Europhys. Lett.
Volume 70, Number 3, May 2005
Page(s) 299 - 305
Section General
Published online 06 April 2005
Europhys. Lett., 70 (3), pp. 299-305 (2005)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2005-10006-6

Will jams get worse when slow cars move over?

B. Schmittmann, J. Krometis and R. K. P. Zia

Center for Stochastic Processes in Science and Engineering and Department of Physics, Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA 24061-0435, USA

received 31 January 2005; accepted in final form 15 March 2005
published online 6 April 2005

Motivated by an analogy with traffic, we simulate two species of particles ("vehicles"), moving stochastically in opposite directions on a two-lane ring road. Each species prefers one lane over the other, controlled by a parameter $0\leq b\leq 1$ such that b=0 corresponds to random lane choice and b=1 to perfect "laning". We find that the system displays one large cluster ("jam") whose size increases with b, contrary to intuition. Even more remarkably, the lane "charge" (a measure for the number of particles in their preferred lane) exhibits a region of negative response: even though vehicles experience a stronger preference for the "right" lane, more of them find themselves in the "wrong" one! For b very close to 1, a sharp transition restores a homogeneous state. Various characteristics of the system are computed analytically, in good agreement with simulation data.

05.70.Ln - Nonequilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics.
64.60.Cn - Order-disorder transformations; statistical mechanics of model systems.
89.75.Kd - Patterns.

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