Thursday, November 10, 2011

U of Toronto Economists: Road-Building Fails to Reduce Congestion

Writing in the October American Economic Review, two University of Toronto economists find evidence for induced demand (an effect that has sometimes seemed more anecdotal than statistically verified).

From "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities" by Gilles Duranton and Matthew A. Turner:
We find that vkt [vehicle kilometers traveled] increases proportionately to highways and identify three important sources for this extra vkt: an increase in driving by current residents; an increase in transportation intensive production activity; and an inflow of new residents....We also estimate the aggregate city level demand for vkt and find it to be very elastic. We conclude that an increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion and that the current provision of roads exceeds the optimum given the absence of congestion pricing. [italics added]
Here's the last publicly available draft of their study, from 2009. I'm working on getting the published version.

Federal Transportation Bill - Map-21

The Federal Transportation Bill is moving and advocacy groups are responding:
  • The Portland area Bicycle Transportation Alliance response.
  • The Seattle area Cascade Bicycle Club response.
  • The League of American Bicyclists response.
  • Streetsblog DC has a summary, with a cameo from our own Senator Merkley.
Cascade's response was the most succinct:
What does MAP-21 do? Three zingers. The draft Senate bill:
  1. Offers far less money for biking (and walking)
  2. Adds a pile of new categories eligible for this smaller pot of funding
  3. Allows an opt out option that many states will likely take
Personally, I wish we were less dependent on dedicated pots of money to fund "enhancements." This reinforces the notion that bike transportation is an extra, a frill. Are things really so dismal that we have to defend a status quo that isn't working very well?

If you follow the national politics, please comment!

Lost Keys

Finally, I'm late getting to this, but a bike-friend found a set of keys:
I found a set of keys on Friday 10/28, in the northbound bike lane area of the intersection at 12th and Fairview in SE Salem. There are multiple keys on a plain key ring. They have been run over and the ring is smashed, but the keys look pretty good (1 is bent). If the keys are yours, contact me with the number of keys, plus any other distinguishing features, and I'll return them to you.
Click through the link for the craigslist note, and you can email the finder if the keys are yours!


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Over at the Oregon Economics Blog, the Professor calls the journal "one of, if not the, pre-eminent journals in economics," and says, "The methods are pretty convincing and the results, to my mind, are pretty startling."

Read the full note, as he also discusses several complications and nuances.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

At some point in the intervening years, the full article has become available as a free pdf.