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Small Decrease in Driving = Huge Decrease in Congestion
Has anyone ever tried to tell you that there are too few bicyclists to reduce traffic congestion in any noticeable way? Well, new data shows that it doesn’t take large reductions in driving to see major improvements in traffic flow.
In 2011, total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the United States declined 1.2%. That means, due to the economy and other factors, Americans drove slightly less in 2011 than they did in 2010. But what makes that remarkable is the striking result: Congestion decreased 30%.
Bicyclists are everywhere, but we tend to flock to large dense cities – many of the places faced with the most congested roads and most likely to benefit from commuters leaving their cars at home in favor of their bikes.
Don’t worry if you’re not a bike commuter. It’s not just work trips that contribute to congestion. About half of all peak-hour trips are not work-related. If you’re riding instead of driving during morning and afternoon rush, you’re helping to ease congestion.
Among other things, this is useful information for making the case to use Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement funds for bicycling and walking projects.