Archive for May 18th, 2009

The Missouri Compromise

Missouri is weighing a bill that would ban drivers under 21 years of age from texting while driving (while Illinois works through all the possible implications of its own all-ages bill). The bill’s sponsor didn’t want the age restriction, and to be honest I’m not sure where that came from — it’s hardly an age-specific issue.

(thanks Alex)

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 4:35 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Safety Film of the Week

Again, not an official safety film, but here’s a “greatest hits” of collisions between a tram (in Houston, I believe) and a series of cars. Most of these seem to clearly involve negligent or outright illegal acts by drivers, but the video serves as a very effective kind of warning: It is in fact quite possible to not see something as large as the train that stretches behind you in the rear-view mirror. The mishaps could be any combination of mirror blind-spot, an expectancy issue (odd given the bollards or raised bumps), or simply not bothering to look before making a turn.

(Horn honk to Dan)

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 3:58 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Copenhagen on the Willamette

Over at Hard Drive, Joseph Rose reports on growing congestion in Portland — on the bike lanes.

There are now so many people riding bicycles in Portland that we have bike traffic jams on the city’s bridges. And statistics suggest that the handlebar-to-handlebar congestion is growing faster than the bumper-to-bumper variety.

Since the mid-1990s, for example, vehicle traffic — motorized and pedaled — on the Hawthorne has increased 20 percent. But the volume of auto traffic has increased only a little more than 1 percent. Bus traffic, meanwhile, has held steady.

Cyclists — now about 7,400 a day — account for almost the entire surge.

This despite a less-than-stellar facility:

Of course, if you want to walk or bike across the Hawthorne, it’s not the most zenlike experience. You’re confined to a 10-foot-wide sidewalk.

On the right, a rail keeps you from steering into the drink. On the left, nothing but lucidity and smart riding keeps cyclists from falling a foot onto the metal-grated motor lane.

But it seems engineers’ hands are tied:

But the reality is that the county can’t do much else on the 98-year-old Hawthorne.

In 1999, it spent $2 million to widen the sidewalks from 6 to 10 feet, which required extending steel supports under the bridge and installing lighter panels in the lift span.

Any wider, engineers say, and the bridge will start to buckle. Also, there would be no room for TriMet buses. There isn’t even room to add railings.

The county has created passing lanes for bikes approaching the east end. It has added markings to help separate cyclists and pedestrians. But several ideas have been deemed unmanageable.

Bike improvements planned on other bridges should ease the bike jams.

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 2:52 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:

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:

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

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



May 2009

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