City expands use of high-tech traffic signals
Officials, CMU students team up again to reduce red-light wait times
"Imagine if traffic signals had the ability to see the traffic that was there. Then imagine the traffic signals had the ability to talk to each other, second by second," Mayor Bill Peduto said at a news conference. "It's not something from George Jetson. It's something that's happening right here in Pittsburgh today.Here's the problem:
The computer formulates a plan based on traffic observations and communicates it to neighboring intersections. It can instantly adjust to accommodate surges caused by disabled vehicles, crashes, street closures or bursts of traffic after events.
CMU will work next on ways to improve pedestrian and public transit flow. Mr. Peduto said he expects further expansion of the signal network as well.
"We're in a part of the city that's growing very quickly," he said at the conference, held at Morrow Park in Bloomfield.
"We don't have the capacity to tear down houses and make wider roads" to speed traffic, Mr. Peduto said.
"We do have the ability to think about it and do it smarter."
- traffic is not just cars
- faster cars is not smarter traffic
The reduced wait-time for cars comes at the expense of reduced crossing time for people that aren't in cars - you know, people who are walking - some of whom are old, or in wheelchairs, or school children. You know: people - as opposed to cars. This system has sensors for cars and not for people, and this system prioritizes cars over people.
Cities around the world are realizing that the key problem in car-human interaction is: car speeds. You've probably heard of Twenty Is Plenty, which points out that human survivability of car-human collisions are highest at 20 mph - and increasing the speed of cars has the direct effect of increasing the deaths of the people that cars hit.
Look at this chart, and explain why any elected official is trying to speed up cars?
You may have also heard of cities implementing Vision Zero, (San Fran, New York City) which holds as its central tenet that there is no morally acceptable way to cost-justify human death in traffic fatalities - in other words, it is unacceptable to consider killing people a cost-justified expense of the normal way of life.
In a nutshell: Mr. Peduto's statement that we can think about this and be smart about this provides the answer to his own mistake: speeding up car traffic, and hindering pedestrian and bicycle traffic, is a dangerous change that shows the cultural dominance of car culture and our unwillingness to accept empirical safety data.