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Archive for November 12th, 2009

Marine Traffic

Much fun to be had here. It looks pretty quiet around Somalia — I assume information there is embargoed.

(via BoingBoing)

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Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 3:16 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Bhutan’s Long and (really) Winding Roads

John Balz, of the Nudge blog, visited the Kingdom of Bhutan last year. In traffic terms, Bhutan is rather famous for being among the only — indeed perhaps the only — country without a traffic signal (it’s also the first non-smoking nation). Apparently a set was brought in at this busy junction, but eventually removed after public complaint.

He writes:

I haven’t done a ton of traveling, but I’d never experienced a place with such winding roads. I don’t think there was ever a stretch of road that was straight for more than a few bus lengths. One day I decided I wanted to graphically plot just how curvy Bhutan’s road were. I got out my watch and counted the number of turns per minute over one 8 hour drive. Traffic is pretty light so counting turns per minute was easier than counting turns per mile. I was with other people on this trip, and I basically asked them to leave me alone for the day and let me count.

Here is the graphic result of his voyage — a bell curve, if you will — which averaged about a turn every eight seconds of driving:

And here’s another way of looking at it:

I’m not sure if this makes Bhutan the world’s curviest country or not (and I’d be curious to see a graphic representation of the opposite experience, say, driving in rural North Dakota, where the Jeffersonian-derived-grid dominates the road network). Safetywise, Bhutan clearly needs some work, as this Japanese report noted: “The crash fatality rate in 2005 was 15.4 deaths per 10,000 vehicles per year, which is considered significantly high.” There does seem to be some effort to reduce curves in the mountains. Though options may be limited, in part due to ongoing tectonics, according to this source:

Would concrete roads instead of asphalt make things better?

The answer, in case you’re wondering, is no.

First of all, the department’s chief engineer explained, it would be very expensive for the government. Secondly, the terrain is not stable or, in geological speak, “matured” enough for us to build long stretches of concrete road.

“Unlike in the west where the geographical conditions are more stable our young mountains and terrains are in a continuous process of change and will not allow concrete highways,” Tshering Wangdi B. says. “A little defect in one section of the concrete highway will necessitate a redoing of the whole concrete highway. The government will incur very huge expenditure.”

Lastly, Balz notes that despite the stripes in the above picture, the road “was not a full two lanes.”

(images by John Balz)

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Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 11:12 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
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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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