Why would we do nothing different?

The Star Tribune reports on a recent local “scare forecast” (notice the “scare quotes”) that local agencies have put out about how traffic will get remorselessly worse in: Rush hour traffic: Get ready to crawl. I get quoted saying it won’t be so bad.
Clearly MnDOT won’t be spending as much on new construction, but there is no evidence individuals will travel as much, in the peak, in 20 years, as they do now, (peak travel, etc.)

The claim is the region is growing, which might be true, but I suspect optimism here (as we approach a fifth full month with snow on the ground).

If congestion gets worse, you would expect people to adapt. Cars will be better (and hopefully autonomous), increasing capacity (both in terms of closer spacing and narrower lanes). Roads will be priced, decreasing peak demand. Telecommunications technology will get better, finally enabling travel-substitution for a large share of the population.
If we do nothing different, things will be worse. Knowing that, why would we do nothing different?

One thought on “Why would we do nothing different?

  1. This reminds me of John Baez’s blog on climate change ( http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/azimuth-project-news/ ) which postulates the reverse causality – it is only when things start getting worse that humans (as a group, rather than individual humans) start doing something different. I have cut and pasted the relevant quote below:
    Plan C
    Analyzing plans of action is just the first step in a more ambitious project: we’d like to start formulating our own plans. Our nickname for this project is Plan C.
    Why Plan C? Many other plans, like Lester Brown’s Plan B, are too optimistic. They assume that most people will change their behavior in dramatic ways before problems become very serious. We want a plan that works with actual humans.
    In other words: while optimism is a crucial part of any successful endeavor, we also need plans that assume plausibly suboptimal behavior on the part of the human race. It would be best if we did everything right in the first place. It would be second best to catch problems before they get very bad — that’s the idea of Plan B. But realistically, we’ll be lucky if we do the third best thing: muddle through when things get bad.


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