Thursday, January 20, 2011

News alert: Washingtonians spend too much time in their cars

That makes them mad according to the Post's article Washington area tied with Chicago for traffic congestion, study finds. The article is based on a new study documenting how much time commuters spend stuck in traffic. The road lobby thinks the solution is more and wider roads.

According to the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the study does not mention the impact of sprawl on commuting times. If we build more roads, we'll have more sprawl and guess what, we'll spend more time stuck in traffic. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

: See GGW's take on the new study: Congestion report pushes sprawl through flawed analysis

Update Jan 24: See the Post article How we measure commuters' misery:
Over the history of the mobility report, many commuters have moved farther from where they want to get to each day. "That increase in distance was enough to explain the increase in travel time," said Joseph Cortright, the study's author.

A reexamination of the traffic data in that light shows that commuters' experience nationwide has not been universally bleak, he said. "In some cities, we've seen total travel times at peak hours actually decrease, because people are now driving shorter distances." He pointed to Portland, Ore., as one example. Even the D.C. region dropped from second to 12th place on peak travel time in this reworking of the data from the previous mobility report.

As with the mobility reports, the data Cortright used do not quantify how miserable you are on Interstate 66 at the Capital Beltway in the morning or on the inner loop through Bethesda in the afternoon. But they suggest something individuals can consider: The effect on their travel lives of being closer to work and in a community that offers options that include transit riding and walking.

For policymakers, Cortright suggests, the study asks whether their goal should be to increase road capacity for the sake of increasing peak-period speeds, or instead to concentrate on land-use plans that don't segregate home, office, commerce and entertainment into widely separated zones reachable only by cars.

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