What Really Causes Traffic Congestion?

Source: Dave Paco Abraham / Flickr
Source: Dave Paco Abraham / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Sure there are a lot of cars on the road, but just to say that’s what causes traffic congestion is overly simplistic. Yet that’s what many believe. Just get rid of all the cars, encourage the use of bikes by building more bike lanes, and improve mass transit, and all our congestion problems will be solved. We will all be healthier breathing in fewer pollutants and we all would be better off. Hogwash.

Now I’m not saying that bikes aren’t good exercise (that is, if you don’t get killed riding one) or that pollutants aren’t harmful. That part is true. However, the automobile is not the villain, and mass transit or bicycles are not the saviors either. A balanced transportation system is the answer. Yet we have those who believe that in the absence of extending subway lines or reactivating unused rights-of way, which many believe are cost prohibitive, we must greatly expand our Select Bus Service (SBS) network into any place in which we once wanted to build a subway. Also, all streets should have their traffic lanes reduced with the addition of bike lanes, wider sidewalks and the planting of trees in the center of the street.

What will happen in 30 or 40 years when those trees planted in those tiny center malls grow and become obstacles to visibility for turning vehicles? Do we then destroy them or turn the street into pedestrian and bike malls, banning automobile traffic entirely? Or has anyone not thought that far ahead? Most likely the choice would be to destroy the trees or severely prune them unless by then we are all telecommuting or traveling with our rocket jet packs. In that case I would favor pedestrian malls everywhere.

The truth is that traffic congestion is caused by multiple causes and here they are not in the order of importance.

1- Too many cars for the roadway due to inadequate mass transit options or other reasons.

2- Obstacles in the road causing a blockage and merger. These can be any of the following:

  • Double parking
  • Road work
  • Lane closure due to utility work
  • Road narrowing down
  • An accident

3- Traffic signals out of sync many times on purpose or occasionally when the computers are malfunctioning.

4- Inadequate green time

5- Too many pedestrians crossing not permitting cars to turn

6- Too many trucks on the road due to inadequate rail freight opportunities

7- Overdevelopment in areas where the mass transit system is already overcrowded and the road system is inadequate.

Who Is To Blame?

Sometimes it is the driver who insists on driving his car even if mass transit makes more sense. But that is more the exception than the rule. People usually tend to do what makes the most sense for them. If driving will save them 20 minutes or a half hour, and they can afford the parking, that’s what they will do. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Sometimes DOT is to blame by purposely making the signals out of sync (turning your signal green and the following red at the same time forcing you to just miss it). The DOT believes this will improve safety, especially around school zones, by forcing everyone to start and stop. However, in reality, all it does is increase air pollution, waste gas and time, and cause cars to illegally speed up just catch two green signals in a row, which would be otherwise impossible, thereby increasing danger not reducing it. There is probably nothing more frustrating to a driver than to take 10 or 15 minutes just to travel 10 short blocks without any traffic, but because of ill-timed signals, increasing frustration and possibly road rage. It also makes no sense for the traffic signals to force you to slow down around schools at 3:00 a.m., which they do.

Sometimes, it is the MTA that is not doing all it should do to improve local bus service such as not providing extra buses to beaches when needed, or operating too many buses not in service at the same time that overcrowded buses are bypassing stops, thus encouraging automobiles and dollar vans to create further congestion.

How Do We Fix The Problem?

If you want drivers to leave their car at home, then give them better options. Don’t blame them for looking out for their own self-interest. Build a subway line if that’s what makes sense. Give them a direct bus route if a subway cannot be justified, or at least a trip that can be made by taking two bus routes or even three. But don’t then tell them that third bus will cause them an extra fare and call them villains for driving or hailing a cab. Also, allow them legal spaces for kiss and ride and increase park and ride opportunities so they won’t have to drive all the way. Add bicycle racks to buses or allow bicycle parking in subway stations like they do in Chicago.

