Radically Rethinking Solutions to the Traffic Jam

Planners once thought that building more and wider roads was the solution, but a new study out of California finds that 90% of any new road capacity will be swallowed up by traffic within just five years.

What's the Latest?


Conventional wisdom about how to combat traffic jams has been overturned. Planners once thought that building more and wider roads was the solution, but a new study out of California finds that 90% of any new road capacity will be swallowed up by traffic within just five years. In other words, more roads invite more cars. Furthermore, scientific attempts to understand traffic flow patterns have been thwarted. Gabor Orosz of the University of Michigan: Although analogies to fluids, gasses, birds, and even skiers have been proposed, "it is becoming more and more obvious that traffic flows like no other flow in the Newtonian universe”.

What's the Big Idea?

Cities are beginning to innovate as traffic congestion begins to take a serious tole. Sitting in traffic increases gas consumption, stifles productivity while workers and goods sit idle, and harms the health of inner-city dwellers. Moscow has begun using smart parking spaces that alert drivers electronically when they are available. Google's automated vehicles reduce congestion by "platooning" lines of cars, removing torpid and unpredictable human behavior from the equation. London has shown a preference for policy solutions whereby specific driving taxes, and other legal measures, are implemented to discourage inner-city driving. 

Read more at BBC Future

Photo credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry/Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less