Daily Challenge Day 28

So continued with updating the price list page, well actually just ripped the notes off and placed into a couple of other pages which as yet are not accessible. Also started to create a summary list of products: both goods and services, this will ultimately be linked to the product items in the store.

Went looking for some information which otherwise led me to check my facebook account, and found this article in my news feed: Highway speed dropped through Pasky. {None of which seems to be overly accessible unless logged onto facebook.}

Anycase the article is about dropping the speed limit from 80 km/h to 60 km/h : I think those were the numbers {I’m not logging back into facebook to check}. Apparently some people find the speed reduction unreasonable, and consider its just a means for the government to generate revenue from speeding tickets.

Once upon a time, I believed that people should just pay the fine and take more caution in future, then one evening the TV news had several related articles and it became apparent that the protest groups are probably right and the government is just using to generate revenue.

First thing:

Speed Does NOT KILL!

If speed kills then the government instead of being accused of generating revenue, would instead find itself short of body bags and major blood bath flooding the state. It hasn’t experienced the latter, so the people they fined, are alive and not dead, and the government collected enough money to buy more speed cameras. The government doesn’t appear to locate these cameras on the basis of peoples welfare, but rather on the basis of hotspots where lots of people will be fined.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, there is quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) philosophies. With QC defects are permitted to happen and then scrapped or corrected if possible. With QA, robust design of the product and the production processes and the operating and maintenance systems , all aims to prevent defects in the first place. The current use of speed cameras is the low quality QC approach.

It is not speed that kills but the conversion of kinetic energy into strain energy of deformation. It is the deceleration from high speed to zero in a short time which converts the kinetic energy into work of deformation, generates the impact force and cause injuries. If the vehicle changed from high speed to low speed in a longer period of time the deceleration would be smaller. So it is not so much that we need to reduce speed but identify hazards faster, react faster, apply the brakes faster, and reduce the speed of the vehicle more slowly. That poses a problem, as cannot take 1 km to bring a vehicle to rest when 1m away from hitting a child.

Though being hit by a vehicle doesn’t necessarily result in permanent injury or death. I was hit by a milk float when I was about 6 years of age, when I ran across a local road without looking: most of the time there were no vehicles on the road. Later during my first week at university, whilst cycling to uni, I was hit by a car passing through the roundabout: fortunately once on the roundabout I noticed the car approaching and had a feeling it wasn’t going to stop and was able to turn and avert being hit full on:collision occurred side to side when I couldn’t turn any tighter.

With all the talk about autonomous vehicles, maybe we should shift the focus away from speed. Another problem with speed is its measurement and people’s perception. There is a common argument that there is a 10% error with speedometers. Thus when a vehicle’s speedometer displays 50 km/h, its actual speed lies somewhere between 45 km/h and 55 km/h. So have two cars close together, the person in front thinks the person behind in an inconsiderate tailgating speedster, as they believe they are travelling at 50km/h but actually at the lower end of the range at 45 km/h. The person behind thinks the person in front is an inconsiderate slow coach who should get off the road, stay off the road and stay home, because they believe their speed is 50 km/h but actually at the upper end of the range at 55 km/h. No way can such error in the speedometers be acceptable.

As far as I know the speed limit signs are upper limits. So if the sign says 50 km/h, then your are not permitted to exceed this speed. The problem however is the acceptable error, accuracy and precision in the measurements. We cannot measure anything exactly, nor make anything exactly, that’s why we have tolerances, and statistical process control. We therefore need to specify tolerance on our objective, and then select suitable instruments control achievement of the objective. Tolerances are typically halved as we move from one specification to the next.  So if the acceptable tolerance on our speed limit signs is plus or minus (+/-) 1 km/h, then the acceptable tolerance for the speedometers would be +/- 0.5 km/h.

But the speed limits are an upper limit. So there is no tolerance above, only tolerance below. So we have a problem with respect to no real clarity as to what belongs on the footpath and what is permitted on the roads. That is to say the spectrum of speeds likely to be encountered is not properly catered for by our transportation networks. There are thus situations where vehicles or persons are either too fast and pose a hazard to pedestrians on the footpath, or too slow and pose a hazard to motorists on the roads. Its a transport network it should cater to all possible means of transport in an acceptable manner. The road network does not adequately cater to all practical modes of transport therefore it is not quality robust. The defects in quality are not properly monitored. Consequently shared space proposals are a potential hazard and disaster waiting to happen.

