One of the biggest concerns about new housing is that it will make traffic worse. After all, more people must mean more drivers, right? That doesn’t have to be true – and whether it’s true depends on where we let people live, what we let them build, and what the city’s roads and sidewalks look like.
Letting people live close to the things they need means that more people can get what they need through shorter car trips, biking, walking, or taking a bus. City planners call this infill in a city. If the city makes new buildings come with parking spaces, that causes people to drive more. If we let new homes be built without parking, that will keep traffic down and make housing more affordable.
There is no one best way for everyone to move every time they go somewhere - some people can’t walk far and must drive, some people can’t drive and must walk.
A great city builds infrastructure that provides safe options for your own needs AND moves most people around quickly. Because we all share the road with each other, you won’t be able to drive very fast if lots of people are taking up space on the road – that’s what traffic is.
The quickest way to move everyone around will change as a city grows. Bigger roads don’t actually make traffic better! City planners call this induced demand. So, what you drive becomes less important than how well we can all share space. More people riding the bus, or taking smaller vehicles like a motorcycle or a bike, makes everyone’s commute better.