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Re: What Really Causes Traffic Congestion

Posted by WillD on Thu Jul 11 02:39:13 2013, in response to Re: What Really Causes Traffic Congestion, posted by BrooklynBus on Wed Jul 10 23:05:09 2013.

Most of the country is not urban where subways are appropriate.

Geographic area does not matter, population does, and 80% of the nation's population lives in suburban or urban areas where subway or intensive commuter service is very much warranted.

Money has to be spent on highways there.

Simply amazing. I think you're on the wrong board.

I really doubt we spend more money in NYC on highways than we do on mass transit. Do you have those numbers?

Nope. But it doesn't particularly matter. As a nation we spend three times as much on highways as we do on mass transit. Whatever federal money NYC gets comes from that big pot of highway/transit funding, so the investment in highways anywhere else in the country is intimately tied to what money is available for mass transit construction in NYC.

I never said the AAA doesn't have political interests, only that they no longer carry the same amount of power they once did.

...and, again, that article rather ably demonstrates that your impression of their political power is misplaced.

I never shut out viable alternatives to automobile traffic.

Sure you did. You're maintaining the automobile's priority on city streets. Why shouldn't the city street exist to serve the transit passengers who will complete their journey at far less cost to the city than any automobile trip? Why should the city exist to support the luxury transportation when the cost in congestion (which again, you're NOT solving) will greatly diminish what little benefit those trips provide to the city?

Riding a bicycle is not a viable alternative to driving a car,

Except that it is. When was the last time you rode a bike? In what way are you qualified to expound upon what a bicyclist can and cannot do?

Solutions 1 and 6 are totally different, not the same.

Lets look at them:
1- We could have fewer cars and trucks on the road by increasing mass transit options and encouraging rail freight.
6- Increase rail freight opportunities to remove truck traffic from the roads, especially the BQE.
Fine, they may not be the same, you managed to put automobile traffic in #1. In that case #6 is wholly redundant because you already mentioned the diversion of freight from trucks in point #1.

Reducing car traffic is different from reducing automobile traffic.

Car is a synonym for automobile, so no, they're really not different.

You just want to lump all vehicles into a single category.

Well yeah, when you're talking about cars versus automobiles. Because they *are* the same thing.

Strategies to reduce congestion are not ridiculous

Okay, then lets go through them one by one:
1- We could have fewer cars and trucks on the road by increasing mass transit options and encouraging rail freight
Building mass transit to reduce congestion on highways is a fools errand. The people who avail themselves of whatever new transit service is offered will no longer be stuck in the traffic. But due to the triple convergence of mode, route, and time, whatever the reduction in traffic due to their trips being removed from a congested road will be filled by another commuter adjusting their route, mode, or departure time. You cannot build your way out of congestion, either by building roads or rails. All you can hope to do is maximize the number of people who are unaffected by that congestion on mass transit.
2A- Police should give tickets to double parking that causes traffic congestion and not merely view summonses as a means to raise revenue.
Do you have evidence that the police are currently not ticketing double parked cars despite having the opportunity to do so?
2B- Schedule as much roadwork as possible for the middle of the night or when the road is not busy, although there always will be some roadwork that causes some congestion.

2C- Also, try to minimize disruptions from utility work. I was once delayed 20 minutes on 62nd Street near the Queensborough Bridge one Sunday morning because only three vehicles were able to cross First Avenue during each traffic cycle due to the utility work. A traffic agent, if posted there, could have allowed vehicles to cross on a red signal, eliminating most of the delay since First Avenue traffic was very light at that time.

