I was pleasantly shocked when I discovered that commercial real estate reports do not give you the demographics of the area x miles from the location. They give it to you x MINUTES from the location. Urban planning, when it comes to utilization, is driven by fifteen-minute isochronous maps - the area five minutes, ten minutes and fifteen minutes from the location is used to determine the appeal of any commercial property.
Unfortunately those isochronous maps do not account for traffic. The fifteen-minute isochrone for my wife's workplace in LA extended clear into Malibu - but when the LA City Council put our neighborhood on a "road diet" (more bike lanes, safer parking) the twenty minute drive to her office (which was within the ten-minute isochrone) became ninety minutes.
I think this is the hidden mechanism of the MOAR ROADS MOAR MOAR MOAR trap: in the middle of the goddamn night you can get halfway to the next state in fifteen minutes. If you stay at work until 8pm you can get home in 30 minutes but if you leave at 4:30 it'll be quarter of seven before you see your kids. Therefore the obvious thing to do is make it easier for everyone to leave at 4:30 without acknowledging that all you're doing is increasing the number of people who are going to be on the road with you.
Another funny thing happened when we moved to Seattle: we were astonished by just how far you could get in a "normal" commute time. If we wanted to visit friends in Los Angeles we budgeted about an hour and fifteen minutes to go eight miles on a Sunday. From where we live in Seattle? An hour and fifteen gets you within shouting distance of the Canadian border. So clearly ZOMG you can get anywhere in Seattle in a "normal" amount of time, right? Naaah. What happens is your normal resets to "however long it takes you to get where you need to go." If you used to spend half an hour getting to the grocery store but now spend five minutes, a grocery store half an hour away becomes insanely inconvenient within two weeks.
And let's be honest: if it used to take 20 minutes to get to work but now takes 40, it's the world that's changed, not you. And the only way to make things better is to change the world.
Let's say you moved to Atlanta in 2010. How many more drivers are there on your commute?