Car supremacy and America's traffic paradox

To reduce traffic, set aside road space for non-car travel

A big car.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

Complaining about traffic is practically a national pastime in the United States. With rare exceptions, if you live in a city, from about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or so the roads are congested. The latest Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that between 1980 and 2017, the number of hours eaten up by congestion for the average auto commuter increased by 270 percent — to 54 hours per year. That's 8.8 billion hours in total, along with 3.3 billion gallons of wasted fuel, for an estimated economic hit of $179 billion.

Luckily, there is a simple and cheap way cities could use their road space more efficiently to cut down traffic: set aside some road space for high-capacity transportation methods like buses and bicycles. America just has to get rid of car supremacy — the idea that private vehicles are the only legitimate way to travel, and that other methods can be accommodated if and only if they don't occupy any space a car might use.

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