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Traffic: Tell me How to Get to Sesame Street

Popularity 3Viewed 2628 times 2015-10-20 14:03 |Personal category:City Council Run|System category:News| traffic, Waze, Uber Technologies, Google Maps

In the old days, if you wanted to go somewhere you went to your destination’s website and got their directions. And it read something like this:

“By Car

Take Highway 101 – If you are coming from north of Beijing, take XXX exit off of the 101. The off-ramp will turn into  Boulevard Y. At the light, don’t turn right , but proceed straight for another quarter of a mile or so. Turn right on .....

However, those type of directions assume that people are driving the way they used to drive. Today a lot of drivers use GPS (Global Positioning System) apps to save time. The most popular one seems to be Waze. As they note on their website:

“Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers…Waze. Outsmarting Traffic, Together.”

I'm not sure the right phrase is “outsmarting traffic together.” The more correct terminology is “changing traffic together”; because if we are all going to start using traffic apps (and we are, remember when only a few of us had caller ID), the way traffic moves around any particular geography is going to change radically and fast.

I spoke to Charles Stimmler owner of Bonavia Limo, a ground transportation company with a fleet of nine vehicles. I asked him about traffic and he told me that the “traffic is horrendous.” To get around the area his fleet of drivers use several different apps including Google Maps, Apple Maps, Uber Technologies and the aforementioned Waze, as it turns out a fully owned subsidiary of Google. He explained that these apps include information based on the speeds the various cell phones plugged into the network are traveling which allow them to update a driver’s options based on current driving conditions and reports.

Recently on the campaign trail I was asked if I thought that a road re-striping solution being tried out was helping with traffic. I had to be honest and say I thought the traffic problems were spreading. I can’t tell you how many residents have complained to me that their historically quiet side street was now becoming a heavily used thoroughfare. Thank you Waze and Uber for allowing commuters to shave another thirty seconds by coming through our formerly quiet street or parking lots. Yes, I did say parking lot. Waze is so “intelligent” that if instead of waiting at a light we can cut through a parking lot or a corner gas station, it tells us to do so.

All of the new residents and businesses coming into town are creating additional traffic on our streets and so therefore a lot of residents are asking for a new traffic study. But the way we are getting to our final destination is no longer with high traffic main streets and limited traffic side streets. Given the number of cars on the roads is increasing and the technologies now available to find better routes have improved; cars are not spilling over instead they are being directed onto available side streets and turning those streets into equally dense traffic connectors.

If City Hall was hoping that the majority of new residents and businesses would use already at capacity trains or buses, the fact remains that people love their cars. Our side streets are taking the brunt of all the growth around us. City Hall needs to be realistic about its expectations; more people are getting cars, which means more cars are coming, which means the assumption of using a re-striping to slow down car traffic and maybe even force people onto trains and buses is not realistic. Instead, “intelligent” apps and GPS systems are showing us new time saving shortcuts to drive to Sesame Street.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report voice_cd 2015-10-22 09:59
Thanks for sharing your story here. We have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Dracarys 2015-10-25 14:52
can't agree more .. nowadays you could see many cars stopped at the street and sometimes even outside of your house which is quite annoying me ..

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