It’s no surprise that cities see more traffic, and the Bay Area is certainly no exception. Combined with the cluster of cities along the coastline and regular flooding, there’s a severe issue that residents of this city need to be aware of. Here are the reasons behind recent flooding and the impacts it has on this urban traffic network.
The Urban Shift
People are flocking to city life all over the world. Roughly half of the Earth’s population now lives in cities, and experts expect that number to rise as the years go by. The Bay Area is a popular choice in America thanks to its location, amenities, work opportunities, and more.
While there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that on the surface, this rapid urbanization is contributing to an increased flood risk. Higher concentrations of people mean cities must create more resources for them, and one of those resources is the roadways that create the city’s traffic network.
When flooding strikes transportation networks, it causes severe socioeconomic impacts. Employees can’t make it to work, travel delays cause increased accidents, and the financial impact bleeds through to the entire structure of the city.
Studying the Phenomenon
Researchers at Stanford have been studying the Bay Area’s traffic networks and the impact that flooding has around San Francisco. This city is an excellent subject because of its coastal location, allowing researchers to see how rising sea levels are impacting urban life.
Their primary focus is the effects flooding from sea-level rise has on traffic delays, safety, road closures, and what happens when traffic is redirected to residential neighborhoods that were never designed to handle heavy traffic flows.
Ultimately, their research could help improve road safety in future climate adaptation planning. For now, however, their studies show how relatively minor instances of flooding in the coastal city can have major consequences to traffic and road safety.
Flooding and Accidents
Three impacts from coastal flooding were identified in the Bay Area. The first is impassible commutes, which simply means flooding stops drivers from getting where they need to go. The second is time delays caused by redirected traffic as drivers work to avoid flooded areas.
Finally, car and pedestrian accident rates increase as drivers redirect their routes from highways onto more local roads. The third is the currently the most worrisome, as anyone who recently needed a Bay Area car accident attorney will tell you.
Unable to travel on highways and other roads designed for heavy traffic, drivers are forced to head into neighborhood streets as they search for a way to their destinations. These roads are not meant for high levels of traffic, which can cause damage to the streets themselves. Even worse, it places pedestrians at a higher-level risk of being struck by a vehicle.
Heading into unknown territory with thousands of other drivers passing through residential streets is also the perfect combination for increased levels of car accidents. Stanford’s research found the increases the most concerning aspect the Bay Area is currently facing when flooding strikes. The impact accidents are having on low-income and disadvantaged communities is something the city will need to address.