On some level, it seems intuitive: the roads are clogged with traffic, traveling well below the speed limit, so the road needs to get bigger to fit all the cars and each car will travel faster with that extra space. But this logic, where more lanes equal less traffic, is incorrect. It’s been disproven by study after study. In fact, more room for cars means more traffic, slower travel, and greater delay. Some cost-benefit analyses say the positives outweigh the negatives—it’s nice to have newer tarmac and signage. But, the core pitch of highway widening and road expansions is specious: more lanes do not equal shorter, faster commute times.
Road Diets Show the Power of Leaning Into Induced Demand
“Road Diet” is a term for short- or long-term planning where road space is taken away from cars and given back to cyclists, pedestrians, scooter users, and recreational uses. Policy makers use road diets to address several problems: fast, dangerous traffic as in the case of America’s “Most Dangerous Road,” better air quality because of reduced car travel, helping local businesses that benefit more from pedestrian patronage than car passersby, et cetera.
Making Car Lanes Slimmer Helps Too
“Besides fewer lanes, reducing the width of the lanes also has a positive impact. Narrower lanes encourage drivers to slow down, which makes the crashes that do happen much less deadly.”
Vox Video Shows the Benefits of a Road Diet
Via Vox, here are the benefits of a road diet, even and especially to those who drive through them: