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The entire point of this article is that doing something to solve the traffic wave problem still won't fix congestion, and is in fact the entire wrong problem to solve!

I think that the article is a great refutation of the value of self-driving cars as a solution to our traffic woes. Self-driving cars optimize the wrong thing, enabling out-size use of miles travelled, and will make us less happy than if we instead optimized for accessibility, as this article argues.




As much as its in-vogue thing to push for higher density living some of us dread living close to each other like the plague, for very well founded reasons that have been proven right over and over again.

Our population density (in the United States) is very high as it is in, most metropolitan regions. I'm sure there are perfectly valid reasons for some to want to live in close quarters to one another. But it isn't for everyone given the intense polarization of the American public off late, around even issues that were unchallenged only a few years ago. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for this development. It's better for everyone to choose to live as they see fit for their safety & security. (Tim Ferriss even cites risk of terrorism for him leaving the Bay area entirely! [1])

Fully autonomous zero-waste cars should be welcomed and not shunned.

[1] I am Tim Ferriss, host of “The Tim Ferriss Show” and author of “Tribe of Mentors.” AMA! https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/7erct8/i_am_tim_ferri...


I think the problem here is you can't have both things. You can't say "I hate other people and want to live away from them" and at the same time say "...but it's also my right to access all the same stuff people who are willing to live near each other have access too".

So, if you want to be a hermit, go for it, but you shouldn't expect the entire world to conform to your concept of what you like even though it's demonstrably less efficient.


Why not? If we have the technology to solve that problem is there any reason not to?


It's not a solved problem, and it's not just s simple technology problem. It's a problem of getting a large number of people from far-flung suburban or even rural areas into a small urban area, and then back home again.

It's still the last-mile into the city that's going to be congested, and far flung commuters complain about local commuters "Don't make dedicated bus lanes, they slow my car commut!" or "Get those bikes off the road, I'm already driving an hour to get to work, they are slowing me down" or "What do you mean you want me to park outside of the city and take the train, I'm already in my car, I'm not going to go park and then ride a train".


>Our population density (in the United States) is very high as it is in, most metropolitan regions.

Have you tried living in other countries with major cities? The population density in most major US cities is a lot lower. Paris, for example, is twice as dense as NYC.

I'll let you compare yourself:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_b...

And if you want to limit to large enough cities:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_b...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_population_d...


I've seen that comparison a few times, and I feel it's a little misleading.

Paris is only twice as densely populated as NYC by virtue of it having an administrative definition that captures primarily the most-densely populated core of the metropolitan area.

e.g. the borough of Manhattan has 30% higher population density than Paris and is about 60% of the size.

However, because the boundary of the city includes relatively sparsely populated boroughs like Staten Island and Queens (the land area of which contains not one but two major airports), the average density is much lower.


US, but the claim wasn't "selected portions of the most dense cities in the US". It was "Our population density (in the United States) is very high as it is in, most metropolitan regions."

I don't doubt Manhattan is very dense. It is far from representative when it comes to "most" metropolitan regions in the US.


The same distinction applies to the population density of various Amsterdam "boroughs" (or satellite districts) whether its Almere or Bos en Lommer. The density & the people you run into varies markedly although they're both accessible by public transit and are only a stone's throw away with what you typically associate with Amsterdam.

How is commuting in from Zwolle or Amersfoort to Amsterdam Centraal different than say commuting in from New Canaan, Connecticut to Manhattan?

I'm sure the same is the case with any large metropolitan region anywhere in Europe.


I love the concept of a zero-waste, entirely sustainably sourced and operated car [1], but the total cost of building, owning, and, at end-of-life, disposing of one would easily run north of a hundred thousand dollars.

Multiply that by the number of people in your city, and consider whether or not personal automobiles are the best use of that money.

The future of transportation is not an electric car. It is the electric train, the electric bus, and the electric scooter.

[1] Also, no such vehicle exists on the market, and even if it did, it's not clear that we could scale the concept into billions of vehicles.


> As much as its in-vogue thing to push for higher density living some of us dread living close to each other like the plague, for very well founded reasons that have been proven right over and over again.

It's "en vogue" if you want to call it that, only because it's highly undersupplied. And the existence of some dense living in one place doesn't prevent you from getting your preferred lifestyle where you want it. Do what you want with your property, but also let people live the way they want to live.



Definitely didn't mean to make a distinction between those two spellings, and hadn't noticed it!


Self driving cars will solve problems in cities like Beijing, where the infrastructure is triple saturated, there is no room to build new roads, and subways can only do so much (not to mention taxis are already plentiful and affordable, they just aren’t optimized very well). For America, you are probably right, however.


> the entire point of this article is that doing something to solve the traffic wave problem still won't fix congestion

The problem here is that the article (and StrongTowns, and most urbanists) are simply wrong. Demand simply does not work that way. They have a fundamentally flawed understanding of Induced Demand, and are incorrectly applying it to gain incorrect results.

By StrongTowns logic, we should never build more hospitals (it would just induce demand for more sickness), and we should never run new sewer lines (it would just encourage people to poop more often), and we should never run fiber lines (because it would just encourage people to "waste" internet bandwidth), and so on


It is fairly well documented that demand for road travel DOES work this way though and is different than demand for health care, waste disposal, and the internet. [0] There is strong evidence that building additional roadway capacity does not decrease travel time in the long run. Whether or not increasing the throughput of the roads is the best way of enabling mobility or the best way to design a city is a judgment call, but it is fairly clear that simply adding roadway capacity does not solve congestion.

Would be interested in seeing any evidence to the contrary if it exists.

[0] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315534829_Closing_t...


Doesn't this end up implying that a city that was made entirely of dead-end roads would in some sense be very 'good' as it would lack all congestion? Portland seems intent on trying to prove that argument, but just because there would be no congestion in such a city does not mean that there is no value in making the roads efficient even if congestion remains the same. Sure, congestion doesn't decrease with more efficient roads, but efficient roads can clearly have a higher bandwidth.

A saturated dial-up line is not of the same quality as a saturated fiber line, even if packets are being dropped because the line is saturated, unless your protocol (roads) are of a deeply inefficient design to begin with.




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