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 Post subject: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:31 am 
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I read a book awhile ago, called "Traffic" (I think) and it was a very interesting read. One of the things it brought up that really resonated with me was merging traffic, especially when 2 lanes go down to one, and one has to merge into the other. The book was saying that in Europe, when forced to merge, all cars drive up to the farthest point possible and then merge, creating a "zipper effect" and it's pretty seamless overall.

I've been trying to do that here, but apparently lots of people get pissed about it because they merge over as far back as possible, including stopping other traffic if they have to. I attempted it the other night, and no one wanted to let me in. There was one guy in the next lane over that was so adamant about not letting me in (me using my blinker) that he hit the bumper of the woman in front of him! This was in stopped traffic! Nevertheless, it made me and my boyfriend crack up laughing, and all I could think was "Karma!"

What are your thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:39 am 
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I agree. It's supposed to work like a zipper, but everyone is too impatient to let it work the right way.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:40 am 
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merging at the last minute is called a "jersey merge" [at least, in RI] and it's considered to be a sign that you are either a) a douchebag or b) a terrified elderly driver who maybe shouldn't be on the road anyway.
i think the european model is great, the thing is that everyone has to think the same way, and i doubt that will ever happen.

personally i tend to merge as far back as possible only to conform to The One Rule of Driving in Insane Lands: protect yourself first. It keeps me out of the scrum when we get close to the actual merge point. I *do* let people go in front of me but its hard here- people don't usually trust you to let them in, so you let them go and then they don't.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:54 am 
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Yeah, what Torque said. I usually merge in the upper middle, which seems to be the spot people are more willing to let you in. The HOV lane merge has a huge backup at the top because there are 50 cars and nobody let's them in except one car at a time when somebody feels nice.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:55 am 
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I love this book. But I think he explains there the psychology well with the idea of lines at retail stores. For efficiency, it's best to have everyone line up in individual lines.. but people much prefer to have one big line that sends people to the next available register. It increases their average wait time, but it's perceived as more "fair" so people prefer it. They're happy to slow down traffic if EVERYONE has to wait in it.

And as much as this book convinced me I *should* be a late merger, I hate merging stress and prefer to do it the first chance I get even if it means waiting longer.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:29 am 
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That's really interesting! I always assumed that the best thing to do was to merge as early as possible because the sooner everyone gets it over with, the sooner we can all get on with our day, but I guess that's not really actually based on any facts or science. Traffic and driving psychology are fascinating to me though, so now I want to read this book! Is it the one by Tom Vanderbilt? (My library has that!)

As for retail store lines...I dunno, I've never observed that people prefer to have one big line. I haven't seen that be a thing very often, but when it does, people seem pretty annoyed by it. I'm not sure I'm inclined to believe that people prefer this.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:31 am 
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It's funny... there are some places here where the "zipper" just happens because people are coming from two separate directions and there's only one place to merge. It works so I can't figure out why people can't take that experience and apply it to the two-lanes-down-to-one scenario. I think people just like to "win" so if someone else passes them and gets there first, it's not "fair."

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:33 am 
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monkeytoes wrote:
I think people just like to "win" so if someone else passes them and gets there first, it's not "fair."

soooooo true!! there is this sense of justice and jockeying for i-need-to-get-through-first. and then the reverse passive-aggressive resentment of "i merged 2km back and look at this SOB without even a blinker on trying to nudge in front of me! i'll show him!"

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:34 am 
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I'm a early-middle merger. Actually, I try to use my eagle eyes and see far ahead for construction zones/accidents/whatever so I beat the merge rush. One of the benefits of good eyesight.
I also have a personal rule that once I'm in the open lane, I'll allow one person ahead of me; the others will have to go behind me and fit in there.
And I hate when people won't let you merge and they haven't let anyone in. I don't know where they expect me to go.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:43 am 
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I just merge early because I'm lazy and like to get the hard part over with. Like even if it means getting stopped behind a light. Having to keep looking over my shoulder because mirrors can't be trusted is annoying.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:43 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
That's really interesting! I always assumed that the best thing to do was to merge as early as possible because the sooner everyone gets it over with, the sooner we can all get on with our day, but I guess that's not really actually based on any facts or science. Traffic and driving psychology are fascinating to me though, so now I want to read this book! Is it the one by Tom Vanderbilt? (My library has that!)



Yep, that's the one! It was really good - I need to read it again.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:58 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
As for retail store lines...I dunno, I've never observed that people prefer to have one big line. I haven't seen that be a thing very often, but when it does, people seem pretty annoyed by it. I'm not sure I'm inclined to believe that people prefer this.



I do, because even if it's slower overall it drives me insane to be stuck behind someone who's really slow, using 80,000,000 coupons or arguing over prices or whatever. ETA: Or when I'm in a line and then the cashier goes on break and shuts down the register. I get all SUMBUHGUNDAH.

Donald Shoup's book that Vanderbilt mentions a lot ("The High Cost of Free Parking") is also excellent, although it's definitely one to get from the library ($$$$) and kind of a long read, but you will know more than you ever thought there was to know about the role of parking in zoning and public policy.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:06 pm 
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Fee wrote:
I just merge early because I'm lazy and like to get the hard part over with. Like even if it means getting stopped behind a light. Having to keep looking over my shoulder because mirrors can't be trusted is annoying.


This. I hate driving in general so I want the most painless way possible.