Don’t tell drivers you will be further reducing the roadway (causing them more congestion) because you are installing an SBS route. And don’t, then, neglect to mention they will still have to transfer to at least another bus or train — or perhaps two more buses — in order for them to take advantage of the new SBS route, so in the end they still will need their car. SBS has its place, but too many think of it as some sort of panacea when it is not. There are bus routing deficiencies that have existed for 70 years, which, if corrected, could save more time than SBS, yet rarely does anyone address those. Now, let’s discuss how to fix the causes of congestion.

1- We could have fewer cars and trucks on the road by increasing mass transit options and encouraging rail freight.

2A- Police should give tickets to double parking that causes traffic congestion and not merely view summonses as a means to raise revenue.

2B- Schedule as much roadwork as possible for the middle of the night or when the road is not busy, although there always will be some roadwork that causes some congestion.

2C- Also, try to minimize disruptions from utility work. I was once delayed 20 minutes on 62nd Street near the Queensborough Bridge one Sunday morning because only three vehicles were able to cross First Avenue during each traffic cycle due to the utility work. A traffic agent, if posted there, could have allowed vehicles to cross on a red signal, eliminating most of the delay since First Avenue traffic was very light at that time.

2D- Unless the road is widened, which may not be feasible, little can be done here except perhaps banning parking to increase traffic flow.

2E- Again, all we can do regarding accidents is to try to prevent them. Once they occur, traffic congestion usually cannot be avoided if traffic volumes are high.

3- Do not intentionally put traffic signals out of sync causing unnecessary congestion. However, even when they are in sync, congestion can be caused along intersecting streets because their green time has been reduced. In those cases, parking can be banned during those hours, adding a traffic lane near the intersection for right turning vehicles. When a computer failure causes out of sync signals, a smooth sailing roadway can be instantly turned into a parking lot with the same number of vehicles. Fortunately, that problem is usually corrected in a few hours.

4- If there is inadequate green time, that should be corrected, if possible, which may not be that easy to do.

5- The only way to reduce the numbers of pedestrians crossing at an intersection is to either add a mid-block crossing or build a pedestrian overpass.

6- Increase rail freight opportunities to remove truck traffic from the roads, especially the BQE.

7- Add more trains and buses or don’t overdevelop.

Where Do Bicycles Fit In?

Bicycles are a recreational vehicle but we are fooling ourselves if we think that, in New York City, they will ever become a major way to commute. New York is not Amsterdam and never will be, no matter what we do to try to encourage their use. The masses are not willing to put up with an hour or two bicycle commute to work, with riders arriving into the office covered in sweat or drenched in rain, unlike in Amsterdam where only a 20 minute bicycle commute would likely be required. But don’t try to tell this to bicycle advocates. Streetsblog called this New York Times article, which stated that bicycles caused their own traffic congestion problem in Amsterdam, a “preposterous rant.” They then launched their own tirade against automobiles and auto-related deaths, not offering a single factual dispute of the New York Times article.


I stated that mass transit is no savior. That is because, for certain trips, the automobile still remains the best way to go if the densities are not great enough to support subways, light rail or buses. This is something bicycle advocates will never admit. Buses also can cause their own congestion without off-street bus terminals. The days of constructing new highways are over for most metropolitan areas. That does not mean we should not be removing bottlenecks by adding lanes at strategic locations as DOT has recently done near the Brooklyn Bridge. I have provided at least 10 causes of traffic congestion and many solutions. In some instances little can be done. However, too many cars are only one cause of traffic congestion. But it’s not the only one.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA / NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  1. Allow right turns on red lights! In some areas, this doesn’t make sense… but in other places, for example, turning right onto the service road on oceanparkway at a red light seems reasonable to me, after coming to a stop first, of course.

  2. An incredibly well written, interesting and factual read. You truly are much better suited to be the head of the DOT then the current moron who would probably toss this in the trash because it rings a ton of truth and does not put bicycles first. We can only hope that whoever the next mayor of this city is will stumble across this and realize the excellent information that has been given to them.

  3. I would add that between 11pm-5am and on weekends any traffic light near a school that is not a major intersection should flash yellow.

