“Explaining the Irrational Commuter” in Symposium Magazine

Traffic moves along a street at night in the Shinjuku distri

I have a post up at Symposium Magazine on “Explaining the Irrational Commuter“. Read it. This article summarizes much of our experimental-behavioral work on route choice decision making over the past decade.

The increasing sophistication of data collection and analysis gives us deeper insights into human behavior — and how we make decisions about everyday travel.

Transportation debates, from the local to national level, are invariably waged between competing interests. There are players representing economic development, road construction, the environmental lobbies, and diverse groups of transportation users — just to name a few. But there is also an important role for independent experts to play — not just as honest brokers, but as analysts who can assess what they learn from the increasingly sophisticated collection of data about travel and human behavior. And this is where academics can step in. Research that I have conducted with colleagues at the University of Minnesota has allowed us break down travel behavior and draw some surprising lessons that can guide transportation policy.

Symposium is a relatively new venue, aimed at building bridges across disciplinary domains in the academy.

Other articles in the issue include:

Thomas Flores on the rise of technocrats; Scott Taylor on what historians can teach us about climate change; Chuck McCutcheon on how one law professor has played a part in both sides of the surveillance debate; and Judith Sebesta on whether college really is for everyone.