Archive for June, 2009

The Latest Traffic Illusion

This “canyon” is found along the bike path near Regent’s Canal in London. And you thought sidewalk chalk art was just for tourists. No word on any reduction in actual injuries, or any rise in perceptual ones.

(Thanks Tim)

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 2:02 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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A Passing Fancy

I’m fascinated by all the curious would-be traffic safety devices lingering in dusty patent offices around the world, a collection of better brake lights, more evocative horns, elaborate safety harnesses, etc., that have never made it onto the road (for better or worse).

I came across the one above, recently, via Modern Mechanix. It’s evidently meant as a way to make passing other vehicles on two-lane roads a safer proposition.

But a few problems come to mind:

1.) As with all new signals, there is the problem that many drivers don’t use the existing signals they have.

2.) What if a driver is distracted or doesn’t care to respond to your request for passing clearance?

3.) Are we really to trust the driver ahead to tell us if it’s safe to pass?

4.) Does the driver ahead want to be held liable if it turned out it wasn’t safe to pass?

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 11:03 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Trixi Mirror

The Guardian notes that London, under the guidance of cyclist-mayor (and near traffic fatality) Boris Johnson, is installing a number of so-called “Trixi” mirrors as it ramps up its “cycling superhighways” ahead of 2012.

This is to help ameliorate a quite clear pattern of danger in truck-cyclist interaction:

Of the 15 cyclists who died on the capital’s roads last year, nine were killed in collisions with lorries. In most cases the lorry was turning left and the driver failed to see the cyclist on their inside, according to TfL.

As even the most cautious driver can fall victim to blind spots, this seems theoretically like a good, low-tech idea. I’m wondering if anyone has seen any data, pre-post installation, on whether they actually help reduce incidents? And one wonders whether the burden shouldn’t fall onto the truck itself having better mirrors, as one can imagine the many intersections that wouldn’t be equipped. Also wondering if readers have come across these in other cities?

The curious name, by the way, comes from a German girl, “Beatrix Willburger, who was 13 when she collided on her bike with a cement mixer. Her father then developed a convex mirror to be mounted on traffic lights at intersections. It lets truck and bus drivers see all around their rigs before driving off.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 4:43 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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A Further Times Square Thought

Just wondering: Is waxing nostalgic about Times Square when it had more lanes of car traffic the new version of waxing nostalgic about the Times Square that was filled with porn theaters and pickpockets?

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 2:06 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Rhythmic, Sedative Pull of the Motorways

In the issue of the London Review of Books that just arrived in my mailbox, I opened it to find this extraordinary passage by Andrew O’Hagan, which magnificently encapsulates the existential pleasures of driving (he deals with some of the ambivalence later). The piece goes on to say a few kind words about some recent books, including my own.

Behind all this stands the culture of driving and the fact of traffic. We love driving and we hate it, we praise it and we slate it, but our relationship with cars is a lively element in our relationship with ourselves and other people. The downturn in the industry chills us, but mainly because – and we don’t feel this way about pharmaceuticals or petrochemicals – it makes us imagine we might have to stop being who we are. I speak as a fairly late convert to the life-enlarging potential of cars: for 36 years I was happy to go around the country on buses and trains, taking the Tube to any destination I ever wanted or needed to visit, to work and to cinemas, on dates and on expeditions, without ever feeling at a loss. When I took taxis it was just another form of being in the hands of others. It meant listening to speeches I found actively aggressive and paying over the odds for the privilege. Then I began taking driving lessons and the world suddenly opened up to me in a way I now depend on. The first long drive I took after I passed my test was a kind of baptism: I put down the windows and let all life’s unreasonable demarcations fly behind the car, enjoying the illusion that I now had a friend who cared for my freedom.