  4. Completely disagree that bikes are not and never will be an alternate method of commuting. Just look at the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges with hundreds or thousands commuting to work daily –

    Buses were fitted out with cameras to take photo’s of vehicles blocking bus stops
    but I don’t think the system was ever implemented. Why not ?

    I also agree with Bloomberg’s plan to institute large tolls for vehicles entering
    downtown during certain hours – it works in London – it can work here.

    The reason some of these plans are not implemented is because City Council
    members are buckling under to the voters instead of looking at long term

  5. I believe you missed the point on the bicycles. Many people have to make a trip that is impractical by bike. Besides, he said “a major way to commute”, not “an alternate way to commute”; these two statements have different meanings.

  6. do you really think adding bike racks to buses will speed traffic? How long do you think it would take to secure a bike on a bike rack and then take it off when the bus stops. a couple of minutes per bicycle? And during those say 2 minutes per bike, with say 10 bicycles, is the bus moving or stopped? Sounds like you just added 20 minutes to everyones commute. Can a non-bike owner simply get on the bus, and on the next stop, go shopping on the bike rack for his choice of bikes?

  7. If you want to speed traffic, the answer is really simple. Have outstanding mass transit.

    If we had rapid, affordable, mass transit, where many people had seats, and buses/trains came every 5 minutes, people would jump at the chance. As long as we keep cutting back on mass transit, of course people are doing to prefer their cars. We may have the worlds largest mass transit system, but we sure don’t have the best.

    Outsource mass transit to the Disney Corporation.

  8. Right turns on red are permitted virtually everywhere except in NYC. The reason is the high numbers of pedestrians that cross the street at many intersections, where allowing right turns on red would create a dangerous condition. Just like the 30 mph speed limit is a lowest common denominator law, so is the no right turn on red law. Probably at 70 percent of the intersections it would be safe to allow right turns on red, but that would require the posting of thousands of new signs costing big bucks, so it is cheaper to have the law because of the percentage of intersections where it would be dangerous to allow the turns. It all comes down to money.

    But what they could do is change the law to allow right turns on red between 9 PM (or midnight) and 6 AM except in midtown between 14 Street and 60th (or 96th Street). That would not involve any additional signage or money. But no one is looking to make driving any easier. The current administration only wants to punish drivers.

    I also believe that it should be legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk if there are no pedestrians on that sidewalk because it would be safer than riding in the street. There are plenty of sidewalks that are not used much.

  9. Bicycles are an excellent way to commute for short trips. The problem in NYC is that the vast majority of commuting trips are not short by any means and would require impractical long trips that only an athlete would be willing to make.

    The cameras on the buses I believe involves changing a state law or getting state approval which is where it might be hung up, but I am only guessing about that. People also fear that it might be abused so that anyone stopping in a bus stop momentarily to discharge a passenger (which is legally allowed) would also be given a summons. I don’t think the idea is dead. Things just take a long time to implement.

    I disagree with congestion pricing but that is another discussion.

  10. Correct.

    However, I also think bicycles are an excellent way to get to or from a subway station or a bus route.

  11. I didn’t mean to imply that every bus should have a bus rack. I realize the implications if it were widely used. The bus driver would have to have some discretion if he wants to stop to allow the bicycle on the bus. I was thinking mainly routes serving beaches or parks, but there was no space to explain in detail what I was thinking. But I wonder why a large city such as Chicago has bike racks on its buses and NY doesn’t.

  12. We say people should take mass transit but what do we do to encourage it?

    Yes, subway crowding is unavoidable during rush hours. But if we want people to use the system what is the excuse for having to endure rush hour standing conditions on trains and buses after 9PM at night, other than a desire to save money by operating vehicles? The same is true for weekends. You always should get a seat after 9PM. Some people just can’t stand and that’s why they are in a car or taxi.

