It seems counterintuitive, right? Rip out eight lanes of freeway through the middle of your metropolis and you’ll be rewarded with not only less traffic, but safer, more efficient cities? But it’s true, and it’s happening in places all over the world.
Many freeway systems were overbuilt in an auto-obsessed era. It was decades later that cities realized they were actually healthier, greener, and safer without them. Like cap parks, which hope to bridge the chasms through severed communities—Boston’s Big Dig is a great example—removal projects create multifunctional streets that can be utilized by all modes of transit and reconnect neighborhoods that were devastated by highways. In fact, this is why the US Department of Transportation recently introduced an initiative that focuses on repairing the inequality that urban freeways institutionalized so many years ago.
Okay, you’re thinking, but where do all the cars go? It turns out that when you take out a high-occupancy freeway it doesn’t turn the surface streets into the equivalent of the Autobahn. A theory called “induced demand” proves that if you make streets bigger, more people will use them. When you make them smaller, drivers discover and use other routes, and traffic turns out to be about the same. Don’t believe it? Check out these freeway removals in cities all over the world and see for yourself...
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