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Archive for September 22nd, 2009

The Express Lane Isn’t Faster

Reader Mike had sent along this great post from a California math teacher who analyzed supermarket checkout times (data, as pictured above, was provided by the supermarket manager). I’m slow to post this and it has now been around a lot, but this was catnip to me as I love these sort of operational/logistical/queue problems (and this relates a bit to the airport walkway problem), particularly when they seem to exhibit that classic “slower is faster/faster is slower” effect. Not to mention that “other lane is always moving faster” problem that plagues us in traffic is a very real issue in queuing as well (and is partially why some outfits use single lines).

Among the many interesting findings:

The express lane isn’t faster. The manager backed me up on this one. You attract more people holding fewer total items, but as the data shows above, when you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person! I can’t believe I’m dropping exclamation points in an essay on grocery shopping but that’s how this stuff makes me feel.

There’s ways this can be applied to traffic, but reader Mike was wondering about those express/local lanes on highways. I only know anecdotal stuff here, like stories of engineers changing the estimated times on both segments when they really want people to use one or the other. But this is a bit of a guessing game every time I approach the George Washington Bridge on I-80. I’ve been burned many times by the express lane — is it the very wording, which fools me into thinking it’s a better way to go than that inevitably cluttered and slower “local” lane? It of course depends on many variables, like the intended destination of traffic, etc.

Maybe there’s some geeky studies somewhere of tolling as well; exact change lanes versus others, etc.; though those are likely to be outmoded with EZ-Pass etc.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 9:36 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

C’mon, you guys make this way too easy.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – A man was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a DWI charge and numerous traffic violations after he slammed into a Baton Rouge police car early Friday morning.

Baton Rouge police arrested Leper Lewis, 49, of Baton Rouge in the crash. It happened around 1:30 a.m. on Evangeline Street near I-110.

Lewis was charged with second offense DWI, reckless operation, failure to maintain control, driving on the wrong side of the road, expired driver’s license and no insurance.

According to police, he hit the police car after coming around a curve in the wrong lane on Evangeline. The collision was almost head-on and the impact spun the police unit around and off the road.

The 31-year-old corporal suffered only minor injuries and was okay. His police dog was also fine. However, the corporal’s police-issued 2008 Dodge Charger was heavily damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

It received some damage to the front of it and along the side. The entire length of the passenger side of the police car was damaged.

The other vehicle was damaged to the point where it had to be towed as well. Its damage was primarily to the front of the car.

The officer was patrolling in the 2500 block of Evangeline when the crash occurred. The street was temporarily closed to traffic while police investigated the accident.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 8:43 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Geography of Traffic Tickets

Where you get pulled over in Chicago and environs influences your chances of getting a ticket.

The next step for a proper study would be to correlate each jurisdiction’s traffic safety rates with ticketing rates, as with the study by Thomas Stratmann and Michael Makowsky.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 8:40 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 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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