Archive for the ‘Ten Things You Should Know’ Category

Parking Incentives (Wall-E Edition)

Whet Moser, writing in the Chicago Reader, comes across this blog post:

Here is where the larger state of the City’s economy comes in to question. While driving around Chicago yesterday I decided it would be nice to have a hot latte from Starbucks. I pulled up outside, and luckily, I found a spot right in front of the store. I then realized the parking meter pay kiosk was halfway down the block. I sat in my car for a second and thought, “if this were the old days, I could throw a quarter in a meter run in and I would have my wonderful hot latte in my hands.” The walk to the meter in the cold weather led me to pull away without my hot latte.

It gets better:

I was happy to run out and feed my meter every couple of hours. It only cost me $1.00 for one hour of parking. Now, because the pay kiosk is almost half way down the block, I will drive around to find free parking within the neighborhood. Again, the parking revenue is lost.

How can a planner/engineer even begin to take this sort of behavior into account? (and one can’t help wonder if this person pays for a gym membership — at a gym with free parking, of course!)

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 9:12 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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(Almost) Ten Things You Should Know about Trinidad and Tobago Traffic

I wasn’t there long enough (and I didn’t hit Tobago at all) to do my usual “ten things,” but a few observations:

1. Trinidad has the world’s largest roundabout, in Queens Park Savannah.
2. According to Thursday’s Trinidad Guardian, in a little box headlined “Mr. Death,” showing an image of the Grim Reaper, there have been over 250 road fatalities this year in T&T. By just one comparison, Northern Ireland, which this year had one of its safest years ever, has around 120 fatalities — with a population some 600,000 larger. The reasons are not hard to imagine: There are many two-lane, non-divided highways in the country, which people drive at routinely high speeds (life seems relaxed everywhere except the roads). Also, the police no doubt have there hands a bit tied up with the 535 murders that have occurred there so far this year — don’t let this deter your visit, it’s typically gang-related stuff owing to the country’s status as a trans-shipment point for South American cocaine.
3. Something I hadn’t seen before: A stretch of road (coming out of Sangre Grande) marked with a sign from British Petroleum notifying drivers that the safety signs on that road were sponsored by same BP.
4. Left-side driving (former British colony).
5. I saw several nasty looking mountain passes where the guard-rails were fashioned out of bamboo (with little strips of police ‘caution’ tape interwoven throughout).
6. Most cars seemed to be low-slung Japanese models with tinted windows and expressions decaled across the front windshield (“Serious,” “Unique Lifestyle”, and, yes, “Bitchmaster”).
7. Accidents will often be explained using the wonderful phrase, “I get ah bad drive.”
8. The trams in Port of Spain, as shown in the House for Mr. Biswas-era postcard above, have long gone.
9. Owing to its own oil supplies and oil wealth, the government has been subsidizing fuel prices. According to the Los Angeles Times, Trinidad “spent about $2 billion last year on motor fuel subsidies — equivalent to 10% of its gross domestic product.” When gas was $4 a gallon in the U.S., it was under $2 in Trinidad. Car sales have also spiked. Not surprisingly, traffic in the capital, and even at seemingly minor junctions, is bad.
10. Any other suggestions?

Posted on Sunday, December 21st, 2008 at 12:45 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Ten Things You Should Know About New York City Traffic

I’m back at home and my thoughts turn to local traffic. And so continuing in the “Ten Things” series of my utterly unscientific, sample-size-of-one observations and picked-up-pieces of trivia:

1. The nation’s worst bottleneck is in the Bronx. According to INRIX, the exit 4B segment (.30 miles) of the Cross-Bronx Expressway is congested 94 hours a week. The average speed when congested is 9 mph. (the average New Yorker walks 3.4 mph).

2. The clearance phase here is about 1.7 seconds (e.g., when one set of lights turn red, the others will go green approximately that much later).

3. Access-a-Ride drivers are the worst in the city — I’m not sure if this is because they’re put on a too-tight schedule or they’re just trying to increase their numbers of passengers. Empty school buses are a close second, followed by off-duty ambulance drivers.

4. Smokers, and people on cell-phones, walk more slowly than other New Yorkers (4.17 f/s and 4.20 f/s, respectively, versus an average of 4.28 f/s for all pedestrians).

5. Every third car in Brooklyn has North Carolina license plates (insurance fraud, anyone?)

6. New York is the only major U.S. city without residential parking permits (see item #5).

7. The only thing harder than trying to park a car in NYC is trying to park a bike.

8. Bloomberg deserves reelection for his Janette Sadik-Khan appointment alone.

9. After a decade of investigation I still do not know the fastest approach lane on the massive funnel-like, ten-lanes-to-two entrance to the Holland Tunnel (once you’re past the tolls, on the Jersey side). The outside lanes sometimes seem better to me; not sure if this correlates to say, rice moving through a funnel.

10. New York City is home to the world’s first traffic circle, Columbus Circle, designed by William Phelps Eno (note, however, there is a countering claim that the ‘carrefour a gyration’ in Paris, by Eugene Henard, deserves the prize). Also note this has nothing to do with the modern roundabout, of which NYC has none.

Your further suggestions are welcome.

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 8:05 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Ten Things You Should Know About Montreal Traffic

Based on my absolutely unscientific observations:

1.) The drivers are nuts. At least more so than those I’ve seen in Vancouver or Toronto. You get the feeling, walking, that they haven’t quite made up their mind whether to stop, particularly as make turn into crosswalks (I was told, by the way, that this is “one of two cities in North America where right turn on red is prohibited”; hmm, is this true?). I don’t see much enforcement (which makes me wonder, as an aside, whether corruption levels have been tracked to be higher here than in other provinces). In bad travel articles and the like you see things about the “more relaxed pace of life” in Montreal; I’m not sure drivers got the memo on this one.

2.) Pedestrians are too docile. This could be a result of having been cowed by point #1, of course. But I feel alone sometimes in my jaywalking. C’mon people, take back the streets! Look at cars, not signals! When January comes around, do you really want to be waiting on that corner?

3.) Every other car seems to be a Mazda.

4.) At many intersections there is absolutely NO clearance phase. No 1.7 seconds or so of grace. One light turns red, the other instantly turns green. Any comparative data on intersection crashes, I wonder?

5.) Most signs are in French (or simply graphic), except for the quasi-secessionist stop signs of Westmount.

6.) There are some really good separated bike lanes. But I’ve only seen them in certain areas. I don’t know how well linked up they all are. But I’m on foot in any case.

7.) The Turcot Yards area has to be one of the most spectacularly dystopic interchange conurbations I’ve ever seen — anyone looking to film J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, look no further.

8.) I was a bit surprised by the number of suburban-style gas stations and mini-marts in town. The city is not as dense in places as I thought it might be.

9.) The “walk man” here has strangely long legs and a quite wide, jaunty stride.

10.) There’s a lot of it (traffic, that is).

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 1:40 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.

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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



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