Re: Traffic as a Social Ill

by Mike LaHaye

So David thinks traffic is the worst thing ever (Scroll down 7 inches to read it, because even I’m not vain enough to link to my own blog that has two posts).

Because I’m a human who does not run an oil company, I agree that traffic sucks. I think he totally misses the forest for the trees in seeing traffic as the ill and not a symptom of some real identifiable problems.


1) We live in a country where we know how to build a better transportation system from scratch than the one we have. I live in a really idiotic suburb with little useful mass transit, and no good way to build a mass transit system that will serve the people where they live today. I don’t know that we live in a country that knows how to make serious investments to prevent problems that don’t exist yet, but undoubtedly will if we don’t stop scaling up our present way of doing things.


2) People spend a lot of time sitting in traffic because they work far away from where we live. We live in a country where white people left the cities when black people started to move into them. Our neighborhoods are still shaped by the white flight. Quality schools, safe streets, and having a social good grocery store here and there keeps money in the suburbs 50 years after redlining ended.


3) Automotive companies and unions and oil companies stand to lose a lot of money if people live closer together and spend less time commuting and burning fuel and wearing out their cars. And the people that run car and oil companies have a lot more political influence than the people that MIGHT live in a high rise condo and ride a subway to work if they existed.

As I said, I’m not really disagreeing that traffic sucks. It’s fixed time that we’re doing nothing but listening to music and risking death. But shouldn’t we call heavy traffic a symptom of the real diseases of racism and cronyism and a dysfunctional legislative system?