Sunday, April 27, 2014

Article on talking buses, my thoughts

Portland Works to Combat 'Distracted Walking'

My thoughts and observations:
  • There is a problem. See Associated Press clip of someone falling onto subway tracks, TIME article, and a study from Steve Fung's alma mater
  • Just think of the rise in mobile phone calls, text messaging and smart phone usage, all of which divert the mind and/or the eyes.  Listening to music is at least passive.
  • The TIME article says there's a $50 fine for crossing light rail tracks in Utah while distracted
  • The $400,000 covers other test warning devices too, see: this news release
  • When the "BUS" sign at West Burnside and 5th is lit, it's should mean that the traffic signal priority system on the bus approaching (in the westbound turn lane?) is working.
  • That visual-only cue won't help people who are too distracted to check it
  • What about having bus operators tap their horns when turning?  It would take training, but unlike the verbal warning, there is no installation cost.
  • There are two different warnings out there: warning 1 and warning 2
  • Some bus operators must get annoyed having to hear it all shift long
  • The audible warning should require a turn signal be on to activate, in addition to the steering wheel being moved.  This would prevent it from going off wherever there's a curve in the street, and it also shouldn't go off when a bus is just pulling over to or leaving from a bus stop.
  • It would take more work, but the CAD system could control the devices and activate them only where there's a known turn in the route.
  • Even if a bus was designed with no blind spots, it seems an operator could miss seeing somebody moving parallel to the bus, out of the operator's field of vision and not in the rear-view mirror; see this Web page
Note that I'm not necessarily saying an active warning system is the best way to go.

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