What Causes Traffic?

You're probably thinking "Way too many cars on the road, duh!" But the real answer is a bit more complicated, and counterintuitive. Tom Vanderbilt explains in a 20-minute presentation.

"Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, gave a great 20-minute overview on the counterintuitive science of congestion at the Boing Boing: Ingenuity conference in San Francisco last month," writes Eric Jaffe. "Turns out a lot of the problems we ascribe to poor roads or other drivers are really our own fault. '[T]he individual driver cannot often understand the larger traffic system,' says Vanderbilt."

Among the nuggets: "A big reason for traffic is that too many cars are trying to occupy too little space on the road," notes Jaffe. Aha, see I told you you were right!

"But that's not the only problem. A human inability to maintain a steady speed and following distance on the highway makes traffic a lot less smooth than it could be."

Full Story: A Fantastically Clear, Concise Explanation of Why Traffic Happens

Comments

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
T-shirt with map of Chicago

Show your city pride

Men's Ultrasoft CityFabric© tees. Six cities available.
$23.00

NEW! Get the "Green Bible"

Understand the complexities of planning at the local level while preparing for the AICP* exam. Find out why this edition is included in the APA's recommended reading list.
$105