The Soul of the Commuter

Back in April of this year, Nick Paumgarten wrote a very sobering essay about commuting for the New Yorker: "There and Back Again". It just won a Sidney Award.

But this essay is a walk in the woods compared to Jane Jacobs' 2004 "Dark Age Ahead" or James Howard Kunstler's 1993, "The Geography of Nowhere". Talking about America, he writes:
"The suburban streets of almost all postwar housing developments were designed so that a car can comfortably maneuver at fifty miles per hour -- no matter what the legal speed limit is. The width and curb ratios are set in stone by traffic engineers who wanted to create streets so ultrasafe (for motorists) that any moron could drive them without wrecking his car. This is a good example of the folly of professional overspecialization. The traffic engineer is not concerned about the pedestrians. His mission is to make sure that wheeled vehicles are happy. What he deems to be ultrasafe for motorists can be dangerous for pedestrians who share the street with cars. Anybody knows a child of eight walking home from school at three o'clock in the afternoon uses a street differently than a forty-six-year-old carpet cleaner in a panel truck."

[Thank you to Leon and Barry]


The Next Road Pricing Hero

The Dutch Parliament, as of 4 December 2007, has approved the policy needed to move the entire country to by-the-kilometer road pricing.