How Traffic Actually Works

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Jason Liszka:

Every so often this article makes the rounds and it annoys me. That isn’t how traffic works and the proposed solutions won’t fix anything. Maybe you can eliminate the annoying stop-and-go, but no one gets home any faster. In fact you can prove that you and everyone behind you get home strictly later than if you had just gone along with the stop-and-go traffic.


The important fact: there is a limit to the number of cars that can pass by a given point on the highway in a given amount of time, and that limit is one car every 2 seconds, per lane.

Liszka discusses the role of merging, bottlenecks, and catastrophe. He even includes code for a model of traffic flow.