Learning to Love Your Traffic Engineer – Social Scientist

Wednesday, November 6 by JerryFoster

Cranbury CarletonNew Jersey traffic engineers don’t see suburbs, destroy downtowns with arterials and have refused to adopt road designs for neighborhoods. How will we learn to love them?

We have to understand that traffic engineers love solving problems, just not social problems. They’ll design how to move cars through an intersection, but not how to preserve or create a downtown, increase property values or reduce pollution – yet the intersection design can affect all these other goals, positively or negatively.

Although we’ve been building roads for millennia, we’re just realizing how motor vehicle traffic affects society. Using a computer analogy, traffic engineering is moving from the green screen to the graphical user interface – people want a richer experience, including multiple ways to get where we’re going.

Traffic engineers must learn to see themselves as social scientists, concerned with how people in addition to motorists interact with the roadways – residents, runners, dog-walkers, cyclists, etc.

People are puzzling – we love our cars, but hate traffic – how can engineers solve the dilemma? Find out in the next installment of Learning to Love Your Traffic Engineer – What the Public Wants.

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