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Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It Hardcover – January 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute; 1 edition (January 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935308238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935308232
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"O'Toole's Gridlock is a brilliant ode to mobility, which he argues is the foundation of our freedom and our prosperity. He blasts those groups in our society which have turned from promoting mobility to restricting it. He punctures the pretensions of congressmen, transport agency bureaucrats, urban planners, `smart growth' advocates and their ilk who want to spend billions promoting trains and rail transit systems that few people want to ride. This book will infuriate some and inspire others by its pointed and data-driven conclusions. But its policy arguments are too urgent and too important to ignore. A must-read book for everyone interested in the future of transportation policy." --James A. Dunn, Jr., Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University, and Author of Driving Forces: The Automobile, Its Enemies, and the Politics of Mobility

More About the Author

Randal O'Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute specializing in public lands, urban growth, and transportation issues. O'Toole spent 15 years working with environmental groups helping them understand the perils of big government planning and 15 years working with libertarian groups helping them find ways to protect the environment without big government.

O'Toole is an active cyclist who rides thousands of miles a year and a rail fan who loves riding passenger trains. But he is also an economist who recognizes that government spending must be cost-effective if it is to accomplish anything other than transferring money from taxpayers to special interests. This makes him skeptical of proposals to, for example, spend billions of dollars on urban rail transit or high-speed rail.

A native Oregonian, O'Toole was Yale University's McCluskey Conservation Fellow in 1998 and the Merrill Visiting Professor at Utah State University in 2000. He also taught at the University of California (Berkeley) College of Natural Resources in 1999 and 2001. He currently resides in Camp Sherman, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
O'Toole covers a lot of ground in this excellent summary of U.S. transportation policy.
Donald N. Anderson
O'Toole does a great job of composing an excellent book on the modern challenges of transportation policies, funding, congestion, and mass transit.
Jason L. Read
It is a book grounded in the truth, and the conclusions that O'Toole makes follow well from his assertions.
A consumer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gene on February 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
O'Toole claims that our cars are practically computer controlled anyway so why not use those computers to maintain a system of driverless cars that will eliminate gridlock by ostensibly eliminating the subjective elements of individual driver control. Sounds like a great idea, one which I recall Walter Cronkite's "21st Century" touting twenty years ago. There is lot to this book including important ideas about how government subsidizes a mass transit policy that actually encourages rather than eliminates gridlock. But I wanted to simply mention that one of the main criticisms - how would you phase in such a system when it takes twenty to thirty years to turnover the existing automobile inventory - could in my view be easily accomplished either by dividing the existing road network into driver and driverless similar to HOV lanes and/or having the cars be built with dual mode systems (e.g. autopilot). In any case well worth the read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A consumer on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Civil Engineer trainee with a master's degree, one of my interests is in transportation policy and how some proposed projects will (or will not) solve the problems that are facing us. I stumbled upon this book while reading about a proposed high-speed rail system in my home state, and finding many flaws in the plan.

I've been reading this book, "Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It", and it has offered a fresh perspective on transportation issues. The book explores many topics in transportation, including some history on transportation; some thoughts on mass transit and high-speed rail; environmental impact of different kinds of transportation; the economical and financial aspects of transportation improvements; and even on driverless cars. One of the most interesting facts I have learned from reading this book has been that the transportation improvement that has made the most positive impact on the environment has been to improve traffic signal coordination. It also turns out that mass transit really isn't that environmentally friendly compared to driving. For example, Florida's high-speed rail system (which has now been killed and re-killed) would have used up to 6 times as much energy as the cars they would have replaced!

Some may criticize this book as "agenda-driven misinformation". That, it is not. It is a book grounded in the truth, and the conclusions that O'Toole makes follow well from his assertions. Like any good researcher, he cites his sources for all of his statements and assertions. I have personally checked many of his references myself and have found them to be reliable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
O'Toole does a great job of composing an excellent book on the modern challenges of transportation policies, funding, congestion, and mass transit. A must read for anyone interested in transportation issues.

The book made me confront a few soft and hard biases on the effectiveness and efficiency of certain transportation methods.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Donald N. Anderson on April 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
O'Toole covers a lot of ground in this excellent summary of U.S. transportation policy. When I complain about the subsidies to bus service and passenger rail most folks just dismiss the complaint with `Heck we subsidize roads and air traffic too." Well, once you compare the numbers on a per-passenger-mile basis it is apparent that user fees cover almost all of the auto and commercial airline costs while the general taxpayer gets hit with most of the cost of transit and rail.

Much of his data is from sources that are difficult to convert into a common basis for comparison. For example transit. This is usually reported as passenger-trips while auto travel is usually reported in passenger-miles. Putting them on a common basis means finding and applying the relevant surveys and putting both on a passenger-mile basis. When he does, it is apparent that the subsidies for transit are outrageous. Transit should be replaced by jitneys in all but our most dense cities.

When Anchorage decided to drop it's two worst performing bus routes it saved a $5.30 subsidy for each and every rider, and that was excluding capital costs.

"Light" rail is even worse as a city transportation alternative. It probably makes sense only in New York City. Never the less, our federal government and a many cities are busy wasting billions of dollars on the least effective and most inflexible form of urban transportation available.

O'Toole does an excellent job of emphasizing the economic benefit to both the individual and the country when mobility is improved. Take an increase in the average tolerable commute distance from 8 miles to 16 miles. This may well make 4 times as many jobs available to the commuter, and 4 times as many prospective employees available to the employer.
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