Top positive review
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An eye-opening and fascinating read
on November 11, 2011
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.
I believe that this book ought to be required reading for all transportation professionals, whether they be at the university, working in the public sector (state DOT, etc.) or in the private sector (consulting). I believe in the freedom of movement, and after you read this book you may find as I have that we can (and should!) find creative ways to be better stewards of our energy, environmental, and economic resources while still preserving and enhancing this very important freedom.