Wednesday, October 27, 2004

TEST, 123456789, TEST!

Sometimes I wonder whether the traffic powers that be are just putting up a test message to cover up for some other problem. Traffic alert warning signs are a problem because they promise more than the people who use them to report can deliver. My faith in what they say is seriously shaky -- they're wrong more than 50% of the time...and much of the language they use is subjective. What are "delays?" What does "traffic heavy" mean? Wouldn't that depend on what traffic is normally like? Normal to whom? What do the exit numbers referenced for a given traffic state mean? Once you pass, say, exit 10, is the traffic scenario suddenly different?

The reporting system is bad. It should change. More information should be provided. In Japan, there are color-coded route maps (with time-between-exit estimates) where we have only amber-colored words. These route maps provide so much more information in the same space that commuters can use the information to find alternate routes and avoid areas of bad traffic. I believe they're provided by Japan's Vehicle Information Communication Service: But I can't get much past the mesmerizing flash animations.

For your interest, here's Berlin's traffic information system:

But here on Long Island, we have an ostensibly sophisticated traffic monitoring sytem: So why can't we find a way to get more of this information onto highway advisory signs? Specific (color-coded?) speeds are far more useful descriptors than "heavy," or "delays." Is this another instance of west coast dominance? Check out: Hey, they stole my idea! (almost)

Also, who's typing these messages? Are they compiled automatically? Is putting the test message up analogous to turning on an away message on AIM? Does it ever say, "Happy Birthday, Jim!"

Monday, October 25, 2004


Today I feel compelled to bring up road safety. Cross' sister's untimely death (and that of her friend in the passenger's seat) seems like a horrific road accident that may not have been avoidable. Who knows whether the same holds true for 3 friends who drowned yesterday in the Passaic River as their SUV sunk on the way home to Newark from a birthday party in Jersey City (see "3 Drown in SUV Horror Plunge" One really has to wonder, however, if the 3 friends were of sound mind and body, since their final, terrified call was to a friend, rather than 911...

While Ralph Nader's vote-fliching is enough to piss any right-minded American off, his past efforts as a road safety advocate have proven transformative. I'm sure he's proud of the now national Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign, and of imposing reasonable speed limits to heighten our guilt as we exceed them.

Traffic fatalities really make me think about the degree of autonomy on America's roads. It's really quite shocking. There's really very little to prevent a motorist from using his/her vehicle as a weapon of moderate destruction -- think of Billy Joel. While expressways that resemble Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, with inflexible tracks laid down the center of each lane are hardly in order, perhaps some fusion of the technology which informs large-vehicle drivers of obstacles in close proximity to their cars, and an autopiolot feature which takes control of the vehicle when a collision scenario is likely is in order. Inklings of this sort of driver awareness-detector system have been in certain vehicles for decades. My old (1982) BMW 525i had an O2 sensor in the passenger compartment. There could have been any number of reasons for its existence, but monitoring passenger health never seems like a bad idea.

It's a terribly tough challenge, though, for any driving enthusiast to figure out where to draw the line between freedom to motor, and freedom from accident and injury. It's surprising that the IIHS doesn't have a category for this topic, but they do have one on the Segway:

Oh well.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

202 Where are you?

Or rather, where are you going? Wow, Route 202 really is quite something. Check out their pictoral status report: No surprise, the LIE has no such proof of activity. (I suspect there's a lot less being done on it...) But that really makes you think -- what if there were some sort of federal mandate that forced contractors to take progress photos. They can't just make this stuff up -- add an onramp with photoshop, etc... can they?

It also seems like there's a lot more regional cooperation and saucy corporate sponsorship deals being pursued in that region. What is Sunoco doing on the South Jersey SmarTraveller page?

But I still don't understand -- where does Route 202 go?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


There was heavy traffic on the CIP today, in both directions, under Northern Boulevard today at 8:45am. Good thing I wasn't in it, but rather sailing above it on the train. Congestion really becomes that road. The new gelatenous form of Dran-o would have trouble unclogging that road, I swear... and usually, there's no explanation. And even though it's not really a direct route to anywhere (save, perhaps, Bay Terrace) I'm still glad it exists.

Friday, October 01, 2004

No thanks, I got me own!

So here's to you, new blog! May you soon become a repository replete with wrentching acccounts of NYC metro's wretched infrastructure. YAY!