I offer this from the latest number of Nature -- reference
-- as food for thought.
What is that explanation of a truly intelligent person: One who can
keep two contradictory thoughts in mind without their head exploding?
BOLD MOTORISTS CLEAR ROADS
Computer model explains Bogotá's jam-free streets.
8 June 2004, Michael Hopkin
Aggressive driving can ease traffic congestion, say researchers who have
created a computer model of the mean streets of Colombia's capital
The study shows how a city's traffic build-up is influenced by the
characteristic driving style of its motorists, say study authors L. E.
Olmos and J. D. Muñoz of the National University of Colombia.
To understand a city's roads, you have to get inside the heads of its
motorists, say Olmos and Muñoz. "The drivers' driving is very different
from city to city, and a realistic traffic model should keep in mind the
particularities of each place," they say.
So the pair hitched a ride with Bogotá's motorists and measured
parameters such as typical acceleration and braking distance. They then
gave virtual drivers in a computer simulation a set of rules to follow
that were based on their real-world measurements.
Virtual traffic congestion mimicked the real thing. The results closely
matched the traffic densities and average speeds of Bogotá, the team
report in an online physics research bank1.
Traffic experts had previously been puzzled as to how Bogotá, with 7
million inhabitants and more than a million private cars, is so
jam-free. The answer now seems that Bogotáns are simply more aggressive
than their counterparts in London, New York and other huge metropolises.
But why the dare-devil style? Olmos and Muñoz point out that, before
improvements to Bogotá's public-transport and cycling infrastructure,
and restrictions on the use of private cars, the city was routinely
gridlocked. Perhaps formerly frustrated motorists are now revelling in
the open road.
Still, freedom comes at a price, say the researchers: one in six
Colombians who die a violent death meet their end in a traffic accident.
2. Olmos, L. E. & Muñoz, J. D.. Int. J. Mod. Phys C, arXiv preprint,
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2004