Load factors in traffic and environment simulations

LOFTS
2013
Jukka Paulin

Preface

I had the idea for this paper by a very simple method: observing, what happened around me on a nice Sunday midday, in a small town in southern Finland. I was going out with my older son, he was sound asleep in a carriage (we call it our own “tank”) after a fascinating trip through local sand ridge stuffed between the lake and some former fishing ponds. The very initial curiosity that caught my mind was that why did some towns seem to be very bipolar in their livelihood: as if almost you had a switch, turned on at around 11:50AM, and turned off later in the day. This dictates the amount of cars and people (simply: “life”) you see on the streets.

Not many cycles of brain activity need spent until one realizes that of course the services drive the people! We require and like to spend time utilizing services: be it the local R-kiosk, bank, postal office, shopping malls, bookstores, streetside cafés and so on.
What I really became interested is was how the service placement, capacity, diversity, and traffic patterns create “the whole”, that is, the subjective experience of a city. Some cities seem to “work fine”, while others have some very annoying properties; services not being available efficiently for one reason or another; unnecessary congestion on the streets, perhaps creating also risk-prone situations; and so on. But first it would be important to just build a balls-and-sticks working version of the simulator, without too much sophistication. Later on it could prove very useful in backtracking real-world observed phenomena and pondering about what could be done differently.

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One of the very interesting questions is: Can (and if, how) the logistics of a city be planned so that there isn’t a “congestion diffusion” everywhere. Ie. a congestion diffusion is a situation where the whole (or major part of) city is congested at times during the day. For example, large cities like Los Angeles and Tokyo are heavily polluted with this kind of “waste”. Then again; what are the ethics of preserving some parts of the city while other parts become still congested? Are we then deliberately creating elite neighbourhoods, and on the other hand, those neighborhoods that no one wants to live in?

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