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Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

Street Smarts

Bad news: with all due respect to Terrafugia, unless you’re a fan of Futurama it’s probably going to be awhile before you see a flying car. But cars that drive themselves are coming, probably within most of our lifetimes and possibly sooner than you might think. They will drastically cut traffic congestion, improve safety, and be a terrific boon to those like the young and the old who are deprived of mobility. The ability to take our hands off the wheel will also undoubtedly send sales of Big Macs and mascara skyrocketing. But do we have the drive to make robot cars a reality?

A Gut Yontif for L.A. Drivers

This was no fluke; there’s a big improvement in the Westside traffic situation every year on the Jewish high holidays. To many, this seems mysterious. True, West L.A. and the southern San Fernando Valley have large Jewish populations, but not that large.

The Paradox of Road Choice

Two physicists and a computer scientist used Google maps to study traffic in Boston, London, and New York, and found that when people use real-time driving maps to try to pick the fastest routes, traffic slows down.

Reducing Traffic by Closing Roads

The city of Vancouver has turned one lane of traffic on the busy Burrard Bridge into a bicycle route. Critics predicted chaos, but the first day of the experiment found traffic moving smoothly. This seems to be in line with recent studies suggesting that road closures actually lead to fewer traffic jams. [%comments]

Ghost Jams

You know those strange traffic jams that appear to come out of nowhere, with nothing causing them, and then suddenly end? As Wired reports , a team of M.I.T. mathematicians calls them “phantom jams” or “jamitons,” and has found mathematical equations to describe them, similar to those that describe detonation waves from explosions. Phantom jams, the mathematicians found, can form when a single driver slows down (to take a sip of coffee or talk on the phone) on a road with too many cars on it. They hope the new equations will lead to roads engineered to keep traffic below the density where a jamiton can form.

Another Upside to the Down Economy

Good news: people who still have jobs are having a much easier time driving to work. Traffic congestion is down as much as 30 percent in 99 of the country’s 100 largest metro areas. In Washington, D.C., famous for gridlock of all kinds, traffic has fallen 24 percent during rush hour. San Francisco saw travel times fall 12 percent this . . .

Crossroad Blues

Do you think the trials of your evening commute deserve national recognition? To check whether you deserve some sort of medal for your daily automotive heroism, see‘s interesting recent feature on the most congested intersections in America. “There’s some glory in that; some day they will be able to dazzle their grandchildren with tales of their daily battles with . . .

Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free, Part Two

In my prior post, I blogged about introducing variable tolls on America’s highways. The basic idea: fight congestion by imposing tolls that vary in response to traffic levels. When roads are too crowded, hike the tolls, keep some drivers out, and thus keep traffic free flowing at all times.

Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free: A Guest Post

Eric A. Morris is a researcher at U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies, concentrating on a variety of transportation issues including history, economics, and management. He weighed in here earlier on the gas tax. Here is his first of two posts on road tolls. Why You’ll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free By Eric A. Morris A Guest . . .

How’s My Driving? A Q&A With the Author of Traffic

Traffic and congestion have come up a lot on this blog lately. We even blegged for parking solutions and analyzed the effectiveness of traffic signs — according to Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic (due out July 29), they’re virtually ineffective and may even “allow us to basically stop thinking.” But dozing cows, he says, can work better than . . .

Drivers: The Cause of, and Solution to, All Our Traffic Problems

Freakonomics readers know that cars don’t cause traffic jams — drivers do. New technology might eventually eliminate drivers altogether, but probably not anytime soon. Meanwhile, at least one driver has taken matters into his own hands, posting YouTube videos of problem spots on his commute to embarrass transit officials into making repairs, the Los Angeles Times, reports. Are more to . . .

FREAK Shots: Don’t Even Think About It

Last week, we asked to see your photos and you responded with vigor — and from around the globe (Burma, Buenos Aires, Canada). Keep sending them here. Here’s a photo from Omair Khan, who took this in 2005 in New York City: On his blog, Barry Popik cites a 1982 Times article in which Mayor Koch announced the creation of . . .

What Didn’t We Know About Congestion Pricing?

Advertisements like this one, meant to win people over to congestion pricing, just sound bitter after the death of New York’s proposed plan last week. And New Yorkers will likely continue to see Varick Street as I did at 7:00 last Thursday evening: Varick Street, 7 p.m. But even while the debate was still raging, many of the plan’s particulars . . .

Will Congestion Pricing Fly in New York?

London has successfully instituted congestion pricing for private vehicles, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been trying very hard to do the same, but ran into stiff opposition from the public as well as political players. New York magazine reports, however, that Bloomberg has just gained an important ally: New York’s new governor, David Paterson. According to New York: . . .

Your City Needs You to Blow Through Red Lights

Some towns promote good citizenship even though it doesn’t pay off. Dallas discovered this when the traffic light cameras monitoring its busiest intersections worked so well that the city had to decommission more than one-fourth of them. Dallas had anticipated an annual $14.8 million for red-light-running fines, money essential to keeping the cameras running — before people stopped running lights . . .

Taiwan’s Solution to Traffic Accidents

Reader Jeffrey Mindich, a senior news anchor at International Community Radio in Taipei, writes: I just happened to be working on a story about traffic accidents while reading your March 10 post on the subject and I thought you might find my story of interest. About a year ago in Taiwan, they started installing countdown timers at traffic lights at . . .