Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Review: Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do by Vanderbilt

I find the content intriguing:

  • Late/early merging and the mental processes involved
  • Individual variations in and conflicts between mental models (these remind me of Minsky's frames)
  • Love the reference to Maister's queuing theory
  • Traffic as rice through a funnel
  • Great chapter on more roads leading to more traffic: "It'll be all right by Friday." Latent/induced travel demand and disappearing traffic. Game theory and non-optimal Nash equilibrium. Uninternalized externalities and, of course, the tragedy of the commons.
  • INRIX real-time traffic data
  • Self-destroying prognoses (the perfect counterpoint to self-fulfilling prophecies)
  • Highways as the forgiving road, the self-explaining road, and Green Book design speeds.
  • Monderman's psychological traffic calming using the context of the village (I see great similarities with Gibson's affordances.)
  • Theory of people seeking risk homeostasis. However, we have poor ability to assess risk.

All in all, I have trouble waiting for the next interesting nugget, but this book satisfies my craving for multiple perspectives: traffic engineering, sociology, psychology, international.