, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1105-1116
Date: 18 Oct 2013

A general theory of traffic movement

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Every day our city streets become more clogged with ever-increasing traffic—yet to date we have failed to develop a simple theory explaining the urban traffic patterns which have evolved. It is realized generally that a clear understanding afforded by such a theory would be most beneficial in selecting the proper remedies for our traffic ills. Though several attempts have been made in that direction, the fact remains that we are still without this basic hypothesis.

Most of the attempts have centered around the so-called “land use” approach. These pilot studies sought to establish a relationship between a particular type of land use and the traffic it generates. In other words, it was hoped that by analyzing specific land uses, such as industrial areas, it might be discovered that a certain amount of industrial floor area would produce a given number of trips. Unfortunately, this approach has run into many obstacles, related in most cases to the numerous variables that exist.

This article is republished with the kind permission of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Washington, D.C.