Archive for October 6th, 2008

‘The Perfect Highway Would Have no Onramps’

I’m quoted a bit in this piece by David Filipov in the Boston Globe about the travails of merging in Massachusetts. One of the main issues seems to be a variety of design standards, each with its particular codes of behavior:

“State highway officials are aware of the yield problem. Neil Boudreau, State Traffic Engineer for MassHighway, experiences it every day on his commute to Boston on I-93. It’s more of an issue for the state’s older highways, he said. Although they have been upgraded to meet national standards for speed limits set out in a guideline Boudreau calls “The Bible,” many Massachusetts roads “were designed for a different era.”

Today, the Commonwealth builds roadways with a longer acceleration lane for drivers entering the highway. (Take, for example, the Big Dig.) The new onramps don’t need yield signs because drivers going at the same speed in the same direction are able to merge easily, Boudreau said.

But as a result, there can be different rules for different onramps, sometimes on successive exits. At Exit 7 of Route 3 in Plymouth, the connection with the new, high-speed section of Route 44 features the newfangled onramps, but Exits 6 and 8 on Route 3 are old-style, with shorter acceleration lanes and a yield sign.”

It’s actually a bit ironic that longer onramps need to be built today, as cars accelerate much faster now than they did in the days of those short ramps; the problem, I suppose, is that mainline flow is going much faster and there’s so many more merging interactions these days.

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 10:52 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Most Startling Sentence of the Day

Comes from an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about problems with older drivers:

“Of Nevada’s nearly 1.7 million licensed drivers, 14 percent, or nearly 233,000, are age 65 and older. Nearly 14,000 are age 85 and older. The oldest licensed driver is 102.”

I sincerely hope that license is only used for a golf cart or some such.

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 10:31 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Solving Dilemma Zones

I’m intrigued by the technology described in this article to reduce so-called “dilemma zones” — i.e., the moment when a light is turning yellow and an approaching driver is caught in a dilemma: They’re going to fast to stop yet they may still catch some of the red.

The report notes: “Indecision within the dilemma zone contributes to crashes at high-speed intersections. If a car is traveling at a steady speed or accelerating in that zone, the sensor relays that information to the traffic light, which will give the car a longer green light and time to clear the intersection.

My only question here is the “human factor.” If drivers know they are to be rewarded by gunning it towards the intersection, may not that also pose all kinds of risks? If a steady stream of fast vehicles keeps getting picked up by the sensor, adding time to the signal, when does the signal ever decide to change?

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 10:14 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



October 2008

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