I could easily say I loved my car – I missed it when I went to bed at night. On that first long drive from London to Wales and thence to Inverness – which took 14 hours – I believe I discovered my autonomy. As with all illusions, I didn’t care that others found the enchantment funny: the feeling was new, and its newness is something that millions of people express rarely but understand fully. In American fiction, a great number of epiphanies – especially male epiphanies – occur while the protagonist is alone and driving his car. There are reasons for that. One may not have a direction but one has a means of getting there. One may not be in control of life but one can progress in a straight line. When your youth is over and definitions become fixed, even if they are wrong, it might turn out that the arrival of a car suddenly feels like the commuting of a sentence. It may seem to give you back your existential mojo. That is the beauty of learning to drive late and learning to drive often: it gives you a sense that life turned out to be freer than it was in your childhood, that time agrees with you, that your own sensitivities found their domain in the end, and that deep in the shell of your inexpensive car you came to know your subjectivity. Of course, one may find these things in the marriage bed or in a gentleman’s club, but those places have rules and your car is your own bed, your own club. Music? Yes. Tears? Yes. Singing? Yes. Stopping under the stars? OK, if you must. And here is Tintern Abbey. And there is Hadrian’s Wall. And should I stop in Glasgow for a drink? If you read the novels of Joan Didion, you will see there can come a time in anybody’s life, women’s as much as men’s, when they climb into their car and feel that they are driving away from an entire kingdom of dependency. The motorways don’t offer a solution: they offer a welcome straitjacket. Your car will get all the credit for bringing you home to yourself, for showing you the only person you can truly depend on is not merely yourself, but yourself-in-your-car, a somatic unity. Those who spend most of their lives being alert to the demands of others – and that’s most employees, most husbands, wives, parents, most believers – will know the rhythmic, sedative pull of the motorways as the road performs its magic, pulling you back by degrees to some forgotten individualism that the joys and vexations of community always threatened to turn into an upholstered void. Virginia Woolf was almost right: all one really needs is a car of one’s own, the funds to keep it on the road and the will to encounter oneself within. Though most of those men aren’t listening to Virginia Woolf – they’re listening to Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.

So far, so sad. And so far, so essential…

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 1:47 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Beneath the City Streets, the Beach

I always liked that phrase, from Guy Debord, and the headline on my latest Slate column, “Beach Chairs in Times Square,” seems to evoke that sentiment.

“The word square,” notes James Traub in The Devils’ Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square, “does not have the same meaning in Manhattan as in Paris or Rome.” For one, New York’s squares are often not squares; the imprecise geometry of Herald or Times Square is hewn by the wily, diagonal progression of Broadway, New York City’s largest rebuke to the hegemonic grid. For another, these spaces tend to not be, as Traub notes, “punctuations or pauses in the street plan” but, instead, uneasy slivers cast like fractured icebergs amid the urban scrum. As the writer Benjamin de Casseres observed in the early 20th century, Times Square “is a ganglion of streets that fuses into a traffic cop.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 7:58 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Perpetual Rest

The interstate system was created in 1956 as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and everything about it is perfectly uniform and federally mandated, right down to the width of the dotted white line. Rest areas, however, have been the holdout of states’ rights, most of them designed in a way that’s consistent throughout a state and different from those in the commonwealth next door. Codified in federal jargon as “safety rest areas,” they grew out of the fear that as millions of us took to the road cross-country for the first time, we’d need regular resting outposts to keep us from barreling into each other.

That’s from an excellent piece over at Good, the sort of story after my own heart — the social and design history of a curious piece of vernacular architecture (the highway rest stop) one that now seems in decline.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 12:53 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Slingshot Effect

Reader Brad writes in with a query:

I wondered if you could indulge me by trying to answer a question that has long puzzled me; I drive mostly on rural roads, and not infrequently must follow a slower car until the opportunity to pass occurs. Often, as I pass I notice the other car speeding up slightly — at least 5–8 mph it seems over its previous speed; almost a magnetic or slingshot effect. I have even noticed that at times I do it myself, involuntarily, as I am being passed! Is this a recognized phenomenon with its own name?

Has anyone else experienced this? One answer may be that the driver being passed has simply lost track of his speed, and being passed suddenly alerts them that they may be driving slowly; speeding up may be a sort of panic response. Another answer is that the sight of being passes awakens some competitive impulse, a version of the “territorial defense” mechanism theorized by Barry Ruback — even if the territory is abstract road space, and the person passing in this case is actually not competing for the same resource, given that they’re in the opposing lane. Or maybe they’re just playing chicken.

In Traffic I note a strange, somewhat related version of this phenomenon, which I call “passive-aggressive passing” — someone bullies you out of the left-lane, you dutifully get over, and they then pull in front of you, and drive slower than they were when they were on your tail. It’s as if all they wanted was to get you to pull over.

But I have no doubt there may be less than noble motives at work in these cases. I myself am guilty of doing something like the following: I will be driving along (in say the middle lane) when I notice someone coming at a high speed on the right side. It seems as if their intent is to cut in front of me, in the small space I have left between myself and the vehicle in front of me. Annoyed by this person’s behavior — the idea that they may pass close to me at a high speed, perhaps forcing me to brake — I have at times slightly accelerated, so that I move closer to the vehicle that is ahead of them in their own lane. The result is that they must hit the brakes, and try something else.

