essay from Peggy Schultz, WILMAPCO Citizens Advisory Committee
and Women's League of Voters.
As we know, "If you build it they will come"; and come
and come and then come some more. Todd Litman of the Victoria (B.C.)
Transport Policy Institute has published a comprehensive review
paper which discusses the concept of generated traffic and induced
travel. According to Litman, "Travel time budget research
indicates that increased traffic speeds often results in more mobility
rather than saving time." People decide that they can live
in housing further from their jobs, and they shop further from
home. A new or improved road acts like a kind of sponge (my analogy,
not Litman's) to absorb trips from other roads in the area. Trip
time stays about the same, but trip distances increase. Sprawl
is thus encouraged, and it takes the same amount of time to get
to work. The author concludes: "Adding capacity generates
traffic, which leads to renewed congestion with higher traffic
volumes." You can find the article at www.vtpi.org-gentraf.pdf.
It includes an excellent bibliography which cites the original
research from which Litman draws his conclusions.
Just as with Route 1, if you build a nice fast highway to get traffic
one road, the new fast highway will also fill up. People will move
away, knowing they can make it to work in a shorter time. This
demand and it fills up again. Route 40 used to be a barren, bucolic
We've expanded the road, and intersections, but with so many people
there, it will likely never be LOS A or B again. Transit helps
been added), improving walkability helps, but if you want a successful
that can support retail and employment, you're going to need a
amount of traffic. Our major cities all have failing traffic, but
have alternatives (subways, walking etc.) so they don't feel as
they appreciate the benefits with the drawbacks.
A fellow-responder has already asked, what about transit?! Is there
a possibility that the correct response to traffic problems is
not always more
You may not be aware that WILMAPCO (I am a member of its Public
Advisory Committee), in its CMS (Congestion Management System)
at congested corridors, and not just at isolated intersections.
They look for patterns around a certain area and then they try
solutions for the
entire area. They begin by trying to reduce the number of cars
(transit, improved pedestrian access, etc.), and then they look
at the timing of the lights; light timing adjustments have been
used on Main St.,
Newark, and on the Kirkwood Highway. As a last resort, they recommend
lane widening. New Castle County, as you know, is a member of the
There's a possibility that those of us who are a bit more senior
in the community may never again realize the halcyon days when
we could leave for work fifteen minutes before the workday began.
But life isn't
over, and if we could just forget for a while our love affair with
(induced as Prof. Shinya Kikuchi says, by the public relations
efforts of a
Detroit trying to sell cars following the Great Depression), we
grow to love walking and biking and yes, even riding a bus.
[Thanks to Alison Burris of WILMAPCO for providing the reference
Peggy J. O. Schultz
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