Monday, January 11, 2010

Transportation Model

Standing on the corner for a couple minutes each morning and afternoon, waiting for the bus, has given me the opportunity to do a casual survey of traffic going by. This is nothing new... but once again I am amazed at how many of the vehicles are occupied by only the driver! Single-occupant vehicle is the de-facto standard mode of transportation, obviously.

Imagine if we were starting from scratch.

Somebody - a visionary; we'll call him Edsel Ford - is giving a presentation to the movers-and-shakers, on his dream of modern utopian transportation. It would go something like this:

I have a dream.

I see a vast grid of paved roadways, 30 to 80 feet wide, and stretching for miles and miles. In fact, these roadways could be accurately called the core component of our civilization.

People live far away from their places of work, the merchants they patronize, and their entertainment venues. Since they live so far away, non-motorized transportation is impractical. In order to get where they are going, they need motorized carriages. And because they aren't all going in the same direction and at the same time, each member of the household has his own carriage. These motorized carriages have 4-6 seats, but only one is used on the vast majority of trips.

These carriages weigh 3000-6000 pounds each. They are 7 feet wide and 13-20 feet long. They travel at speeds that weren't even imagined, less than 100 years before. Because of the speeds, and the distracted state and/or incompetence of the carriage drivers, there are frequent accidents resulting in property damage, injuries, and loss of life. But that's a price our society is more than willing to pay.

Of course, the grid of paved roadways needs to be adequate to provide reasonably quick passage. There is a space to park these carriages at their various destinations, as well as at the residences.

These carriages have an internal-combustion engine that burns volatile, highly toxic hydrocarbon fuel, and emits poisonous vapors into the air we all breathe. Small price, to enjoy our preferred mode of transportation.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - I have a dream. Mine eyes have seen the glory!

Any chance the movers-and-shakers would buy in? Seems unlikely to me. And if they did, they shouldn't be moving and shaking.

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