Elon Musk believes that the theory of “wider roads encourage more car use” is a fabrication. Is that really so?

    07 Dec 2021

    Urbanists describe the theory of induced demand metaphorically: “Building roads to prevent congestion is like unraveling the belt after overeating so as not to be fat.”

    Elon Musk in 2019 had made another controversial claim on Twitter, calling induced demand “one of the most irrational theories.” This is a theory that the expansion and construction of new roads encourages more use of the car and these new roads.



    Thus, the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla responded to criticism of his previous tweet, where he said that the problem of traffic can be solved by building “super safe, earthquake-resistant tunnels.” Critics have not understood how this differs from existing tunnels.

    In 2016, The Boring Company, also known as TBC, began building tunnel projects in US cities, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore. The opening of the first tunnel in Las Vegas is expected in late 2020 (originally the tunnel was planned to open in late 2019), Quartz states.

    Mask’s plans include moving Tesla high-speed cars underground to avoid ground congestion. However, the tunnels are now too narrow to pass more than one car. Therefore, even if the journey underground is only a matter of minutes, the entry and exit of vehicles from the dungeon is likely to cause significant congestion. One solution is to make tunnels expensive to reduce demand.

    Mask’s claim about the irrationality of induced demand has very little evidence. However, many facts just suggest the opposite, Forbes states. For example, in Southern California, where Musk lives, the increase in the number of roads has always stimulated the use of cars (electric cars capture traffic as easily as other cars).

    Urbanists describe induced demand metaphorically: “Building roads to prevent congestion is like unraveling your belt after overeating so you don’t get fat.” This comparison was first used by urbanist Lewis Mumford in a 1955 article. At the time, Mumford was describing a phenomenon that did not yet have a name. In 1969, JJ Leaming, a British road engineer and surveyor, described the theory of induced demand in detail.

    This happened after the German mathematician Dietrich Brace came up with the paradise of Brace, who states that “selfish” motorists should not be expected to travel at optimal hours. They drive as they see fit, and this leads to delays for everyone.

    Although Leming’s study was common among most transport researchers, induced demand was known long before 1969. Inspector and engineer William J. Haywood, one of the builders of London’s Holborn Viaduct, said the new highway would attract more travelers.

    For example, Houston’s Katy Freeway has 26 lanes at its widest point. To reduce congestion, it was expanded in 2008-2011 to nearly $ 3 billion. However, this did not reduce traffic congestion, but rather worsened the situation. From 2011 to 2014, travel time increased by 30% during the morning trip and by 55% during the evening trip.

    British urban planner Thomas Sharpe wrote in 1932 that some motorists would not be satisfied until every inch of land was covered with asphalt.

    “He will look on his map for an alternative route in quiet lanes, where he can go at high speed alone with the road. But when the rest find this alternative route and take all the other alternative routes, this motorist will continue to demand a new road system to make his life behind the wheel a pleasure again,” Sharpe wrote


    Musk opened a Tesla plant in Berlin, which still does not have permission to launch. How did this happen? Locals and environmental groups staged a protest in connection with the opening of the Tesla Gigafactory. They are sure that the plant will pollute drinking water because it was built in a water protection zone. In addition, many trees were cut down during construction.

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