If we all choose the fastest mode of travel in a city, the whole city gets slower – and more congested I The Conversation
Rafael Prieto Curiel November 24, 2021
People in cities often choose how to travel based on how long it will take. In recent years, navigation apps such as Google Maps and CityMapper have enabled people to decide between various modes of transport by seeing which one most quickly gets them where they want to go.
Cities of course have long dedicated a disproportionate amount of space to cars. Although in some parts of the global north – and in certain demographics – car use is declining, elsewhere it has, unsurprisingly, increased.
In a recent study, we modelled what would happen to average travelling times in a city if people were given only one other option – using the car or using another mode of transport – and if they acted only in their own interest (getting to their destination as fast as possible).
We wanted to see what would happen if everyone acted selfishly. How would that compare, we wondered, with a theoretical case in which people chose their mode to minimise travel times for society as a whole and not only for themselves.