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Use Both Lanes

As discussed in Traffic, sometimes the best way to eliminate tension over ‘late merging’ is to simply eliminate the concept, as the Illinois DOT seems about to do.

“Once people get used to it, it seems to work well,” Wegmeyer said. “As long as traffic alternates at the merger, it should go more smoothly.”

Of course, that “as long as” still presents challenges, as those people in the “open lane” may still feel some sense of priority over those they view as late-arriving interlopers.

(thanks Darrin)

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 at 12:43 pm and is filed under Traffic Engineering. 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.

4 Responses to “Use Both Lanes”

  1. Andy Says:

    I think the real key to it is the lane lines at the merge. Instead of having a through lane and a merging lane, neither should directly line up after a certain “you must alternate-zipper-merge here” point.

    There’s one intersection in NH I came across often, and I think there was one small sign that said to alternate, and not once did I come across a situation where someone didn’t do just that. It was amazing what that small suggestion did for traffic there.

  2. Derek Says:

    This wouldn’t be a problem if traffic were priced correctly. After all, traffic congestion is a type of shortages, and shortages occur, according to Wikipedia, “when the price of an item is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand.”

  3. Scott Says:

    Andy, that’s a good idea about neither lane lining up with the final lane at the merge point.

    I wonder if they could restripe the road to put the final lane of a two-into-one merge directly in the center for a while before moving it into the actual final lane position.

    Making neither lane line up with the final one might stop the battle between the territorial “early mergers” and the efficient “throughput maximizers” that always seems to happen in the typical “Left Lane Ends — Merge Right” situation.

  4. Roger Says:

    Next time you encounter one of these situations watch who the people want to merge in front of…. Yes always the big truck if one is available.

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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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