Our Editor's selection of interesting articles this month include a study of how ants are "immune" to traffic jams; how internet shopping is bringing chaos to New York streets and the navigation apps that are changing the politics of traffic.
Unlike self-interested humans, ants have a common goal: The colony's survival.
Ants are notoriously much better than humans at organizing their collective traffic flow when foraging for food, but how they manage to do so isn't fully understood. Even in dense, crowded conditions, ant colonies still manage to maintain a smooth and efficient traffic flow, primarily by adjusting their behavior to adapt to changing circumstances, according to a new paper in the journal eLife.
1.5 Million Packages a Day: The Internet Brings Chaos to N.Y. Streets
An Amazon order starts with a tap of a finger. Two days later — or even in a matter of hours — the package arrives.
It seems simple enough.
But to deliver Amazon orders and countless others from businesses that sell over the internet, the very fabric of major urban areas around the world is being transformed. And New York City, where more than 1.5 million packages are delivered daily, shows the impact that this push for convenience is having on gridlock, roadway safety and pollution.
In an excerpt from the new book The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss adds up the “price of anarchy” when it comes to traffic navigation apps.
Virtually everyone is following a routing app, in L.A. and beyond. A 2015 Pew survey found that 90 percent of Americans who own smartphones get their driving directions from them, at least some of the time.
But researchers have known for decades that driver-first traffic “fixes,” even with the best of intentions, have deleterious effects on transportation networks overall. The principle of “induced demand” is one expression of this.