Induced Traffic Myth
|Here's what happens. They widen the
freeway. Developers see that people are content to live in the suburbs
with their cheaper detached house and now a reasonable commute. They
subsequently over-develop (not just "around" the freeway) with
no restrictions from local government's Planning. And in about 5 to 8
years the freeway is as congested again.
So everyone immediately blames the larger freeway as the reason why there
is more development !
In fact, of course, the direct reason for freeway congestion is the
indiscriminate approval of development by the governments; "induced traffic" . Planners
disregarding traffic instead of using it as an environmental
disqualification of new development.
So the DIRECT solution to freeway congestion is to RESTRICT DEVELOPMENT
where traffic is already congested.
We need Environmental Impact Reports to rigorously include restrictions on
development where freeway capacity is insufficient.
We need to ensure freeway congestion does not return only 5 to 8 years
after freeway expansion. Returning because Government Planning is
not prioritizing freeway expansion over rail AND uncontrolled
You see, freeway expansion not only improves auto commuting but bus commuting. Bus Rapid Transit systems
have lower capital costs
than Light Rail systems and provide similar performance with more flexible
Politicians rather than "knee-jerking" simplistic,
"popular" projects must instead consult objective Research
Groups and Academics that have studied the impacts transport has made on
our society, quality of life, and environment. Otherwise we waste hard to
garner public money that should instead be directed to cost effective
projects benefiting the maximum number of people as well as providing the
greatest improvement in our environment (a solution that may not be so
obviously seen by most).
A pragmatic Solution to Overdevelopment might
be that developers must contribute proportionally to a COSTED,
PLANNED, SCHEDULED, multi-county FREEWAY
EXPANSION fund. This might deter development
where it would not, as a result, be so profitable.
Where freeway expansion is not "multi-countywide-PLANNED" (for
whatever reason, maybe voter related) then NO DEVELOPMENT would
be allowed at all. Planning has to include maintaining freeway at a Level
of Service C (not D as it is now).
"I know, hard to sell and hard to implement". It would require
that one county should not develop if it were to
affect traffic in another. But what else?
- the definition:- Some who now carpool would choose to travel alone,
some who now travel on parallel routes would travel on the freeway instead,
some who now travel earlier or later would revert to traveling at a more
convenient time, some who ride the bus will choose to drive a car, and some
who do not travel the route at all will be induced to travel on the newly
And all who do this were struggling to
get to work in the first place. And Boy! does that prove how much the
freeway expansion was needed. But their effect on congestion is negligible
compared to the induced traffic from over-development. There are many
examples, of course, where freeway expansion works.
Sierra Club are re-evaluating their philosophy on Transit. (quote:- "Building
Roads Doesn't Solve Congestion")
"our analysis disclosed that deterioration in air
quality has generally worked in favor of road expansion, ostensibly as a
means of improving traffic flows" "Air-quality forecasting models
assign benefits to higher average speeds from expedited traffic movements.
"- this is a conclusion of
vague and ambiguous study used as the "Induced Traffic Bible"
This study, (used to try to justify the whole concept of "Induced Traffic")
concludes that Air Pollution is LESS when roadway is
increased !!! Totally reversing one of the postulated "drawbacks" of
increasing roadway, espoused by the same "Induced Traffic" pontiffs.
Slower moving congested traffic creates MORE Exhaust Air Pollution than
faster traffic. Running slower is more energy
This link from the Sierra Club's site admits to Induced Traffic
being caused by development over about 8 years and little to ANY OTHER
"The TRB report was
inconclusive on how induced travel may effect air quality. This issue is
complicated by the relationship between traffic dynamics (e.g., such as
changes in acceleration characteristics) and emissions." This is the other
link (page 10), from the Sierra Club's website.
You don't make
a Bonsai tree by constricting its trunk.
BUT ROADS CAN'T SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS?
As long as 1 freeway lane (a lane each way) offers 5 times the
passenger-miles of any rail system, and costs less per
passenger-mile than rail, then the sensible solution is to direct
traffic improvement dollars towards freeway, before rail (where it is a