Also, around here if you try to wait until the last minute (especially in a well-marked construction zone) you may find a semi driving in both lanes to prevent you jumping ahead. Drivers really have to be all one way or the other and here we're early-merge people.

As to retail stores - I don't mind one line or many lines but I hate the newly remodeled Trader Joe's here where it isn't clear how many lines there are. There's a lot of unofficial two-checkouts-per-line going on.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:09 pm 
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Some woman rudely cut in front of me in line at Sehora the other day. We were both heading to the register and I'd have gotten there first except she shoved in front of me.

I had one item and a gift card. I'd have been done in 3 minutes or less. She had coupons, questions about the difference between an item, wanted a price check AND had a freaking return. I was so close to having to leave because it hurts for me to stand, when they opened another register.

I bet that women does that in traffic too and never lets anybody in front of her, ever. Lots of DC area drivers like that. The nice part is that when anybody does let a car go aeound here, there are lots of smiles and waves.

My commute home can get reallllly long, ESP on Fridays. It's sometimes amusing to watch people in their cars start to steam and get irate. Not that I love sitting in traffic or anything, but c'mon, save the high blood pressure for something you can maybe change. Have a snack, listen to some good music or an audiobook and chill, or find a new job. Seriously, I've seen people turn purple and do all sorts of histrionics. Some of them I start to recognize.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:12 pm 
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The zipper may work, but here, it's really just cheating since the polite thing to do is merge early. I think it would have to be staggered in order for it to truly work here, maybe with a traffic light or a traffic officer.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:12 pm 
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Guys, this topic has turned really ugly in the past, so I'm just going to ask everyone to make a special effort to keep things civil this time.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:20 pm 
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Wow! I totally want to read this book!! I am oddly fascinate by traffic patterns and I'm always tring to figure it all out.

I am a 100% believer in late merging and I stick to my guns no matter what. It so obviously is the better choice, I don't even get why everyone doesn't do it. I used to commute about 1 hour each direction, over a winding mountain freeway everyday, and I learned so much about merging and traffic flow from that.

When people insist on early merging, it just adds another mile or so of traffic jam. If there was a "right lane closed ahead" sign, everyone would start merging immediately (??!!) and leave the right lane empty for such incredible distances. I know it made me look like an asparagus, but that kind of thing just bugs me so much, I would get in the right lane and cruise all the way up to the last point and merge seamlessly! So much better.

I want to read about traffic!

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:51 pm 
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I think late merging is the way to go! I often rant about this very issue. If you slow down early it just creates traffic in two lanes. If you wait long enough more space will open up as cars exit the merging lane in either direction. I always let people in on the assumption that they're A.) Intelligent mergers B.) Lost C.) In a hurry because their dog is sick, or something.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:58 pm 
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The problem with late merging here though is that the result is a line of 50 stopped cars trying to merge off HOV. Then this bottlenecks and soon people can't merge at all because the moving lane is going too fast for people to jump in, and nobody let's anybody in (because they are going 30mph vs stopped). In the end, it's 3 lanes of cars totally stopped for the last mile and a quarter.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:07 pm 
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I am an early merger. My dad is one of those truck drivers that will drive on the center line when it's been clearly marked that the lane merges and people want to fly by and scoot in at the front. I'm also one of those passive agressive people that won't let people in who are waiting at the merge because I think they can't read that it said the lane was ending. But I guess after reading responses lots of them probably can read and they are just more European than I am. I agree that a zipper merge would work but not everyone is on the same page.

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:59 pm 
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I'm a late merger and I sometimes feel like a crasshole for it, but it's obviously more efficient.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:10 pm 
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There's one intersection near me where there's a two-lane road that has a traffic light, and then after the light, the right lane ends almost immediately. I've seen several near-accidents where people were stopped at the light and then, when it turned green, the first person in the right lane floored the gas pedal to try to get in front of the person next to him.

I think it also depends on how crowded the road is. If there are enough cars that you actually get that zipper effect, then merging at the end of the lane makes sense. But if there's a ton of space between cars, then it doesn't seem to really matter.

Also, on the store line thing, everything I've ever read about it has said that having one line is more efficient, because if there's one person who ends up taking a huge amount of time, everyone else just gets shifted to other lines, rather than all the people in that line having to wait.


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:36 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
Some woman rudely cut in front of me in line at Sehora the other day. We were both heading to the register and I'd have gotten there first except she shoved in front of me.



LW that sucks! I find the lines at Sephora very confusing. I try not to be that person, but I usually spend 30 seconds figuring out where the darned line starts at that place because of the weird square rope pen set far back from the cashiers.

I'm glad they opened up another register!


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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:52 pm 
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Wow, maybe i'll have to become a late merger. See, the problem is that here, I assume that Late Mergers are seen as the dicks who want to go the farthest before getting into the stopped traffic.

So wait, is this when we are in stop-and-go in the one lane, and of course the ending lane isn't? Or is just for when the traffic is flowing ok and you just wait til the end? Because i was assuming its the stop and go type merging...

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 Post subject: Re: You views on merging (in traffic)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:02 pm 
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i force the zipper to work while encouraging fairness. i don't zoom by everyone who are already in line, i go slow and then i start to get over about halfway in and then i stay on the line until the lane ends. that causes the 2 lanes to remain full.

also, if i'm in an area that appears not to be backed up, and then all of a sudden it starts getting backed up, i'll keep my right eye trained on the mirror, if i see jerks, i'll get over on the line to stop them from being unfair.

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