Commuting - Traffic What You Are essay (feedback wanted)
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I wrote this essay and would like feed back on it. Yes the book Traffic inspired me.
Have you ever sat in traffic and thought to yourself what really is traffic all about? Traffic can be defined as the aggregation of things (pedestrians or vehicles) coming and going in a particular locality during a specified period of time. Politicians and administrators dictate traffic through forms of policy and law. The engineers then create traffic patterns based on these policies and laws. In the end road users, become the traffic patterns based on use, and by politicians and engineers in how they will shape traffic. The road user also inputs to the politicians on how they want to be represented as traffic. In the end result, the majority wins, and minorities loose, even if they solve the problems the majority of traffic will create.
The ultimate goal in traffic is cohesive cooperation through human interaction. This provides safety and efficiency in one package, which accommodates all road users. This goal isnít directly advantageous for a single road user, nor should it be. Stoplights will allow one traffic pattern to flow while making another traffic pattern stop and wait. The goal in traffic is forgotten in todayís society. Speed has replaced human interaction with mechanical negotiations. Leaders are nonexistent, and most people donít want to contribute unless there is an incentive or direct benefit for them.
The Human Car
09-18-09, 10:51 AM
It was interesting to hear your thoughts on this topic, IMHO this is where your argument falls apart:
The engineers will increase the speed limit to increase the volume of cars, which operate in the given area.
Faster speed limits are to improve commute time at the cost of capacity and safety. There are lots of ways to look at the problem of how to accommodate lots traffic but when talking about the speed of the roadway no mater what the speed of the roadway is you will have a car/lane passing a given point ~every two seconds. For me the issue is how to accommodate dense travel in dense development. That is to say a mile of 60mph roadway can accommodate almost 28 cars/mile/lane at any given time. A 30mph road can accommodate 51 cars/mile/lane at any given time. So its the slower roads that have a higher capacity.
Part 2 of this problem is congestion is relatively safer then non-congestion. Typically we try to fix congestion with faster speed roadways rather then trying to smooth out the flow resulting in more accidents per mile of roadway.
The issue for me is there is too much focus on the individual and their car user rather then the system as a whole. Congestion means that dense forms of transportation is called for which translates to slower roadway speeds for motorists along with more mass transit and more biking and walking.
Well thank you that helps me out, and I can just interchange people want to get home sooner. Even better.
I did find this
which has a nice graph of it all. It is highway though.
congestion is safer. Take a look at New york lots of congestion lots of death. So was I not clear on the topic? And then the idling car or diesel issue.
When I reread that I might have placed that wrongly. I wanted to show congestion will decrease with cooperation. I also wanted to show safety increases with cooperation. The two should be separate.
So how can congestion be safer?
So does that mean cooperation between drivers reduces congestion and creates a safer place?
Yet thank you so much this what I needed.
The Human Car
09-19-09, 07:43 PM
Level Of Service is is really a poor guide to practical transportation planning as it is very much based on what a self centered individual would rate the accommodations. Who would not like having a fast highway all to themselves? How to plan and fund such a system is highly problematic, the typical cost of providing one individual car the 191' of the required space to travel 60mph is $1.4M as the gap grows between peek travel time volumes and average travel volumes more individuals are "demanding" that government pay that out for their individual use and that just is not sustainable.
Our Highway Safety Office reports that most crashes happen in areas between congestion. Though its been about 15 years since I have ridden in NYC most of its congestion was around the bridges and tunnels with the rest of the island moving fairly well, which translates to a lot of gaps between congestion per square mile. Another way to look at this is you can imagine someone coming around a corner of a highway and encountering stopped traffic and a crash resulting. Similarly after congestion there is some "need" to make up lost time so people drive faster and take more risks. While in the midst of congestion people are resigned to their fate and take less risks.
In Baltimore they are improving 95 so more people can barrel toward Baltimore at a high speed with no allowance with what to do with all these people once they get here. This goes against my principle of smoothing out the transition into dense development. But "improvements" are called for as a lot of crashes happen on this stretch so some how they think more of the same will make a difference. While I hear you on cooperation if accommodations do not encourage cooperation it is a huge up hill battle to encourage otherwise. So I see cooperation more of a minor point as the individual driver has a hard time seeing the big picture and predicting future of traffic flow.
09-20-09, 02:52 AM
Looks like a good intro. Where do you plan to go with this one?
Well it was a homework assignment.
I think level of service on streets is different than a highway, but I can't find anything on it.
I know it exists this why our streets give more time to major roads. ITS is what the system is.
I was looking at congestion from the standpoint of all users. More people and more chances for death.
Well as I stated in my piece if people were to cooperate with other users, I wonder how that would affect people walking and biking. Right now we have a segment of people who take all the pie.
One interesting thing to note is your discussion about traffic involving human interaction; yet the motor vehicle tends to dehumanize the driver by both cutting off the human from the environment, and by reducing the ability of other humans to read faces inside the vehicle. By reducing the human interaction, we actually complicate the traffic environment. Higher speeds also tend to reduce the human interaction to merely a bunch of boxes sliding by one another.
This situation of dehumanization tends to make interaction with cyclists and pedestrians, both "exposed humans" even more complicated (they do not fit the mold of "boxes"); with the result, motorists often ignore (or tend to look past) objects on the road that do not resemble "boxes."
The Human Car
09-20-09, 08:30 AM
FWIW the only Level Of Service (LOS, you might try using that term in a Google search) I hear on surface streets is that of stop lights; if people have to wait more then one cycle = fail.
09-20-09, 10:44 AM
In terms of writing, it seems like it tries to sound too scholarly and technical, which makes it hard to follow. Unfortunately, many teachers and professors tend to discourage conversational language in papers, so I'm not sure what to suggest.
In terms of content, it's a good discussion. But your essay leaves the reader hanging in terms of the chicken/egg or Catch-22 problem cyclists are caught in. There's plenty of information on how to make the streets safer for bicycles, and plenty of ideas for carrots and sticks to make drivers treat us better.
The bottom line, as you start to suggest, is that politicians don't take us seriously because we don't have the numbers, power, or money to put their feet to the fire. I'd say there aren't enough of us not because we've been excluded from traffic, but due to factors like cheap fuel, high standards of living, and our cultural obsession with cars.
If you wanted to stretch this into a term paper at some point, it would be interesting to see a deeper exploration of more bike-friendly European countries as well as some 3rd world countries where the much higher percentage of bicycles on the road forces the issue.
If your essay can provide concrete ideas to make it happen for us politically, that would be interesting. As far as I can tell, it will only happen if economics or lack of resources somehow force a large number of people to use their bikes, since the auto is far too convenient for the average person to resist. The only other way I see is to sell it as a child-safety issue, and get all the voting and taxpaying soccer parents on board.
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