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Fast-moving traffic Wed, Mar 12, 2008
I was driving home from the airport last week, and I stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon.  I was traveling on 80W, away from New York City, at around 6:30pm.  This road is probably one of the top three most congested roads in the entire country, but I happened to catch it at a great time.  It was just on the tail end of rush hour, so there were probably six or seven billion cars, but everyone was going between 60 and 80 mph.  We were flying.  I was driving faster than I normally would, simply because everyone else was too (yes, I was a lemming; I'm not 14 anymore so it doesn't matter).  The weather was relatively nice and there were no accidents or cops.  I got home faster than I've ever gotten home from the airport before.  It was amazing.  It's interesting how certain roads were designed to handle a certain number of cars at certain times of the day, and when you witness it, it's like looking into the face of God himself. 

I remember my dad mentioning his "wave theory of traffic" one time.  He noticed (after over 20 years of the same commute) that certain days, it was almost like you could catch a wave and ride it all the way to work.  You'd be out in front of a bunch of traffic, and all the delays and backups would be happening in back of you, not affecting you.  It's like hitting a bunch of green lights in a row one day, but then hitting all red lights on the same road the next day.  It turns out some geeks did some research and found that traffic jams move in a backward traveling wave caused by each person's increasingly exaggerated reaction to an incident.  It's not exactly the same as what my dad was talking about, but it's pretty close. #travel


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