New Study finds that Road Closures can Alleviate Congestion in Dense Urban Areas (War on Cars Watch)

Historically, transportation policy addressing vehicle congestion has entailed increasing road capacity—whether it be through widening existing roads or building new roads altogether. However, research consistently reveals that these policies have the opposite effect. Rather than alleviate congestion, adding road capacity only creates additional demand, leading to almost no improvements in traffic flow. Even if the total number of cars on the road were to be held constant, the addition of a new road in some instances may actually lead to worsening traffic. In fact, a new study reveals that cities may be able to improve vehicle travel times by closing certain road segments completely. Using the theoretical framework of the Braess Paradox, the study’s researchers model how blocking off selective streets in downtown Winnipeg can reduce overall vehicle travel times, a change which in turn enables new car-free spaces to be reclaimed as parks or pedestrian plazas.