Clearly if place a speed camera at a given location, and can get a registration number and connect that to a registered address, then can identify whether a person was rushing to work or home from work. therefore is the problem that people live too far from work or get up too late? The getting up too late I don’t see as a real issue in the first instance, as with peak hour traffic, setting of earlier can result in arriving later. So the problem is too many vehicles trying to get through too narrow a passage at the same time. They don’t all need to be there at the same time, consistent 9:00 to 5:00 work hours are silly. If everyone is working, and everyone is working the same hours, then when do they do their shopping and other chores: they can’t. In the past there may have been someone in a household not working, who could make use of the businesses operating 9:00 to 5:00, but increasingly households only comprise of one person or two working people. So they need to be able to do chores before 9:00am on the way into work, at lunch time assuming no one else as gone off to lunch, or after 5:00pm on way home from work or on the weekends. Or there is an increasingly popular alternative solution, buy online after hours. If bricks and mortar retail stores keep losing business to online stores, then there won’t be any use for autonomous vehicles, as no one will need to travel anywhere.

So there we have two things we can do, eliminate the need for travel in the first place, and secondly if need to travel then change the work hours. However adjusting work hours doesn’t help with speeding over weekends and especially over public holidays. In this situation it would appear people have a limited amount of time to get to their places of recreation, and otherwise a carefree casual attitude not paying too much attention to their speed.

Pay attention to the speed or to the potential hazards on the road? Paying attention to hazards seems most appropriate. Speed of a vehicles is produced by mechanical means and controllable by mechanical means. However I don’t believe cruise controls are a solution, they are not quality robust, nor are warning signals. The speed of a vehicle is not constant, it is mostly trying to slow down and the driver is pumping fuel to the engine to prevent the vehicle from stopping. Depending how bumpy a road is a warning signal goes off way too often, it’s another tolerance issue, and so people tend to set them slightly higher. Therefore the next option is to set the vehicle to control the speed rather than  provide warnings: but the vehicle is not capable of monitoring its environment beyond loss of speed, and therefore it cannot respond appropriately to hazards in the environment. A control system needs to do a lot more than simply monitor distances to vehicles in front and behind: amongst other things it needs to stay on the road.

Making use of alternative electromechanical technology attached to a vehicle is not a viable solution as it potentially requires upgrading all vehicles. If the problem is people getting to work from increasingly distant locations we could build restricted access highways with high speed travel permitted. The problem with building highways is that they take a long time to build, and during construction traffic if slowed or simply hindered from getting to where it needs to go. Also as I’ve previously mentioned it’s not cars that create urban sprawl its multi-storey buildings and other large facilities which demand large populations to support them.

So in the case of Adelaide for example, ensure that the people living in the other cities surrounding Adelaide have absolutely zero need to go into Adelaide. State government and Adelaide council not going to be happy with that idea has they want to put up more multistorey buildings and create more dependency, and miraculous abolish urban sprawl.  People in the satellite city of Elizabeth should not be commuting to Adelaide, people in Gawler and Mt Barker should not be commuting to Adelaide. Why are they? What exactly is economical about centralising business in a centre with a catchment greater than 10 km diameter? Average walking speed is 5 km/h, so it would take 1 hour to walk from outer perimeter to the centre, and bicycle is typically taken as 4 times faster than walking, so would take 15 minutes. The city of churches indicates that historically a community centre (eg. church) needs to be less than 1 km away (eg. 12 minute walk).

As with upgrading vehicles by attaching electromechanical technology, we cannot simply upgrade the state of South Australia so that we have walkable communities and minimise vehicle travel. Though with the Walk the Yorke programme we could probably experiment with the Yorke Peninsula area: small population and large area. How can a small population build and maintain regional infrastructure without state or federal assistance?

Transporting Goods and Recreational Travel

Any case assuming that we did have walkable communities, that only resolves the issue with respect to the daily commute to work, and picking up household groceries. There is still the issue of transporting of bulk goods and recreational travel.

