Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The only way to fix traffic is to fix the problem plaguing virtually every human in the world right now: the inability to be deliberate, focused, and mindful about the task that they’re currently engaged in.

Doesn’t matter what bandaids we slap on it, more rail, more carpool lanes, wider roads, etc... those are all treatments to the symptoms not the root cause.

I would posit that if people were mindful and conscious about driving, traffic would improve dramatically. Get off your phone. Stop thinking about the emails in your inbox. Don’t worry about the dinner date you have tonight. Focus. Drive. Be mindful. Be aware.

As a bicyclist I see people driving distracted all the time. There's of course the obvious example of people using their phones while driving. But sometimes I see drivers casually drifting into my bike lane as though they just let their mind wander. Other times I see drivers make a turn without checking for bikes & pedastrians: they're clearly not looking both ways.

OP is wrong that mindfulness is the only way to make traffic better. But distracted driving causes delays from crashes, to people missing a light that turned green.

Your observations are absolutely correct. I see this as a vehicle operator too. I was also a dedicated commuter cyclist for many years, and it’s worse on two wheels. I don’t think being mindful (and I’m not referring to the brand-name Mindfulness meditation world, I’m speaking as a generic dictionary term) will cure all of our woes overnight. But if we don’t address the issue of inattention and distraction first, everything else is literally just a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

While getting people off their phones would certainly reduce injuries and fatalities, the fundamental problem of traffic is that a car takes up way too much physical space for only one person.

That really depends on where you are. It’s all relative. It’s easy to say everyone should ride a bike if they live in the Netherlands. Cars are an absolute necessity in the middle of America.

I point to phones as one cause, but you can be distracted by a dozen other things that are not your phone.

How often do you observe truly clueless daydreaming individuals driving around? I see it all the time. People who are completely conscious, but who are sleeping at the wheel.

> That really depends on where you are. It’s all relative.

No, it's not. As anyone who's paid attention in their driver education can recall, safe operation of an automobile requires at minimum a 2-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. (3 seconds in rain, or at night, 4 seconds in rain and night).

At city speeds, that is a 20-40 meter buffer between you and the vehicle in front. At highway speeds, it is a 60-120 meter buffer.

We're talking about a hundred yards of pavement, per vehicle on that pavement. If that vehicle carries only a single driver, this is an incredibly wasteful and expensive use of our roadways.

This is also why the HOV/dedicated bus lane of a 4-lane freeway tends to have a higher throughput then the other 3 lanes, combined.

How is being near the 405 relevant?

I used to commute from Santa Monica to El Segundo. 405 was hell. My bike down Venice Beach, Dockweiler, etc. was absolutely amazing. Saw dolphins jumping out of the water for a long stretch of jetty once; bonfires, a tv show (Willard I think?) being filmed, drum circles, etc. The only crappy part was the cars, and getting hit by them. Rib still hurts some mornings from a side swipe, and on one of the few times I took Lincoln I very, very nearly died when someone didn't see me until literally the last second, slammed on their brakes, and screeched to a halt 1 inch from my rear tire.

Point being that smaller vehicles, like bikes, make perfect sense if you build for them.

It was not, and I have since removed that portion of my remark.

So you're saying an army of self-driving Ubers would fix traffic?

I find your “solution” hard to put into effect, since most people find driving in traffic to be boring.

So by virtue of the fact that traffic is boring, folks have the right to become distracted and put their attention elsewhere?

It’s a chicken/egg problem. If people were more focused, there would be less traffic. If there was less traffic, there would be less boredom.

Well, yes? You can drive and think about other things–honestly, I wouldn’t believe you if you said you don’t do this in.

They should ride a motorcycle then. Having literal skin in the game helps keep people engaged.

can you elaborate?

There is a podcast episode that touches on this concept under a totally different lens that might be meaningful: https://www.npr.org/2019/08/26/754336716/you-2-0-deep-work

It’s a discussion with the author of a book called Deep Work, that intends to help the reader learn how to focus deeply on challenging problems, and avoid distraction.

The EXACT same shit that plagues knowledge workers working on deep issues also plagues the rest of the planet: cognitive overload and distractions. It’s way bigger than deep work.

We are all walking around with the equivalent of a dog shock collar in our pockets, on our wrists, and on our desks: anyone can steal our attention in the blink of an eye. Email. Text. Tinder notification. Instagram like. A lot of people cannot detach from these signals, and it consumes their ability to think and focus.

Why do we allow this, as a society and culture?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact