to be confused about them.

As you consider the considerable merits of a two way street grid in New Albany, and find it hard to wrap yourself around some of the things we've been saying, read the two paragraphs below.

Jeff Speck provides pertinent answers for you, and just because Bob Caesar can't grasp them, it does not mean you can't.

Jeff Speck: Walkable City / Slideshow (Thinking In Practice)

You mention that building more roads in fact leads to more congestion. An interesting notion – could you elaborate on that?

In constrained road systems, the principle constraint to driving is congestion. If you allay congestion by building more roadway, people drive more, and quickly fill up the new space. This is identified as the Fundamental Law of Traffic Congestion, and not disputed among thoughtful planners.

What are some of the major challenges in the advocacy of walkability and pedestrian-friendly environments? What do you usually come up against in your work?

The principal challenge is overcoming the confusion, in fact, that surrounds traffic congestion, as well as traffic safety. Convincing populations that new roads will not solve their traffic woes is possible, but convincing the municipal engineers, who were educated differently (and wrongly) can be harder. They were also taught, in the US at least, that the way to make roads safer is to make them wider, with fewer obstacles like trees. Recent studies show that this, too, is wrong. Wider, simpler, clearer roads cause people to drive faster, and dramatically increase the likelihood of death by automobile.

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