Los Angeles managed to survive Carmageddon, with some help from Ashton Kutcher and traffic updates from Waze, a service that utilizes the GPS-enabled phones of its users to compile traffic maps. A few months ago, Waze made a slick video of a day of L.A. traffic, showing where people were driving and where they were getting congested. Now, they’ve made new videos (with the help of the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts) for other, more far-flung cities: Paris, Rome, and Tel Aviv.
In these videos, each lit-up line represents a car trip. The lines burst with purple when there is traffic, and other colored bars rise above when various alerts are activated, like for police or hazards. In Paris, you can see the main ring road around the center city is in constant use, while one corridor through the city also becomes quite congested, especially at rush hour:
Rome is configured much like Paris, though with much worse traffic, it appears. People also drive into the center of the city more often. Congestion there appears much worse than in Paris, with several major thoroughfares shooting off purple sparks during rush hours.
Tel Aviv, unlike the European cities, isn’t configured with a central city encircled by major roads, but the highway that runs through the city is heavily trafficked, as are some of its offshoots. Tel Aviv may also simply have more Waze users: its grid is much more clear in the video than the larger European cities.
The initial reaction to these videos is: These cities should build some roads so people have alternate ways of getting to places, instead of all cramming on the same highway. Sadly, we know this isn’t how it works. More roads don’t siphon off drivers, they simply encourage more people to drive. Rome and Paris have fairly vibrant public transportation systems, with extensive subway systems, and Tel Aviv has an extensive bus network. The real way to solve the cities’ traffic problems is to find ways to encourage people to use these systems more, or just to live closer to where they work.