Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Traffic is Funny

C’mon, think about it, wherever you have a lot of cars you have a lot of traffic. Funny how that goes hand in hand. For millennia city planners have tried to reduce traffic without reducing cars. There’s no getting around it — traffic equals cars and cars equal people and people equal us. Turns out, “we” are the traffic.

Of course it’s ok to complain about the traffic in front of us and the traffic behind us. But what about the car between? Some cars are ok…

And if I like a community “the way it is,” well then, I should stay away. I should find a community that needs more people (and more traffic) and move there. Personally, I think every community benefits from “one more person.”

Or, it’s like my pastor reminds me weekly, “Our church was pretty much perfect until you joined.” He says he’s kidding, but sometimes I wonder. Maybe I should not have joined — but I love the free coffee and donuts — churches don’t fight fair…

Oh yeah, traffic. The subject reminds me of the time we closed a part of a state route to “fix things.” Each day, several thousand cars had to find a different way to get where they wanted to go. This went on for several months (fixing things takes time).

And after everything was fixed and the highway reopened, guess what? Only 70% of the traffic returned. Where did all the traffic go?

As an experienced traffic engineer, my first thought was that 30% of the people got mad and stopped driving. But after asking around, I learned 30% of the traffic actually preferred the new route they were “forced” to discover.

There’s a lesson there. I wonder how much of what I/we do is “routine” or “pretty good” instead of the best. Probably at least 30 percent…

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online help available at