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RE: [carfree_cities] Re: Misconceptions about traffic and congestion

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  • Korn, Dan
    I think the more salient point is that the focus of urban design and infrastructure planning should not be simply to reduce automobile traffic congestion. But
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 8, 2004
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      I think the more salient point is that the focus of urban design and infrastructure planning should not be simply to reduce automobile traffic congestion. But try telling that to almost anyone here in the U.S. and they'll think you're crazy. "Congestion is good" doesn't make a good bumper sticker, but it's the truth.

      Of course, nobody wants to see lines of cars sitting there stewing in their own exhaust. But the solution should be fewer cars, not more roads, because more roads lead to more cars, which lead to more roads, and down the rabbit hole we go.

      Dan
      Chicago
    • Steve Geller
      ... This is true. Congestion is caused by too many cars on the road. Congestion discourages some number of people from driving, but the reason why nothing
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 10, 2004
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        >Very true. Take Tokyo as an example. At times, the arterial streets and
        >freeways of Tokyo can resemble parking lots, so car fanatics point to
        >the congestion and say, "See, transit does NOT reduce congestion!"
        >
        >But what they fail to mention is that those traffic jams represent
        >fewer than 20% of all trips in Tokyo, and that a noticeable percentage
        >of that 20% is made up of taxis. The other 80% are on public transit,
        >foot, or bicycle. If Tokyo ever went completely to automobile-based
        >transportation, it would have to tear down a large percentage of its
        >buildings to accommodate all the cars.

        This is true. Congestion is caused by too many cars on the road.
        Congestion discourages some number of people from driving,
        but the reason why nothing much fixes congestion is that if there's
        room on the roads, there will be cars to fill the space.

        The fact is that there are more people who prefer to drive a
        personal car than take transit. Most of us take transit because
        we don't like congestion.

        Here's a thought experiment. Suppose I could go wherever I want
        by entering a thing like a phone booth, pushing a destination
        button, and being "transported" (details omitted).
        If such a facility were available, would I ride the bus?
        Probably not.

        Well, it depends on the details. How often does this thing run?
        What's the cost per trip? Are the arrival/departure points
        available in enough places?

        This thought experiment helps me to understand how convenience
        and cost affect transportation choices. A big part of the reason
        that there are all those cars ready to fill the roads is that
        the cars are convenient and the parking spaces are available.

        I think that congestion would go away if parking were not
        as available.

        Every city, no matter how great its public transit,
        has congestion.

        Is this really true? Is there congestion in Curitiba?
      • billt44hk
        ... Oddly enough I ve just come across this site :- ADVANCED TRANSPORT GROUP Transport for the Future NEW! Advanced Transport Systems Website. They happen to
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Steve Geller <stgeller@c...>
          wrote:
          > The fact is that there are more people who prefer to drive a
          > personal car than take transit. Most of us take transit because
          > we don't like congestion.
          >
          > Here's a thought experiment. Suppose I could go wherever I want
          > by entering a thing like a phone booth, pushing a destination
          > button, and being "transported" (details omitted).
          > If such a facility were available, would I ride the bus?
          > Probably not.
          Oddly enough I've just come across this site :- ADVANCED TRANSPORT
          GROUP Transport for the Future NEW! Advanced Transport Systems'
          Website. They happen to be based in my city, Bristol. see
          http://www.aer.bris.ac.uk/atg/ultra.html
          Seems to be basically a monorail or urban light rail concept but
          with car-sized cabins rather than multi-person compartments. A big
          selling point they claim is that 'No-one is required to travel with
          another passenger.... '. Could this really be sustainable
          technically -apart from its pandering to social isolation and
          individual encapsulement,- they make claims of having measuired
          its energy-efficiency etc.
          '...Analysis shows that the optimum form of transportation must be
          personal and meet individual travel needs. This means using small
          vehicles which must be automated to avoid the chaos of congestion
          caused by human interaction. Automated vehicles able to be
          recirculated would provide a more efficient use of vehicles. The
          network for the system must be dense enough that people do not have
          to walk far to join the system and at the same time it should be
          segregated from existing transport networks to avoid unwanted
          conflicts.. Click here to view a notional network diagram.

          This forms the basis of the ULTRA, (Urban Light Transport) system.
          The system can best be described as an automatically controlled
          personal taxi system running on its own guideway network. Access to
          vehicles is at frequent stations located around the city. At these
          stops passengers would request a vehicle, if one were not already
          waiting, and select a destination which would be recorded on a smart-
          card. They would then board their own ULTRAcab, swiping the smart-
          card through a reader to let the central computer know their desired
          station and that they were ready to leave. The passengers could then
          sit back and enjoy the ride as the ULTRA system takes them to their
          destination by the quickest available route...'

