A few days ago CCTV9 had a piece on a traffic planning group here in China. To be honest, it appeared as though there were actually profiling the software the team used instead of the people in charge of the planning. Although if you think about it, seeing city planner getting upstaged by a fancy computer program with some serious traffic-jam-simulation hotness isn't that surprising. When was the last time you invited your traffic planner friend out for drinks? They really don't do any real work other than feed your mechanical master RAM upgrades and traffic pattern data sacrifices anyway...
So in keeping with CCTV9 style of journalism, I'm also going to ignore the people and focus on what I was able to learn from watching the HAL-life simulator do its thing:
- One of the simulations showed multiple cars going down the road in a straight line. I can only speak for Beijing here, but if you really want to be accurate, you must include the NBA Lane Violation variable. You know the one that states you can't stay in your current lane for more than 3 seconds without being called for a foul! It would be more realistic, wouldn't it? I don't know of any driver able to stay in their lane this long, even on a one lane road. Also, car Traffic 101 states that changing lanes often increases the chances of a jam. So don't insult my intelligence by pretending it doesn't happen, just don't.
- The traffic planner admitted the lighting system is too complex and that it must be controlled by a computer in order to remain efficient. If this is true, why insist on sending out underpaid policeman to manually control the lights outside of my apartment. Every morning I see him there, I instantly factor another 15 minutes needed for my morning commute. I'm not interested in seeing a Deep Blue vs. Kasparov - Man vs. the Machine traffic experiment. Let the computer do it's job! I can only read War and Peace so many times in a day.
- At one point in the simulation, one car is moving towards another to create a perpendicular head-on (side-on?) crash. Right as they begin to crash, the pixels actually start moving through each other. This was by far the most realistic part of the simulation! Every day I see people come flying out of blind corners without looking, simultaneously avoiding incoming traffic. Some day though, I'm going to get the the new taxi driver without the precognitive Spidey-Sense skills needed to survive and will die. So my advice to you Mr. Traffic Maven...put up a stop sign anywhere you see this on your simulation. Am I crazy to believe that part of your job is to help prevent me from dying?
Yes, I fully admit that this is the most generic rant anyone can make about China. I've been here long enough where the near misses of Mothers on bikes with small children don't even phase me anymore. I'm even way past the "stop blowing your horn" phase, heck, I'll reach over there and hit it myself.
What I will not tolerate though is CCTV propaganda trying to convince me that the people are working on these problems and that they are actually qualified to cross the street without the help of a GPS tracking system. I just refuse to believe. I love you China, just stop trying to convince me it's going to get better...