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The main reason we have too much traffic, is because we have too many people driving cars…but it also has a lot to to do with the fact that people are horrible at driving.
Want a simple way to make your life a lot better? Stop driving your car to work!
Also, don’t blame cyclists we are speeding you up, not slowing you down.
Besides all the mental anguish people suffer from driving cars, there is the very real and very serious threat of climate change. It’s long past time when you could just close your eyes and do nothing, make your life better, make everyone’s life better, ride a bike!
Tags: bad drivers, driving, traffic, video
Posted in advocacy, education, video | No Comments »
Tags: china, traffic, video
Posted in video | No Comments »
The statistics show that each of us is driving less. So why do our roads feel more jammed up? Why does it take longer to get anywhere? And what can we do about it? Some politicians have begun blaming Traffic Calming and bicycle lanes for the backups; saying that Complete Streets and pedestrian bulb-outs are making roads less safe because less accessible for emergency vehicles. Is there any truth to this? More fundamentally, is car congestion a problem to be solved or a solution to a problem?
A 2013 report from US PIRG showed that the average number of miles driven by the average American has been falling for about a decade, through economic booms and busts, and was down to mid-1990s levels. Millennials, our nation’s largest-ever generational cohort, are using transit and bikes more and taking fewer and shorter car trips, resulting in a 23% drop in the average number of miles driven. The percentage of high school seniors with a driver’s license fell 12%. Walkable city life is increasingly attractive to both young people and retiring baby boomers. The rise of on-line shopping, social media, and telecommuting has meant fewer quick car trips.
Despite these trends, as every driver knows, our roads are increasingly congested – not everywhere or all the time but for increasing periods at a growing number of key intersections and road segments. Congestion radically reduces the volume of traffic passing through a road section, the through-put, thereby creating a negative feedback loop that creates more backups. It’s estimated that USA drivers spend about 14.5 million hours every day stuck in traffic. Congestion not only costs us time – in 2011 Boston drivers collectively lost about 137 million hours, or about 53 hours per commuter per year – but also fuel and therefore pollution, health, and money. Not to mention frustration and occasionally murderous road rage. Although we Bostonians believe we’ve got it worst, car congestion seems to be clogging roads like kudzu in nearly every city in the country – and, by some reports, across the globe .
It’s true that a new report has said that the first four months of 2015 has set a new record in total vehicle miles in the US – up nearly 32 billion since the previous high in 2007, pushing gas consumption as well as prices upward. Lower gasoline prices and a recovering economy (consumer spending in May, 2015 had the highest month jump in six years) are two reasons for the jump, probably augmented by the continuing lack of viable alternatives to car driving for many people. But a four-month blip is not enough to explain years of delays.
We do know some things that are contributing to the larger problem – land use patterns and population growth are the most important. The low-rise dense designs that make older urban areas walkable and transit-efficient is illegal to build in many places today due to parking requirements, anti-mixed use and other zoning requirements, etc.
We know some things that may appear to be causative but actually aren’t – making roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, prioritizing bus and trolley traffic, even reducing the average speed of cars.
We know some things that (counterintuitively) do not help reduce congestion – most notably building more roads or adding lanes, all of which eventually fill up as our additional drivers decide to move into the new space.
And we know some things that do improve the situation, but usually only when they are applied as a group rather than singularly – improving road use efficiency using technology (signal timing, access controls, central monitoring) and other methods (car pools, HOV lanes, car sharing, perhaps driverless cars), increasing alternative options (transit both regional and downtown, bicycling), changing land-use patterns (Smart-Growth style transit-orientated development), requiring corporate and municipal Transportation Demand Management programs (incentives to not drive alone or to not drive at all), and (most effective of all) congestion pricing of various kinds.
What is needed is the cultural and political willingness to accept this knowledge and act upon it – while also coming to grips with the reality that the continuing imbalance of potential drivers to current or any plausible future amounts of road space means that congestion is a permanent part of a car-based reality.
Tags: boston, cars, livable streets, traffic
Posted in advocacy, Commuting | No Comments »
Yesterday our fair city got a good dose of snow, a sizable storm in its own right, but combined with the big ass blizzard we had last week, the entire city was struggling to keep up. Today the city woke up to an public transportation system crippled by yesterdays snow, the head of the MBTA actually told people to drive to work…
Anyone unlucky enough to drive into the city today (or drove in any of the cities around Boston) knows that without the MBTA to carry most of the folks to work, driving simply is not an option. Snow or no snow, there are just too many cars, and not enough road. There was bumper to bumper grid lock for both the morning and evening commutes today.
I have been riding through this weather, and a lot of my coworkers have been telling me just how crazy I am. But the only thing moving on wheels today was people riding bikes.
Not only did the cars fail to get people around, but they made removing the snow a lot harder as well. They also slid around crashing into things, getting stuck in snow banks, and potentially killing or harming people or property.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If even 20-30 percent of people rode bicycles (levels many snowy northern European cities accomplish), the roads would be relatively unclogged, allowing the folks that absolutely needed to drive the road space needed to do so. It is also a lot easier to clear space for cyclists on the road, as they need much less of the road clear in order to cycle safely. The lack of cars parked on the road would also allow for more area to place the snow.
Sure it sounds like pie in the sky thinking, but as today’s epic traffic jams illustrate, the current system isn’t working for anyone.
Tags: boston, cars are the problem, snow, traffic
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »
Once again Bikeyface nails it. Nothing is more annoying than hearing all your coworkers complain and complain (and complain and complain…) about how HORRIBLE their commute was, especially when you know they all live like 3 miles away and just refuse to bike/walk/take the train.
Read the rest of this AMAZING comic, here.
My coworkers all think I am nuts but my commutes have been relatively awesome the last couple days. Door to door my 3 mile commute has been in the 20-30 minute time frame, my friend waited 45 minutes for the bus to arrive, and another hour and a half for the bus to go the same distance.
When I got home yesterday, I was warm, dry, and it had only taken 20 minutes I was like:
If we lived in a place where we had really top notch bicycle infrastructure, and the city made it a priority to clean it off when it snowed (special machines for the lanes etc.), EVERYONE could have such a stress free awesome commute, not just us “crazy people who ride our bikes in the snow.”
Cars are stress machines, especially when it snows. If you want to spend less time stuck in traffic, and a lot less time talking about traffic, give bike riding a try. See the side bar for some helpful winter riding tips. Happy snow cycling!
ps. If you have any questions about winter riding, drop them in the comments.
Tags: bikes evaporate traffic, snow, traffic
Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 1 Comment »