[Vision2020] Traffic in Moscow

roger hayes rhayes@turbonet.com
Sat, 13 Sep 2003 08:13:43 -0700


I am encouraged by debate, and opinion expressed in response to my 
inquiry about the increase in traffic on the Palouse of late.  One 
individual, Luke, said he would have 5,000 cars and SUVs coming to 
downtown Moscow rather than 20,000 bikes. So I got my tape measure and 
calculator out.  Measuring an average bike, and then an average motor 
vehicle (not an SUV, but just a sedan), and then doing the math, I 
found the following.  5,000 cars, bumper to bumper and door handle to 
door handle would consume roughly 630,000 square feet.  20,000 bikes in 
the same configuration would take up 125,000 square feet.  So it would 
take about 100,000 bikes to take up the room of 5,000 motor vehicles.

But let's put everything in motion.  At slow to moderate speeds, it is 
not dangerous or uncomfortable for a biker to be 2 or 3 feet from 
another rider.  Of course, the faster one pedals, a bit more room is 
nice.  Imagine being that close driving a motor vehicle!  Maybe on race 
tracks this happens, but it's not a good idea for most of us.  This 
means that cars, SUVs and pick-ups take up more room when put in 
motion. The ratio, then,  changes substantially.  In motion, motor 
vehicles take up roughly 3 times their stationary area while bikes take 
up about 1.5 times their stationary area.  I will let the 
mathematicians finish this equation.

I can also think of a few final points that have risen from this small 
research. As we put more money in upgrading our roads, allowing traffic 
to move at higher rates of speed, the more room the cars need.   The 
greater acreage we designate to parking lots and motor vehicle 
accommodations the more roads we need, and consequently the more 
parking we need.

It's up to us, the citizens, the drivers, the taxpayers to envision 
what our towns will look like and how livable they will be in the 
future.  My vision would be bike racks, walking lanes, bike roads, bus 
stops, and maybe some green space where people can talk to each other 
and connect.  This would be called "community."  I don't see cars, 
pavement, and racing traffic providing this.


Roger Hayes