          I'd be interested in seeing an appraisal of this by Joel or other
          carfree_city professionals.

          Bill
        • J.H. Crawford
          Hi All, ... Basically I m opposed to overhead systems because they re ugly and intrusive, and probably noisy as well. ... Everybody who s every drawn one of
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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            Hi All,

            Bill said:

            >This forms the basis of the ULTRA, (Urban Light Transport) system.
            >The system can best be described as an automatically controlled
            >personal taxi system running on its own guideway network. Access to
            >vehicles is at frequent stations located around the city. At these
            >stops passengers would request a vehicle, if one were not already
            >waiting, and select a destination which would be recorded on a smart-
            >card. They would then board their own ULTRAcab, swiping the smart-
            >card through a reader to let the central computer know their desired
            >station and that they were ready to leave. The passengers could then
            >sit back and enjoy the ride as the ULTRA system takes them to their
            >destination by the quickest available route...'
            >
            >I'd be interested in seeing an appraisal of this by Joel or other
            >carfree_city professionals.

            Basically I'm opposed to overhead systems because they're ugly
            and intrusive, and probably noisy as well.

            On the site, they say:

            >Surely the visual intrusion of overhead tracks will be significant? - Visual intrusion is very significantly reduced compared to all past and present systems, but remains one of the single most significant issue associated with the system. We are proposing the use of a single 1.5 metre track, less than half the width of a single lane of road, and thus of considerably reduced scale.

            Everybody who's every drawn one of these things has underestimated
            the width of right of way that is required. How do people get out
            when they break down? Can they really span the proposed distances
            with such slender beams?

            >Present estimates indicate that only about one single lane track for every six current roads would be required to serve an urban area, and that each of these tracks would be of the order of one-sixth of the cost of the equivalent road.

            This is very sophisticated technology. I simply can't imagine
            it costing less than a road to build. The capacities claimed
            are based on technologies that have yet to be demonstrated.
            Very short headways (around a second) are required, and the
            difficulties with buffering, crash avoidance, merges, etc.,
            are major. While it is possible that this can all be made to
            work safely, I don't think it will be done at costs below
            conventional rail, and it will have neither the capacity nor
            the efficiency of rail. Also, handicapped access to the stations
            will require expensive elevators that are also obtrusive.

            Also, interchanges are rarely depicted, but if a full-way
            junction is required, the sky is going to be full of concrete
            for a long way around (think of a highway interchange, albeit
            with only one lane per direction). I see that the ULTRA proposal
            is based on partial interchanges, which helps a lot, but then
            routing becomes more complex and a fair bit of wrong-way travel
            will commonly be required and will also tax system capacity.

            >The use of existing transport rights of way for the infrastructure is an important contributor to minimising visual intrusion.

            They basically want to run these down existing streets, for
            the most part. The stations will be much larger than usually
            claimed, as there has to be room somewhere to buffer empty
            vehicles, and stations are where you need the empties.

            The claimed factor-of-ten reduction in pollution and
            energy consumption is very hard to believe, as these appear
            to be rubber-tired and have greater frontal area than a car.

            Some of these system (I don't know if this includes ULTRA)
            have claimed very high operating speeds and accelerations
            on the order of 0.5 G, which is high enough that people
            probably have to be strapped in. Unless acceleration is
            very high, acceleration and deceleration distances are
            long except for quite slow speeds, which basically means
            doubling the track for quite a distance either side of a
            station.

            They claim:

            >The system will be designed to cope with normal levels of rain, snow and ice.

            In Bristol, the "normal level of snow" would be about zero.
            What happens when a foot of snow falls on one of these
            systems?

            Finally, some of the cost savings appear to be based on the
            assumption that some of the distance will be travelled at grade,
            not on elevated right of way. I do not believe that automated
            vehicles can be operated on accessible tracks except at low
            speeds due to safety reasons. Either the track would have to
            be fenced off, blocking off pedestrian access to a huge degree,
            or operating speeds would have to be kept very low. (There is
            also the concern about access to the relatively high voltages
            that are used for propulsion.)

            In short, I have always thought that this is a technology that
            will be much less desirable than people think and that will cost
            a lot more than expected. I don't see any compelling advantages.

