congested freeway in los angeles

Traffic Congestion, Part One: Sources and Responses

Explore the sources of traffic congestion while also examining common preconceptions that inform how planners and policymakers respond to the challenge of reducing congestion, for better or worse.

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Course Info

  • Duration 8 video lessons (68 Mins)
  • Published Published
  • 4.50
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Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 3 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    What is Congestion?
    Chapter Duration 18 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    An Economic Perspective
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Congestion Damages, Part I
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Congestion Damages, Part II
    Chapter Duration 11 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Fighting Congestion and Losing: Adding Capacity
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Fighting Congestion and Losing: Limiting Capacity
    Chapter Duration 5 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 1 min

What You Will Learn

  • Understand the sources of traffic congestion, from both an economic and an engineering perspective
  • Gain a holistic understanding of congestion’s costs.
  • Learn the strengths and (especially) shortcomings of common ways to fight traffic congestion.
  • Learn about the common preconceptions that inform the way we try to fight congestion.
  • Understand the damage congestion creates. 
  • Understand where congestion comes from and why conventional approaches to reduce it don't work.

Course Description

Traffic congestion is an omnipresent topic in planning. Congestion is mentioned and analyzed in the evaluation of virtually every development proposal; long term regional plans are built around projections of congestion and ideas about how to reduce it; and congestion, for better or worse, is the single-largest concern in transportation planning. Congestion is also greatly misunderstood, in both its causes and its effects.

The "Traffic Congestion, Part One" course considers congestion’s causes and impacts and, in light of these, discusses attempts to fight congestion by building roads, building transit, and using land use regulation and Transportation Demand Management (TDM).

Watch Traffic Congestion, Part Two: Congestion Pricing.

Learn these skills

  • Development
  • Land Use
  • Parking
  • Public Health
  • Transportation
  • Urbanism


This course is approved for 1 AICP CM credit.


This course is 1 LU.

Meet Your Instructor

Michael Manville

Michael Manville

Michael Manville is Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Meet Instructor

Join thousands of urban planners on Planetizen Courses

I've been a planner working on transportation projects for 20 years and this course connected many insights for me that I hadn't previously realized. Fantastic.
- Edward H.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review
Very interesting in-depth analysis of the issue, its true costs, and how attempts to reduce congestion often backfire and end up making it worse.
- Emmett G.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review

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