How many licks does it take

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootie Pop?

The world may never know, but we do know that more car traffic on roads leads traffic congestion and lost time for travelers.

I think everybody by now has seen the surreal Chicago Tribune photo of abandoned cars on Lake Shore Drive. I count about 20 cars on that 200 yards of road, which is half the capacity of the single bus stuck in the snow drift.

This essay in which Boston Biker explains that cyclist do not cause traffic congestion (do you hear that, Mr Rob Anderson?) is spot on. The problem is too many cars on the road, not too many bikes, and adding road capacity generally only adds to the problem, since they enable people to drive longer distances and serve to funnel more cars into the overall system.

Traffic capacity isn’t just a problem on snow days or commute hours. I live near sunny Santa Cruz, California, and this traffic caused by slow cyclists is a common theme in my Flickr pool. Below is traffic on northbound Highway 1 into Santa Cruz after a four car fender bender at the Fishhook (interchange with Hwy 17) brought everything to a standstill. Tell me, (1) How many arrogantly smug scofflaw cyclists were involved in the traffic collision? (2) Of the approximately $10,000 in property damage that occurred in this accident, how much was caused by cyclists? (3) One of the car occupants was seen getting strapped into an ambulance gurney with obvious head trauma. What is the cost to the public of head trauma to helmet-less car occupants versus helmet-less bicyclists?

Santa Cruz Highway 1

Another photo is this one of Ocean Street with traffic moving approximately zero MPH on their way home after a weekend at the beach. How many bikes do you see on Ocean Street? How many scofflaw parkers do you see and how many of them are bikes?

They say bikes get in the way of traffic

For this next photo, I walked into Highway 17 (bikes and pedestrians prohibited limited access freeway) because traffic was moving at zero MPH. Again, nearly zero MPH, and traffic was likely backed up like this for nearly 20 miles. And again, nary a bicycle in the way.

Beach traffic

Finally, I’ll leave you with this final exhibit of Highway 101 in Palo Alto, CA. Look at it now, and then imagine the scene after our regional transportation agencies defund Caltrain and add another 37,000 commuters to San Francisco Peninsula highways and roads!

Silicon Valley Highway 101 Traffic Hell


  1. I’ve experienced some bad snow storms in ChiTown before but the accumulation problem often took days. That picture of abandoned cars on LSD is a keeper. What a nightmare to clean that mess up. Chicago residents have workable mass transit but the many new high rises have large garages as do all those rebuilt neighborhoods. Nice essay by BoBiker.

  2. I recently made the switch from commuting by car to commuting by car and bicycle (I have a Montague folding bike that rides great and also fits right in my trunk). I drive about halfway now, park, and ride the rest of the way in. Riding my bike is not only faster, but so much more relaxing than sitting in traffic. And as someone who both drives a car and rides a bike every day, I can tell you that I think you’re exactly right – bikes are not the ones causing traffic congestion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.