CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

A Miracle of Controlled Chaos

Traffic is mentioned in an elegant paean to commuting in the Guardian by Joe Moran, author of the delightful Queuing for Beginners.

After first describing examining some of the hoary cultural critiques of commuting (“dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about in suburban trains” and “tossed out at the end of the day into the entrance halls of railway stations, those cathedrals of departure for the hell of weekdays,” went one 1968 screed), Moran then goes on to wonder about the psychic value of the daily grind:

“The academic Eva Illouz invented the phrase “cold intimacies” to describe this culture in which emotional literacy is prized, pop psychology defines our identities, and our workplaces stress the importance of empathy and consensus.

We live in a world, Illouz writes, that is “Rousseauian with a vengeance”, in which our “emotions have become entities to be evaluated, inspected, discussed, bargained, quantified, and commodified”. Perhaps, then, we have learnt to welcome the commute as a neutral space where we can escape this obligation to be permanently available to others, and where an informal public life can flourish, without the emotional demands of work or home.”

Further, he notes, there is something to be marveled at in the sheer logistics of it all:

“Amid all the justified moaning about jams and delays, it is worth remembering that this rush-hour movement of 36 million Britons each day is really a miracle of controlled chaos. The National Travel Survey found that more than half of commuters, both in cars and public transport, have no problems with their daily journey. And even the large minority that do have problems generally arrive at work on time and in one piece, without murdering each other.”

He concludes with a curious detail:

“One of my students told me that in Second Life, that virtual world online, no one uses the roads or railways because they can simply teleport to their destinations. Nothing comes between the cyber-citizens and their real estate; commuting has been abolished. And part of me thought: what sort of life is that?”

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 at 7:33 am and is filed under Book News, Cities, Congestion, Traffic Psychology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “A Miracle of Controlled Chaos”

  1. Shek Says:

    The local train system in Bombay(Mumbai) is worth a mention too.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum
Toronto

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Communications.
Grand Rapids MI

 

 

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