  13. NO! Already the nuts won’t let me cross even when I have the right of way, they zoom around the corner, and yell at me to boot. Imagine if they can make the right any time, I’ll never be able to cross a street. Have mercy on the senior citizens! Right on red would be a disaster in this animal town.

  14. Allow me to add another cause of increasing traffic. Cars going through red lights well after the light has turned red. This causes the cars that now have the green to pause 3-4 seconds after the light has turned green. Thus, you have a 3-4 second period now where no cars are moving in any direction, except for that nut running the red light. The rational drivers now wait until well after the light turns green, thus backing up traffic. Three seconds may not sound like much, but it adds to the congestion.

  15. I wonder. I know plenty of people who just think they’re too good for mass transit. Transit snobs. I doubt they would take mass transit under any condition. For those people, some kind of car tax is the only language they would understand. By the way, a top-notch article by you.

  16. It’s width.

    Traffic slows because roads are too narrow and vehicles are too wide.

    Toa Greening, a current Auckland, NZ city councilman proposes building and leasing cars without passenger sides to resolve his city’s traffic congestion. It could work in any city.

    See his report study at http://www.projectmicrocar.co.nz
    Build and drive narrow commuting vehicles to get traffic moving.

  17. I know some of those people myself, but I don’t see how a car tax would be able to single them out.

  18. I tend to disagree. There is a safety period of a couple of seconds where it is red for both sides, so if two cars go through after the light turns red, it really reduces congestion not increases it. If more than two try to do that, they create a real danger and potential for accidents.

  19. That really makes no sense on a highway unless traffic is moving no faster than about 35 mph. I can’t see two cars occupying the same lane at faster speeds so I don’t see how it could be implemented.

    When I was in Egypt in 1985, I was shocked how they drove on a highway. One car in each lane and a third car straddling both lanes because the lanes were wide and the cars narrow. I was scared to death I wouldn’t survive the taxi trip.

  20. During the Queens Surface days, the QBx1 used to carry bikes across the Whitestone Bridge.

    The racks that CTA, SEPTA, and NJ Transit among other agencies use only allow for 2 bikes per bus and some of those buses pass through some rough neighborhoods.

  21. It doesn’t take long to put a bike in a rack on the front of a bus. I’ve seen it done on NJ Transit buses since the racks began appearing on North Jersey local routes.

  22. The practice you’re describing is lane splitting, and it integrates safely on highways. Here’s a recent entertaining and instructional video: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JNGD9AAIfFU

    It’s estimated that converting 25% of cars with passenger sides to narrow vehicles would eliminate traffic congestion in large cities. I would be surprised if the narrow cars you saw in Egypyt in 1985 were as advanced as the narrow vehicles Toa Greening is proposing to lease in his study.

    For the latest information about Greening’s study, click this link: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1306/S00991/microcars-can-relieve-delays-to-city-rail-link.htm

  23. Conflating the Robert Moses’ legacy of new and widened highways, and the
    misquoted theme from the film, “Field of Dreams” (from the William P.
    Kinsella novel, “Shoeless Joe”) “Build it, and they will come,” new
    roads and new bicycle racks, etc., will ineluctably give rise to more

  24. First, indeed more and better transit should be provided. Second, auto’s should be seriously taxed by hiking registration fees. Bike racks should be on every MTA bus–it works well in SF and many other cities. And, no, autos are not necessary for most of life–although they would be convenient in a low density semi rural area. Wasting land within NYC for parking is just silly.

  25. Whether you’re accommodating bicycles for short trips or for long trips, the accommodations are the same. Either you reduce vehicle lanes to accommodate bicycles or you don’t.

  26. “What will happen in 30 or 40 years when those trees planted in those
    tiny center malls grow and become obstacles to visibility for turning

    Street trees are selected specifically to have canopies that won’t interfere with sight distance and overhead utilities and roots that won’t interfere with underground utilities.

  27. Okay, but how great are they for the sidewalks? I’ve seen too many sidewalks become ruined by a tree’s roots growing too large.

