Road building or city building? Analysis flips current wisdom on its head
A new analysis by CEOs for Cities finds that congestion has much more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads. By challenging the long-promoted measure of what causes traffic, the report reveals the inaccurate assumptions that have directed transportation spending to building more highways and roads rather than creating more compact development.
Driven Apart closely re-examines the accepted metrics used to measure traffic systems—long perpetuated by the Urban Mobility Report (UMR) published by Texas Transportation Institute—that overlook travel distances, exaggerate travel delays, and inaccurately estimate travel speeds.
The UMR’s reliance on inaccurate metrics, particularly the Travel Time Index (TTI) which misstates the effects of congestion, has led to spending that universally rewards cities that are spread out as opposed to compact urban areas. Driven Apart correctly focuses on trip distances and total travel times as the real indicators of how we measure congestion and is able to point to a broader and more powerful set of public policy options for dealing with urban transportation problems.
The report reinforces CNT’s longtime assertion that building more roads does not end congestion. “The CEOs for Cities study exposes the limited nature of the economic value that too many highway planners assign to higher traffic speeds,” points out CNT’s President, Scott Bernstein. “Even on the questionable basis used by TTI to assign value to congestion mitigation, the estimated potential savings from higher average speeds is a small fraction of the reduced cost of living that results from compact communities that require fewer cars and less driving.”
Driven Apart challenges current mobility measures and provides a better set of indicators, potentially saving billions of dollars in misdirected spending and time wasted in traffic.
Download the report at http://www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart