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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 9 May 2008
How to really save driving time, petrol cost and love road cyclists
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: local news

 Picture: Local bus driver Steve inspects the aluminium recycling for the editor's ecology action pick up van earlier this week.

The big cycling driver aggro debate is escalating with a malicious attack on a group of sportsmen and women. It looks like a hit and run and legal bunfight with some heavy weight stakeholders like Olympian athletes, cyclist Adam Spencer of 702 abc radio and NRMA deep bias to car drivers.

But there is actually a resolution in this pitched battle over property in the road surface, and human right to choose one's mode of transport (especially the ethical choice of cycling). It's more about adjusting human perspective than surrounding transport realities which don't change very much.

Our credentials here are 5 years 2002-2007 as street press delivery driver thoughout the inner city. And we still do some delivery work occasionally as above. Not quite the freeway type road conditions on the relevant Southern Cross Drive in this conflict but the principles are the same:

1. Expert fuel conservation drivers advise that a speed reduction of say 50% on city roads has not much change in the trip arrival time but it also saves petrol used by 30% saving alot of money (see below). How so? Well it's obvious really - city driving is from one bottle neck (eg traffic light, congested traffic) to the next. It is nothing in this reality to be held up 30 seconds at a traffic light, similar to navigating past a big bunch of sports cyclists. Not that we are into cycling for sport, more like for work and basic transport:

It's not your maximum speed, it's the average around you that counts. To fight against the crowd around you is like swimming against a rip at the beach - it's a waste of time and energy. People who don't get this are having trouble with their own narrow perceptions (which brings me back to the old hobby horse about alcohol and the decades long slow brain damage, or indeed the bad mood from a hang over the morning after):

It's amazing how over takers will be right next to you at the next lights because everyone is only as fast as the next bottleneck. Indeed look at this expert study of lane changers for no time saving with excess use of fuel:

 [University of Queensland, Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture]

New Research Says Lane Changers Get No Savings

11 August 2006
by Charlotte Nash-Stewart
With petrol prices rising, new research from Civil Engineering’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Research Laboratory shows aggressive drivers not only use more fuel and create more emissions than defensive drivers, but save themselves little travel time in the process.
“When you compare the fuel consumption and emissions, it can be up to four times greater for aggressive drivers in a motorway environment,” said ITS Lab Director Dr Hussein Dia. “And for just a 4% saving in travel time.” (62seconds on a 26 minute trip)
The study modelled aggressive drivers as taking greater risks when following other vehicles and changing lanes, and simulated travel on a fairly uncongested M1 motorway.
“In the simulator, aggressive drivers accept shorter follow-up distances to the vehicle ahead,” said Dr Dia.  “For instance they are willing to take a two second gap where a defensive driver might look for a four or five second gap.”
Aggressive drivers were also more hazardous.  The simulations show frequent braking while attempting lane changes results in near collisions, which can also create a congestion “shock wave” in traffic behind them.
“This effect can last for 10-15 minutes, and by the time you get past it, there is no apparent problem,” said Dr Dia.  “All it takes, especially on freeways, is someone travelling at 100km/hr to suddenly brake to create this ripple effect.”
The ITS lab generated the data from existing simulation programs, and included their own fuel field data validated consumption and emissions model.
“From the acceleration and speed of the vehicle we can tell how much fuel is being used,” said Dr Dia.  “From the field data, we are quite confident it is a good replication.”
Many drivers listening to the research findings on ABC radio were surprised to hear that many lane changes would not significantly speed their trip.
“A lot of people were surprised because they thought they would get there five or ten minutes earlier, but this wasn’t the case, and they didn’t realise the damage they were causing the environment,” said Dr Dia.  “Most fuel consumption and emissions occur during accelerating and decelerating.  If you travel smoothly and only change lanes when necessary it is much more efficient.”
“You might save a couple of minutes here and there, but what you’re doing to the environment and your own hip pocket, not to mention stress ... These findings reinforce what we already know:  lane discipline is a basic premise in traffic engineering as it ensures that drivers and vehicles get from their origins to destinations quicker and safer,” he said.  “That is the ultimate aim of any efficient transport system.”
Dr Dia said the key was changing driver behaviour, and this data compliments research on other applications being prepared for the Queensland Department of Main Roads to encourage drivers to stay in their lanes and maintain safe distances.
Such measures include lane control, such as on Coronation Drive, over-road dynamic message signs, and variable speed limits which would allow bottlenecks to be relieved at peak periods by dynamically changing the speed of upstream traffic.
The simulations on aggressive driver behaviour were undertaken for an ABC field study and Dr Dia said it was rewarding that the simulation results matched the field data, showing the ITS Lab models to be calibrated and validated with a practical degree of accuracy.
For more information…

ABC Catalyst Program News Item
View the Simulation Experiment

2. Building on point 1, cutting travel time while driving is all about planning ahead and making the right strategic decisions about how to get into the best flowing stream of traffic while travelling quite moderate or slow. For instance:

(a) Marrickville to CBD 7.30-9.00 am , best to avoid Newtown totally, and go via Dulwich Hill to Parramatta Rd via Broadway.

