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"? (editor’s note: Ubrayj, put your hand down.)

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.

6_1_09_elana.jpgGood solutions to this could net you $50,000. (Photo: ITSA)

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 (register
for your own right 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.

  • Katie

    I can’t understand why we’re looking for innovative solutions to traffic congestion when we don’t have the political will to implement the obvious and mundane ones…

  • Erik G.

    It always amazes me how much less traffic there is on the Toll Roads in OC than there is on the parallel “Free”ways.

    Look at SR73 versus I-405

    Look at SR133 plus SR241 versus SR55 or SR57.

    So what would happen if we made everyone pay a buck or two at the on-ramp?

  • DJB

    How to reduce traffic? I don’t think that should be our first priority and I don’t agree that the methods are obvious to the general public.

    But anyway, you could . . .

    1) Make driving more expensive (through fuel, road and parking charges)
    2) Invest more in alternatives to driving (transit, “complete” streets that accommodate all modes of transportation)
    3) Support alternative transportation with dense and mixed land uses (more people per unit of area and housing closer to the stuff people do)
    4) Give out subsidies for living close to work (instead of subsidizing home ownership in general)

    People tend to want less traffic so that they can drive their car unobstructed. They get angry at other people on the road, but fail to consider their own impact.

    The bigger problem is the environmental degradation that comes from automobile use, not to mention the death toll (on the order of 40,000 per year, or about 13 9/11s) . . .

    Good luck getting people to see that.

  • Stats Dude

    A brief background on ITS. It stands for Intelligent Transportation Systems. An example is the coordination of L.A. street signals from a central location from the movie “The Italian Job” (yes, it really exists).

    It also includes GPS on buses for better tracking, the use of tritter by MetroLink to notify passengers if there are any problems, and the preemption of traffic signals for the Metro Rapid buses.

    Having traffic signals recognize bicycles would be considered ITS.

    If there ever is a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax (beyond the gas tax, such as for electric cars), then ITS will likely be used to send odometer information out to who knows where.

    Anyway, I digress. The purpose of ITS is to use new and innovative technologies to make the existing transportation work more efficiently without having to resort to expensive capital improvements like adding lanes or more freeways.

  • walker_0

    Subsidize bike ownership and make people pay 10% of their wealth or 15% of their income each year, whichever is more, for the privilege of owning a car. Increase the rate 5% a year until everyone sells their cars and rides bikes or walks. Once people see that cars are totally unnecessary and know the true value of exercise they will be happy. Mobile phones can be cut next. People don’t realize how much C02 is released because of our cumulative use of mobile phones. These are luxury items. How did we ever survive before cars and mobile phones?

  • Wow, great ideas above.
    But if you don’t get them in,
    then they can’t win!

    Sean

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