Context : OnRoads

Very good article in Wired on a new approach to roads and traffic engineering.


  • 1) Compare with TheCityAsInformationSystem which points out that optimizing road journeys impoverishes the information processing capacity of the city. Optimized car journeys have very low FractalLoading of other kinds of information on top of them. Compare the way this article points out that de-optimizing road links (by reducing the number of lanes and boundaries that isolate the road from other parts of the city) re-integrates the roads into a richer set of interdependencies with the area it passes through, and makes it a) safer, b) increases the value of the surroundings. TheCityAsInformationSystem might help with the theory.
  • 2) At first glance, this is a perfect Wired / TechnoLibertarian story. The problem is the over-controlling government regulation (via road-signs) who's clumsiness has actually made matters worse (reduced safety). And doing nothing more than removing this control actually allows people's innate intelligence to spontaneously arisew and solve the problems, piece-meal.

: At the same time, if you were to run this story past the more traditional anti-car, green influenced RoadProtestMovements you'll probably find a lot of agreement.

  • 3) Second thoughts, re: point 2, above. Like most on the left I've tended to see a dichotomy between collective "public transport" (mainly trains) and individualistic "private transport" : CarCulture. With much of the problems with car-culture lumped in with (attributable to / contributing to) the more general problem of individualism.

: But now I'm wondering.

: In the US, the HighwaySystem has been held up as a paradigm example of a PublicGoods problem "solved" by government investment. Whereas the 19th Century railways were pretty much built by private enterprise. A Libertarian might be able to turn round and demonstrate pretty conclusively that private enterprise is rather unlikely to have produced a wholesale shift to CarCulture and its discontents without the subsidy of government road building. And in this case, we'd have seen more development and innocation of the railways. Perhaps smarter "packet-switched" autonomous petrol driven carriages using existing railway line (faster / safer / less pollution). Capital should be expert in WorseIsBetter opportunism, and taking advantage of existing infrastructure.

: I'm not saying I believe this. But I see that something like that may turn out to be true. Anyone want to add some evidence?