An exercise in futility


Our Transportation for America program has released a comprehensive report on why our default “solution” to traffic congestion—widening highways—simply does not work. The Congestion Con proves with data that one more expensive freeway lane most certainly will not solve congestion, and perhaps congestion is the wrong thing to be trying to solve in the first place.

Transportation

How bad land use and transportation decisions go hand-in-hand with “The Congestion Con”

In an expensive, decades-long effort to curb congestion in urban regions, our transportation agencies and elected leaders have overwhelmingly prioritized spending hundreds of billions of dollars to widen and build new highways. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand, and in many cases, has actually made it worse. The Congestion Con, a new report from our Transportation for America program, examines how and why, and in this post we look at how land use is right in the middle of it all.

Complete Streets DOT Innovation Economic development Transportation

How Washington State will be picking the right transportation investments for economic vitality

photos from a workshop on economic vitality
Washington is taking groundbreaking steps few other states have taken to match its transportation investments with statewide policy goals. We helped the state work with stakeholders to answer three key questions: what does economic vitality look like for the state, how does transportation impact the economy, and how do we measure that to guide decisions?

Transportation Uncategorized

How cities can reduce traffic instead of just ensuring more of it


A new approach to addressing the potential transportation impacts of new development in urban areas, outlined in a new report by our State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI), could be a powerful recipe for reducing the demand for driving, while helping create more prosperous transit- and pedestrian-friendly cities.

Economic development Transportation

Ask USDOT to #MakeMeCount this Bike to Work Day

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Don and his co-pilot asked USDOT to #MakeMeCount last week. Photo by @KostelecPlan.

This Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their helmets and take to the streets for National Bike to Work Day, an annual event promoting active commuting options and safer streets.

Will you be joining the event? If so, make your ride even more impactful by telling USDOT to #MakeMeCount when it comes to measuring how well a street works.

Complete Streets

Feds get out of the way of communities that want to design safer, more complete streets

The Federal Highway Administration made two big moves this last week to clear the way for states, metro areas, and local communities to use federal dollars to design safer, more complete streets.

Both of these updates are great news for anyone advocating for streets that better meet the needs of everyone that uses them, as well as better serving the goals of the surrounding community. FHWA deserves a big round of applause for making these changes.

If you are working on a local transportation project and your DOT or some other agency cites vague federal rules when refusing to build a safe and complete street, show them the FHWA memo below. Their guidance makes it extremely clear: there’s wide latitude to design streets to best suit local needs, and old regulations that treat all roads like highways have been rolled back.

Complete Streets

Tell USDOT that #WeAllCount

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If someone takes the bus to work, and no one is around to count them, do they still matter?

We say yes, but the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to disagree.

Last week, USDOT issued a draft rule that will govern how states and metro areas will have to measure and address congestion, along with freight movement and emissions. These new requirements will help measure what America’s transportation dollars are actually buying us—which is great. 

However, the rule as it is currently written would measure success in outdated ways. Using old measures will lead to the continued use of outdated strategies, such as prioritizing fast driving speeds above all other modes of transportation and their associated benefits.

Complete Streets

Listen to market demand, says The Economist's Ryan Avent

To create jobs, drive innovation, attract talent and keep housing costs affordable, American cities would be right to address the growing demand for smart growth development, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent in a recent interview with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

“Well, my tendency as an economist, working for The Economist, my inclination is to say build with what the market will demand,” Avent says. “And so that’s why I think we have a great opportunity here, because what the market is increasingly demanding are homes that are within walking distance of job centers.”

Avent, a resident of Arlington, VA, and the author of The Gated City, emphasized that in building with market demand in mind, it’s also crucial to change common misperceptions about density. In his book, Avent uses the phrase “hogs stacked on hogs” to describe what makes people afraid of added housing units. The realities of increased density, however, are radically different and the addition of in-demand housing options contributes to robust regional economic growth.

“If you think about the sort of density that might work, if it builds around transit and a walkable environment, you don’t add a lot of the downsides that are typically associated with density, like congestion,” Avent says. “When you build in a sprawling pattern and force people into cars, that’s what actually causes congestion.”

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