GPS routing increases city throughput by shifting traffic jams onto residential streets


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Took a study to identify what folks in LA residential neighborhoods have been clamouring about for years.


one morning the GPS directed me up Interstate 5 in a series of maneuvers in which I would get onto an on-ramp, then continue on to the adjoining offramp, drive to the next on-ramp, and do it again, all the way through Orange County.

I’ve certainly done this before, but the fact that the ai figured out this is a good idea is pretty damn cool!


obvious solution: ban cars.


People with local knowledge have always been able to find alternate routes. In Boston, for example, there was a back route to Logan that was so heavily used by taxis that whenever I got lost, I’d just wait a bit and follow the next cab. My parents were always taking back routes in the Bronx and Queens. As a child, I never understood why everyone didn’t.

Now and then, the knowledge would leak out. You’d ask a local and get a good alternate route. There were even books. In the early 1990s, there was a “Win at 128” book which had alternate routes from each Route 128 exit to the next. Nowadays, the knowledge is out and embedded in GPS and routing systems. The local routes are no longer magic passports for locals and traffic mavens.

Traffic engineers have been talking about being able to do this kind of routing for decades now. I first heard the idea in the 1960s, back when timed traffic lights were the new future. If those systems had been implemented by local traffic authorities, this problem of overloading side streets could be avoided. Maybe GPS systems need more central control. After all, the streets are owned by centralized authorities. This won’t stop locals or traffic mavens, or the people who are watching out for them.


That is almost certainly going to drive combustion engine exhaust into people’s homes with all kinds of excess risk of mortality, asthma initiation and promotion, cognitive function, unhealthy births, etc.


Agreed, this is not the least bit surprising. GPS often sends me via an unexpected route. Doesn’t mean I was right.


Did you know that they use this capability to clear away traffic for VIPs ?


Chemtrails, too.


Virtually every lazy marketing department that ever tried to sell me something has solemnly assured me I’m a VIP. Are you saying they lied to me? /s


I’ll bet a lot of us here knew this was coming. I realized this was the ultimate result of GPS as soon as I started using google maps traffic overlays to avoid congestion. “If I’m doing this, then probably lots of other people are as well. . . meaning we’re just spreading the traffic out.”


I enjoy Waze taking me thru San Francisco via residential/odd routes. Waze shows me parts of the city I would never have seen, and assumably gets me places quicker.


A lot of us have been watching it happen out our front windows for years. I routinely get routed around main roads through neighborhoods during high traffic, and I’m always part of a little mini cavalcade of fellow detourers.


The root problem is that cities and states want constant growth and development, but city/state/federal governments don’t want to spend any (or enough) money on mass transit or properly designed road systems. Cities / states want all the glory of new business and housing without the burden of accommodating the accompanying people / cars.


I’ve been living on a high traffic street for years, so I see no change. But I was basically saying it was predictable even if I or others didn’t see the effects out our front windows.


The obvious countermeasure is what they have been doing in suburbs for many years: have twisty branching streets that don’t interconnect and all terminate in dead end cul de sacs. Using much more land and lengthening trips. Late stage capitalism approaching.


I’m not sure why the authors of the study are framing this as a negative result. Less congestion on the most congested routes, more people arriving more quickly at their destinations, and overall cars spending fewer hours on the road burning fossil fuels – surely this is an overall positive change?

Shrug. I live on a cul-de-sac.


I’ve noticed though that some of the routes proposed to me by Waze are clearly insane. I regularly over-rule Waze and shave ten to twenty minutes off its estimated 40 minute trip.


Exactly. Aren’t freeways evil? Isn’t San Francisco the birthplace of rejecting new freeways, which would have surrounded and criss-crossed it if the 1950’s planers had had their way? And tearing down freeways like the Embarcadero resulted in a much nicer place without the feared traffic problems because the city grid absorbed it.

If too many cars is a problem, moving them all to where the poor people live isn’t the solution. At least not a moral one.


I enjoy Waze taking me through Los Angeles in odd ways, until it wants me to turn left across five lanes with no traffic light. Or it takes me down streets where guys openly pee on the sidewalk.