My believe is that trains are better than road transport: however as with all optimisation problems the solution is typically only valid for a specific point in time. Still trains can travel at speeds typically around 150 km/h to 250 km/h, with high speed trains travelling faster, whilst road transport it typically limited to speeds of 100 km/h. Australia seems to have a poorly developed railway system. The nation of Australia hasn’t really occupied the land, and hasn’t connected the coastline to the interior to any significant extent. As far as I know a diesel-electric train can travel around 1000 km on one tank, and can haul far more than a B-Double road truck.

So with high speed trains we can connect remote communities to cultural events in Adelaide city in less than 1 hour, possibly even less time with newer trains reaching 400 km/h. High speed trains make remote rural and mining communities less remote, thus more attractive to the people who are needed in these locations, such as doctors and teachers. High speed trains connect tourists with the remote regions.

Now B-Double trucks are more flexible in terms of the places they can get to compared to rail, but then again small vans are more flexible still. So the question is why do we need the big road trucks? In the main because poor logistics management, still dominates industry. The primary point and purpose of a warehouse is as a supply buffer. If can reduce required supply buffer to zero and deliver goods just in time, then do not need warehouses, and should not need de facto warehouses in the back of large trucks. Making goods available at the right time in the right place in South Australia is done relatively poorly. York Peninsula businesses seem to having exceptional poor logistics planning.

So to prevent truck drivers being stressed out we need better logistics planning. In the first instance that may seem like a need for larger regional warehouses. However I would say that it is large regional warehouse that are part of the problem. The warehouse has to get filled, and then from the warehouse goods have to go to retailers. Depending on the situation the warehouse may actually be redundant, as trucks come into a dock, break their loads, which are then shifted to smaller vehicles which ship the goods out to retailers. This is basically how the docks of Hong Kong work, only with ocean going ships.

So what we have is the pressure of the big trucks feeding into smaller trucks feeding into retailers stock rooms, all meeting at the right time, and all programmed ignoring appropriate tolerances. Most of which I suggest starts with poor management on the part of the retailers. Whilst the retailers have the problem of attempting to predict what the customer wants to buy. Enter online retailers, online catalogues, and preordering, and routine repeat orders.

The supermarkets exist because the task of the retailer is not to be a friendly smiley face, but to be a competent manager of getting resources from manufacturers of goods to people who need them at the right time, in the right place, in the right condition, at the right price. With online services the supermarket building is highly likely to become redundant to that process. Does that mean bricks and mortar become redundant? No! because there will be need for couriers, and localised temporary storage before pickup. There is thus a likely surge in local parcel offices. Goods won’t travel direct from manufacturer to customer, but instead pass through a series of local parcel offices. From each local office the parcels will be distributed out to the local area or onto other local offices. {Sorry but having large regional postal centres and sending post out of an area to be sorted and sent back to the local area is inefficient. In case wondering the internet was and is built as a defence strategy of redundant nodes. Take one node out and there is still a pathway connecting any other two nodes.}

Small building blocks are better than large. Small independent units can assemble into larger units when needed and disassemble back to smaller units. A rail train can be long or short. If it is long it can carry large volume and weight of goods slowly, if it is short then it can carry small volume of goods quickly. Road trucks don’t have this flexibility, on the other hand we could always build intermodal O-Bahn guided road systems. That way larger road trains can be assembled, and they can travel at higher speeds, and they would be given right of way, similar to railway crossings. Unlike rail trains there is no need to load and unload, the trains can exit the track and the wagons can be coupled up to additional prime movers and then move out onto the normal road system. But do we keep the wagons large, or reduce to the size of 1 tonne vans? That is how do we scale the system? Where do we locate the take off points to the local community, and how local is it?

Anycase the speed of the trucks and the health of the drivers is primarily a business logistics problem. Online services can help with balancing inventory. Also I suggest shorter travel distances and more localised storage buffers, rather than large regional stores. Its a timing thing. A regional store may require 10 tonne of goods to supply many local stores, the local stores only need from 0.5 tonne to 1 tonne, and they don’t need it at the same time. Delivering direct to the local store reduces cargo size, and vehicle size whilst lengthening the delivery schedule. Its an issue of the distribution and averaging taking place at the regional store. The regional stores volume requirements are to supply all their customers, but only one needs it fast. The speed requirements of the one is then imposed on all. If the cargo is broken into smaller loads at point of origin then they can all travel at different speeds. Also if have a big truck then pressure is on manufacturing to fill a big truck. So theres some numbers to be worked out between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and transportation companies.

