This week’s tweet is a refresher course on one of the most basic laws of urbanism. A city is a place with a lot of people, and not a lot of space. The most successful cities are the ones that do the best job of embracing that fact.

Downtown Seattle by Henry Faber on Flickr.

Lindblom’s tweet never mentions the word “car”, but we all know that he’s talking about motor vehicle traffic. For better or worse, cars take up a lot of space. In a city full of cars — and where roads are free to use — congestion (or “traffic”) is the inevitable result.

Traffic is about demand as much as it is about supply. Seattle is a fast-growing, dynamic city, and all of those new residents and workers will need some way to get around. A city without transportation demand is a city without people.

And Lindblom’s tweet is also a reminder that we have the power to improve our own lives. Every time you walk or bike or take grade-separated transit, not only are you reducing the number of cars on the road, but you’re also freeing yourself from the stress and delays of roadway congestion.

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  1. What I should have tweeted was…. “Together we make traffic.”
    I posted this immediately after marveling on Twitter that Boren Avenue was already gridlocking at 2:30 p.m., and yes, I had just finished driving into the city from a non-transportation news assignment, at the Bothell office parks.
    Within our newsroom, my colleagues took this as some sort of deranged proclamation, as if from Godzilla.
    But readers of The Urbanist know better, that I was simply looking in the mirror to acknowledge being part of the problem. Have a great morning everyone.

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