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Archive for February 16th, 2010

Lane Justice

Reader John sends along this dispatch, another entry in America’s most impassioned, and irrelevant, debate about traffic safety: People driving too slowly in the left lane. Apparently the Georgia legislature has some time on its hands (time saved from speeding along in the left lane),

ATLANTA — It’s a pet peeve for many drivers — getting behind a “slow poke” who won’t get out of the fast lane.

Note: Since it’s laws we’re talking here, in no state highway code is there inscribed such a thing as the “fast lane.”

“I think someone who’s driving 40 miles an hour on a highway that everyone else is doing 65 to 75 on is just as much of a hazard as someone who’s doing 110 in a 70,” said Atlanta driver Vajra Stratigos.

A one-person sample size! Why wade through the traffic safety research — which isn’t exactly filled with case studies of untold numbers of people dying horrific deaths by driving too slowly — when you can just quote a random driver?

State Rep. Mark Butler of Carrollton is sponsoring a bill that puts some teeth in Georgia’s current law. Butler’s bill calls for a minimum fine of $75 for anyone caught impeding traffic by driving below the speed limit in the passing lane of a multi-lane roadway.

Below the speed limit in the left lane? How many times does this actually happen in Georgia? Has this person actually driven in Atlanta? People drive 40 MPH in the school zones! Remember the huge controversy created when a platoon of vehicles tried to actually drive the speed limit in every lane? A vehicular riot almost ensued.

“The far left-hand lane, with the exception of the HOV lane, is supposed to be used for passing,” said Butler.

As a commenter to this blog noted recently, this is not as clear cut as it seems. A driver going 70 in the left lane, passing every driver he sees, is still going to be seen as a ‘left-lane slowpoke’ by the driver going 75.

Butler said he’s not trying to encourage speeding. “It’s about road courtesy and lane discipline, and that’s what we’re hoping to promote with this bill,” he said.

Atlanta driver Michael Johnson doesn’t think the bill is fair. “It’s just another something else to get more money,” he said.

Driver Joel Linderman said it would probably make slow drivers think twice about jumping in the fast lane. “I think after a couple of your friends get fined for that, I think the word will get out,” he said.

The same way people think twice about driving faster than the legally posted speed, for sure!

The bill passed easily in a House subcommittee meeting on Tuesday morning. It now heads to the full House Transportation Committee.

Where it will no doubt sail through on the merits! Who says lawmakers cannot reach consensus!

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Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 at 8:09 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
33 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Leafy Streets

Photo by hurryqi/Flickr
Photo by seamoor/Flickr

We’ve seen that slime mold can function as an incipient urban planner, but leaves offer lessons too, notes the Economist:

Traditionally, biologists have celebrated the trunk, branch and twig system of a tree as no accident. Many mathematical formulas have suggested it is the best, least wasteful way to design a distribution network. But the very end of such a network, the leaf, has a different architecture. Unlike the xylem and phloem, the veins in a leaf cross-link and loop. Francis Corson of Rockefeller University in New York used computer models to examine why these loops exist.

From an evolutionary point of view, loops seem inefficient because of the redundancy inherent in a looped network. Dr Corson’s models show, however, that this inefficiency is true only if demand for water and the nutrients it contains is constant. By studying fluctuations in demand he discovered one purpose of the loops: they allow for a more nuanced delivery system. Flows can be rerouted through the network in response to local pressures in the environment, such as different evaporation rates in different parts of a leaf.

It’s interesting to think of this configuration vis a vis urban/suburban street networks, when less permeable systems push traffic to larger arterial systems — a benefit for those living in the less permeable areas (say, the second photo above, which I believe comes from a stalled subdivision in Florida), until of course there’s some traffic issue on the main line and less opportunity for rerouting flows. The leaf has no cul-de-sacs, no dead-ends.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. 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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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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