But what about recreational travel?

Recreational Travel

For recreational travel, either getting to the destination quickly is important, or the journey is important and the destination irrelevant.

If the journey is important then a loop is a good choice, since the return journey doesn’t involve revisiting old scenery. Such journeys should be relatively slow and the main issue is observing the hazards of the road, rather than being focused on the scenery. Therefore for such situations guided bus tours and train tours are potentially better. Additionally dedicated bus lanes so that the buses can go slow and stop and pickup. However such are of no benefit if people have to rush around in their cars to meet up with such tours. So once again closer pickup points and more flexible schedules. Logistics with people as the material being transported and warehoused.

Getting to the destination quickly. Once again trains would seem to be the answer to this. But how to transport caravans, boats and other large recreational equipment? This would really seem to leave us with the main thing which gave rise to car ownership in the first place, which in turn permitted commuting to work.

So whilst there is a lot we can do to eliminate traffic, and reduce the need for high speed. We still have the problem of happy care free holiday makers not paying attention to much of anything. But are death of holiday makers the biggest problem or commuters on their way to work, or professional drivers at work?

Back to The Issue of Speed

So I contend that we can slow things down, or transport things at significantly higher speeds. However our primary problem still remains of slowing the rate at which a vehicle is brought to rest. Alternatively we need to remove the hazards which require the need to rapidly bring the vehicle to rest.

Removing Hazards

In cities foot bridges and pedestrian subways can take people from one side of a road to the other, such avoids the need for traffic lights and stopping road vehicles. Bridges however have height clearance limits, whilst the subways have weight limits: though such characteristics should already be controlled.

In small rural towns likely not the population to justify the expense of such infrastructure, on the other hand the state and federal government sees fit to put highways straight through the centre of such towns rather than have such highways circle around the town.

So need to control the speed through the towns, now speed controls typically create hazards. The reason speed controls create hazards is because they only consider speed. Once again speed does not kill: it is the impact force resulting from acceleration (the rate at which speed is changed) which kills.

Speed controls installed into the infrastructure do not slow vehicles down at an acceptable rate.  Speed signs are typically installed in the wrong location. Take Tea Tree Gully, when leaving the plaza, and passing the school there is a sign at around 50 km/h pass the school and houses. Then it rapidly changes to 80km/h on a blind bend, go round the bend smack into the back of the traffic queue at the milne road junction. The 80 km/h sign shouldn’t occur until get through the traffic lights, and even then it should occur slowly, as you do not instantaneously leave the area in which there is likely to be pedestrians.

I suggest that the speed on approach to traffic lights should be 30 km/h and sign posted. Moreover I suggest that traffic speed limit signs should be associated with lines across the road: when a vehicle crosses the line then that is the speed it should have. So not only should the sign approaching the milne road intersection not be 80 km/h, it should be reducing the 50 km/h down to 30 km/h as approach the junction. As move through the intersection the speed should progressively increase to 80 km/h, not dependent on the acceleration of vehicles, but controlled by the traffic signs.

So what we need are appropriate speed reductions as approach intersections along with more sign posts. It would need to be worked out, but as an example 100 km/h, 80 km/h, 60 km/h, 40 km/h, 20 km/h, 10 km/h, with suitable distances set between each. The speed increase would be similar. Instead of sign posts line markings could be used. So for example if the speed in Tea Plaza car park is 10 km/h to 20 km/h, then cannot pass the facility at more than 40 km/h, since that is the speed required to reduce to prior to entering the facility at its required speed. Those passing the plaza probably wouldn’t like the idea, those trying to get out, would probably consider otherwise.

The fundamental problem we have is merging multiple flow channels. So instead of wasting time and resources measuring speed, would be better of observing the behavior of traffic, and designing and implementing better flow control systems.

Narrowing a road and creating a bottleneck poses a hazard because it requires too rapid a deceleration to the safer lower speed of the narrowing. The transition from one speed to another has to be properly managed. Acceleration has to  be properly managed.


  1. [13/05/2017]: Original