It’s likely true that traffic will expand so as to fill the roads available to it.
I’ve seen some long lonely roads zig-zagging through Texas and there are country roads in every state where you can count the cars that pass in an hour on one hand. But in metropolitan areas, the solution to traffic is always, always more roads. And when that solution is put into place, voila, traffic expands so as to fill the roads available to it. Until it reaches critical mass, and then the next plan is cobbled together: more roads.
The alternative, of course, requires a change in thinking, change in behavior, and change in long term planning. Change, in other words. More roads requires no change whatsoever, it’s more of the same. Where are the leaders who will stand up, come hell or high water, and envision a different approach?
Locally, last year we passed a major bus plan (Transit Now) last year that is rolling into effect over the next 10 years. I see bus ridership going up but tend to think it has more to do with gas than anything else. Time will tell. I’d love to see this work effectively and alleviate some of the dependence on automobiles on the road.
We have a big expensive package for road expansion coming up in the next election that is getting a lot of criticism mainly because it’s not forward thinking enough and bears too many of the solutions that have gotten us where we are now in terms of traffic. That is, a dependence on the car and solo driver.
Ron Sims has come out against the plan. A lot of cross-party dissenters have pointed out its many flaws. And yet it has a good chance of passing. Why? Because the keystone is more roads, and more roads is the “intuitive” answer to more traffic. It’s also incredibly expensive for so little return…which means somebody’s going to make a boat-load of money on this deal if it goes through.
I look at this package with the knowledge that in 50 years, my oldest son will be 80 when it’s paid off. My granddaughter will be 55. Their ability to make public investments relevant to their lives and times will be severely limited by this package. Should I be so lucky, I will use my pension until I am 110 years old to pay my share!
In the RTID, there’s something for everyone
who works at Microsoft: light rail, more roads, bigger roads…and light rail running along the very paths that were planned to be supported through the Transit Now package we already bought and paid for. Will it work? Many of the planned improvements won’t even be paid for with the plan and as Sims notes: This roads-and-transit plan just doesn’t move enough people.
Interestingly, the city of Bellevue, the land of SUVS, no buses and little to no walking, endorses the plan lock stock and barrel.
Excess demand for roadways during peak hours is the real problem, to which congestion is the most feasible solution.
Meaning: it won’t be until we realize we can’t build our way out of this problem that we actually start to think differently. Tom commented the other day that he takes a certain delight in causing a back up of cars with his bike riding because he hopes it will force the drivers to think differently about creating safe and effective bike ROADS, not just lanes.
RTID is just more of the same. More roads for a problem that actually requires behavior change. In our little berg of West Seattle yesterday, while running our errands, I was again struck by how nicely our hood is growing–to encourage walking and biking traffic. I LOVE, for example, the cross walk in the middle of town that shuts down traffic in all directions and opens up multi-directional crosswalks for 4 minutes.
Let’s try something different for a change.
Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)
Bike: 14 miles