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I recently completed two chapters on the advantages  and disadvantages of traffic, and I had an interesting realization while sitting in congestion. 
Most traffic lanes are one-way their entire installed life.  Any particular lane always carries the same direction of traffic throughout the day and throughout the year.  This seemed like a trivial realization, until I saw that we can only err use half the road at a time.  If traffic is at 75% of capacity and crawling in one direction, no one would ever dream of using the other lanes right next to them to get around the horrendous congestion.

R transit is centrally coordinated and can switch tracks at interloccks in case of emergencies or repairs.  Walkers can walk on any part of the sidewalk on either side of the street.  Even on congested sidewalks, walkers sort into lanes that are mutable in width and enfiorced by no

I saw a family car this weekend that had misjudged and come on the wrong side of the median in a road near my house.  My allergic reaction and the cacophony of hiking that ensued was illustrative of how much of a violation of the fundamental rules of the American way this was.

If we acknowledge that many traffic lanes are inherently one way, what does this let us do?  The first idea I had was in rainwater drainage,.  If a road surface only ever needs to bear up under traffic coming in one direction could it be made porous in the other direction?  I don’t know how this would work, but it bears investigation.

The obstacle to innovation is the efficiency, safety, and savings of doing things the way they have always been done.  Our cars and trucks are six feet wide because Ur-Mesopotamia had lots of 4 foot long logs lying around, even when ruts or rials no longer determine the width of vehicles.  We use Windows, OSX, iOS or Android because all of our apps that we bought work with that OS, and we don’t know how to use anything else.  We are much better at paving and maintaining 12 foot wide lanes in roads than 8-foot wide lanes in bike paths b because we have more tools and practice for that work.  The little vision I described in the paragraph only works if the cost of ruined  waters exceeds the wealth we get from easy, fast and far mobility on roads built like  habit rails for the distracted American motorist.  

So far that sum hasn’t solved the way I’d like it, but that’s not immutable math.



Apologies for the Thai location, but this illustrates the point quite dramatically.


This Graphic Wednesday, I am going to ask your advice on how to present some data I’d like to show about transportation choice in America.