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September 15, 2007

Traffic Flow

Flow of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular on roads, in stores and elsewhere is something that really isn't paid much attention to in many cases. Some recent examples of flow failures I've witnessed. A) Construction blocks many small segments of one lane on a 4 lane road. People are weaving in and out of the lane to dodge the construction, resulting in generally slower overall flow of traffic. B) A buffet style restaurant has two lines that converge into one, the convergence point is such that normal human movement blocks one line from advancing. The lines also block access to the kitchen and other facilities. C) Specific entrance and exit locations, at first this seems like an improvement in flow, but research says, everyone is going to try to leave through the entrance they came in. I find this a major fire hazard besides a flow limiter. D) A government office with many different lines and absolutely nothing telling you you need to walk up to the little machine and hit a button to figure out what line to stand in. E) A modern shopping center parking lot. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic is often routed and bottlenecked to the same point at the front of the store. The parking islands, rows and general design are not linear or consistent and don't suggest any direction for driving.

Some solutions to these problems: A) In hallways walk as though its a highway, stick to the right side (or left depending on location). You'll often see this happen naturally in high schools during class changes. B) Figure out where people are going to and coming from and design accordingly. C) Consider the users and uses when designing, changing and altering facilities that encounter high traffic. D) Monitor usage and problems and readjust. Pretty basic stuff. But its the attention to details that really makes or breaks it.

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The Ideal Car

I'd love for my next car to have these features. I think they are all realistic and almost all have shipped on some vehicle at some point in time.

  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated windshield
  • Heated wipers
  • Heated mirrors
  • Heated suspension
  • Heated window seals
  • Heated and more importantly cooled seats
  • Fully integrated block heater, with heavy duty retractable cord
  • Separate, yellow turn signals on the rear and fully visible turn signals on all sides
  • Be small enough to park easily
  • But large enough for passenger leg room
  • Be very fuel efficient, perhaps a hybrid, HCCI, diesel, traditional combustion engine with cylinder deactivation
  • Have lots of low end torque
  • Have plenty of gears in the transmission that makes the above two points easier
  • Traction Control
  • Stability Control
  • Adjustable suspension for ground clearance
  • Headlight washers
  • Heated headlight
  • True tire pressure monitoring
  • Parked climate control, a solar powered fan for summer, heater for winter perhaps
  • Integrated interior car warmer, add it onto the block heater plug, put in some load control so you don't blow circuits and voila, you shouldn't need to scrape windows any more
  • Auto climate control
  • Headlights with the most illumination without pestering other drivers too much
  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel and adjustable pedals and N-way adjustable driver's seat to get a comfotable but precise driving position
  • Integrated smart remote start system
  • And of course as cheap as possible with excellent performance, handling and looks
  • A navigation system under $1000
Notice the emphasis on heat and other winter comfort and performance features. When its hits -40c, its amazing the car can move at all without disintegrating.

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September 01, 2007

The Curse of Apartment Dwelling: Neighbors

Everybody does something that annoys someone else, when jammed together in apartments you're bound to run into inconsiderate neighbors who do the following:

  • Play loud music. Especially late at night, especially with a sub-woofer.
  • Slam doors.
  • Stomp, pound, run or bang on the walls and floors.
  • Yell.
  • Set their phone to the loudest ring possible that can be heard everywhere.
  • Insist on honking their car horn when locking or unlocking it.
  • Have a malfunctioning car alarm that constantly goes off.
  • Run water late at night.
  • Park like an idiot.
  • Park in your spot.
  • Park in the fire lane.
  • Block your parking spot.
  • Ding and dent your car.
  • Drive a loud car. Especially one with a broken muffler.
  • Honk instead of ringing the buzzer.
  • Shovel snow into your parking space or into the general path.
  • Don't move their cars for the snow plow.
  • Drag stuff out and leaving it next to the garbage bin where it won't be picked up. (Especially since you can donate perfectly good stuff and they will pick it up for free).
  • Leave smelly garbage in the hallways.
  • Spill stuff in the general areas and not clean it up.
  • Litter.
  • Create obnoxious smells that emanate from patios or windows.
  • Move late at night.
  • Leave shopping carts roaming the parking lot.
  • Bring over friends who contribute to the above.

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