Loosening Your Belt Does Not Make You Less Fat

Adding lanes to highways leads to more traffic, not less.

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Brooklyn-Queens Expressway via NY Times

A New York City external panel appointed by Bill Di Blasio has suggested a radical recourse to a rapidly deteriorating 1.5 mile section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. That stretch of highway consists of 21 concrete-and-steel bridges over local roads and sees more than 153,000 vehicles a day, which more than three times what it was built to handle. The panel has recommended shrinking the six-lane highway to four lanes.

Winnie Hu reports:

The B.Q.E panel’s thinking is shaped by one of the paradoxes of traffic: more lanes leads to more traffic since larger highways attract more cars. This is counter-intuitive because people naturally think in steady-state terms, and reason that X cars on six lanes would have 6/4 more room than on four lanes. But if X cars becomes 2X, or 3X, everything falls apart. Or at least the 1.5 miles of bridges are falling apart. It’s estimated they have less than five years of safe use left.

Samuel Schwartz, a transportation consultant advising the panel, made a great comment, one cited by Wu:

Now if the city can only continue the progress made by Andy Byford on public transportation, now threatened by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tug-of-war with him, which led to his recent departure. That’s the only way to get people out of their cars.

Originally published at https://stoweboyd.com.

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Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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