October 15, 2009

I want to know if there is anyone working to solve the traffic issue in the US, are there any expansion stage companies that might be able to chime in.

I strengthen my feet every morning with a game called 3 pedals, two feet. That’s right, for close to 45 minutes every day I sit in stop and go traffic in a manual transmission Volkswagen. For those of you out there that drive a stick shift you know what I’m talking about, for those that don’t, traffic is still one of the most irritating aspects of the work day. Considering the average American spends over 56 days of their life stuck in traffic makes me sick.

I spend a lot of my time wondering how the physics of traffic work; sure accidents cause backups and of course volume contributes to a bottleneck effect and what about the jerks that tries and merges from a two lane into a single lane at the very last minute. But why? I always knew from the amount of time I’ve spent on the road that when the guy in front of me hits his brake because the guy in front of him swerved into his lane sans blinker it causes me to slightly brake. Even if my brake lights only flicker it causes the chain reaction behind me, aka the traffic wave. Check out this article which cites a Japanese study on the traffic shockwave…it even includes an awesome video.
Furthermore, not everyone drives the same way, some might be nervous and brake more, others might be more confident and brake less, but psychology certainly comes into play here making it really difficult to solve the problem because there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

I try as best I can to keep a constant pace while on a highway, fluctuations in speed and erratic lane changing only leads those behind me to hit their brakes, thus resulting in the shockwave. I suppose some form of automatic driving would do the trick, every car limited to say 60mph (the Will Smith movie IRobot showed us this). I guess one of the most obvious answers is for more mass transit, car pooling and or telecommuting. Check out this guy’s video on his solution for eating traffic waves:

The DOT has spent millions of dollars on working through solutions and implementing certain tricks into freeways in congested cities throughout the country. Take for example timed traffic lights on LA’s onramps, but for those of you that have spent time in LA traffic before know that those traffic lights don’t help much.

So what’s the solution, and more importantly can OpenView invest growth capital in any companies out there looking to expand? Are there any entrepreneurs out there raising venture capital to develop software that helps to solve this infuriating problem?


Peter Zotto is the GM at <a href="">Price Intelligently</a>. Previously he was an analyst at OpenView where he helped to identify qualified investment opportunities.