• Dec 19th 2006 at 12:05PM
  • 8
Here's something we wish every highway planner was required to use any time they had a bright idea (like those darned roundabouts they're so fond of calling "rotarys" here in Massachusetts!). This neat little Java-powered (much like us AutoBloggers!) website allows you to adjust and model traffic flows on a variety of road conditions. The Dresden University Institute for Economics and Traffic has made quite a study of traffic dynamics, and this website is just part of a larger study of where those pointless standstills for nothing come from. The microsimulation of traffic flow appears to treat traffic as a "fluid" and working the variables allows you to see how you could use traffic density to control speed limits, passing and light cycling.

It'd be great if more attention could be paid to maximizing the efficiency of the infrastructure we've already got. Sure, we need a new infrastructure to go along with the massive volume in some areas, but some thought and calculations would go a long way in smoothing out the flow on existing roads. There's lots of information and different simulations at your fingertips here. We don't pretend to understand all of it, but it looks like just a little bit of this deeper thinking would go a long way to alleviating the pressure on our backsides every morning. Very cool little toy, bring your slide rule!

Thanks for the tip, mfridman!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Every time someone complains about roundabouts, they reveal more about their poor skills and ease of personal confusion than they do about the merit of the traffic circles. They work, they are not difficult, get over it people.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I love the wave effect as the vehicles stop. The merge deal on this sim is so true....no one around here knows how to merge.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Exactly! This should be required reading for every driver


      I try to do this whenever possible now
      • 8 Years Ago
      They should require all governments in Florida to use this before they approve their 10,000 home developments!
      • 8 Years Ago
      If there's an illustration to show the need for adaptive cruise control, this is it. Humans have horribly long reaction times when it comes to non-critical events like accelerating when a light turns green or traffic opens up. Adaptive cruise control tries to more closely "link the train" or at least "tighten the rubber bands between vehicles" so that when the car in front accelerates, your car keeps right up with it rather than lagging behind. It also tries to brake more gradually to avoid creating a "compressed area" in the "spring".

      Anyway I have my doubts that politicians, council people, etc. will listen to science like this any time soon. They like to pay millions of dollars for studies like this, and then in the end they always ignore the information and recommendations from the study and go with their own opinion/agenda. It happens at all levels of government from the federal executive branch all the way down to the city council. In business you'd call this approach ignoring the engineers/scientists and "designing by committee", in government you just call it "democracy".
      • 8 Years Ago
      For those that are saying that software like this should be used for developments, it is. Most every town and state entity requires a traffic study for a big development like an apartment complex, a mall, etc. With few exceptions, nearly everybody uses this software to analyze the impact (believe it or not we do know what we're talking about).


      That software also includes the SimTraffic program, which gives you a full simulation of the roadways that you've programmed into your network. Generally if you see traffic not working, its because no study has recently been performed on the road, there is no money to improve the road, or its simply reached the point where you can't fix the problem by adding capacity. Pretty much the entire New York, Boston, LA, etc metro areas are good examples of the latter.
      • 8 Years Ago
      You know, Blake, there IS a reason they call you "Massholes". :) Kidding!

      What I hate about this sim is that it reminds me of the pains of my daily commute! I have it pretty good, but there's still no reason it should take an hour to go 25 miles when 23 of those miles are on the highway and 2 are on empty backroads.
      • 8 Years Ago
      You're right, we here in mass SUCK at merging!!! Everyone is trying to get ahead of each other. a little courtesy shown by everyone would help Everyone.
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