Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Driven Apart

CEOs for Cities, an urbanist think tank, released a report called Driven Apart. The report takes a critic look at the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report (UMR).

"The secret to reducing the amount of time Americans spend in peak hour traffic has more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads."

CEOs for Cities notes that the UMR has been used by governments in the US to justify road building projects, but suggests that the UMR is flawed at its core. The UMR uses a metric of comparing free-flow travel time to congested travel time. When using this metric regions like Los Angles have the most congestion while places like Nashville rank as some of the least congested regions.

CEOs for Cities looks at the total time people spend in traffic and found that places like Nashville have the longest commute times while places like Portland, New York, and Chicago have some of the shortest commute times.

According to the UMR, things are much worse in Chicago than in Charlotte
Though it seem counter-intuitive, the more congested a cities is, the less time people spend in traffic. Of course built form has a lot to do with reducing travel times. In places like Portland and New York, people have transportation choices, tend to live closer to work, and end up travelling shorter distances.

When you look at our region, increasing peak congestion has been used to justify freeway projects like the Port Mann and South Fraser Perimeter Road which ironically end up causing people to travel longer distances and long total times even commute times decreased in our region.

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