Archive for July 6th, 2009

Le Rond

The above image is one of a series of roundabouts photographed by Kleinefenn, a German-born photographer living in France. The complete collection is here, and will leave traffic geeks heads spinning in wonder.

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 3:45 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Child Miles Traveled

Vis a vis the recent discussion at the Transportation Experts blog on the question of whether car VMT in the U.S. should be reduced as a matter of federal policy, I was curious about this factoid over on the Rocky Mountain Institute’s website.

Improve public transportation, they say. Develop housing near mass transport nodes. Form carpools at the office. These are all effective and viable measures to address the average American business commute, and we should indeed do all of these things. But what if our business commute isn’t necessarily where we have the most influence? What if it’s our kids’ activities driving us to drive more — our child miles traveled (CMTs)?

According to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, the average vehicle travels 3,956 miles for family and personal business. In 1969, that average was 1,270 miles. We’ve tripled our family business mileage, but VMTs for business commuting only increased 36 percent during the same period. Looks like our family miles are to blame.

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 1:32 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Footballers Drives

An insurance company sponsored study at a driving simulator at the University of Leicester finds that football fans drive erratically when listening to their favorite clubs on the radio.

The report also showed that the driving speed of football fans mirrored that of the match that they were listening to. For example, during a match between Portsmouth and Newcastle, the pace of the match increased with a forward movement by the Newcastle team. At the same time, the driver under scrutiny reacted by accelerating the vehicle. During this period, the throttle was set to maximum and the driver increased the simulation vehicle speed from 68mph to 77mph in 22 seconds. The driver also overtook another vehicle.

One can’t help but wonder what would have happened if they had done the experiment the day Newcastle was relegated, on a 1-0 loss to Villa on an own goal by Damien Duff.

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 9:46 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Ancient Art of Traffic Calming

When I wasn’t watching a bit of Tour de France, or playing backyard badminton, I was hammock-bound this weekend (I was clearly out of town, as my Brooklyn apartment has neither yard nor hammock) with Mary Beard’s wonderful book The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. Beard, a Cambridge classicist who also blogs, leaves no layer of pumice unturned as she probes the “ordinary life” of the lost town. Not surprisingly, there’s a bit about streets, and the still ongoing tension between the externalities of wheeled traffic and the other functions of urban spaces.

The streets of Pompeei could be closed to wheeled transport by simple devices: by large stone bollards fixed in the roadway, by the placing of fountains or other obstructions across the traffic path, or by steps or other changes of level that were impassable to carts. Every one of these was used to ensure that, at least in its final phases, the Pompeian Forum was a pedestrian area. We should put out our minds any fanciful reconstruction of the central piazza criss-crossed by chariots and carts. Each entry point to the Forum was blocked to wheeled traffic…

Pompeian traffic was then reduced or, in modern terms, ‘calmed’ by the creation of cul-de-sacs, and other kinds of road block. But there remains the more general problem of narrow streets and what would happen if two carts should met in those many roads which were wide enough only for one. Needless to say, reversing a cart drawn by a pair of mules, down a road impeded by stepping stones, would have been an impossible feat. So how did the ancient Pompeians avoid repeated stand-offs, between carts meeting head-to-head? How did they prevent a narrow street being reduce to an impasse?

Well, I don’t want to give the whole thing away — read the book!

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 8:18 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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Traffic UK
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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



July 2009

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