Stop Signs in Stumptown

mugyenyi_engler For those DbCers who are on the West Coast, keep an eye out for the book tour by Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler. These two residents of Montreal have produced Stops Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social, and Ecological Decay. It’s a treasure chest packed with information, references, and insights into the continuing tragedy of cars-first transportation. And, best of all, Mugyenyi and Engler dare to do what almost no prior car critics have done: talk plainly about the importance of cars-first transportation to capitalists and capitalism.

I will be attending Mugyenyi and Engler’s Portland, Oregon tour stop, which will be happening at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at Laughing Horse Book and Film Collective, 12 NE 10th Avenue.

Here’s a link to the rest of the tour dates.

“Transportation” Research

rubeprof Academic “transportation” research makes business schools and economics departments look like hotbeds of pure science.  Both the US Department of Transportation and all the university-based “centers” it shepherds continue to exist to pave the way for more cars-first outcomes, regardless of the screamingly obvious need of this society for radical movement away from automobiles.

Doubt that? Consider this typical item, an announcement of one of the sponsors’ pet assignments:

RITA 1-11
Monday, January 24, 2011

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) today announced the Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge, a new national competition seeking ideas for using wireless connectivity between vehicles to make transportation safer, greener and easier.

Through the competition, RITA is soliciting ideas for products or applications that use Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), an advanced wireless technology, similar to WiFi but faster and more secure. DSRC can communicate basic messages – such as alerts about imminent crash situations or roadway hazards – from one vehicle to another in a fraction of a second with minimal interference and without manipulation by the driver. The spectrum used by DSRC technology has been reserved by the Federal Communications Commission for transportation applications.

“This is an example of new technology helping to make transportation safer and more efficient,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

DSRC will be the basis for a future system of connected vehicles that will communicate with each other as well as the surrounding infrastructure, such as traffic signals, work zones and toll booths. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, wireless Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications can potentially address 81 percent of all unimpaired vehicle crashes.

“This technology is an opportunity to help create a future where millions of vehicles communicate with each other by sharing anonymous real-time information about traffic speeds and conditions. This new world of wireless communication will make transportation safer, provide better and faster exchange of information for vastly improved daily and long-distance travel, and even reduce environmental pollution,” said RITA Administrator Peter Appel.

Selected prize recipients will receive funded opportunities to present their winning ideas to unleash a new breed of advanced wireless technologies to make universal vehicle connectivity a reality.

The Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge is open to all idea generators and innovators, including those not working in the transportation industry. It will run from Jan. 24 through May 1 and competition rules and additional details can be found at

So, first of all, this is research aimed at making cars behave more like trains, the vastly superior technology which, in order to facilitate corporate capitalism in the great United States, they have been permitted to replace.

Second, two words: Rube Goldberg.  Let’s see a show of hands from those who believe the solicited pipedream could ever: a) work properly (imagine a “rush-hour”* freeway on which the imagined “more secure” moving, ad hoc, high-interference computer network crashed or encoutered a virus!) and b) be accepted, paid for, and correctly maintained by the nation’s legions of tailgating, lane-hopping, cell-phoning, radar-detecting road-ragers.

Another item our grandchildren will find amazing, if we somehow transcend such suicidal idiocies and manage to leave them a society with the capacity to remember and learn from our stunning world-historic errors.

*One of the most blatant of our epoch’s many Orwellian linguistic inversions.