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If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

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If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TomDavidson » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:35 pm

...four miles before that lane is closed and cars are required to merge, out of some misguided belief that by shutting down access to that lane earlier you're going to somehow speed up travel for everyone, you are part of the problem.

Seriously.

I mention this because I've seen drivers do this repeatedly on Hwy 14 towards Oregon, which is down a lane due to construction; some of the worst offenders will even swerve toward drivers trying to get around them, which is simply insane. And I'm sure it's somehow rooted in the belief that drivers who choose not to merge insanely early (by which I mean miles ahead of the actual closure) are "cheating," that they're taking advantage of an open lane to get whether they're going faster than the "responsible" people who, knowing a merge is coming, moved into a lane that slowed to a crawl four miles ago and have consequently been sitting in traffic for ages.

This is completely and totally backwards. In fact, if you really want to help traffic, slow down until there's a car and a half worth of space between you and the car you're following, then get into the lane that allows you to go the fastest without jeopardizing that space. Artificially restricting road capacity early because you think that people merging at the last second are somehow "causing" the traffic jam is not only dangerous and rude but actually counterproductive; it is one of the worst things you can do to traffic.

So stop it, bad drivers.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby barney » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:45 pm

Sorry, you've hit on a pet peeve of mine:
Then don't get pissed off when those off us who KNEW the lane was closed and can READ signs and merge ahead of time don't let you in. Just because you're some amateur traffic engineer doesn't mean the other assholes who do it aren't just budging in line because they're too cool to wait like the rest of us. Didn't work in grade school in the milk break line, doesn't work now. (And why, oh, why, does it always seem to be FIBs who do this the most? Us Cheeseheads just get in the correct lane and go on our merry, polite way and those FIBs and FISHTABs think they can just cut in wherever. Jerks.)

I don't believe your theory, btw. I think traffic tends to flow smoother (albeit slowly) when people merge early. The bottlenecks occur when people are forcing their way in up ahead.

But, I also don't drive on the road you're referring to, so I really don't have a dog in this fight.....
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TomDavidson » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:57 pm

The thing is, you're wrong.

There have been many studies on this, and traffic engineers are largely agreed; it's the reason you see so many signs in other states reminding people to use all lanes of traffic until the merge point. I know you probably feel like you're somehow helping traffic by merging early, but you aren't; you're actually hurting it. If you're then punishing those people who don't merge early because they're driving more efficiently than you are and thus are experiencing what appears to be an unfair advantage, you're making the situation even worse.

Again, if you or anyone else want to improve throughput during a traffic jam -- especially a merge -- maintain two car lengths in front of you and let people in ahead of you as they signal, adjusting your speed gradually to build that two-car lead again without braking. It may not seem fair -- but that's only because you chose to merge early. Don't blame someone else for not choosing to suffer the way you've chosen to suffer.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby Crockett » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:14 am

http://www.mandyvision.com/2010/05/stud ... nd-faster/

"Studies indicate "late merging" in traffic is safer and faster"
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:16 am

There's a middle ground. Merge when you see the sign not when traffic is stopped. I agree having someone sit and wait with open road in front of them is annoying and probably not great for traffic flow. But I also think it's worse for assholes to fly by all the people who merged in a timely manner and expect to be let in right where the lane stops and/or the other late merging assholes have been stopped. I think it's pretty simple. You see a lane is going to close.... get out of it at your earliest, safest opportunity.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby Crockett » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:26 am

fisticuffs wrote:I think it's pretty simple. You see a lane is going to close.... get out of it at your earliest, safest opportunity.


Studies say you're wrong:

"Basically, we want drivers to know that under normal traffic speeds, they should try to merge early to avoid unsafe merging maneuvers; however, when traffic is congested, drivers should use both lanes all the way to the definite merge point," said Servatius.

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/newsrels/03/10/29merge.html
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:34 am

And how does the traffic get congested? If you merge early enough there shouldn't be issues other than at peak drive times on busy highways.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby barney » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:47 am

Those studies are from MN. Just sayin'

Just ooc, if merging at the last possible moment is what's best, why bother putting signs up so far ahead of the merge then?
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby jman111 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:54 am

barney wrote:...why bother putting signs up so far ahead of the merge then?

