After many days of rain one lane of this two lane road collapsed into the canyon. It's been out for a month and it will be many more months before it will be fixed. Thanks to Google maps way too many drivers take this once sleepy local road.
How do you think drivers go through this chokepoint?
One hundred experience points to you if you answered one at a time.
One at a time! Through a half-duplex pipe following a first in first out discipline takes forever!
Yes, there is a stop sign. And people default to this mode because it appeals to our innate sense of fairness. What could be fairer than alternating one at a time?
The problem is it's stupid.
While waiting, stewing, growing angrier, I often think if people just knew a little queueing theory we could all be on our way a lot faster.
We can't make the pipe full duplex, so that's out. Let's assume there's no priority involved, vehicles are roughly the same size and take roughly the same time to transit the network. Then what do you do?
Why can't people figure out its faster to drive through in batches? If we went in groups of say, three, the throughput would be much higher. And when one side's queue depth grows larger because people are driving to or from work that side's batch size should increase.
Since this condition will last a long time we have a possibility to learn because the same people take this road all the time. So what happens if you try to change the culture by showing people what a batch is by driving right behind someone as they take their turn?
You got it. Honking. There's a simple heuristic, a deeply held ethic against line cutting, so people honk, flip you off, and generally make heir displeasure known.
It's your classic battle of reason versus norms. The smart thing is the thing we can't do by our very natures. So we all just keep doing the dumb thing.