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

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

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

Postby jman111 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:48 am

Similarly, anybody use the west-bound beltline on-ramp at Stoughton Rd? The two on-ramp lanes clearly merge (the right lane ends), but those who lazily stay in the right lane seem clueless. Often, they'll stay in the right lane until they decide to quickly veer onto the beltline- problem is, they're crossing the lane of those who properly merged into the left lane on the ramp. (I know, sounds confusing, but if you use this ramp it all makes sense.)
So, they can't be bothered to merge into the left lane on the ramp, as required, and then they can't use more than 10% of the half mile provided before the Monona Dr exit to smoothly merge onto the beltline.

In general, I think a lot of drivers lack the ability (or, at least, the desire) to consider the perspective of other drivers. We live in a me-first society, and I think our driving habits reflect that.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby snoqueen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:56 am

Zipper merging only works when the people in the through lane (usually, the stopped lane) let other people in. Seeing the other person's perspective is important here too.

I'm usually in that stopped lane, and as the traffic article quoted, I know how annoying it is. If it was the post office and you were waiting for a window, would someone get to race up to the front of the line and go ahead of you?

In traffic though we've got to do it. They may be rude, but making them sit and wait isn't going to change anything. I can see why people go halfway to the front and then try to merge -- finding someone who will let you in can be difficult. (Driving a beater with a lot of dents helps.)

Looking at the other person's perspective, don't act all mystified when people are displeased at you, fast-lane guys and gals. It's not hard to figure out why.

I've actually seen little fender-benders when two people in opposite lanes both got stubborn at once. And that DOES waste time.

Traffic is kind of a group process, not a bunch of individuals all trying to win a race. If there's construction, you leave extra time anyway. Whether you race to the front or wait probably makes less than one minute's difference to your whole trip.

I think no one is guiltless here.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby fennel » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:57 am

jman111 wrote:In general, I think a lot of drivers lack the ability (or, at least, the desire) to consider the perspective of other drivers. We live in a me-first society, and I think our driving habits reflect that.
I don't think it's that so much as it is that folks aren't taught to drive in a dynamic, responsive fashion. They think in terms of stop and go, not in terms of fluidity. Drivers' Ed ought to include a minimum of 10 hours spent moving through near-capacity traffic circles.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:07 am

jman111 wrote:Similarly, anybody use the west-bound beltline on-ramp at Stoughton Rd? The two on-ramp lanes clearly merge (the right lane ends), but those who lazily stay in the right lane seem clueless.

It's only partially the drivers' fault there; that on-ramp is a nightmare of road design.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby barney » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:08 am

In general, I think a lot of drivers lack the ability (or, at least, the desire) to consider the perspective of other drivers. We live in a me-first society, and I think our driving habits reflect that.


We also live in a "gotta go, gotta get there, hurry-up! Where I'm going is more important than where you're going" society. Where are we all off to so fast? Unless you're an ambulance, fire truck or cop car, or having a medical emergency, where you're going is not really that important. Take a breath, you'll get there when you get there. (I suppose there's exceptions - getting to a dying relative in the hospital, etc., but the general point is, you getting your kids to soccer practice is not any more 'important' than Bob getting to Target on his way home. Gotta learn to share and respect others. You know, like in kindergarten.)
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TomDavidson » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:12 am

One note: it is indeed better, when traffic is moving at or near normal speed, to merge upstream of the actual merge point. But if this causes the open lane to begin to slow down due to the number of cars merging into it in advance, to the extent that the closing lane is mostly vacant and the open lane is moving at under 40mph, stop merging early into the open lane. You are not doing the people already stopped in the through lane any real favors by joining them in their self-imposed misery -- and it is self-imposed, because they could easily merge until both lanes reached equilibrium, then zipper-merge at the actual point of closure. But they don't.
Last edited by TomDavidson on Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby barney » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:12 am

barney wrote:Gotta learn to share and respect others. You know, like in kindergarten.)


In reference to my earlier post, I suppose even drivers from Illinois, but only if they reciprocate. :roll:
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby snoqueen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:17 am

TheBookPolice wrote:
jman111 wrote:Similarly, anybody use the west-bound beltline on-ramp at Stoughton Rd? The two on-ramp lanes clearly merge (the right lane ends), but those who lazily stay in the right lane seem clueless.

It's only partially the drivers' fault there; that on-ramp is a nightmare of road design.


I agree -- I don't use it any more. I go up to Monona Drive and get on the beltline from there, if I've gotta get on at all.

