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Archive for November 17th, 2008

Twice the Volume, One Third the Space

From Jan Gehl’s new report on New York City (via Streetsblog), this graph nicely depicts the typical (mis)allocation of New York City’s public space. We need hardly point out the glaring gap in negative externalities as well.

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Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008 at 1:59 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

(mis)Leading Pedestrian Interval

I just came across an article in the ITE Journal that speaks to some of the difficulties transportation engineers face in trying to manage and provide for varying modes of travel, particularly in environments where one mode dominates.

The article, “Trial Implementation of a Leading Pedestrian Interval: Lessons Learned,” by Sarah M.L. Hubbard, Darcy M. Bullock, and John H. Thai, describes the installation of an LPI (that’s where pedestrians get the “Walk Man” a bit before drivers get the green, so that “peds” can establish their presence in the crosswalk, and also be more visible) in Anaheim, California, near Disneyland.

While LPIs, at least in urban environments, have been found to be beneficial to pedestrians, at this location, the authors found, “the incidence of pedestrian compromise on the curb was found to be higher with the LPI signal timing than with concurrent signal timing for both low right-turn demand and high right-turn demand conditions.” In other words, things got worse for pedestrians with the LPI.

The culprit, they found, seemed to be the ability for drivers to make a right turn on red (yes, the only cultural advantage of California). “Drivers waiting to turn right at the red light are often watching for a gap in the oncoming traffic and may be unaware that the adjacent pedestrians have a WALK indication.” (One could get rid of the ROTR, of course, but that would, as the authors note, may cut right-turn capacity and could “actually reduce the service for pedestrians if drivers tend to accept smaller gaps between pedestrians and drive more aggressively as the v/c ratio for the right-turn movement increases” — in other words, the idiot factor may go up).

What goes unsaid here, but what I think is a more general underlying factor, is the sort of larger modal blindness that seems to occur in more suburbanized areas, like the one in which the trial was conducted. Judging by the photos in the article, the major flow street has at least four lanes in each direction, and presumably some rather high speeds. The overwhelming feel of such environments is that they are made for cars; and indeed are filled with cars, to the extent that drivers become rather programmed to looking out for the things that are important to them as drivers — lights, stripes, other cars. Pedestrians waiting to cross at a major intersections may be the victims of a kind of blindness by the drivers — either an actual kind of “attentional blindness” (they’re not looking for pedestrians so they don’t see pedestrians), or a kind of cultural blindness by which pedestrians are marginalized, and lose the rights that have been extended to them (though the number of “crosswalk” stings going across in urban areas across the U.S. should reveal this is by no means a suburban problem). I’ve noticed in Manhattan that some of the worst places to navigate on foot are near any of the bridge or tunnel entrances — either vehicles are still used to being in less pedestrian heavy environments, or their proximity to “escaping from New York” leads to a kind of animalistic imperative in which the only consideration becomes getting that many inches closer to the tunnel — woe to the person who has to cross on foot in one of these situations.

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Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008 at 1:44 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

You Can’t Dig Your Way Out of Congestion?

The Boston Globe reports that post-Big Dig, bottlenecks in the Boston region, while lessened downtown, have been shifted outward — perhaps a result of more people now choosing to drive through the center of town.

It also notes:

“The cause of the delays on highways that lead into the Big Dig is, perhaps not surprising: more cars and trucks. On I-93 north of the city, for example, 202,000 motor vehicles drive past Roosevelt Circle in Medford, 38,000 more than in 1987, a 23 percent increase, according to state data.”

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Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008 at 8:01 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
1 Comment. Click here to leave a comment.
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 Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

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U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

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
Toronto

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
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Communications.
Grand Rapids MI

 

 

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