2D- Unless the road is widened, which may not be feasible, little can be done here except perhaps banning parking to increase traffic flow
These three are effectively the same and go back to holding the automobile's needs above the needs of all street users. Unfortunately with the infrastructure in NYC those demands are not particularly realistic.
2E- Again, all we can do regarding accidents is to try to prevent them. Once they occur, traffic congestion usually cannot be avoided if traffic volumes are high.
Accident/disabled vehicle clearance is a fairly valid congestion alleviation technique. It has been successfully implemented around the country. But it's normally done on limited access highways where the process of finding disabled vehicles can be largely automated. On arterial streets in NYC it'd be considerably more difficult.
3- Do not intentionally put traffic signals out of sync causing unnecessary congestion. However, even when they are in sync, congestion can be caused along intersecting streets because their green time has been reduced. In those cases, parking can be banned during those hours, adding a traffic lane near the intersection for right turning vehicles. When a computer failure causes out of sync signals, a smooth sailing roadway can be instantly turned into a parking lot with the same number of vehicles. Fortunately, that problem is usually corrected in a few hours.
Again, all other requirements are secondary to the needs of the driver, who apparently needs to have the maximum amount of green light time as is humanly possible. I guess it's to hell with someone's grandmother trying to get across the street after getting off a bus.
4- If there is inadequate green time, that should be corrected, if possible, which may not be that easy to do.

5- The only way to reduce the numbers of pedestrians crossing at an intersection is to either add a mid-block crossing or build a pedestrian overpass.
Oh, I didn't notice that 4 was redundant based on what you said in 3. But 5 is laughable. Now the pedestrians have to climb and descend a series of steps just so the driver, who again has sacrosanct ownership of the road, is not delayed by a few minutes. That is to say nothing of the incredible cost to the city to construct anything close to the number of pedestrian overpasses that would be required to make even a tiny impact on traffic congestion. Grade separation of pedestrians and automobiles may be the most inconvenient, most expensive way to go about congestion relief.

6 is of course redundant.
7- Add more trains and buses or donít overdevelop.
Also redundant with #1 and #6. So really in here you have about 3 complete, unique ideas you stretched into eleven bulleted points by repeating them. And what do you mean by "overdevelop?" Do you mean to not develop land past the point where a hierarchical street grid can easily convey most of the people living in an area through the peak period without experiencing congestion? Because I seriously doubt there is *anywhere* in the five boroughs that even remotely meets that criteria. There are sparsely populated exurban developments served by 4 lane "super streets" with limited grade separation which manage to experience peak period congestion. NYC is beyond hope of ever conveying an appreciable fraction of its residents by automobile without experiencing congestion.
People like you believe congestion is a good thing because it discourages driving, except instead of calling it what is it "traffic congestion", you renamed it as "traffic calming."

No, people like me realize that it's pointless to worry about traffic congestion in an area as urban as New York City. The triple convergence will ensure that whatever means you take to combat traffic congestion will have zero impact on the road itself. Traffic congestion is the apportionment of real estate on the city street by the only means possible: waiting in line. New York City will never want for people willing to stand in line for the privilege of driving their car into the city, and it will always be congested during rush hour, no matter how you rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

You don't care who you inconvenience.

Nobody forces anyone to drive into the city. That is a conscious decision relating the potential difference in travel time relative to mass transit with the value of that time to the person making the decision. If they have the luxury of deciding their saved time makes driving worthwhile then they have nothing to complain about when they and the others who made the same decision overwhelm the infrastructure and require that infrastructure be apportioned by waiting in line.

And reducing congestion does not result in the building of new highways

Lets dispense with the notion that anything you've proposed would result in congestion relief. By now it should be clear that nothing you propose will reduce congestion in the slightest. Call it rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, playing with the leaves while the roots rot, or any other metaphor, the point is only one of your proposed strategies has any basis in reality, and then only in a different application.

And it's not your purported "congestion reduction" which would put us at risk of highway expansion, it's your complete and utter dedication of every square foot of street to the automobile. You're making pedestrian, bike, and transit traffic subservient to the needs of the driver. That will inevitably marginalize the utility of those alternatives to the automobile and strengthen the automobile's place in NYC. Over time that strengthened position will make itself felt through political calls to widen highways in response to the uptick in automobile usage due to the marginalization of alternative modes.

Where is your source that it does? Oh, you don't need sources, only I do.

It's opinion, but it's happened before. One need only look at Moses' New York to see a similar situation. And so far I'm the only one of us to actually post a reference to something said here. Even in your commentary on the neighborhood rag you write for you only managed to reference yourself and a Streetsblog post about how insanely successful bike commuting can be.


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