Immature? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s simply pro-social altruistic punishmenthomo reciprocans.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 8:10 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Contention Pricing

Peter Gordon debates Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times on the federal-funded pilot project to introduce congestion (variable HOT) pricing to local freeways in L.A.

Rutten notes it’s not true congestion pricing:

Oddly enough, no solo drivers will be admitted when average speeds in the new high-occupancy toll lanes fall below 45 miles per hour. That’s to keep them from getting clogged, but the result is that there will be congestion pricing — except when the highways are most congested.

Gordon notes that, responding to the inequity claim, that Angelenos, in essence, already pay a congestion charge. It’s called time (which equals money).

First, if price does not ration road space, something else will. This means that heavy traffic on roads and highways that aren’t priced is a given. It is the default rationing mechanism. Anything made available without charge is quickly crowded. None of this is a matter of ideology, as Rutten seems to think.

The Times itself largely agrees with Gordon.

Most highway improvements are paid for with state and federal taxes on gasoline. This is an extremely regressive tax, not only because rich and poor alike pay the same amount, but because poor people typically can’t afford modern gas-sipping vehicles — there are a lot more Priuses in Santa Monica than in South L.A. Congestion pricing, though, imposes a user fee; only the people who use toll lanes pay the cost, and the people who use them tend to have higher incomes. It’s hard to imagine a fairer system.

In truth, low-income commuters stand to benefit a great deal from L.A.’s experiment. Only 25% of the project’s budget will be spent on developing the new toll lanes; the bulk of the money will pay for public-transit improvements, including the purchase of 57 new express buses traveling the affected routes. And by law, the money from the tolls must be spent on transit or carpool improvements in the same corridor where the funds were generated.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 7:49 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Political Engineers

One curious detail about Iran’s Ahmadinejad is that his degree was in transportation engineering — as far as I know, this makes him the only head of state with such a background (whether this makes the trains run on time in Tehran is another question).

I was thinking of this while reading an interesting piece in the New Scientist, which notes the following curious statistic:

Our finding holds up quite well in another sample of 259 Islamic extremists who are citizens or residents of 14 western, mostly European, countries, and who have recently come to the attention of the authorities for carrying out or plotting a terrorist attack in the west. Although this sample contains far fewer people with higher education than the older members of the first group, nearly 6 out of 10 of those with higher education are engineers.

The authors sort through a number of competing explanations and confounding factors and conclude that, no matter what the actual reason may be, the fact remains that:

So the bottom line is that while the probability of a Muslim engineer becoming a violent Islamist is minuscule, it is still be between three and four times that for other graduates.

Another piece of information from the article is noteworthy in terms of the U.S.:

According to polling data, engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics, and similar biases apply to students.

Does this apply to traffic engineers as well? One often thinks as engineers as being essentially apolitical (which itself may be political), but if true I wonder where this right-wing bias might come from. Is it a John Galt/Fountainhead sort of thing? (perhaps because her ideas are more memorable or appealing — to some — than her prose, the fans of Ayn Rand rarely tend to be writers, and instead economists and their ilk)

The speculation of the article’s authors, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, is:

A lot of piecemeal evidence suggests that characteristics such as greater intolerance of ambiguity, a belief that society can be made to work like clockwork, and dislike of democratic politics which involves compromise, are more common among engineers.

Any left-wing engineers care to weigh in? How do you reconcile these various strands? Do you welcome ambiguity?

An irony about the political strand of engineers to my mind is the proliferation of engineers one finds (or found) in the centrally planned communist countries; in Cuba, for example, you can hardly catch a taxi or order a meal in a restaurant without meeting a former engineer. Per capita the Soviet Union must have dwarfed the U.S. in numbers of engineers.

Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009 at 10:47 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Safety Film of the Week

Have you SPLINK-ed Lately?

As Joe Moran explains:

In the early 1970s, the Green Cross Code was promoted with the famously impenetrable acronym, SPLINK, based on the random selection of words from the code (safe, pavement, look, if, near and keep). A TV ad showed a group of youngsters crossing the road successfully and shouting the acronym at the top of their voices, perhaps in the forlorn hope that this would make it easier to remember. Jon Pertwee, who had just stopped playing Doctor Who, then said hopefully to the camera: ‘Now we can all remember the Green Cross Code: SPLINK!’

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 4:23 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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A sort of social-networking version of the California Highway Patrol’s incident report page, with individual drivers reporting on Sydney congestion zones. The unpleasant implication, of course, is that people are sending and reading these Twitters while driving. And, really, is the chance of reading a Twitter about the spot you’re driving in at a useful moment any more reliable than hearing about via a radio traffic report? (i.e., about 3% of the time?)

