CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Archive for November 24th, 2008

Top 10

I’m delighted to note that Traffic has been named one of the “Top 10″ books of 2008 both by Planetizen and by Library Journal. Oh, and also one of the “Top 10″ Editor’s Picks (current events category) by Amazon. More to come, I hope!

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008 at 4:25 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
No Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Raymond Loewy on the Future of the Car

“The public may admire a corporation for its impressive size. Who in the United States doesn’t? But when a business, however gigantic, gets smug enough to believe that it is sufficient only to match competition on trivial points instead of leading competition in valid matters, that business is becoming vulnerable to public disfavor.”

That’s from a piece by industrial designer Raymond Loewy (who worked outside the Big Three), published in the April, 1955 issue of The Atlantic.

He makes a number of interesting prophecies about the car in America, most of which have come true (e.g., “Semiautomatic driving will become the rule. Driving will be easier—therefore more relaxing; therefore more dangerous.”)

Interestingly, he was well off on one point: “In fifty years, even if the rate of fatal accidents declines (as it does annually, based on the number of miles traveled), we may expect as many as 120,000 killed annually. Obviously, something will have to be done about this, by driver education—the biggest factor—and by the automotive industry itself.”

He apparently wasn’t listening to Smeed. I suspect the safety gains have more to do with the cars themselves than with driver education.

Piece is after the jump… (more…)

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008 at 4:15 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Cognitive Dissonance and Congestion Pricing

Reading this bit of the Janette Sadik-Khan profile in the American Prospect, which contained a line that, intentionally or not, described a certain inevitability towards congestion pricing…

“…Sadik-Khan sees the initial rejection of congestion pricing as an opportunity. “You know, no big idea happens in New York the first time around,” she says. “It is almost a benefit that congestion pricing didn’t pass, because now we are able to get all these pieces in place prior to the start of pricing…”

…had me in mind of a paper I had recently read, “Reactance or acceptance? Reactions towards the introduction of road pricing,” by Jens Schade & Markus Bauma, at the Technische Universität Dresden, Traffic and Transportation Psychology, in Dresden, Germany; the paper was submitted to the journal Transportation Research.

The researchers wanted to know, in light of the fact that road pricing schemes to date have been implemented without majority support ahead of time: “How will persons and in particular concerned car drivers react to the (planned) introduction of road pricing? Either, will persons respond with even stronger negative attitudes, rejection or reactance towards such proposals or will they adapt to the new situation and develop actually more positive attitudes because they have to accept the inevitable?”

They pointed to the case of Oslo: “In the year before the implementation of the Oslo toll ring, 70% of the city’s population were negative towards the toll ring. When the system had been operative for one year this opposition had been reduced to 64 %. In 1998 this figure was 54 %. The share being very negative has decreased from 40 to 17 % during the same period. The share being positive to the toll system has steadily increased during the period, from 30% before the toll system opened to 46 % in 1998.”

The answer could be, of course, that residents were seeing a benefit from the plan, and hence the opposition had dropped. But they wondered if there were other psychological mechanisms at work, so they conducted a series of interviews with German drivers, in which they varied, in their questions, the seeming likelihood of congestion pricing being approved. They found that drivers were less likely to oppose pricing the more imminent its adoption seemed. “In addition,” they wrote, “they perceive only weak social norms against the toll and they state lower negative emotions like anger.” The drivers were, the researchers suggested, trying to reduce their levels of cognitive dissonance: “Dissonance theory postulates that when there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviours (dissonance), people are motivated to reduce or to eliminate the dissonance because these inconsistencies cause discomfort.”

As an aside, I had the sense something similar was happening in the last weeks of the presidential campaign. As the Obama victory began to seem more and more inevitable, people who may have been firmly opposed or undecided suddenly shifted positions, either to match their attitudes with a seeming majority or because they did not want to seem left behind in some process of historical transformation (even in liberal Brooklyn I felt like I only really began to see a proliferation of Obama bumper stickers in the last weeks, or even after, the election).

I’m not sure how this finding can be applied in any meaningful way to policy; some polls, of course, have found that a majority of New Yorkers already support pricing.

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008 at 4:05 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.
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

 

 

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Twitter
November 2008
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930