The Second Version

11/01/08

The Insoluble Problem

Here in the center of Parma, on Thursdays automotive traffic is subjected to severe restrictions: only cars and vans meeting the most recent pollution control directives can circulate - my car is methane-powered, so I can circulate freely (curiously enough, vehicles that pass the mandatory annual exhaust test can not). There are other exceptions for food transport and so on.

Is all this effective? Only up to a point. I rode m bike into the center yesterday, and I noticed trafficel ighter than usual - but not so light to make me think "This is heaven!". Luckily, Parma is small enough that all important places can be reached by bicycle.

Traffic in Parma is nothing compared to Jakarta, where congestion and pollution reach levels that one can't believe without experiencing firsthand.

The problem of traffic congestion - and thus pollution - in cities comes from the high density of population. Lots of people and cars in small territory lead necessarily to heavy traffic, there's no other possible outcome. Public transport? It's not nearly efficient enough to substitute private transport - and it does not give the same independency.

One solution would be severe coercion: limit by law the number of cars, and/or how they can be used. I'm sure that the nannies and enviro-fascists are drooling all over the proposal, but I'm not enthusiast at all about it.

Another one is to spread out cities and make bigger roads in order to reduce population density. Problem is, that cannot really be implemented in historical cities - knocking down buildings is not feasible. Besides, more spread cities mean less land for crops and farming, and that's not good either.

Save for unforeseeable technological developments, cities will always be crowded, congested and (relatively) more polluted.

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