If for no other reason, to keep people from going INTO the lane that's ending. If you're not aware of a lane ending ahead, you're more likely to switch to the lane that appears to be moving faster.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:35 am

http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fh ... ciples.htm

Scenario 1:
In at-speed, or nearly free-flow conditions, it is best to merge upstream of the constriction

Motorists in the thru-lane: Allow gaps. By allowing gaps you allow the merging vehicle the opportunity to adjust his/her speed to fill a gap.

Motorists in the dropped lane: Keep up speed and fill gaps at-speed. Use the dropped lane as an acceleration lane; i.e., as an opportunity to match speed with upstream traffic and merge at-speed at earliest and best opportunity.

Benefits: Traffic is safest when all vehicles travel at or near the same speed.

Potential pitfalls: 1) When a vehicle in the dropped lane can't or won't move into the through lane in time, then the dropped lane ends, forcing the vehicle to suddenly slow or stop. This will invariably cause a dangerous ripple as the stopped vehicle now must join moving traffic from nearly a dead stop; at risk of causing a through vehicle to slow to allow it in. 2) Pitfall #1 above also has the potential to cause following vehicles to queue behind the "stopped" vehicle due to an increasingly shortening merge lane. Motorists now forced to slow in the dropped lane become anxious to merge and may cause further ripples. If not allowed to remediate itself, pitfall #2 will morph into "Scenario 2" below. 3) Motorists in the thru lane won't yield (usually by way of speeding up).

Bottom line: Relax. Allow motorists to merge at-speed or fill gaps as opportunity allows.


Scenario 2:
In heavy congestion (stop-and-go conditions) it is more efficient to fill both lanes and zipper-merge at the point of constriction

Benefits: Drivers experience less stress when they understand that each in-turn will have a chance to get past the point of constriction. The zipper merge is orderly and fair.

Potential pitfalls: 1) Queue jumping. This can occur in a number of ways; a) by bypassing cars in line, the "jumper" infuriates others because he is out of turn; or b) by having a second or third vehicle try to fill a single gap, this frustrates altruistic motorists who now feel they are being taken advantage of. 2) Lane blocking. This occurs when a motorist in the continuous lane fails to fairly permit his neighbor to zipper ahead. 3) Line jumping back and forth, as it recalls the old axiom "the other line is always moving fastest." This only serves to disrupt the continuity of the merge ahead.

Bottom line: Remain orderly and fair. Do not line jump.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:42 am

Hilarious!

Studies, huh? You don't say!

Here's the thing: Studies will never indicate how far a passive aggressive self-important SOB in a Forester will go to cut off access for someone who he feels is trying to get away with the unforgivable crime of late merging.

It's called a zipper merge, people. Are you going to let it wreck your day or are you going to just let the guy in? I've been on both sides of this divide, by the way, and I've found it significantly more pleasant to be the person who merrily, if somewhat ignorantly, cruises up to the very end and cuts in line as opposed to the person who bitterly waits his turn, only to get all surly every time someone cuts in front of him.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby Galoot » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:52 am

TomD is right, the late merge is the fastest way to move traffic. Tom Vanderbilt talks about it at length in his excellent book, Traffic:

http://www.amazon.com/Traffic-Drive-Wha ... 0307264785
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby depinmad » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:58 am

totally on the side of merging at the actual merge point and not before and despise a-holes who block access earlier.
what cracks me up is my belief that these are the same people who when merging onto the beltline from an on ramp, consistently cross a solid white line into a traffic lane rather than taking the merge lane to it's natural merge point.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby jman111 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:03 am

I think BookCop's link makes a crucial distinction based on traffic volume. When volume is fairly light, early merging is advantageous in maintaining steady traffic flow. Once traffic is stopped/back-up, late (zipper) merging is the way to go.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:37 am

depinmad wrote:these are the same people who when merging onto the beltline from an on ramp, consistently cross a solid white line into a traffic lane rather than taking the merge lane to it's natural merge point.


Yes! And screw up the whole entry process because now there's not a "hole" for those who follow the lane to its logical point of merging.

Those of us who have to drive a lot see this all the time in Madison. What are you trying to do, exactly? Speed things up? Because there's a reason those who know more about roads and traffic than you do painted those lines there!
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