You Might be a Transpo Geek If…

Speaking with a friend the other day, I used some word or another, then said, in response to his puzzled look, ‘oh, sorry, that’s a transpo geek word.’ He then asked what a constituted a transpo geek. And so, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, here’s a list of things that just might flag you as a transpo geek (and your further suggestions are more than welcome):

1. You’ve corrected someone in the past year that ‘it’s not a yellow light, it’s an amber phase.’

2. You use the word mode in relation to anything but pie with ice cream.

3. You honeymooned in Curitiba.

4. You proposed on the Disney Monorail.

5. You have ready familiarity with all of the following acronyms: HSR, PRT, VMT, MAX, HOT, MUP, VRU.

6. You have trouble talking about roads or lanes or sidewalks without resorting to the word ‘facility'; e.g, when you hear the Beatles’ song, it’s all you can do to not sing ‘the long and winding facility …’

7. You’ve installed a tube counter in your own driveway.

8. You’ve installed Bott’s dots in the middle of your two-car driveway.

9. When someone mentions “ice tea,” you’re not thinking about a cold drink.

10. You’ve made it this far along in the list.

Any others?

This entry was posted on Friday, December 17th, 2010 at 8:46 am 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.

23 Responses to “You Might be a Transpo Geek If…”

  1. darren Says:

    you know the ADT of every facility you travel on

    you know the difference between a rotary and a roundabout, and aren’t shy about passionately explaining it to your nonplussed friends and family

    you have James Oberstar’s autograph (or wish you did)

  2. Bossi Says:

    You can quickly define the distinctions between roundabouts, traffic circles, traffic calming circles, and rotaries.

    Some more acronyms: HRT, LRT, BRT, SPUI, DDI, CFI, MUTCD, FHWA, AASHTO…

    One more acronym… anything ending in DOT (which has led to some entertaining mistakes when it’s *not* transportation-related).

    The majority of your photos both at home & abroad revolves around transportation systems.

    Your vacations involve visiting other countries’ construction sites, transportation centers, and spending a day riding to every rail station in each city.

    When driving, you’ll regularly announce to my passengers that “I wouldn’t have done that” or why that sign is useless; or why some regulation is inappropriate.

    …Also, when driving, you’ll often make sudden pull-offs & stop to get out and observe some interesting treatment or traffic operations. Suddenly losing an hour of my day to an impromptu staring at traffic is not unheard of.

  3. Noah Says:

    Calling a traffic light a traffic signal. That’s always a dead giveaway.

  4. Katie M. Says:

    Your facebook profile picture is you and a parking meter.

    When someone asks, rhetorically, why the evening commute is so much worse than the morning commute, you have to bite your tongue to keep from launching into a 10-minute lecture on travel behavior.

    You regularly point out good pedestrian infrastructure to your (totally uninterested) friends and relatives.

    Sigh. Guilty.


  5. Wife of transpo geek Says:

    Your husband almost crashes the car trying to take pictures wo road construction, HOT lanes,or carpool lanes in every major city you visit.

  6. Ryan Says:

    – You’ve read the book “Traffic”
    – You have trained your wife to be able to point out “cuts” and “fills” along the highway
    – You are to blame for all traffic and road related issues your friends and family can think of (plowing, slow traffic, fast traffic, contruction sites, etc.)
    – You think the funniest joke in the world is the picture of the sign that says “Caution: This Sign has Sharp Edges”. (It really is hilarious).
    – You are proud of the fact that Tom Cruise played a Traffic Engineer in one of the Mission Impossible movies.
    – You are quick to correct neighbors that another stop sign on our street will NOT be good for traffic calming.
    – When you are pulled over for speeding you tell the police officer that the 85th percentile speed on this stretch of road is actually 2 km/h higher than the speed which you were travelling at. Thus, the current speed limit is artificially too low and when you get back to the office you were going to do the paper work to get it raised. (He then asks you to step out of the vehicle).

    I could sit here all day and grow this list. But I’ve got speed zone paper work to get back to…..