(b) Similarly Marrickville to Eastern Suburbs in peak hour morning or evening - avoid CBD and Oxford St. Travel via Alexandria, Surry Hills and Moore Park Rd.

3. Driving fast in city traffic is a very big waste of money:

 Take it slow and save big on gas

Driving style has a big impact on fuel economy. Backing off can save big.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - You can get 35 percent better fuel mileage out of your current vehicle by using a device most drivers already have.

That would be your right foot.

Most drivers agonizing over the cost of gasoline fail to realize the enormous impact their driving style has on fuel consumption.

During the last run-up in fuel prices, we wrote about Edmunds.com's tests of common fuel-saving driving tips. Some common tips, it turned out, had little or no effect on fuel economy. (Edmunds.com provides data and content for CNN.com's automotive Websites.) ...

If you want a big gain in fuel mileage, though, you need to seriously lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerating more slowly away from green lights and stopping more gradually for red lights cut fuel consumption in Edmunds.com's tests by 35.4 percent for the Land Rover and 27.1 percent for the Mustang.

Slamming down the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster.

You can also save a lot of gas by just lifting your foot off the accelerator as soon as possible when approaching a yellow or red light or a stop sign.

For one thing, letting up on the gas sooner gives your car more coasting time.

By the way, when we say "accelerating hard" and "stopping abruptly" we aren't necessarily talking about juvenile tire-squealing antics. If you start keeping a conscious eye on how you drive, you may realize that you've been hot-rodding around for years without realizing it.

In Edmunds.com's tests, they slowed acceleration times down to a 20-second run from zero to sixty miles per hour. Compared to the kind of zero-to-sixty times we hear car makers bragging about these days, 20 seconds may sound impossibly slow. In fact, it is slow. But, while it won't get your pulse pounding, it will get you safely onto the highway.

Since most drivers don't have a stopwatch handy to time their acceleration, Cole Quinnel, a spokesman for Chrysler Corp. engineers, advises not pressing the gas pedal down by more than an inch unless you really have to. Using that approach, the difference in fuel economy will be appreciable.

Let's say that your car currently gets 22 miles per gallon overall. If this laid-back driving style gets you just 30 percent more in fuel mileage, which Edmunds.com's tests indicate it could, you'd see that increase to about 30 miles per gallon.

It's not easy, though. For most people, driving this way will feel, to say the least, awkward. When I tried Quinnel's high-mileage driving advice, it was difficult to maintain this disciplined approach to acceleration and deceleration without consistent effort. The minute I let my concentration slip -- Zoom! -- off I'd go again in a gas-wasting rush, just like I usually do.

And, to be perfectly honest, it was a little embarrassing to drive that way. Every molecule of testosterone in my body was begging to be excused for the day.

But, in a couple of short drives, the car was using significantly less gas per mile, even with my occasional slip-up. Maybe if I keep it up, I can soothe my dented ego with a little cash in my wallet.

4. In all cases never worry about travelling slow or fast behind other traffic. Have your favourite music in the car and radio stations. Carry water in case it gets hot and suffer dehydration leading to rage. Be happy, don't worry. Experienced drivers tend to even read a bit at the lights but the authorities probably wouldn't encourage this.

The real disruption to travel time is the choice of road with congestion bottlenecks and knowledge of all sidestreets which only comes with experience, and ability to judge the traffic ahead of time to avoid navigational mistakes stuck in the wrong lane etc.

In this way you can save alot of petrol driving slower, arrive at roughly the same time, feel alot more relaxed and learn to love bunches of cyclists because everyone stops at the next bottleneck anyway.

And the last principle? No. 5 taxi drivers are very arrogant, but then who would want to do their job every day?

As petrol becomes very very expensive we have been researching the following:




Posted by editor at 9:56 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 9 May 2008 1:03 PM NZT

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