Sometime later today, I'm going to join the rest of my neighbors in peeking obsessively at the weather forecast, which is currently tracking a potential snowstorm for Tuesday into Wednesday that could make the blizzard that we had just after Christmas look like a snow shower. Then again, maybe not.
Since I make my office right upstairs from my bedroom, I am so blessed not to have to drive in stuff like this anymore, but I used to drive over two congested New York boro bridges to my old job. So, whenever I think about snow, I think about what how it will mess up the New York metropolitan area commute, how much time will be wasted trying to get somewhere when people should just stay put and try to be productive at home. A new report published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University provides an idea of just how much time is wasted, not by unusual conditions such as snowstorms, but in the course of regular traffic congestion.
The 2010 Urban Mobility Report is full of some fairly dramatic statistics, which cover the state of traffic congestion in 439 U.S. urban areas during 2009. The researchers compile their information using speed data provided by INRIX, a service provider that calculates travel time information. Here are some of the findings:
For city planners and municipal governments, the report advocates ways to address and solve this burgeoning challenge, including:
Says researcher Tom Lomax: "There is no rigid prescription -- no 'best way' -- to address congestion problems. The most effective strategy is one where agency actions are complemented by efforts of businesses, manufacturers, commuters and travelers. Each region must identify the projects, programs and policies that achieve goals, solve problems and capitalize on opportunities."
There are more than 100 pages worth of statistics in the report, including data for your particular urban area, which I suggest you reference if you're a small business owner or a manager with employees who cope with "commuter stress." (Maybe a cause of road rage?)
Here are some other stories on SmartPlanet that address smarter urban planning:
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com