Don’t get popeplacent: Next traffic shutdown could be worse

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has moved on to New York, and the road closures have moved up the East Coast with him.

There were relatively few traffic and transit issues during the pope’s visit to D.C., and that could mean people ignore warnings of major traffic issues in the future.

When a major freeway in the Los Angeles area shut down for “Carmageddon” part 1, University of California researchers found in 2014 that thousands of people stayed home — even those who lived or drove dozens of miles away from the 10-mile shutdown.

But the second time around, when the same closure was needed for a second weekend, many people seemed to ignore the more muted warnings and still hit the roads. However, they did take detours off the highways and onto surface streets.

On both weekends, more people drove as the weekend went on and things weren’t quite as bad as they’d thought. The researchers say “crying wolf” on major issues should be used judiciously because when people listen, the problems won’t happen.

h/t City Lab

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