The thrust of this session is that new thinking is needed in the battle to reduce traffic congestion on the major corridors of urban areas. The key point is that we need to find ways to get ordinary people to collaborate to bring about better mobility for all, rather than following the traditional traffic engineering solutions. Two new approaches were suggested for thinking: the commons model, and the complexity model. The big issue is the problem of induced demand, which sees most congestion solutions delivering short-lived gains.
The Ridesharing Institute is proposing that a lab be established populated with social scientists: anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, game theorists, etc., who would take a different approach from the thinking usually made by traffic engineers, with the goal of achieving lasting reductions in traffic congestion.
Paul Minett presented the ideas, supported by Larry Filler. The presentation was criticised for not focusing on what commuter services teams are interested in: making the city a better place. [The language of the presentation was highways, corridors, congestion].
An engineer (from California) in the audience suggested that reducing congestion was the wrong metric, because latent demand is so high. His opinion was that latent demand might be as much as double existing use (meaning that if ALL the vehicles currently on the road did not use the road, an equal number of OTHER vehicles would take their place). His view was that the measures to reduce congestion would have to be so draconian that they would use up all of someone's political capital, and when they failed to work the faith of those who trusted the lab would be so shaken that there would be no further opportunities.
It was suggested that other industries be referred to for how they had made major changes in how they operate. The power industry was mentioned, with particular reference to O-Power, and an idea of 'Car Free A to Z'. It was mentioned that Helsinki is working on an experiment to be car free.