Some kind reader asked me a while ago, by the way, about sending out Twitter updates. Being an old analog writerly type sans smart-phone, I work hard to resist data ubiquity (and I really prefer the long form), but curious if there’s any desire out there for people to get Twitter posts of what’s on the blog?

(via City of Sound)

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 4:13 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Moscow’s Commuting Dogs

In Moscow, it seems there is an outbreak of commuting dogs. According to England’s Sun (the U.K.’s most eminently respected trashy tabloid):

STRAY dogs are commuting to and from a city centre on underground trains in search of food scraps.

The clever canines board the Tube each morning.

After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

Like so many things, it seems we have the oligarchs to blame:

Scientists believe the phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia’s new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.

Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: “These complexes were used by homeless dogs as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses. Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway – to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people.”

They seem to share a few tricks with New York-subway riders:

Dr Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute. He said: “They jump on the train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop.”

(as a quick aside, this put me in mind of my friend James, who reported to me that after recently attending the Everton F.A. Cup loss — like the bulk of those attending he was absolutely soused — he later awoke to mysteriously find himself on a train bound for Liverpool, with two half-eaten baguettes in his pockets, and his first thought was to wonder who had put them there)

Not to mention NYC con artists, in a K9 version of the old “mustard scam”:

And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow.

They sneak up behind people eating shawarmas – then bark loudly to shock them into dropping their food.

When on the prowl for shawarma, it seems they are conscientious users of the road traffic infrastructure:

The dogs have learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr Poiarkov.

(apparently they look for the position of the light, being color-blind)

It seems the Muscovy canines aren’t the only committed users of public transport:

The Moscow mutts are not the first animals to use public transport. In 2006 a Jack Russell in Dunnington, North Yorks, began taking the bus to his local pub in search of sausages.

And two years ago passengers in Wolverhampton were stunned when a cat called Macavity started catching the 331 bus to a fish and chip shop.

As they’re already riding the subway anyway, perhaps there’s some way to, er, train these dogs for bomb sniffing?

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 1:04 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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No Bailout Required for This Car Company

Meet the best-selling car in America, for the past three decades.

It was designed, ironically, by a former Chrysler designer.

Note the Cars style revisions to the latest model, which strangely re-anthromorphizes the car (the headlights already being a pair of “eyes”) with a friendly pair of eyes — a bit strange for the device which will go on to represent the greatest risk of accidental death in their life.

And note the gender-specifying project at work.

Which does make me wonder why we don’t see more pink cars, like this one I snapped in London (with matching dice):

(via Autoblog, horn honk to Braulio)

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 2:01 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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This is only internet traffic related, but the NYT has posted an early preview of my story in this Sunday’s Magazine (an architecture special) on data centers, those increasingly large, occluded and vital info-factories that hold everything from our favorite YouTube videos to our Xbox Live Halo battles to our bank records to our Twitters to this very post.

There’s an excellent slideshow, from which the above image is taken, by Simon Norfolk.

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 9:40 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Pitt Stop

The AP reports on what is definitely one of the stranger traffic-calming techniques I’ve come across:

A Russian newspaper reports that cardboard cutouts of Pitt dressed as a traffic cop have been placed by the most dangerous intersections in the city of Omsk.

It’s the latest move by authorities in their endless battle against speeding. Traffic accidents in Russia are among the highest in Europe.

The campaign seems to be working. Omsk officials say accidents are down as star-struck drivers ease off the gas to gaze at the unusual image.

I’m sure there’s a novelty effect at work. But maybe they can follow it up with Tom Cruise?

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 4:57 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Road Less Paved

Eric Morris over at Freakonomics is soliciting entries for the “worst road in America” — my own submission would be this one, one of the Bush nightmares from which we’re trying to awake — while my latest column over at Slate looks into road work and its traffic effects (ahead of the stimulus-driven “summer of gridlock” road-repair-athon).

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 2:10 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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They Drive

Reading this piece from the New Scientist somehow made me think of the scene in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 version, in which a guy slams on Donald Sutherland’s windshield and says, “they’re here!”

But rather than a nefarious virus brought by the solar winds, it seems there may be a parasite loose on the brains of drivers — which, really, explains a lot.

Toxoplasma, or toxo for short, starts its life cycle in rodents. To spread, it manipulates rodents’ brains, making them reckless and more likely to be eaten by cats, which then pass on the parasite through their faeces. People can catch it from eating undercooked meat from animals that had contact with cat faeces. The infection lasts for life.

