The Democrat and Chronicle and USA Today think we have a traffic problem and the solution is more roads and more lanes. In a piece called “America is stuck in traffic,” USA Today wrote, and the D&C adapted for its own paper:
If you struggled in Thanksgiving destination traffic, consider the following: American vehicles currently spend 6.9 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, according to American Society of Civil Engineers.
A good bit of that is needed just to fix facilities that have fallen into disrepair. And significant investments in new capacity are needed to keep the U.S. economy from falling behind. These would include expanding roads and constructing highways as well as mass-transit systems.
Here’s what’s wrong with this editorial:
- The American Society of Civil Engineers is a special interest group. Engineers only make money if we’re building more roads. Of course, they want us to keep adding highways and lanes.
- Choosing the busiest travel weekend of the year to say we need more roads is like choosing Black Friday to say we need more parking at the mall.
- No one argues with fixing broken infrastructure. But adding capacity doesn’t reduce congestion. The theory of induced demand says it does the opposite. Drivers who took alternate routes fill in the extra lanes. People who were not driving at all are incentivized to start.
- Many Americans are driving less, so there’s no need for more capacity. (Though there are signs driving is again on the upswing.) In Monroe County, the number of licensed drivers dropped by 1 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to the DMV.
- Monroe County does not have a traffic problem. Our commutes average 20 minutes, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. The survey also found the percentage of commuters who drive alone in a vehicle dropped from 86 percent in 2005 to 81 percent in 2015. More people are carpooling, walking and biking.
- Any transportation plan should make more than a passing reference to mass transit. Calling for more capacity for cars hurts the environment and the poor.
- Adding lanes is detrimental to safety. That’s why many roads in Rochester have gone on a “diet.” Two lanes roads are far safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
- For many people — not all — being stuck in traffic is a lifestyle choice. I’m not saying people shouldn’t live in car-dependent suburbs. But if they do, they should expect to spend more time in their vehicles. I have been a city dweller my whole life. Even when I worked in Henrietta, I put only 6,000 miles a year on my car.
In summary, building more roads and lanes is the wrong solution to a nonexistent problem. It’s disturbing to see a newspaper that harps on poverty and social justice so entrenched in a car-first mentality. The conclusion is not only wrong, it’s harmful to taxpayers, the climate and the poor.
Update: Original post said D&C wrote editorial. It was adapted from USA Today and republished in D&C.
Links of the Day:
- Trump may not be anti-gay, but much of his senior staff is.
- Romney twisting in the wind offers a preview of Trump’s reality-show governing style.
- News outlets are rethinking the term “alt-right.”
- Kodak only has 1,300 workers left in Rochester.
- New York Life gives boost to planned Anthony, Stanton statue in NYC.
Broad, Casted Update:
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) November 29, 2016