Car & Driver
“Syncing Traffic Lights Isn’t the Fix Everyone Says it Is,” via The Atlantic Cities:
…if you make it easier and cheaper and faster for people to drive, more people drive. It’s Jevons paradox, applied to the city — if you make it more efficient to use a resource, more of that resource will get used.
There’s a fun fallacy at work here. Changing the conditions of traffic flow changes the entire environment of the city. And re-creating conditions across the scope of a city which make one car more productive fail to account for the fact that, in a city, you’re never just dealing with one car. You’re not even dealing with one car many times. You’re dealing with a whole environment of cars, and traffic-light-syncing, while it leads to many single cars having a faster trip, doesn’t account – as a policy – for changes to the whole environment.
I’d also add that you’re not dealing with cars — you’re dealing with drivers. And drivers have their own peculiar ways of thwarting even the best traffic models.