PermaLink Worried about traffic? Look in your back seat.02/21/2006 04:43 PM

I keep scratching my head whenever I hear urban planners and politicians discuss the idea of suburban congestion as if it's some cosmic beam from space about which we can do nothing.  Of course we can!
This topic came up on a list I'm on related to Segway, the marvelous human transporter.  When you have too many people in one place, there are two possible outcomes.  The best of them is to figure out how to put those people in the space you have.  The other solution is to spread the same (or increasing) number of humans across a larger area.  But like skyscrapers, the infrastructure needed to support horizontal expansion tends to eat an increasing amount of space and resources unto itself.  In other words, you can put 2000 people in a dense hi-rise apartment complex, and build one metro station and a couple of bus stops, and you can use the existing streets to handle their transportation needs, but if you throw those humans across a 300-acre moderate-density single-family-home development, suddenly you also have to have an enormous amount of extra space devoted to streets, sidewalks, parking lots, access roads, interchanges, left-turn lanes, shoulders, and all sorts of stuff to meet their existing transportation needs... if they decide they "need" individual cars.

Segway bridges that gap.  Suppose you had a subdivision where there were no roads?  None.  No driveways.  No garages.  Nothing but walking paths.  Suddenly you can pack a lot more houses -- smaller houses, since they don't have garages or driveways or other car-crap -- into the same space!  Or, if you like, the same amount of people in smaller spaces.  Let people walk, or glide, to metro nearby, perhaps a stop shared by several other such tightly-clustered communities.  Or to nearby shopping and telecommuting centers.


But that's not how things are going.  The root reason is, people are making too many other humans.  For some reason, people think they are exempt from laws of supply and demand.  They are not.  Humans' value goes up and down with supply and demand, like any other manufactured object.

The solution is pretty damn simple, one known to manufacturers, farmers and The Sorcerer's Apprentice:  if you have too many of something, stop making more until you actually need more.

Yeah, that's right:  stop making more babies.  In 20 years, the congestion problem will solve itself.  Nothing amuses me more than women (it's often women, but sometimes men) who complain about how long it takes them to get anywhere in traffic in a Kia Sedona, and you look, and in the SUV are at least three children.  Sure, no big deal now, but in 15 years, each of those kids will have their own car, complaining about how there are too many people out on the roads.

And their parents will still be complaining, too, stupidly unaware that they helped create the problem themselves, with their own loins.

So, everyone:  stop making babies at once.  Yours will not be special enough to offset the resources they will consume.  Don't even do that "we have to replace ourselves" crap unless you plan on offing yourselves when your two children reach majority.  Since you won't be doing that, the "replacement" thing does not work, and never has, not in all recorded history.

Humans need to get over the idea that even one more human is needed, anywhere in the world.  They are not.  Please stop making them.  Nobody's buying them any more.
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1. Patrick M02/22/2006 07:08:16 AM

It can't be said enough. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Thanks, Turtle.


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