In this radio segment, NPR correspondent Guy Raz interviews University of Toronto’s Matthew Turner about his research on how building newaffects impacts traffic. Turner found that building more roads simply leads to more cars on the road and doesn’t actually reduce congestion. That’s a somewhat counter-intuitive conclusion, but Raz helps explain. Basically, “there’s a long line of people waiting to use that [new] space on the freeway,” so whenever new lanes are added, they’re quickly filled. The one way to actually make your driving trips fast? Pay for the space you take up on the roads, i.e. congestion pricing. The story notes that Stockholm has managed to reduce trip times by 50% through pretty modest congestion fees.
Business and labor are typically seated across the bargaining table from one another, but when it comes to transportation funding, they’re proving to be reliable allies. These are the same two groups, after all, that have been pushing for America Fast Forward locally. In this case, the American Federation of Labor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have publicly stated that the House surface transportation bill proposed by Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) represents a severe underinvestment in infrastructure that would eliminate, not create, new jobs.
There’s an incredible phenomenon associated with increased biking in a given city: The total number of serious crashes actually decreases in total — for bike riders, pedestrians and drivers — even with more bicyclists on the road. Wide-eyed city planners have so far attributed that to “safety in numbers” — more bikers on the road means drivers know to expect them and are paying more attention. Researchers Norman W. Garrick and Wesley E. Marshall seek to clarify that conventional wisdom. In this article, they argue that when cities succeed in encouraging a lot of bicycling, it’s because those cities have made physical changes to the roads that force drivers to slow down. The result is that people feel safer biking on city streets and that, when collisions do occur, all road users are less likely to suffer serious injuries.
The other plan for rebuilding the Mulholland Bridge (L.A. Times)
With Carmageddon looming, the paper looks at a plan that was considered last winter by Metro to keep the current Mulholland Bridge in place while an entirely new structure was built. That likely would have been cheaper and led to less freeway closures than the current plan to partially demolish the bridge and rebuild it while still keeping it open to traffic. The alternate plan, however, was opposed by some homeowners in the Sepulveda Pass area who also hinted at legal action that could have delayed the 405 project from its scheduled 2013 completion date. Of course, the Times could have more prominently covered this issue when it was actually taking place instead of feigning outrage now. Here’s the Daily News story about the decision in February to stay the course with the current plan and here’s the letter from Metro about its decision to rebuild the existing bridge. As the Times’ story mentions, there was also a thorough story on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.