Every time we get behind the wheel we’re at the mercy of a multitude of variables that are simply out of our control. Weather, crashes and highway design flaws can all conspire to turn a short trip a drawn-out nightmare. But what is being done to minimize congestion? Municipalities can do a few things to reduce on-road problems, and so can you.
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This just in — driving in L.A. is a nightmare, but at least the Angelenos can rest knowing its just as bad in Vancouver.
California told 85,000 hybrid drivers to move over, literally. Now everyone is feeling the sting.
Starting last July the yellow stickers allowing hybrid owners to drive alone in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane expired. The move came in preparation for an anticipated increase in electric vehicles on the road that will be allowed to retain the privilege. Though it may be the case that EVs are gaining popularity, pushing hybrids into regular traffic is causing problems for everyone.
According to a study released Monday by the University of California-Berkeley, the change had the effect you might expect: regular traffic speeds decreased and HOV speeds went up.
That isn’t all though, traffic actually slowed in HOV lanes at points where drivers try to merge back into regular traffic because of the slowdown. In other words, drivers in both lanes are noticing new slowdowns.
The report was based on six months of roadway sensor speed and congestion data, and written by Michael Cassidy, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Katae Jang, a doctoral student in that department.
Cassidy said there is still plenty of space for hybrids in the HOV lanes, even with the new EVs on the road.
The only new production cars available that meet the standard are the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. The Chevy Volt doesn’t qualify because of a specific California emissions law, though Gm says it will be addressing the issue soon.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
New proposals like a London-style “congestion charge” and highway tolls for special lanes that would move faster are being floated both in Canada and the United States, as major cities grapple with traffic problems and infrastructure that wasn’t meant to deal with an increasing number of cars.
An article in the Chicago Tribune details how a government-sponsored panel concluded that new strategies, involving tolls on key expressways, involving fees on certain lanes during peak demand periods, may be necessary to discourage cars from driving into the city, and collect revenue from drivers willing to pay a premium to for the privilege of driving.
Minneapolis and Orange County, California have both implemented similar schemes, while Toronto, Canada’s largest city, with a population of 5.6 million people is also debating the whether to enact road tolls to discourage drivers in the downtown core.
The key element in all of this is public transit. Toronto has a fairly comprehensive system, that is expensive and fault, but the choice of many due to convenience, and the high costs of owning a car. London’s charge is similarly successful, by making those who can afford it pay the charge, while most people who wouldn’t have driven previously continue to take the subway.
[Source: Chicago Tribune]