Solve the Congestion Crisis And Win $50,000

Have you ever idled in traffic or waited for a late bus while thinking: "The city government should put me in charge of fixing this mess"?

Traffic_Photo.jpgGood solutions to this could net you $50,000. (Photo: ITSA)

Well,
it’s time to make notes on that brilliant traffic-calming idea. The
Intelligence Transportation Society of America (ITSA) kicked off a
$50,000 "Congestion Challenge" today that seeks to pair social networking with innovative transportation policy-making.

Co-sponsored by Spencer Trask,
a private equity firm specializing in high-tech investments, the
contest asks transportation professionals and everyday citizens to
submit their proposals for clearing the nation’s jam-packed roads,
bridges and transitways. Each submission will be judged based on its
ability to address five issues: sustainability, safety, behavioral
impact, economic competitiveness, and speed & efficiency.

But
the most compelling aspect of the challenge is its approach to judging.
Instead of subjecting entries to an evaluation panel that might be too
tied to outmoded ways of thinking, the ITSA asks aspiring judges and
contestants to set up their own Facebook-style profile pages (mine can
be seen here) and rate entries themselves.

This
democratic format appears ripe for urbanites to flood the zone with
support for genuinely worthy ideas. If livable streets advocates can
organize and support a congestion solution devised from within their
own ranks, one can imagine a lot of state and federal DOT officials
taking notice.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    If I could solve the congestion crisis I would stand to gain significantly more than $50,000.

  • Ben

    Encouraging cycling is the best way to reduce traffic congestion in cities as well as medium density suburbs. Start giving incentives to employers to have their empoyees ride to work as well as provide provide bicycle parking. One example would be to include secure fenced bicycle parking corrals in every parking garage. The infrastructure should be more welcoming of cyclists and every major arterial should include bicycle lanes.

  • Carbon tax, carbon tax. ($1/gallon?) Bicycle infrastructure. High speed rail. Carbon tax, carbon tax. ($2/gallon?) Good neighborhood schools, good neighborhood stores. Frequent, pleasant mass transit. Carbon tax, carbon tax. ($3/gallon?) Bulldoze the exurbs; build medium density housing along transit corridors. In ten years, we’ll have changed land use patterns, and half of Americans won’t need to own cars. Plus we’ll have cut health care costs in half because Americans won’t be obese, diabetic and depressed because they get no exercise. And our planet will breathe a sigh of relief.

    We don’t need contests for tricky, innovative ideas because we already know what we need to do. It’s not all that complex; the technology exists. We just don’t want to do it.

    At heart, all America needs to do is re-imagine itself. It’s a task that requires no resources besides gumption and creativity, but still, it is nearly impossible.

  • Kevin F

    Ditto Jeff and Tao. You don’t want solutions, you want outs. More tax equals giving control to someone else, and you will not like someone else’s solution.

    It took years of neglect and ignorance to get us here, and it will take us years of effort and stamina to get us out of it, which we have neither (aka the fast food” mentality and / or the Obama “stardom” fantasy).

    Sure there are new and unique solutions, just not a “one size fits all” solution.

    Here is what you do: 1. Try on someone else’s shoes, work or volunteer for local government. 2. Get the facts by attending meetings / gather factual data. 3. Support the best solution (complete support, 100%). 4. Pay the man (nothing is free, most of all freedom).

  • Raz Khan

    Solving congestion problem is incredibly simple: make people live within couple of miles of their work. This idea will solve not only congestion problem but also energy shortages, pollution problems and lot fewer cars.

    This idea is not new. Credit probably goes Lugwig Hilberseimer. He came up with the idea shortly after the First World War and further refined it at the Bauhaus and at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The idea is well documented in his books: The Nature of Cities and The New Regional Pattern. Both of these book were published by Paul Theobald Company in Chicago. They are probably out of print.

    Hilberseimer developed these blocks, approximately three-quarter mile square mile each. His layout emphasized giving CHOICE to the residents to walk (up to a mile) to work, do local shopping, attend schools and go to church. The people also could also go to these places by cars. Another very important feature was that there was a clear separation of pedestrian walkways and streets with vehicular traffic. Hilberseimer even developed plans for Chicago. He showed how the exiting grid pattern of streets could be changed in stages to his version of super blocks.

    Unfortunately, the main stumbling block to making people live close to their work deals with American value about the so called “freedom.” Does City of Houston not having zoning laws ring a bell. History documents well about Americans’ gross conflict between notions of freedom and justice.

    I would like to cite the example of Stockholm. It was completely bombed during the Second Work War II. So the planning committee which consisted of citizens decided that their city should be planned in such a way that any citizen could to the downtown within twenty minutes, using public transportation, irrespective where he/she in the city. That meant that new city had to be compact. It used lot of high density, mixed-use development. It was all the infrastructure had be compact. I have learn that Stockholm still uses the original proposed plan as the city’s guide today.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

A Reminder: Congestion Pricing Will Save Lives

|
Congestion pricing resurfaced this week thanks to an SF Examiner article that was picked up by several other media sources, rightly framing it as a way to save lives. The Examiner highlighted a Department of Public Health report from 2011 [PDF], which estimated that in 2015, if drivers were charged $3 for heading into downtown […]

Sunnyvale Cool Presentation: Jobs, Housing, Transit and Traffic

|
From Sunnyvale Cool: As the Silicon Valley economy rebounds, 67% of the projected job growth and its largest workforce will be in sectors paying less than $50,000 annually. Yet, regional plans for housing and transportation do not meet the needs of this workforce.  What are the effects of this shortage of housing and lack of quality transit near […]
STREETSBLOG USA

A Misguided Fix for Traffic Congestion in Silicon Valley

|
According to a recent study of transit riders in Denver covered by CityLab, people who work within a 15-minute walk of a rail station are more likely to commute by train than people who live close to transit but don’t work by a station. Network blog Peninsula Transportation Alternatives says the study underscores how a proposal aimed at reining in traffic in Palo […]