            Regards,








            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
          • Steve Geller
            ... This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit if they have any choice. We just don t like to sit close to strangers. It s not
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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              >Oddly enough I've just come across this site :- ADVANCED TRANSPORT
              >GROUP Transport for the Future NEW! Advanced Transport Systems'
              >Website. They happen to be based in my city, Bristol. see
              >http://www.aer.bris.ac.uk/atg/ultra.html
              >Seems to be basically a monorail or urban light rail concept but
              >with car-sized cabins rather than multi-person compartments. A big
              >selling point they claim is that 'No-one is required to travel with
              >another passenger.... '.

              This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
              if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
              It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
              in large vilage-like groups.

              There's a vehicle similar to the ULTRA being developed in
              the San Francisco area. It's called the Cybertran, with about 20
              people per car. It too will operate like a self-service elevator/lift.
              One pushes a button for the destination and software
              decides where the intermediate stop will happen.
              It's a very good idea.

              Some of the transit vehicles in San Francisco have single seats
              in a few places. The commuter train going south has single seats
              in the upper level.

              I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
              seats were singles?
            • T. J. Binkley
              ... I m always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who don t like to sit next to strangers would do themselves a tremendous service to get out of
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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                >This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
                >if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
                >It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
                >in large vilage-like groups.
                >
                >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
                >seats were singles?

                I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
                to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
                out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
                while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
                choose it.

                Reading a book on an empty train car is a delightful experience, but a car
                full of people is usually much more interesting. Those who like to "people
                watch" from a distance are shortchanging themselves.

                -TJB
              • Steve Geller
                ... I ride buses a lot, but I can t say I choose being close to strangers. I just put up with it as part of bus riding. The aversion to strangers is very
                Message 7 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                  > >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
                  > >seats were singles?
                  >
                  >I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
                  >to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
                  >out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
                  >while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
                  >choose it.

                  I ride buses a lot, but I can't say I "choose" being close to strangers.
                  I just put up with it as part of bus riding.

                  The aversion to strangers is very real. You must have seen people who
                  will sit in the outer of a pair of seats, making it difficult for
                  someone to get into the other seat.

                  I do enjoy "people watching". It's one of the big upsides
                  of transit riding.
                • Doug Salzmann
                  ... Amen. Ditto, etc. I think the stranger avoidance tendency is a behavior based upon learned attitudes and expectations ( people you don t know are
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                    On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, T. J. Binkley wrote:

                    >
                    > >This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
                    > >if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
                    > >It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
                    > >in large vilage-like groups.
                    > >
                    > >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
                    > >seats were singles?
                    >
                    > I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
                    > to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
                    > out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
                    > while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
                    > choose it.

                    Amen. Ditto, etc.

                    I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based upon
                    learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know are
                    dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion humans
                    are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.


                    -Doug



                    ---
                    Doug Salzmann
                    Kalliergo
                    Post Office Box 307
                    Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA

                    <doug@...>
                  • gregb88@comcast.net
                    ... But aren t we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In supermarkets there s people behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                      Doug Salzmann wrote:

                      >On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, T. J. Binkley wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >>>This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
                      >>>if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
                      >>>It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
                      >>>in large vilage-like groups.
                      >>>
                      >>>...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
                      >>>seats were singles?
                      >>>
                      >>>
                      >>I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
                      >>to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
                      >>out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
                      >>while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
                      >>choose it.
                      >>
                      But aren't we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In
                      supermarkets there's people
                      behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In classes
                      at school and college, meetings at work, large social functions, it's
                      likely you'll have to sit next to a stranger... Not to mention
                      restaurants and bars....

                      >>
                      >>
                      >
                      >Amen. Ditto, etc.
                      >
                      >I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based upon
                      >learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know are
                      >dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion humans
                      >are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.
                      >
                      >
                      > -Doug
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >---
                      > Doug Salzmann
                      > Kalliergo
                      > Post Office Box 307
                      > Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA
                      >
                      > <doug@...>
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
                      >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: carfree_cities-unsubscribe@...
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                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • Erik Rauch
                      That cars are the most inefficient form of transport is hardly disputed, but what is seldom appreciated is how little driving it takes to bring the downsides
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                        That cars are the most inefficient form of transport is hardly disputed,
                        but what is seldom appreciated is how little driving it takes to bring the
                        downsides of car transport. The statistics on gasoline consumption per
                        capita in different countries
                        (http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/~rauch/misc/gas_gdp.html) are revealing in
                        this regard.

