As dollars dwindle for roads, gridlock seems assured |

You won’t hear this from so-called greens who vote to block road construction, but traffic is arguably the top environmental problem in San Diego County, which lacks a big industrial footprint.Cars spew vastly more air pollution when they are prevented from reaching the speeds posted on freeways and parkways. In addition, stop-and-go traffic sends tons of heavy metals from brake dust into watersheds.Then there’s the economic damage. The average commuter in San Diego County lost 42 hours a year sitting in traffic in 2014, reckons the Texas Transportation Institute.Put another way, we each lose an entire work week every year. Such delay cost the region an estimated $1.7 billion, a low-ball figure that includes only wasted fuel and lost time (calculated at the median hourly wage).Harder to measure is missing a kid’s first goal; all those spikes in blood pressure; the spiritual toll from hating a stranger just because he applied his brakes.

Source: As dollars dwindle for roads, gridlock seems assured |

Planners and public policymakers continue to respond to traffic congestion with the same ineffective solution: building more transportation infrastructure. Instead, we should be building better telecommunications infrastructure and transitioning to distributed knowledge work so people don’t have to commute daily to offices to do their jobs. The environmental, organizational and social benefits strongly make the case.

California suburbs growing fast as many are priced out of cities, data show – LA Times

Suburban areas on the outskirts of the red-hot Los Angeles and San Francisco areas grew especially fast last year, state officials reported Monday.San Joaquin County, home to Stockton, grew faster than any other, up 1.3% to 733,000 people. The area has become increasingly popular for people fleeing astronomical San Francisco Bay Area housing prices while remaining within commuting distance. San Joaquin was followed by Yolo, Riverside and Santa Clara counties.

Source: California suburbs growing fast as many are priced out of cities, data show – LA Times

Are these locales really within reasonable commuting distance and when those long commutes are factored in, is the arrangement truly affordable? There’s a huge cost on the personal lives and well being of these super commuters. As I reported in my eBook Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century, the trade-off doesn’t pencil out:

These long commutes also do not make good economic sense. The economic calculus for commuters is the time spent commuting is acceptable if that time is compensated either in the form of higher pay and benefits or more affordable housing. But the economics of that trade-off don’t necessarily balance out, according to an academic paper authored by two economists. “[I]n a direct test of this strong notion of equilibrium . . . we find that people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being,” the study authors conclude.

Citation: Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, “Stress that Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox,” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 110, no. 2 (2008): 339, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9442.2008.00542.x

The self driving vehicle as rolling conference room

4. The Car as Conference Room

Once cars become fully autonomous, they won’t need to take the form they have for more than a century. One concept design is the Mercedes-Benz F 015, which transforms the vehicle into a “digital living space.” Inside, seats swivel to face one another, and a series of displays permit passengers to entertain themselves or work. In other words, cars could double as conference rooms—and employers may begin to demand that people use their commutes productively.

Source: Driverless Cars, Flying Cars, and the Future of Transportation – The Atlantic

Commutes with have been getting so long and congested in major metro areas that the idea of vehicles doubling as as rolling conference rooms was bound to come up. And they may not be far off, according to this item appearing in the current issue of The Altantic.

This is a classic — and ridiculous — example of overlaying advances in digital technology onto a pre-digital, Industrial Age economy where commuting to a centralized office was necessary because that’s where the tools were for knowledge work. Apparently someone hasn’t been read into the future. Information and communications technology is obsoleting the commute itself. But if you love meetings and commuting, this may be for you.