Pictured at above is some cool stuff TG saw recently.

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…that there is now a left turn (that’s right – a left) onto Ridge from eastbound Dempster.

… that the Secretary of State continues to press the legislature to ban distracted driving. House Bills 71 and 72 both were approved by the house last month. HB 71 bans text-messaging while driving. HB 72 bans cell-phone use while driving in school or construction zones.

… that warm weather kicks off the sidewalk-art season.

… that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports that the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) featured “two invasions this year: voracious pine siskins and a whole new crop of citizen science participants. Birdwatchers shattered last year’s record by submitting more than 93,600 checklists during the four-day event, held Feb. 16-19. Participants also identified 619 species and sent in thousands of stunning bird images for the GBBC photo contest.” Rob Fergus, senior scientist with the National Audubon Society, said, “Each year the GBBC provides the most detailed real-time snapshot of bird distribution across North America. We can see how birds are responding to changing weather patterns, available food sources, and other factors from around the continent.”

The Traffic Guy thinks…

… that there was a fascinating article, “Detours by Design,” by Linda Baker in a recent Scientific American magazine, which described some research indicating that closing down roads, eliminating lanes, offering fewer choices to drivers and other seemingly counterproductive measures actually improved traffic flow. Planners in Seoul, Korea, “tore down a six-lane highway and replaced it with a five-mile-long park” and “many transportation professionals were surprised to learn that the city’s traffic flow has actually improved instead of worsening.” Anna Nagurney, the article continued, who studies computer and transportation networks at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said the project “was like an inverse of Braess’s paradox,” which states that “in a network in which all the moving entities rationally seek the most efficient route, adding extra capacity can actually reduce the networks’ overall efficiency. The Seoul project inverts this dynamic: Closing a highway – that is, reducing network capacity – improves the system’s effectiveness.” Introducing another concept, Ms. Baker suggested that a “key to this counterintuitive approach to traffic design lies in manipulating the inherent self-interest of all drivers.” She points to “The Price of Anarchy,” an article published last September in Physical Review Letters by Michael Gastner, a computer scientist at the Santa Fe Institute, and colleagues. “Using hypothetical and real-world road networks they explain that drivers seeing the shortest route to a given destination eventually reach what is known as the Nash equilibrium, in which no single driver can do any better by changing his or her strategy unilaterally. The problem is that the Nash equilibrium is less efficient than the equilibrium reached when drivers act unselfishly. … The ‘price of anarchy’ is a measure of the inefficiency caused by selfish drivers.” Closing off a route, according to Mr. Gastner’s work, “makes it more difficult for individual drivers to choose the best (and most selfish) route.”

A third proposal in the Baker article (another “counterintuitive traffic-design strategy”) is called “shared streets. The practice encourages driver anarchy by removing traffic lights, street markings and boundaries between the street and sidewalk. Studies conducted in northern Europe, where shared streets are common, point to improved safety and traffic flow. The idea is that the absence of traffic regulation forces drivers to take more responsibilities for their action.” Both the “encouraging vehicular chaos” and the “foreclosing selfish driver options” strategies “downplay the role of the individual driver in favor of improved outcomes for everyone. They also suggest a larger transportation niche for bicycles and pedestrians.”

So how should Evanston capitalize on these counter-intuitive proposals?

TG NOTE: TG has received several
e-questions, online and in print. While
TG is a traffic dynamo and not a search
engine, every effort will be made to provide answers, online and in print, as quickly as possible. Send your thoughts and comments to us at info@evanston roundtable.com. We are here to listen.