Thursday, October 18, 2007

Navigating Around Traffic

Okay, so I'm a New Yorker with a car. I move it from one side of the street to the other once a week to comply with alternate side parking. Then I get a 15 minute window at the end of the no parking time frame before all parking spots go David Blaine. But who's complaining, some streets fill in less than a minute. It's not a fancy car, but realiable and not car thief wishlist contraband. But yes, it is a luxury to own a car in the city. I certainly don't use it to drive around in the city (okay, fine, I drive to that Thai place in Queens, but it's Queens for god's sake. Practically Long Island!). So why would I have four wheels in a city with fantastic public transportation? Well, because the NYC subway doesn't go to Baltimore, where I like to go on my semi-annual crabcake pig out. Nor does it go to various invites to friends' home in the country, a long weekend in Maine, or home cooking in Springfield. For all that and then some I need a car.

To survive in the city, ya gotta get the heck out every now and then. And therein lies the problemo. Cities have traffic. And lots of it. There's this game New York drivers like to play, and it involves an infinite amount of effortless statements on the best route out of the city. From Brooklyn, for example: over the bridges (free), under the tunnel (fee), into Manhattan or the BQE, the Jackie Robinson during certain hours, the TriBorough, the Deegan, the Saw Mill, the Harlem River Drive, avoid the George Washington traffic by never driving north, oh- and my personal favorite, "I only take local streets". The f*#k you do. Which brings me to the whole point of the story. Aside from having locked and loaded the very best exit strategy for leaving the city, how the heck are you going to bypass the traffic crawl? Well, there's the dinging alert, like some "Red Dawn" era radio bulletin, of 1010 WINS' traffic report on AM radio. Of course, driving and listening to the speedtalking sixty second breakdown of every transportation artery in the tri-state area leaves one comprehensionally challenged.

Help may be on the way. Today's NY Times article, Navigating With Feedback From Fellow Drivers introduces the Dash Navigation system. It's a snazzy little invention on a trial run in 25 large cities, and works kind of like a GPS unit.

    Ms. Bender’s navigation device, a Dash Express, had done something that no other can currently do. It not only reported that there was a tie-up — many systems already do that — but it also told her how long it would take to get through it, based on current traffic reports and its record of past journeys.

    What makes the Dash device so different is that it not only receives location data from the satellites of the Global Positioning System, like other navigation units, but it also broadcasts information about its travels back to the Dash network.

Other GPS units have a plethora of info, including traffic info. But they take upwards of 2 days to be updated, and frankly, I'd like to be out of traffic by then. But who am I kidding. AM radio is free...


English Major said...

Here's a driving destination: hit up Shanghai Joe's in Astoria for soup dumplings, or DiFara Pizza in Midwood. My boyfriend and I try to get out to one or the other every time we borrow my parents' car!

PiggyBankBlues said...

i loooooove difaras and shanghai joes! is the shanghai joes better in astoria than chinatown?

the place i go to in queens is Sripraphai- you & your boyfriend should definitely go there, i you haven't been already. the fried watercress salad sends me into orbit.