Archive for October, 2010

On the Origins of the Jersey Jughandle

It took me a long time to, er, come around to the logic and efficacy (at least in safety terms) of the Jersey Jughandle, but following a prompt from Anthony Townsend, do any NJ DOT readers or likewise know how the Garden State came to be the leader in this somewhat rare infrastructural form? Taking a stab I’d say it had something to do with the state’s density and preponderance of highways, but can anyone elucidate us beyond that; e.g., the name of the inventor, etc.

Posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 6:27 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Logistics of the School Drop-Off

Via a discussion at the NRDC Switchboard about a school in Orange County that does not allow students on foot, I was struck by the school’s amazing “Strike Team” document, pictured above, covering the ins-and-outs of the school drop-off.

Is it just me or does this strike you as a sign of a system that is severely out of balance? (and I’m not talking about a “design” problem)

Posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 6:23 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Safety Film of the Week

Dusting off an old feature here, we look at NYC’s new campaign to remind drivers of one the city’s biggest secrets: It’s 30 mph citywide limit.

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Can Multi-Use Paths Be Shared Safely?

I was essentially asked this question recently in reference to a tragic case of a jogger killed by a cyclist in Dallas.

Based on some nastiness I’ve experienced on the Brooklyn Bridge, along the Hudson River — and even hearing stories about how people’s enthusiasm for the NYC DOT’s “Summer Streets” program was dampened by inappropriate speed choice of cyclists through the event — I myself have had doubts over this, and I’m wondering what experiences people have had around the country, what remedies they’ve seen, etc. How’s the sharing going on the new Walkway over the Hudson going, for example?

I know people will answer courtesy, common sense, etc. (as well as not listening to loud music w/ear buds while cycling/running), but are there engineering/design strategies that have been used, particularly at crossings and the like? Should fast-moving cyclists (I don’t know the velocity involved in Dallas) simply stick to the road, even when it’s a less than desirable situation?

This is not to say that the real source of pedestrian or cyclist danger is on multi-use paths, and some of the failings of multi-use paths is that they’re simply too small — the majority of room having been given over to the car. But just wondering about ideas.

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 11:22 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Roundaboutgate in Winnipeg

Reader John reports of a swirling political controversy in Winnipeg: Roundabouts. The details are here (note the archaic phrasing of ‘traffic circles’). Somehow the device that has helped reduce crash rates from Alsace to Australia is, in Winnipeg, causing “chaos.”

I’ve said it before: If a driver cannot handle negotiating clearly labeled rights of way at simple, small intersections at low speed, why are we actually giving them the right to be maneuvering heavy, dangerous vehicles on public streets crowded with other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, etc etc? (and not having the sense to stop for a pedestrian about to cross in an intersection, as the video shows, is not down to the design but to the driver).

“It’s a hazard,” one driver said of the roundabouts. I’m glad he thinks that! Because intersections are hazardous locations! But what proceeded them — four-way stop-sign controlled intersections — are hardly a panacea, and indeed linked to far more fatal crashes than roundabouts.

[UPDATE: Good comments from engineers and others below articulating the on-the-ground realities in Winnipeg, which, I might add, I’ve not been to; I’d be further interested to know the difference between Winnipeg’s treatments and that of Seattle — which the Winnipeg engineers say they’ve based their design on and which seem to not have generated much controversy, and indeed seem to be favored by residents]

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 2:34 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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‘A New Motor to Mankind for Individual Locomotion’

Reading an enthusiastic account of bicycling in New York City from this 1879 (!) article from the New York Times, I was curious about the reference to the sort of wonder skate referred to as a possible rival to the personal rapid transit offered by the bike. It almost sounds like a proto-roller blade. Anyone know what this is, have any references, etc.?

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 10:04 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The End of the Parking Meter?

The parking meter turns 75 years old this year, and I welcome the occasion in my latest Slate column. For such a seemingly mundane object, there’s a lot to say about it; and, alas, for space reasons, I could not go into things like the idea of using meters for charitable donations (see here for a recent example).

I was also unable to use an interesting quote from none other than Robert Moses, writing in the New York Times in 1951 (when, almost unbelievably, meters had yet to reach the shores of Manhattan), about the political fortitude required to end (don’t tell Lew Fidler) what had been seen as an inalienable right — e.g., “free” parking:

“Sobs and howls will rise from the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker with customers to serve, the doctor who can always plead emergency, the store owner who caters to teh carriage trade, the man who came to dinner, the private garage operator who will welcome meters but not competition of offstreet public parking facilities, and the public official whose time is absolutely invaluable (including of course the present writer), not to speak of the lame, the halt and the aged, and loudest of all will be the cries of crusty curmudgeons against infamous regimentation, unbridled bureaucracy and invasion of the king’s highway.

Those who must ride this storm until the benefits are apparent must have the zeal of a Savonarola, the incorruptibility of Caesar’s wife and the hide and temper of a black rhinoceros. Even those attributes will not avail unless they have luck. The seal of the City Parking Authority, if it survives, should feature a rabbit’s foot rampant.”

Echoes here of the congestion pricing debate?

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 7:29 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Status Update: Busted

High-speed driver in Israel arrested via Facebook evidence.

I wonder if the statute of limitations has run out on Claude Lelouch, whose famous ride is below.

Posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 7:17 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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End of the Road for Dutch Per-Kilometer Pricing

No time to comment on this as, coincidentally, I’m about to leave for the Netherlands, but Bern Grush sifts through the ashes.

Posted on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at 12:27 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Speed Camera Lottery

Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 9:28 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:

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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 2010

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