No matter where you live, you probably deal with traffic in some capacity. No one enjoys sitting in traffic, but unfortunately, it is a daily frustration for a lot of people.
There are a lot of myths surrounding traffic, and we’re here to set the record straight. Read on to learn how many urban legends about traffic are untrue.
#1 - Additional roads decrease the incidence of traffic.
It is commonly believed that if more roads or more lanes on existing roads were added, then traffic congestion wouldn’t be as bad. The belief is completely rational. If there are 200 cars driving on a highway, then adding another lane would mean that 100 cars could be in one lane and another 100 could be in the other lane.
However, transportation research shows that people who have stayed off the roads out of frustration are eager to start driving again. The phenomenon is referred to as “induced demand.”
Essentially, it means that adding more roads ultimately causes more traffic, not less, even if it doesn’t happen right away.
#2 - The other lane is moving faster.
You’ve likely been in a situation where you’re stuck in traffic and all the other lanes appear to be moving but yours. Now you can rest easy knowing that the progress you believe other drivers are making in their lanes is usually an insidious visual illusion. This eye trickery occurs because you are able to see cars pass you more frequently than you are capable of seeing yourself pass other vehicles. This rings true even when you pass just as many cars as pass you.
#3 - Bike lanes increase traffic jams.
It is logical to believe that reducing the number of traffic lanes on a given road in order to implement a traffic lane for bicyclists, but may not actually be the case.
For instance, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) implemented 31 miles of protected bike lanes. What they found was that the city not only made biking safer, but they also identified the secondary benefit of speeding up vehicular traffic.
#4 - Wider roads are safer than narrower ones.
At first glance, it may appear that wider roads are safer for drivers than narrower ones. However, some studies show that wide lanes actually encourage people to drive at faster speeds, which eliminates any safety benefits that drivers may gain as a result of the wider lanes. Unfortunately, this additional space tends to lead to even more dangerous roads.
#5 - Added public transportation decreases traffic rates.
It is perfectly reasonable to believe that additional public transportation options can decrease incidences of heavy traffic. Unfortunately, this often is not the case at all.
While some people will choose not to drive and instead utilize public transportation to get around, research tends to show that travel times don’t usually change much when additional public transportation options are available.
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