An occasional update on items from ‘Motordom‘ – the world of auto dominance.

Tom Vanderbilt Interview

Whether you’re a transportation geek or just curious about why people do the things they do behind the wheel, Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic is one of the most fascinating books you can open up.   Streetfilms ten-minute highlight reel of his talk  covers subjects from the Invisible Gorilla to intense DriveCam footage of automobile crashes to the dangers of noise-canceling technology touted by car manufacturers.


Or for more fun, go to this TED Talk with Gary Lauder.   He comes up with “a brilliant and cheap idea for helping drivers move along smoothly: a new traffic sign that combines the properties of “Stop” and “Yield”  – and asks drivers to be polite.”

Even better is his calculation of the real cost of a stop sign.  (Hint: over $2 million.) 

(Thanks to Ronald Chen.)


Two quotes from Transport Newsletter 144: one from Power Broker Robert Moses, whose ghost walks still today in many highway departments:

Let me ask the Gamaliels [‘wise people’] of the city a few pointed questions. By what practical and acceptable means would they limit the growth of population? How would they reduce the output of cars, and if they could, what would take the place of the car as an employer of workers or as a means of transport in a motorized civilization?
If more cars are inevitable, must there not be roads for them to run on? If so, they must be built somewhere, and built in accordance with modern design. Where? This is a motor age, and the motorcar spells mobility.
And one from a reader in the Guardian:

If you gave the typical American a choice of living the rest of his or her life without a car, or without legs, the latter option would actually have less impact on his or her mobility. There are other ways to get between couch and fridge.


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  2. If people exercised courtesy – that’s really the same as a Merge sign – that is, where traffic is travelling in the same direction. That sign wouldn’t work at a 4 way stop because it doesn’t indicate in what order people take turns. In the world of etiquette, would women go first?

    Anyways, a new sign is not required for drivers to be polite – moreover, what’s would be more important is predictablility and adherence to the rules. It when people do unpredictable things that you run into problems.

    i.e. if two gets to a 4-way stop at the same time and the person on the right (who has right-of-way) waives you on, do you go or not? If you go, and he or she then crashes into you, you’re the one in the wrong and liable. Do you hesitate? If you hesitate, does the person who waived you on change his or sher mind and then go through (potentially hitting you)? All caused by that person not exercising his or her right-of-way.

    Ditto for pedestrians. If a pedestrian waives you through, do you go, or not? The pedestrian has the right-of-way, so he or she should go. Play it safe, don’t expose yourself to liability…

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