  7. Carmen Says:

    I’m with you except for #2. “mode” is a geek word in many other contexts. Particularly a computer geek one. I use it daily. In fact, I don’t even know exactly what it means in a transpo geek setting, so I guess I don’t get to count that one. :)

  8. Bernie Wagenblast Says:

    don’t think LaHood, Peters and Mineta are the outfielders for the Chicago Cubs.

    you don’t call it “rush hour” but “peak period.”

    when you see “ITS” you don’t think of a possessive pronoun.

    you have on your smart phone transportation apps for places you’ve never been.

    whether you’re in NYC, LA, Chicago or Philadelphia you know which radio station has traffic and weather together on the ___’s.

    you call 511 even if you’re not planning to go anywhere.

  9. erok Says:

    the word “hump” invokes fantasies of extremely calmed traffic

  10. darren Says:

    beach reading — “The High Cost of Free Parking”

  11. JJM P.E. Says:

    When someone asks, “what’s your sign?” you reply, “W2-5L”

  12. Aaron Says:

    You actually know what ’85th percentile speed’ means

    You’re on a first name basis with the community outreach coordinator for the Dept. of Trans.

    You have a poster of Enrique Penalosa in your room

    You use the acronym BRT more than once a year

    You knew what ciclovia meant before city planners did

    You know the passenger capacity of a bike lane, a bus, a streetcar, and a highway lane

    When someone uses the term ‘rollover’ you’re not thinking of your dog

    You know the security guard at the bureau of transportation

  13. Thomas Says:

    And if you’re a region-specific traffic geek

    — if the term “Beltline” has nothing to do with keeping your pants up.

    In other news, I got a ticket of 7mph over the other day, on an empty 3×3 thoroughfare, in perfect conditions, at night. This better get dismissed or, well I don’t know what I’ll do beyond being really displeased but, still, it better get dismissed.

  14. Betty Barcode Says:

    Does Donald Shoup’s autograph count?

  15. Kevin Love Says:

    You are definitely a transportation geek if:

    For your vacation you go to Goningen.

    You know what a “Semi-permeable barrier” is, and want more of them in your neighbourhood.

    You curse someone out for unsafe riding as “you %^#$@@!! GUTTER BUNNY”

    You are a Toronto transportation geek if:

    You regard Rob Ford as the Anti-Christ, and his election as a harbiner of the Apocolypse.

    You are a member of the TCU.

    You know what the Toronto streetcar gauge is. Extra bonus if in millimetres.

  16. Susan Says:

    You subscribe to real-time transit alerts from systems you’ve never seen.

  17. Mike Chalkley Says:

    If you’ve posted on this site! (Damn!)

  18. Ben Says:

    As a subset to #2: You know what Botts Dots are.

    –if you watch a movie with a downtown action scene, all you notice are the MCI motor coaches passing by in the background.

    –if you know the sound difference between a Cummins or Detroit Diesel engine…when you hear it in the bus that is still three blocks away.

    –if you use “Green Ball” or “Red Ball” in your daily vernacular and no one notices.

    –if you give dirving instructions that include the phrase “Hang a Florida U” (Ditto “Texas U”)

  19. John Says:

    1. “Level of Service D” actually isn’t your reaction to a botched cocktail order.

    2. You know the peak capacity of an interstate highway lane. You use “peak capacity” in sentences.

    4. You actually include references to SAFETEA-LU reauthorization in your holiday greetings.

    Happy holidays and may Santa load a soon-to-pass reauthorization bill into his sleigh… Ooops!

  20. Jenn Says:

    You look forward to Mondays because that’s when the weekly TRB E-newsletter comes.

  21. Jeff Says:

    You know all the local lingo (ie: In California, they precede the Interstate/route # with “The”, as in “The 405″, “The 10″. In New Jersey, everything is “Route”, as in Route 80, Route 295.

    You know the New Jersey Turnpike (South of Interchange 6), Garden State Parkway, and AC Expressway truly do have route numbers, but are never used.

    You purposely drive into a construction zone, not away from it.

    You look at the traffic cameras to see the amount of snow that has fallen in a given area.

    You look at a traffic camera and watch in real time the shifting of a construction zone traffic pattern.

    You know the different between a red light camera and a traffic signal traffic detector.

  22. Ted K. Says:

    Your anthem is a variation on another Beatles tune – “… got a ticket to ride …” – and you’re NOT at a theme park.

  23. Dan S. Says:

    You and your co-workers spend a beautiful autumn afternoon traveling along the colorful, tree-lined Mississippi River valley in NE Iowa and comment to each other about the condition of the pavement and pavement markings. (It really happened to us, and we all laughed when one person in our group mentioned it. I guess we are engineers)

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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.

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