CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

The Zipper Merge and Civil Society

Jon Stewart talking to Drew Barrymore:

JS: To me, the hallmark of civilization, and I believe this on its core foundational level, is the every-other-car merge at tunnels…

DB: Well, they don’t let you anymore, they have cones that say, like, don’t you dare.

JS: No, no, when you get up to that, and it’s like four cars, and it goes down to one. And everybody suddenly, no matter what, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, black, white, it doesn’t matter, everybody just goes, ‘I’m next,’ ‘No, you’re next,’ ‘Please,’ and it’s like the zipper merge, and it really says, to me, this is why we don’t drink the same water we shit in anymore, because we are a civilized society. That’s my theory.

[Applause]

JS: Who the hell knows.

DB: I love you.

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 9:38 pm and is filed under Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “The Zipper Merge and Civil Society”

  1. Eric Says:

    In Colorado, they put up notices of lane closures miles in advance. The people here are so “civilized” (read stupid) that as soon as they see that the right lane will be closed in 1 mile, 95% of the cars move to the left lane, which would work fine, except for the 5% of people who continue along in the right lane until the merge actually occurs. Because the zipper merge is still occurring at the merge point, traffic moves just as slowly, but the people who merged early sit in a mile long lime while the “uncivilized” (read smart) people get to continue on without much delay.

    Lesson: don’t merge until you have to. Then take turns.

  2. Bob Says:

    I remember in 2003 approaching a merge with a friend who is a police officer in the vehicle. He told me I must by law merge as soon as possible, and my driving down the right side to the absolute beginning of the merge makes traffic go slower. I told him he was nuts. A couple years later I read “Traffic”, and can now rest assured that I know how to merge. Although a couple weeks ago a traffic vigilante tried to take my front end off by swerving to block two lanes so he wouldn’t have to merge again.

  3. Robyn Says:

    Apparently, we are not so civilized in the midwest. Those who speed ahead and then expect someone to allow them in at the cones or barrels will get dirty looks at the least and most people hug bumpers at that point in an attempt to keep them out as punishment for not merging sooner.

  4. Elliott Mason Says:

    Merging early makes traffic move better because you can move in when there’s a gap naturally occurring, instead of making the traffic you’ve pointed your nose at stop JUST for you to make a hole. That’s why queuejumping idiots who zip up the right lane because they’re too important to act civilized ruin it for the rest of us. :->

  5. JJM, traffic engr. Says:

    Mr. Mason, merging early works well at lower traffic volumes, but once traffic starts to back up, about 15% more traffic can get through if drivers cooperate, use both lanes to the merge point, then take turns.

    Now, isn’t taking turns civilized behavior?

  6. Ryan Says:

    Elliot,
    Perhaps you should give Mr Vanderbilt’s book a read. You may reconsider your hostile sentiment to those who merge late.

  7. Josh R Says:

    Sorry Elliott, but research has shown the reverse to be true, using both lanes until the merge and then “zippering” the cars into one lane is better. The problems arise when everybody but a few merge early, and then people play lane cop trying to not let the “late” mergers in. Every lane closure here in MN these days has signs saying “Use both lanes until merge point.” in an effort to break people of the habit of early merging, but it’s an uphill battle because everybody thinks they know better then the traffic engineers who study this sort of thing for a living.

    Personally I merge early, but solely to avoid the irrational anger and potential violent outbursts of the lane vigilantes.

  8. Daniel Says:

    The problem with early merging is that the “naturally occurring” gap keeps moving back progressively as drivers merge. In theory, you end up with a long queue that forms well before the merge sign. Or, if all drivers merge exactly at the merge sign, then, in theory again, this is the same thing as merging at merge point – only the location changes.

    When in a closing lane, I always try to match my speed with the traffic in the next lane (unless it’s down to a crawl, but then I still slow down, I don’t “zip” at high speed) and merge as close as possible to the merge point, but not too close so I don’t have to slow down and create too much of a disturbance.

    Oh, and I also watch for lane vigilantes. They tend to make things more complicated.

  9. DoctorJay Says:

    i just got hit at the merge going into the Holland Tunnel in NYC. There are 2 lanes going into the tunnel and a guy came up from the 3rd lane, which wasn’t and jumped to the front of the turning traffic and attempted to squeeze in. It was a tight fit and as soon as traffic started moving again he swiped my front bumper, pulling off the rubber and denting his car. We parfked and yelled at each other for a few minutes before leaving in a huff.

    I think there’s a difference between the zipper merge when you have 2 lanes going to 1, and the jumping of a merge, when a driver purposely drives around the line of cars and tries to squeeze in from a lane that isn’t part of the merger.

  10. Beth Hawthorne Says:

    Having driven in Germany for three+ years I learned the benefits of the zipper merge. This can be done at a high rate of speed if everyone waits till the merge point and allows room for the next guy. I have tried to explain to friends and family that when everyone takes turns and the me first concept is bypassed traffic can keep moving with little disruption. You can get more people through a traffic light where on the other side it merges into one lane if you use both lanes and have two lines of ten who can get up to speed more quickly and zipper merge then if you have a line of twenty going single file. Those who try to prevent the late merges only create the merge point sooner and hard feelings along the way.

Leave a Reply

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

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
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

 

 

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Twitter
August 2010
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031