How one GIF can show potential traffic density

Last week, my colleagues and I passed around this link from The Atlantic:

The headline, “The case against cars in 1 utterly entrancing GIF,” is just as entrancing as suggested. The GIF first shows what a streetcar full of people would look like if everyone had driven their own car. The result is a street packed with cars where formerly just one streetcar sat. This is a powerful image on the surface as we see how much physical space each of the cars take up and can assume the resulting heavy congestion. But to take it step further, consider the emissions created by the two scenarios – the first when there is a single streetcar; the second a car per person. It’s been estimated that a single bus with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than the average single-passenger automobile used for commuting.[i]

World population continues to grow and populations living in urban areas are increasing as well. As members of a car-centric country, we see the connection between increasing population and more traffic. Here at Population Education, based in Washington DC, we see both sides of the coin. On one hand, DC has a well-used and efficient system of public transit with many people reliant on buses and the metro. But that’s not everyone, as DC commuters spend the most time stuck in traffic compared to other US cities.


[i] Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration. Public Transportation’s Role in Responding to Climate Change. 2009.