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    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Ripple Effects - Street Design Edition

    Its not an everyday scenario that you pass by excellence in action. It's not even a norm to witness an excellent decision taking place in thought, process and product. If you do, at least once a week, then consider yourself blessed. However, what do you call a guy who comes across the exact evil-twin opposite case scenario of that excellence on a daily basis? and happens to know, obviously, a bit too much about a science thats lacking in that scenario?

    Hi, nice to meet you..

    Location : Jeddah
    Destination : what seemed to be a quick drive to the bank around the corner
    Status : High possibility of an aneurysm



    I know it for sure, if i research online about stupidity and/or lack of foresight long enough, an official from the Jeddah police department has to pop up. The amount of logic (or lack thereof) being put in the decisions they make just tells exactly what type of "professionals" we're dealing with. Basically, they carry out a solution, the solutions results in serious problematic side effects, and they just stick with the solution.

    Do they see the bad results of their decisions? Yes, they do have eyes (last checked, 10/9/2010)
    Do they know it's "bad"? Depends..
    Do they even care?

    Madina Rd (starting from the Hera'a St. and all the way down to Palestine St. Intersection) is a clear daily example. Whenever traffic reaches a certain peak, they intervene in aims of better regulating the cars leaving/entering the road. Apparently, I understand the word "regulate" a bit differently than they do, because if what we experience is any judge, traffic becomes much worse. Much much worse.

    For the following excursive, you'll need a piece of paper, a pen, decent skills in drawing straight lines, and an aspirin.. Consider it your first course in Traffic and Urban design (I take cash deposits)..
    A. Draw a 3-lane bridge that lands into a street.
    B. Draw an immediate right-side-exit to the service lane.
    C. Draw an entrance from the service lane to the main road.
    D. Finally, add another exit to the service lane.
    So it's Out-In-Out. Pretty basic, nothing complicated. Usually, when traffic starts increasing, they tend to come from the intersection of the main streets with the main road, so, it's a 90 degree angular input. So, logic dictates that you regulate the traffic from the source of the problem, right?

    You'd think..

    The police decides to block the first exit AFTER the bridge landing directly. No big deal, right? Well, here's a list of repercussions (they tend to happen together):

    • Anyone who had the slightest "Dream" to come out the first exit and get into the service lane will have to take his business to the next exit (the third opening in the street). Whatever need that was close to the first exit, he'll have to use a GPS to wander around the neighborhoods, trying to find a way back. Our streets are "very" organized, despite what conspiracy theorists have to say.


    • Anyone who wanted to access Madina Rd. and go to the left lane will probably have a slow transition because of the piled up queue of cars who want to use exit number 3.


    • As an expected result, people in exit number three will have a snail-speed transition to the neighborhood (which needs a GPS to navigate, as mentioned above) because of those who ditched the jammed entrance number 2, and want to try entrance number 4.


    • The percentage of the regular generic Saudi who decides he wants to exit/enter Madina Rd is basically 7 out of every 3 drivers (not a mistake in counting, it's an actual percentage). His way of driving is to literally make a 90-degree turn from the furthest lane of the opposite side, without the blinkers, and marches on anyways to the targeted exit, causing his own contribution to the already piling up traffic.


    Meanwhile, the people trying to get into the service lane of Madina Rd., who are not aware of the mess i described above, pile up like flood water..

    I parked, realizing the following events..

    And apparently..

    I was right on the money!



    Deserves some background music, no?

    All what am trying to say, arbitrarily improvising solutions, and sticking with them for over 10 years (Despite the population growth) is a sign of [insert less-insulting word(s) similar to "stupidity" here]

    Some of these exits are blocked by police cars (optional, depending on the weather), some other ones (like the ones in King Road) are blocked with 1000 tons of cement barricades. The same ones used to hold off terrorist attacks around compounds = you won't use that exit.. EVER!

    All of this, and more than am too "Calm" to blog about from mere harmless observations, are results of small little actions that turn into gigantic ripple effects that paralyzes a complete road. Am sure the early street designs, or whatever cave drawings that were traced, had an ounce of study in the fields of estimating traffic and understanding how traffic flows (at the time). The city grew (or i think it did), and the population grew, so the streets THEREFORE need a good revisit to see if the designs are able to take it in. If not, studies are in order, and then implementation, within an enough time frame to get the city back to its feet again.

    Dear Police Department and the people who guide them and the Municipality who should be looking after this, 
    Based on actual events : Your thinking process + Your future announcement of an intent to make a study and/or implementing a study that is already taking place + the way you carry out the plans that stretch from a one year dig and fix to a 10 year dust collector + your understanding of funding vs. pocket money + "Natural disasters" that stop your "on-going fixing of the city" = a Conclusion
    Which is, no offense, consider some professional help+consultancy doing that. Like, for example, out-source the studies of those roads to the many field-related local companies that are trying to prove themselves (some of which are pretty damn good). That way, you're helping national economy, creating more job opportunities, and ACTUALLY helping the citizens of the city. and you're keeping those brain cells for the heavy solitaire sessions you seem to do all day.


    Yours,
    Lou..

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