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Archive for June 29th, 2009

Robo-Cones

Another item of interest I had come across in Joe Moran’s book was the “Conemaster,” an automated device for laying down traffic cones on the highway. That’s a U.K. product, but there are others, as the video — of a “single operator lane closure system” — above shows. Given the hazards posed by drivers to people working on highways, this is a clearly useful device. A bit of background:

Currently, traffic cones are deployed by a person riding on the exterior of a modified vehicle. This person is typically either standing in a basket at the end of a truck or sitting near ground level between the axles of the customized cone body truck. On the current Caltrans cone truck, two horizontal stacks of cones are fed by conveyor to a worker who then places or retrieves the cones while another person drives the vehicle.

In 1990, The State of California paid out $36,000 in injury claims related to manual cone laying. This increased over 10 time in four years to $321,000 in 1994. Available statistics suggest that this trend of increasing costs is continuing.

The AHMCT Center has developed a machine that can automatically place and retrieve traffic cones. This machine fits onto existing Caltrans traffic cone trucks and all operations are controlled from within the cab by either the driver or a second operator.

A typical lane configuration uses 80 traffic cones for each 1.5 miles of lane closure. Traffic cones come in various sizes up to 36 inches high. Caltrans uses a 28 inch high cone that weighs 10 pounds. When cones are being carried to and from stacks on the bed of a truck, personnel are restricted from carrying more than 3 cones at one time and this operation of manually transferring the cones is often performed on the roadway.

Now, where have our robotic bollards gone?

Oh, and by the way, it cleans up after itself too.

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 1:30 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Feels the Love From the U.K.’s Department of Transport

The name Lord Adonis, were one to see it Brooklyn, conjures a Bed-Stuy middle-weight boxer, or maybe one of the dance-hall reggae performers ones sees on posters cruising along Flatbush.

But for the uninitiated, he’s the U.K.’s new Secretary of Transport and, it turns out, a fan of Traffic, as he notes in a recent talk. (I just hope he didn’t purchase it with taxpayer funds!)

The speech makes a number of worthy points, including the idea of connecting various travel modes.

One key factor is the ease of interchange between cycling and other forms of travel. Let me take the specific issue of the interchange between cycling and rail travel. While some 60 per cent of the population lives within a quarter of an hour cycle ride of a railway station, only two per cent of journeys to and from stations are made by bike. By contrast, in Holland, cycling accounts for roughly a third of all trips to and from rail stations. This massive difference isn’t in the different genes of the British and the Dutch; it has a lot to do with the provision of facilities for cyclists at stations.

I’ve just returned from the Netherlands, and was struck, as always, not just by the cycling numbers but the cycle parking. As it is with car traffic, parking is an often overlooked factor in the whole traffic equation; needless to say, the presence of a safe, convenient space at the end of a trip is of incredible importance to the desirability or even possibility of making that trip (more so than some cultural disposition to mode choice). As I looked at the long rows of bikes outside shops and train stations (where, David Hembrow notes, there is an actual crisis of parking) in Utrecht and Rotterdam, I couldn’t help thinking: What if all these were cars? Well, of course, those tidy, compact, well-populated streets wouldn’t exist. I suspect someone, somewhere, has crunched the numbers on how many bicycles can fit inside an average car parking space, I’d estimate the factor must be something like 15 to 1?

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 12:14 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Safety Film of the Week

Because even in the deadly serious business of road safety, there is a need for humor. In case you don’t recognize it, it’s Withnail and I, featuring the fantastic Richard Grant.

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 10:25 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Bad Side of Good Samaritanism

A traffic hazard you may not have considered — other people trying to be nice to you.

KINSTON – On June 19, a Kinston man was taken to the hospital after the small truck he was driving turned across two lanes of traffic on Vernon Avenue and into the path of a sport utility vehicle, flipping his truck and badly damaging the Toyota Highlander. The driver of the truck, 60-year-old Willie Morris, was treated and released.

He told police he was waiting to make a left-hand turn when a stopped vehicle in the oncoming lane waved him through, causing him to cross paths with the Highlander, whose driver didn’t see him making the turn.

Local law enforcement officers said these situations – where drivers try to be courteous but cause hazardous situations – are frequent, problematic and avoidable, especially along roads like Kinston’s four- to five-laned Vernon Avenue.

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 10:06 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 Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

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

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
Toronto

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
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

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

 

 

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