Traffic congestion is good for the environment. Wait, come again? Are we talking about Bizarro World here? Actually, according to Wall Street Journal writer David Owen, excessive congestion can actually be a good thing when it convinces drivers to explorer transportation alternatives instead of sitting in endless traffic jams.

Further, some studies show that decreasing travel time with metered freeway entrance ramps actually increases overall vehicle emissions and fuel usage as the volume of vehicles using the expressways goes up. Poor traffic conditions in the New York metropolitan area turn many commuters and city dwellers into transit users. In fact, New York users account for a third of all public-transit miles in the United States.

Further, increasing roadway capacity can also have a negative impact on vehicle usage as drivers are lured back into their cars for trips they would otherwise have avoided. So, what's the solution? Really, there doesn't seem to be any one answer that will fix all of our traffic woes adequately, which is why individual city planners often come up with differing ideas, depending on local conditions.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Wired]
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