09 April 2012

Why planners fail

Imagine an area where you are allowed to drive as slow or fast as you want, depending on the circumstances. That area may look like this.

Now imagine that there's a speed limit in the area. Does this mean that you will drive faster than before (more dangerous) or slower than before (more bored)? Either one is worse that driving your "natural" speed. And what's the goal anyway? A certain speed or safety? Some rules are useful for helping drivers work together (stop signals, side of road to drive one), but others are just in the way (and thus often ignored, except when it comes to meeting ticket quotas).

Bottom Line: The problem with planners is that they cannot be as flexible or accurate as individuals making their own choices when those choices do not affect each other or can be coordinated at a low cost.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget road space is a rival good. One person's use may create negative externalities for others - like congestion. Speed differential is an important input to traffic flow and safety. A driver travelling 30 miles per hour faster than another driver and over taking them does not understand their effect on the other driver. But when you're the old man (wearing a hat) and someone passes you in a blur you see things from a different point of view.

    As a collective good, methods must be implemented to reduce conflicts between consumers of the good.

    The newest technology in speed limit design includes variable speed limits that can adjust to volume of traffic, speed of drivers, time of day, weather conditions, etc.

    Bottom Line: Roads aren't just getting older, they're getting smarter.

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