Causes of congestion continue to confuse

Causes of congestion continue to confuse

edit: just to clarify (thanks to Colin in the comments), “congestion” here is referring to motor vehicle congestion rather than the good kind (see the comments)

Half-wits. That’s really who we’re dealing with here.

Let us imagine a scenario where you find yourself packed into an elevator with a bunch of other people to absolute capacity. Like, sardines in a can, capacity.

Let us then imagine that someone asked you to identify why it was so very crowded in the elevator.

What would your answer be? It might require some careful consideration. Some advanced problem solving skills. Some considerable and valuable brain matter might have to be called upon to assist with such a complex matter.

If this has stymied you as it appears to have for those featured in the delightful bit of “investigative reporting” by our dear friends at Channel 7, then let me be of assistance.

The elevator that you have been packed into like so many sardines is crowded, precisely because all of those other assholes have decided to be exactly where you want to be for reasons that clearly are without merit, unlike your reasons, which are exactly the same as theirs, but completely different, and besides which, are actually important, unlike theirs. Wankers.

Does this infuriate you? It should.

It should infuriate you that congestion is such a needlessly complex living organism that exists outside of a human’s ability to comprehend.

Or, wait a minute, no… That’s not quite right.

Oh, that’s right – what should infuriate you is that congestion is about as difficult to figure out as too many people being in the elevator at the same time is. It’s not.

If you don’t want the reality of congestion, then you must eliminate the reality that allows it. Nay, creates it.

These people who get all arced up about traffic congestion and then continue to drive their (usually single-occupant) vehicles around when everybody else also wants to, display a frustratingly low-level of intelligence.

Congestion is your problem, and you are the solution

You are the problem.

Your choices are why the roads are congested. Why the school run is chaos. Why kids get injured and killed. Why tempers flare. Why time is wasted. Why the endless ripple effect of traffic congestion effects us all in so many ways.

It’s one of those collective action problems that needs people to act at least a little bit in the interest of the group in order to keep their own problem from getting worse (and ok things getting better). Like the Tragedy of the Commons:

As far as congestion is concerned, it’s actually quite easy. As long as everybody still gains (I can drive and park my car whenever and wherever I like as a net benefit to me), everybody continues to drive. If you want that to change, then you have to introduce disincentives to eliminate abuse of the system and preventing it from collapsing.

Many cities have already begun doing this. Monetary cost and physical difficulty are proven and effective ways at combating traffic congestion (while improving quality of life that extends well beyond travel times). Congestion charges and closing roads to cars, or even whole city centres, for example.

If driving is made to be the easiest way to get around by offering almost all of the road space to cars, offering abundant and cheap parking, heavy subsidies, and making licenses easy to get and maintain, then guess what? You get congestion.

If this is the environment we have nurtured and if vehicle access to schools for pick-up and drop-off are then also is made easy, then guess what? The school-run becomes a nightmare.

Which is all ridiculously obvious. Painfully so. Why it is that people are still so baffled by congestion is, on one hand, absolutely beyond me, but on the other, totally understandable.

People are selfish and short-sighted, and in an environment where they are free to keep adding sheep to the common field, most people will continue to do so, even to their own detriment. What really blows my mind is that people refuse to see that they are exactly what they are complaining about.

So that being the case, and if our leaders have any brains and even a bit of a spine, perhaps one day they’ll figure out that the only solution to congestion is clear and actually worth solving for in a real and meaningful way by interrupting and changing the course we are on in regards to traffic in our cities.

Because apparently, we’re too stupid and/or selfish to do it for ourselves.


Header image: source