In this weekend’s front-page New York Times Book Review, Mary Roach reviews Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), and no stranger to thoroughly researched books about random topics, she finds it rather fascinating. Through her piece, we finally learn why Starbucks sit right across the street from Starbucks (so drivers can avoid left turns during rush hour) and that an expert described actions leading up to actually parking — driving slowing, waiting around — as “parking foreplay.”
But somewhere in the middle of it all there’s this:
Traffic does not yield to simple, appealing solutions. Adding lanes or roads is a short-lived fix. Widen one highway, and drivers from another will defect. Soon that road is worse than it was before. The most effective, least popular solution — aside from the currently effective, unpopular solution of $5-a-gallon gasoline — is congestion pricing: charging extra to use roads during rush hours. For unknown reasons, Americans will accept a surcharge for peak-travel-time hotel rooms and airfares but not for roads.
Most effective, huh? Interesting. We imagine Sheldon Silver found an extra copy of the Sunday supplement on his doorstep yesterday morning, the above passage circled in red, and with it a simple note: “Told you so. —Hizzoner.” —Lori Fradkin
Slow-Moving Vehicle [NYTBR]