It can harm fetuses, but was otherwise thought to be harmless. Recently, however, evidence has emerged that the parasite can affect our brain. People with toxo seem to have slower reactions, while those who have had traffic accidents are more likely to have toxo.

Now it seems toxo’s effect on the brain may be limited to people with a certain blood type. Jaroslav Flegr and colleagues at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, had previously discovered that toxo affected reaction times mostly in people whose blood type was rhesus negative. So they monitored 3890 military drivers for 18 months. Those who were Rh-negative and had toxo were 2.5 times as likely to have an accident as uninfected drivers who were Rh-negative, or any Rh-positive drivers (BMC Infectious Diseases, DOI: 10.1186/1471-2334-9-72).

As the minder of both cats and an infant, I was well aware of toxoplasma, but had no idea there was a road-safety angle. Does this mean toxo screening down at the DMV, or merely higher insurance rates?

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 10:23 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Drunkard’s Drive

The WSJ today, in the form of the always excellent Carl Bialik, digs a little deeper on the ongoing contretemps between Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Century Council, which revolves around the issue of whether drunk-driving enforcement should center on the most intoxicated drivers (who, the Council argues, do most of the damage), or widen the net to include impaired drivers on various levels (who, as MADD argues, still do plenty of damage). Underlying the dispute is the fact that, after significant drops in alcohol-related fatalities in the U.S., the number has been steady for the last few years. Also worth considering is that, as the piece notes, “researchers estimate that there is just one drunken-driving arrest for every 80 to 300 trips taken by drunken drivers.”

A few interesting tidbits:

Paul Zador, a statistician at the research company Westat, has compared the blood-alcohol levels of drivers killed in crashes with levels of drivers stopped for random roadside testing during peak drunken-driving hours. That helped him estimate how likely it is that an extra drink will prove fatal. Compared with sober drivers, drivers at 0.15 or higher were about 400 times more likely to die in a crash. Drivers with levels between 0.10 and 0.14 were 50 times more likely than sober drivers to die in a crash.

But as Bialik notes,

These troubling rates, cited by the Century Council in its campaign against hard-core drunken drivers, might overstate the role of alcohol in killing heavy drinkers. As Dr. Zador notes, the same personality traits that lead to driving while highly intoxicated are probably tied to other risky behavior behind the wheel. These drivers are likely dangerous even before they have had their first sip.

And lastly:

In a 2002 study co-authored by Susan Baker, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Health, researchers drew upon an intriguing data source: interviews with surviving family members of 818 victims of fatal crashes.

The next of kin painted a frightening portrait of those dead drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher: 55% were described as drinking and driving at least once a month. But those whose blood-alcohol level was between 0.10 and 0.14 — and thus mostly wouldn’t have qualified as hard-core — weren’t much safer: 35% drove drunk at least monthly. “We shouldn’t simply be focusing on ‘hard-core’ drivers,” Prof. Baker says.

As an aside, there is something interesting, and of course disturbing, in the regularity of impaired-driving fatalities, particularly given all the random variables — who decides to drink and drive, how much, how many other people are on the road at that time, who gets caught and who doesn’t, what roads they travel on, etc. I thought of a passage from Leonard Mlodinow’s book The Drunkard’s Walk, an absolutely essential tome for the statistics-impaired such as myself, talking about aggregate versus individual behavior. “We associate randomness with disorder,” he writes. “Yet although the lives of 200 million drivers vary unforeseably, in the aggregate their behavior could hardly have proved more orderly.” He quotes Kant: “Each, according to his own inclination, follows his own purpose, often in opposition to others; yet each individual and people, as if following some guiding thread, go toward a natural but to each of them unknown goal; all work toward furthering it, even if they would set little store by it if they did know it.”

(thanks Jack)

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 8:28 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Why I’m a Japan-ophile

Via Copenhagenize, I adored this photo of a bicycle parking structure in Fukishima.

Mikael notes: “Then I noticed the lovely older gentlemen who serve no other function than to straighten up the bikes so they look nice and take up as little space as possible. In the top photo, the lady parked her bike, locked the wheel lock and headed off. The man sauntered over and straightened it every so slightly.”

The art of bicycle arranging! Needless to say, the man, like many people who work in transport (e.g., taxi drivers) in Japan, is wearing white gloves.

My only question, given the country’s demographics, is whether there will be people in the future to fill such jobs. Maybe a robotic bicycle parking attendant?

Over at Brownstoner, meanwhile, the question is asked: How long should bikes be allowed to be chained to public parking structures?

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 2:32 pm 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:

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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



June 2009

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