Most people do not expect that double merge -- first one on-ramp lane ends and you merge, then right away everybody does the big merge with the beltline traffic.. I think it would be safest to just have one on-ramp lane from start to finish and avoid the bottleneck halfway through, since the main feature is the point where you join the beltline.

Trafffic engineers always end up regretting something -- that's what a lot of our summer construction is about.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby snoqueen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:22 am

TomDavidson wrote:... it is indeed better, when traffic is moving at or near normal speed, to merge upstream of the actual merge point. But if this causes the open lane to begin to slow down due to the number of cars merging into it in advance, to the extent that the closing lane is mostly vacant and the open lane is moving at under 40mph, stop merging early into the open lane. ...


You'd have to be in a helicopter to make this work consistently.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby jman111 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:28 am

TheBookPolice wrote:
jman111 wrote:Similarly, anybody use the west-bound beltline on-ramp at Stoughton Rd? The two on-ramp lanes clearly merge (the right lane ends), but those who lazily stay in the right lane seem clueless.

It's only partially the drivers' fault there; that on-ramp is a nightmare of road design.

It's not great, that's for sure. But there are several signs telling drivers that the right lane ends. It would be better if the ramp merge was forced before cars gained access to the beltline (i.e. force the merge earlier on the ramp).
But ending/merging lanes always seem to cause a problem (think 51/North, north of Broadway or 51/South, south of Milwaukee St)- people either don't see the signs or it just doesn't always register with some.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TomDavidson » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:37 am

It's not really as hard as it sounds. When traffic in one lane is stopped, do not merge into that lane until you have to. In fact, if you're in that lane and the other lane appears clear of vehicles, merge out of it.

This isn't aggressive driving. It's not a matter of weaving in and out of lanes looking for a few extra seconds of advantage, which is dangerous and in most situations isn't worth it for anyone. It's simply remembering that on a congested roadway, using the whole road -- and maintaining proper distance from the vehicle ahead of you -- is better for everyone. Going bumper-to-bumper in one lane and aggressively blocking an uncongested lane out of misplaced resentment is the worst of all possible "solutions" to a traffic problem. (Well, within reason. There are worse "solutions" out there, some of which involve handguns.)

------------

Lane merges will always cause problems once traffic reaches a certain density. There is no way to design a merge so that it doesn't increase traffic density, and all roads have a maximum traffic density above which "traffic waves" start causing jams. The best-designed merges, though, are ones that clearly indicate the merge point, so that traffic isn't halted in a dozen different places while people try to merge at what they think is the last possible second. A lot of people now think signs like "lane closed ahead 3 miles" are counterproductive, because some people will merge the instant they see that sign, on the grounds that the sign itself is a merge point and not simply telling you where the merge point is.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby narcoleptish » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:09 pm

TomDavidson wrote: and maintaining proper distance from the vehicle ahead of you -- is better for everyone.


This is where your dream of smooth traffic flow ends. Very few people seem to do this. I do, but I'm not claiming to be a superior driver, I just like having the gap for the sake of safety and less braking. And inevitably I glance in the rearview at the driver 4 feet behind me who is either texting or completely enamored with their own crotch. The lack of traffic gaps and the constant braking that comes with it is the reason for the big slow downs at these merge points. Hitting your brakes in heavy traffic can cause a braking chain reaction that goes back for blocks, all needless in most cases if you maintained your little gap.

While we're at it, when you make a right or left turn onto a multi-lane road you are supposed to take the nearest possible lane and then merge over when needed. But there's always someone behind me that's halfway past me on the outside by the completion of the turn. Often staring at their crotch.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby Crockett » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:26 pm

narcoleptish wrote:While we're at it, when you make a right or left turn onto a multi-lane road you are supposed to take the nearest possible lane and then merge over when needed.


And while we're at it, if that nearest lane is clear of cars you can turn. No need to wait for the entire three lanes of traffic to clear like a runway for you to go.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby TomDavidson » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:25 pm

I do, but I'm not claiming to be a superior driver, I just like having the gap for the sake of safety and less braking.

That makes you a superior driver.
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Re: If you're blocking the second lane of traffic...

Postby snoqueen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:03 pm

Leaving a big gap in front of you is also self-protection. When the person behind you on their cell phone doesn't see your brake lights, you're still going to be stopping fairly gradually, buying time to save yourself from getting rear-ended if you're lucky.
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