  28. and you DON’T reduce vehicle lanes in a city with a large population just because you are holding a grudge.Those lanes aren’t just for personal automobiles. They are needed for cabs and trucks which bring goods and services to everybody that utilizes places in the city. But that fact seems amazingly to be lost on the die-hard cycling set.

  29. People need to get around and people have a right to drive. Automobiles already are taxed to oblivion. That’s not a reasonable solution. We need to start looking at possible ways to tax bike riders but of course that’s crazy talk I’m sure.

  30. You do not have to reduce vehicular lanes to accommodate bicycles and you shouldn’t in most instances. Look what they did to Vanderbilt Avenue. It is now a parking lot in rush hours when it was smooth sailing before they took away a lane. There are many streets where you can add bicycle lanes without reducing a lane for automobile traffic. Bedford Avenue is a perfect example.

  31. First, we would have to force people to have a license to ride a bike. Of course, that’s less than impractical. (Yes, this wording was deliberate.) People would be quick to oppose it for various reasons.

  32. How do I say this? Hmmm. Well, you’re just plain wrong. Almost every point in your “blog post” is wrong or incredibly stupid. We all know why – because you’re Allan Rosen. But the people here commenting that they agree with you?!?!? UN-believable.

  33. Do you know how to tell when someone is stupid? It’s when they call someone else names and call them wrong without providing a single shred of evidence to support what they are saying.

  34. No, you reduce vehicle lanes because they provide an overall improvement to traffic safety and operations. And “traffic” does not mean only 4+ wheeled motor vehicles.

  35. You reduce vehicle lanes and you usually cause more traffic congestion. That’s not to say that in some rare cases you can’t reduce lanes without any traffic impact because the road was built for more traffic than actually materialized.

    Just look at what happened on Vanderbilt Avenue between Prospect Park and Atlantic Avenue. A seven minute trip during rush hours now takes between 20 and 30 minutes if you don’t alter your route and use another street increasing traffic there.

  36. No, you shouldn’t reduce vehicle lanes only to accommodate bicycles. It depends on whether traffic (see above qualification on the word “traffic”) would be improved by the reduction and what the latent demand is for bicycle accommodations. In the case of Vanderbilt Avenue, the intent was to reduce lanes, not just add bicycle lanes. I can’t comment anecdotally about it being “smooth sailing” during peak hours before, but the traffic data in the Atlantic Yards EIS suggest otherwise. Meanwhile, crashes with injuries dropped from 10 in 2004 to 1-2 a year since traffic calming was implemented in 2006.

  37. Probably older trees that predate such standards. Street trees need roots that grow down, not out, and the pit needs to be designed correctly.

  38. You have it wrong. PPW lanes were reduced to reduce lanes. On Vanderbilt, they were specifically reduced to add a bicycle lane. I occasionally would use Vanderbilt Avenue during the PM rush hour going south. It would take about two minutes to travel half a dozen blocks to about Park Place. Then you would get stuck for about five minutes at Grand Army Plaza. Total trip time about 7 minutes. Now, there is complete gridlock all the way from Pacific Street to Grand Army Plaza during the PM rush. I had to make an illegal U turn to go back to Atlantic and find another street south. Otherwise, I would have been stuck for ten minutes on the next two blocks before I could make a left turn. Drivers who do not know an alternate route or havea destination on Vanderbilt are now hopelessly stuck in traffic. Certain streets were designed with extra lanes for a reason, to accommodate more traffic. I shudder to see what will happen to 4th Avenue after DOT gets done with destroying tat thoroughfare also.

  39. That’s less than half a mile. Can anyone corroborate that it takes a half hour to travel this stretch?

    And it isn’t rare cases that you can reduce lanes and improve operations. Usually you’re not getting the full capacity of multiple lanes because there are no turn lanes, and turning vehicles block through traffic. That traffic then changes lanes and causes more congestion. Reducing through lanes and adding turn lanes reduces that friction and improves operations.

