Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Interview with Tom Vanderbilt

One of the first posts I ever wrote on The Green Lantern included commentary on Tom Vanderbilt's book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What it Says About Us. Late last month Vanderbilt was interviewed by Mark Gorton, founder of OpenPlans, on Streetfilms, the visual media arm of the Livable Streets Initiative. Watch the full segment below:

Gorton does a good job of capturing some of the major points of Vanderbilt's work, and the author's comments shed additional light on what is already a groundbreaking book (Traffic was a National Bestseller, after all). One of the main points of the book, and something he outlines heavily in the interview, is the psychological complexities of automobile use on everything from lack of feedback while driving (we drive more and more recklessly because we've gotten away with it before) to the lack of eye contact between drivers and pedestrians above 20 or 25 miles per hour. As Vanderbilt argues, it is not until we understand these complexities that we will be able to fix our transportation system.

At the end of the clip, Gorton says, "And once again, an excellent book for anyone who is interested or having to deal with the topic of traffic." I'm going to take this a step further, well maybe a couple of steps further, and more directly state what I think Gorton was getting at. If you have driven or ridden in a car, ever, this book is relevant to you. Go read it!

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