Archive for October 22nd, 2008

The World’s Most Bizarre Traffic Safety Idea

China Daily reports on how primary school students in the county of Guizhou are required to “salute” the drivers of passing cars (I don’t think they’re talking about the one-fingered variety).

Story here or after the jump…


Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:48 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Trouble with Off-Peak Buses

Via Berkeley’s Center for Future Urban Transport is a new study that I imagine will be generating some discussion. The work, by Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath, is meant to: “develop comprehensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) models to quantify the energy inputs and emissions from autos, buses, heavy rail, light rail and air transportation in the U.S. associated with the entire life cycle (design, raw materials extraction, manufacturing, construction, operation, maintenance, end-of-life) of the vehicles, infrastructures, and fuels involved in these systems. Energy inputs are quantified as well as greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant outputs. Inventory results are normalized to effects per vehicle-lifetime, VMT, and PMT.”

Among the more eye-raising findings noted:

• Roadway construction particulate matter emissions are as large as tail-pipe emissions for the automobile per passenger-mile-traveled.

• Urban buses with peak-hour occupancies have the best energy and greenhouse gas performance, followed by rail and then air systems, and trailed by automobiles. But off-peak bus travel is the worst performer.

• Air travel is environmentally competitive with rail travel and can outperform rail modes when the aircraft is about 80 percent utilized.

• The use of ground support equipment at airports contributes roughly one-third of the total carbon monoxide lifecycle emissions for aircraft.

• While rail systems are the best energy and greenhouse gas performers, they exhibit the largest shares from infrastructure effects in the lifecycle. This results from environmentally much larger infrastructure requirements per passenger-mile served.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:23 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Ten Things You Should Know About Montreal Traffic

Based on my absolutely unscientific observations:

1.) The drivers are nuts. At least more so than those I’ve seen in Vancouver or Toronto. You get the feeling, walking, that they haven’t quite made up their mind whether to stop, particularly as make turn into crosswalks (I was told, by the way, that this is “one of two cities in North America where right turn on red is prohibited”; hmm, is this true?). I don’t see much enforcement (which makes me wonder, as an aside, whether corruption levels have been tracked to be higher here than in other provinces). In bad travel articles and the like you see things about the “more relaxed pace of life” in Montreal; I’m not sure drivers got the memo on this one.

2.) Pedestrians are too docile. This could be a result of having been cowed by point #1, of course. But I feel alone sometimes in my jaywalking. C’mon people, take back the streets! Look at cars, not signals! When January comes around, do you really want to be waiting on that corner?

3.) Every other car seems to be a Mazda.

4.) At many intersections there is absolutely NO clearance phase. No 1.7 seconds or so of grace. One light turns red, the other instantly turns green. Any comparative data on intersection crashes, I wonder?

5.) Most signs are in French (or simply graphic), except for the quasi-secessionist stop signs of Westmount.

6.) There are some really good separated bike lanes. But I’ve only seen them in certain areas. I don’t know how well linked up they all are. But I’m on foot in any case.

7.) The Turcot Yards area has to be one of the most spectacularly dystopic interchange conurbations I’ve ever seen — anyone looking to film J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, look no further.

8.) I was a bit surprised by the number of suburban-style gas stations and mini-marts in town. The city is not as dense in places as I thought it might be.

9.) The “walk man” here has strangely long legs and a quite wide, jaunty stride.

10.) There’s a lot of it (traffic, that is).

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 1:40 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Changing Entrenched Behaviors

I was intrigued by this slide from a talk by Michael O’Hare, at the UC-Berkeley’s School of Public Policy. I imagine there would have been few people in 1968 predicting that by 2008 smoking in public places would largely be a thing of the past.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 9:02 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.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

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Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

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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