  40. If the only intent were to add bike lanes, the left turn lanes, median, and/or parking could have been eliminated to maintain additional through lanes. Traffic calming was intended in addition to adding bike lanes. If the problem is originating at Grand Army Plaza, it’s definitely not caused by the reduction in travel lanes, because there are still two southbound lanes at GAP and three at Flatbush Avenue.

  41. There were two moving lanes in each direction before the change for the entire segment of the street. Now it is two lanes only for the block or blocks near Grand Army Plaza which is grossly insufficient which is why traffic is now stalled not calmed. Apparently, the residents were against the removal of parking because no one would be able to shop at the stores by car so that was not an alternative. The turn lanes and mall were afterthoughts once it was decided to add the bike lanes and take away a lane of traffic.

  42. I don’t blame those “transit snobs.” The heat underground is oppressive during the summer. The joy of squeezing yourself into packed subway cars. Having to deal with the occasional unpleasant riders and ruined clothes due to sweat or contact with dirty station or trains. Our roads aren’t great but 100X more civilized than our transit system in comparison. And, did I mention that I once got bedbugs from a packed subway ride?

  43. Raising the fare during off hours is an option, since everyone knows that the MTA is operating at a (greater) loss during those times. Or even shut down the subway system during late night, like most subway systems in the world do. Of course that’d suck for a lot of people but in a way that’s fair too.

  44. Actually, when it’s a green light and a driver is trying to turn — that’s when it’s a walk signal to the pedestrian (Only if the driver is turning). With city lights changing so rapidly, most drivers try to make the turn and fail to realize that the green light to them means it’s a walk signal for you, and they attempt to drive through. Any responsible driver will understand this and yield to the pedestrian, as they are suppose to.

    Allowing a turn on red signals means it’s a “Don’t walk” sign for the person crossing the street, it also allows drivers that want to turn essentially get out of the way, so that when the light ultimately turns green, you, as a pedestrian, will have less vehicles turning and impeding you from getting to the other side of the street.

  45. That would actually be a bad idea, considering that many would still have to make fairly long trips. Private cars could make the trips go by pretty easily, but buses would have to follow specific routes. For example, someone may be heading to Midwood from Co-Op City. Shutting down the entire subway system would do a great injustice to them. With the sheer number of routes that operate at night and how much they cover, there’s no room for buses to properly replace them.

  46. No right turn on red isn’t only for pedestrian volumes. All over the City, even in the outer boroughs, buildings are build right up to the back of the sidewalk with no setback, obstructing a driver at a red signal’s view of traffic approaching from the left.

  47. That is not a good reason for no right turn on red. What about intersectios with stop signs. Your vision is obstructed there to. According to your logic it also would not be safe to make a right turn at those intersections other unless it was an all way stop. If there is an obstruction, you supposed to slowly inch out until you have clear visibility to proceed.

    With right turn on red you always first must come to a full stop anyway. So the intersection would be treated like a stop sign if it were allowed. I still maintain that after somewhere between 9 PM and midnight it would be safe to allow right turn on red except perhaps in midtown.

  48. The MTA has studied shutting down the system at night numerous times and ruled it out as unfeasible. If subways stop leaving their terminal at midnight, some lines would still be operating past 2AM and those same lines would have to start gearing up again at 4 AM so the other end of the line woud have service by 6 AM. So you really are not saving all that money plus you would have the expense of barricading the entrances and opening them up again.

  49. I know there is not much that can be done about this, but I still want to point out that many of the highways in the Metropolitan area are only three lanes in each direction. Compare that to LA or Atlanta where five lanes each way are common. This is the cause of congestion on area highways here. I would call that, “antiquated highways.”

  50. I believe that bottlenecks are a major cause of congestion. By bottlenecks, I mean where a merge is required. Those other cities you refer to don’t have the mass transit system we have here. In most cases it would not be a good idea to widen roadways here for a long distance unless it is to provide an HOV lane or eliminate a bottleneck.

    If we haphazardly widened all the roadways (if that were even possible), they woud again become just as congested in five years or so. You are thinking like Robert Moses in the 1930s before we realized that mproving mass transit is a much better alternative to widening roads.

