Fun and Games with Transportation

It’s Friday. It’s summer. Let’s face it, you shouldn’t be looking at a computer right now.

But since you are — maybe you’re at work or something crazy like that — we’ll give you some fun stuff from the Streetsblog Network today. Fun, with a little undertone of serious.

First, via Transit Miami, we present a video game for traffic engineers. Unfortunately, it sounds old-school in the worst sense of that term:

Picture_2.pngThe University of Minnesota’s  Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute has released a "Gridlock Buster"
traffic game, which helps students understand the “fundamentals” of
controlling gridlock. Says the Institute of its new product:

"’Gridlock
Buster’ is a traffic control game that incorporates tools and ideas
that traffic control engineers use in their everyday work. Players must
pass a series of levels while acquiring specific skills for controlling
the traffic and ensuring that delays don’t get out of hand. For
example, a player might need to manage a high volume of traffic passing
through an intersection, where long lines form if vehicles don’t get
enough green-light time. The more drivers are delayed, the more
frustrated they get — causing the game’s ‘frustration meter’ to rise.
Sound effects and animation simulate cars honking and drivers’ fists
shaking to illustrate the realistic results of backed-up traffic
queues."

Of course,  the
sole focus of this hyper-annoying and stressful game is to move as many
cars as possible through the grid so that one may obtain an acceptable
score and move to the next round — where one is expected to move even more cars
through the grid. With no options to actually decrease the traffic with
mobility options such as bicycle facilities, transit, or infill the
blatantly exposed surface parking lots — a pockmark on any potentially
walkable street — I am left
with one question: what’s so intelligent about that?

Next, for your viewing pleasure, Copenhagenize
has brought together five videos promoting cycling from different
cities: London, Geneva, Copenhagen, Paris, NYC and Gothenburg, Sweden.
As Mikael
notes in his post, in the immortal words of Sesame Street, "one of
these things is not like the other." And — surprise! — it’s the one
from the US. Apparently in Europe, they have this crazy idea about
showing people having fun on bikes rather than immobilized and bloody in an ambulance.

You
think they’re onto something? Could or should we ever see similar ads
in big US cities? Or do you support the New York approach?

Plus, Grieve-Smith on Transportation challenges you to a little word game: If a trend away from car ownership shouldn’t be called "demotorization," what’s a better coinage?

  • Aaron B.

    This reminds me of SimCity 4, which I used to play, where there is transit but apparently no such thing as a bicyclist. The player is driven to relieve congestion only either by widening the roads (barf) or putting some major transit down those streets (even the subway can’t always relieve it enough). I wish they updated it with options for not only bike infrastructure, but also more detail of designing the streets such as widening sidewalks. They could even put in congestion pricing and, just maybe, raising the gas tax? The game is under the assumption of cheap oil and makes it difficult to make a car-less city.

    It’d also be awesome if they had more sustainability options, like promoting urban farming, solar panels, etc…

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