Worcestershire Journal – So many roads and so much time
by Karl - April 1, 2009 8:29am
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but four lefts and one right do.
The other day, I needed to pick up a USB cable for my new cell phone. My errands put me on Goldstar Boulevard, so it was kinda, sorta convenient to stop at Best Buy at the Greendale Mall.
One of the reasons, in my opinion, that the Greendale Mall is faltering is that it’s tough to get out of there. When the mall was first built, back in the nineteen-ought-eighties, you could exit from the mall directly onto West Boylston Street. The city fathers, in the deep and abiding wisdom, decided that it was too easy,
A simple next-stop at the Greendale post office turns into an inspection tour of the underside of I-190.
|By foot, which includes the now-prohibited right turn onto West Boylston Street, it’s .4 miles.|
|To get to the Greendale post office by car, you travel 1.1 miles, nearly three times as far:|
Recently, I was driving with my granddaughter on West Mountain Street, when she asked me, “How come there are so many stop lights so close together?”
I spared her my thoughts on Nash Equilibrium and just said that no one has been thinking about the big picture. Each of the traffic lights, taken by itself, makes sense, giving controlled access to folks on the south side of the street. The result, however, is, at best, annoying, and, at worst, dangerous, as people try to keep track of the traffic and the state of the lights while talking on the phone and drinking their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
There’s old engineering principle: to optimize the system, sometimes you must suboptimize the subsystem. I suppose that was the case with the right turn out of the Greendale Mall, helping to improve traffic flow along West Boylston Street. It was almost a good idea.
Jeff would have a much better handle on all this.
For an interesting read about traffic and related topics, have a look at Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt.