Traffic jams

We spent more than 4 hours along a short 2km stretch of the Singapore-Malaysia second linkway last Saturday morning. It didn’t exactly feel that long as I was in good company and found it entertaining to watch how the buses, lorries, motorcycles and some defiant motorists use the left road shoulder as their fast-track lane.

It was interesting how some of the vehicles steered by really experienced drivers weaved in and out of the road shoulder and then moved to the middle lane at different points of time. The drivers were assertive but relatively patient, finding every opportunity they have to inch forward and wedge between the gaps between 2 cars in the adjacent lane.

There seem to be some kind of logic in the flows and it is questionable if there’s any kind of real queuing justice in the entire journey because there were merging and then diverging lanes. Fortunes of the vehicles could quickly change at these points. And everyone had to be on their toes.

It’s tiring to be driving in a jam because not only are you not making any progress forward but you’re competing to gain just tiny advantage and constantly watching that advantage to avoid losing it. I find this to be an analogy of living in Asia where there’s a lot of competition over very small rewards. Innovation is numerous and difficult to compare. There seem to be some invisible hand that is not just sorting and ordering of quality of ideas but who are behind those ideas. Who you are may determine if you would be penalised for using the road shoulder, and what you know might help you gain a small upper hand or two but overall, the society is held back by the cross-cancellation of the various innovative forces.