So I was writing an email and considering the different strengths of Transims/Matsim vs a microsimulator, and I wrote that Transims can help us analyze big policy questions like what if we replaced all of the freeways with bike lanes.There’s a wacky idea. But it would make a very interesting policy analysis. What if there were no more freeways, but instead if the freeways were forbidden to cars but allowed bikes an pedestrians. Absolute mayhem, of course, and not for a moment would any sane person do that, but that’s what makes it such an interesting exercise.
First, all passenger car traffic would get diverted to streets. All long distance trips by car would immediately be out of the question, as it would take forever to get anywhere. On the other hand, long distance trips by bike are suddenly possible, so we could visit Grandma’s house (40 miles away) by bike.
On the other hand, what about all the freight? Where would the trucks go? And how would long distance trips happen? Would special car rental depots spring up at the edges of cities for people to rent a car for the line haul from the edge of one town to the next?
And any simulation model that didn’t incorporate freight, transit, bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles would immediately break when trying to answer such questions.