    I would have however widened the Belt Parkway between Knapp Street and Cross Bay with the bridge reconstruction because there are no service roads on that portion of the road. The other alternative is to build bridges connecting Avenue T or U to Seaview Avenue and another bridge to make Seaview a continuous road as was originally envisioned to provide a bypass to the Belt instead of forcing cars to go all te way to Flatlands.

  51. If sight distance is obstructed that badly, then both streets should have stop signs. How are you supposed to know when it’s safe to turn? And if you “slowly inch out,” you’re blocking the crosswalk, and possibly squishing a pedestrian if you’re looking to the left for traffic while you’re inching.

  52. In my experience driving outside New York City, motorists turning right on red typically drive right across the crosswalk, slow down, look for other vehicular traffic approaching from the left, and proceed to turn. They don’t stop before the crosswalk and they don’t look for pedestrians, although they won’t go out of their way to hit a pedestrian that they happen to notice.

    I don’t want to see that in my city.

  53. There are many reasons why we suffer traffic jams every day. One of these is the rapid growth of the population. As a result of this, the
    number of cars is increasing annually. A further point is that there are more women drivers and younger
    drivers today than in the past. The increase in the number of trucks and
    commercial vehicles also causes traffic congestion. These vehicles move very
    slowly, sometimes stopping to unload goods, and blocking traffic. Road works
    are another major problem that can lead to streets being very crowded.

  54. Locally, I’m not sure how much rapid population growth is a factor, or how fast the number of cars is growing. I also don’t see what young drivers or women drivers have to do with it. Trucks unlike cars, can stand for three hours at a time double parked loading and unloading and its perfectly legal. We have no requirements for nighttime deliveries as is done many places elsewhere. We are also doing nothing to increase rail freight to rely less on trucks. On a weekday afternoon almost half of the BQE can be trucks.

    I can also tell you that better signage and more traffic control personnel at key intersections can do much to reduce unnecessary congestion. A few months ago on a Sunday, I got stuck waiting 30 minutes to get on the Queensboro Bridge when all I had to do was to use another approach and avoided that bottleneck in the first place. However the signage from the FDR directed everyone to the outer roadway of a single lane which moved at 5 mph across the Bridge. The inner roadway had two lanes with one car every 30 seconds moving at the speed limit. Someone should have been stationed at York Avenue directing cars to the other roadway that was virtually empty. DOT should have realized there would have been problems since roadwork was scheduled for that day. Since most drivers like me were not daily commuters, they were not aware of where the approaches are and just followed the signs or GPS directions and we got stuck needlessly.

  55. A grade separated Automated Transit Network (ATN) system, such as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), could ease congestion significantly in many places. PRT consists of tiny light electric vehicles that drive in formation on their own guideway; a micro rail. The rail can carry the power to the pod cars or they can be battery powered and recharged when “parked” at a PRT station. As the vehicles are so light, the can go above roads, railways; underground with narrow tunneling, under water, through buildings etc.

  56. I agree that we should have more transportation options. Just telling people to cycle on dangerous roads is not good enough. Infrastructure is important too. We should have protected bike lanes so that people of all ages and abilities can travel. Our roads should be designed to be walking, cycling, and driving friendly. If our roads are comfortable for cycling, more people will cycle. If more people cycle, there’s less driving. I think cycling can be a great way to commute because you achieve your workout at the same time. It’s more fun than using an exercise bike. If you want to sweat less and travel faster, you can get an electric bike.

  57. I live in Houston, TX and I can tell you one of the major causes of congestion here is idiots not closing the gaps during rush hour. There have been times where I’d be stuck in one spot on the highway for 15-20 minutes and I’d somehow weave my way through to the front to find it’s 4 or 5 cars going 40 holding an entire freeway up. It is beyond my comprehension why people don’t go at least the speed limit.

  58. All the reasons for traffic congestion that Allan wrote about almost 5 years ago has just gotten worse. Too bad that nobody in City Hall is listening, or cares.

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