Speedy transport means you spend more, not less, time in your car.
In a time when cars, trains and airplanes move faster than ever, you would expect we would reach all of our destinations more quickly. Strangely enough, that’s usually not the case, according to planner Torsten Hagerstand of Sweden’s Lund University.
He points out that as the speed of transport increases, the location of important daily services spread out so we must now travel further to get to the bakery, supermarket, hospital or recreational facilities compared to – let’s say – 60 years ago. Many local shops have closed, so instead of walking to the corner for milk or a magazine we must now drive to the edge of town. If you want a good job you must now be prepared to commute a long ways. Instead of shopping in the nearest urban centre, we drive or fly to a bigger city.
All this leads Hagerstand to conclude that all the time we save in speed is lost (and then some) due to the greater distances travelled. So faster vehicles don’t help us by saving time and increasing our human contacts, they hinders us with more noise, pollution, accidents, traffic congestion, and travel time. He believes that easy access to people and services is a better measure of success for a transport system than its speed. – TT