TRUCKS AND TRAFFIC IN NEW YORK.
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TN a previous article we drew attention, in light-1-hearted fashion, to the hold-up in London and in the provinces. Here we shall deal more seriously with the hold-up in New York.
Reference has already been made in this journal to the Regional Plan. of New York, and it is the report of the committee thereof on "The Highway Traffic Problem" which is now before us. As a basis for further research a physical survey was first taken. It included a detailed study of the past and present distribution of population and the consideration of many conditions which, at first sight, appear to have little bearing on the traffic problem. The regional aspect of the whole problem is again iliphasized, ' as the improvement of the general system of circulation in the region is essential as an aid to relieving local congestion." The ring roads around our own large cities are an illustration of the regional idea ; the overburdened city street is relieved of vehicles which are merely passing through, whilst the vehicles themselves, when the road is good, make a quicker journey by going round. Ring roads should not be set at too great a distance from the centre, otherwise there is a disinclination on the part of those who "do not mind traffic" to use them, the effect being to add to congestion in the central area. Yet another vital point to watch is the form of the crossing of the ring road with each main road. Traffic on each should be clearly visible or danger spots will be created.
The report includes some interesting findings, which will best be given in full:—
"A study of the United States registration and production statistics reveals many interesting facts. While there was a slump in the production of passenger vehicles during the world war and during the business depression of 1921, the increased rate since that time has fully made up for these periods of decreased production. Production of motor trucks was greatly increased during the war, but also suffered a slump in 1921. Of the 20,000,000 vehicles which had been produced up to the end of 1923, about 5,600,000, or 28 per Cent., have been scrapped. It appears that the average life of a motor vehicle has been increasing and is now about six and one-half years. A study of truck production figures indicates a Very large percentage of the smaller-sized trucks and a tendency for this percentage to increase.
"In New York City alone there were, in 1923, about 265,000 passenger cars, 79,000 motor trucks and 20,000 omnibuses. There were in the entire city about 45 persons per motor vehicle in 1916, and in 1928 this figure had been reduced to about 16 persons per vehicle. It appears that in 1930 there will he about eight persons per motor vehicle, or a total in New York City of about 835,000 vehicles. By the year 1950, the number of persons per vehicle will probably have become unite stable, and from that date the number of vehicles will more closely follow the population, provided, of course, that some other form of transportation does not supersede the automobile.".
On the subject of accidents the following comparisons are striking :—
"The death rate from motor vehicles in New York and environs during 1923 was ,five times as large as that from typhoid fever. " Taking New York City from 1914 to 1923, the number of collisions with persons has been steadily decreasing, and in 1923 was only about 60 per cent, of the number in 1914. On the other hand, the number of collisions with vehicles has been steadily increasing, and in 1920 was about 167 per cent, of the number in 1914. This is partly explained by the fact that the number of vehicles has increasei so much more rapidly than the number of pedestrians. There is also a difference in the time of the year in which the maximum number of each type of accident occurs. For persons, this is during the summer months, whilst for vehicles, it is during the winter months, which would seem to indicate that the increased difficulty which vehicles have in navigating the streets under winter surface conditions has a greater detrimental effect than the advantage -which results in the decrease in traffic at such times."
Regulation of traffic has been enforced in several ways. Some Etreets have been made one-direction streets; in others traffic has been restricted solely to pleasure vehicles: in others, again, pleasure vehicles have been prohibited, thus limiting traffic to business vehicle. Parking time is limited, the time allowed being dependent on conditions in the highway concerned. These and other traffic regulations, originally designed to prevent accidents, were found to be beneficial economically. "The fundamental principle is the desire to secure the maximum use of present facilities." The exclusion of pleasure vehicles from certain motor truck thoroughfares is viewed as the beginning of a reform which -will reduce unnecessary tra,file and thus afford better facilities for that which is essential to community needs.
Segregation, the report suggests, could be intro, duced along two lines. First, the segregation of through and local traffic ; second, the segregation of trucks and passenger vehicles. Certain parkways and boulevards are already restricted to passenger vehicles only, and this may lead to the closing of certain highways to all except trucks. The traffic congestion on Thames bridges finds interesting comment in the fact that segregation has been enforced on certain East River bridgeg. Bf:ooklyn Bridge highway is confined to horse-drawn vehicles, whilst, on one of the others, a higher speed is possible • for passenger vehicles because horse traffic is prohibited. Congestion is eased by the provision of passenger unloading spaces at Pennsylvania and Grand Central terminals and by the loading, in spaces off the public streets, of delivery wagons belonging to the big stores, like Wanamaker's.
Thatskyscrapers are among the causes of congestion will be news to many people outside America, yet it is obvious, on reflection, that a district in wbich very high buildings abound is likely to be extremely taxed for passenger transport round about the hours of nine in the morning and five in the afternoon. Says the report: " There seems to be a measurable relationship between building bulk and street capacity." We on this side, when talk turns to skyscrapers for London, would do well to keep this in view. -.
The pamphlet is illustrated by several interesting
charts. F. W. POPE.