                        Hong Kong has the lowest per capita gas consumption among rich countries
                        -- a factor of 25 lower than the U.S. Yet Hong Kong is anything but a
                        carfree paradise. Residents of have to put up with much of the noise and
                        physical degradation that cars cause in urban areas, even though hardly
                        any of the residents get around by car -- and Hong Kong has chronic
                        traffic congestion.

                        http://www.bennenk.com/Maleisie/images/Thumbnails/19960822-28_Hong_Kong_Victoria_small.jpg
                        http://desires.com/2.0b3/Travel/Hong_Kong/Images/traffic.gif
                        http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mag/2003/02/16/images/2003021600680801.jpg

                        Even cities in Bangladesh, which has the lowest level of driving of 122
                        countries, have to put up with a significant amount of annoyance from
                        cars, even though driving is a factor of 900 (!) lower than the U.S. In
                        the capital, Dhaka, only 5.9% of trips are by motorized transport of any
                        kind including buses. An aerial photograph of its downtown is revealing
                        (http://www.cs.ndsu.nodak.edu/~farooq/dhaka.jpg). It has wide streets
                        filled with what look like cars, but on inspection most of the
                        "vehicles" turn out to be bicycle rickshaws and pedestrians:

                        http://www.pat.hi-ho.ne.jp/paku/tabi/castella/pic/bangladesh/dhaka.jpg

                        But still, the bicyclists and pedestrians have to put up with the noise,
                        wide streets and lower quality urban design caused by designing for
                        universal automobile access.

                        And yes, Dhaka has congestion, too:
                        http://www.hellobondoo.com/pic/contents/bigjam.htm

                        The lesson, of course, is that it is foolhardy to permit cars in dense
                        urban areas. You get much of the downside of car transport with almost
                        none of the benefit.


                        (data on Dhaka from http://www.eng-consult.com/pub/dstar.htm)

                        On Thu, 8 Jul 2004, Karen Sandness wrote:

                        > Very true. Take Tokyo as an example. At times, the arterial streets and
                        > freeways of Tokyo can resemble parking lots, so car fanatics point to
                        > the congestion and say, "See, transit does NOT reduce congestion!"
                      • hcfdave
                        Another aspect of this is that autoholics enter a completely altered state of conciousness when ... behind the wheel ... They can forget about everything
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jul 15, 2004
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                          Another aspect of this is that autoholics enter a completely
                          altered state of conciousness when ...'behind the wheel'...
                          They can forget about everything except their immediate
                          vdeo-game mentakity, which the various fad technologies in
                          newer cars accentuates. Often you hear autoholics say. "Yeah,
                          my commute is therapeutic!"
                          No matter that this ...'therapy'... all too often ends in murder and
                          suicide, spews incredible amounts of deadly poisons into the
                          air, and makes thae city virtually unlivable for everyone else! (as
                          well as causing global warming and sucking the earth dry of
                          ever-scarcer resources.
                          Cars indeed ...ssssSUCK!! (the lifeblood of the earth, as well
                          as ssSPEW!! poisons into it!...)
                          DaveS (nocarsdave@...)

                          (written in reply to the following and others...:
                          > >>>This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid
                          riding transit
                          > >>>if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to
                          strangers.
                          > >>>It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't
                          live
                          > >>>in large vilage-like groups.
                          > >>>
                          > >>>...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if
                          most of the
                          > >>>seats were singles?
                          > >>>
                          > >>>
                          > >>I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those
                          who "don't like
                          > >>to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous
                          service to get
                          > >>out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other"
                          once in a
                          > >>while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many
                          people
                          > >>choose it.
                          > >>
                          > But aren't we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In
                          > supermarkets there's people
                          > behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In
                          classes
                          > at school and college, meetings at work, large social functions,
                          it's
                          > likely you'll have to sit next to a stranger... Not to mention
                          > restaurants and bars....
                          > >
                          > >Amen. Ditto, etc.
                          > >
                          > >I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based
                          upon
                          > >learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know
                          are
                          > >dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion
                          humans
                          > >are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > -Doug
                          > >---
                          > > Doug Salzmann
                          > > Kalliergo
                          > > Post Office Box 307
                          > > Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA
                        • T. J. Binkley
                          ... Real, yes. Misguided, sad and ultimately pathological too.
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jul 15, 2004
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                            >The aversion to strangers is very real.

                            Real, yes. Misguided, sad and ultimately pathological too.
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