Saturday, December 16, 2017

#350 / Moving Right Along

Too many cars and not enough space on the road. That's a problem! 

Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to build a new Bay Bridge. See picture #1 for a depiction of the problem Senator Feinstein thinks a new Bay Bridge would address. 

In Santa Cruz County, my own community, local officials are involved in a "Unified Corridor Study," to try to find a way to reduce traffic congestion. See picture #2 for an illustration of how our local problem looks, from an on-road perspective. One major suggestion for alleviating traffic congestion on Highway One, in Santa Cruz County, is to widen the highway.

Too many cars on the highways? Let's build more roads! That is the time-honored (however ineffective) way to deal with traffic congestion. As I have pointed out before, more than once, we can't "build our way out" of traffic congestion. 

While I know it seems counter-intuitive, building wider and more roads doesn't, in fact, reduce congestion. "Induced demand" is a real thing. If we provide more space on the roads, more cars will quickly use it all up. "Wider highways and more cars stuck in the jam," is how I usually phrase it. And if you are wondering where all those cars would come from, take a look outside at your residential street. Lots of our residential streets look just like picture #3. Thousands of cars are parked along the streets, or in driveways, just waiting for room to run:

If new construction isn't the answer (and it is not) what can we do? My prescription is pretty basic. It's one of those lessons we are supposed to learn in kindergarten. Instead of trying to make room for more cars, which is a costly and ineffective strategy, we should, instead, be finding ways to increase the number of people carried by the cars already on the highway. 

"Sharing," in other words, is that "kindergarten solution" that would actually work. "Sharing" is the magic word. 

In the realm of transportation planning, as in all things political, we will start "moving along," again, when we start moving along together

Image Credits:
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