… Neuroscience, and Walkable Urbanism”

We’re getting down to the last few seats for Jeff Tumlin’s lecture – but you can still sign up now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013, 7 pm

SFU Segal Building (500 Granville Street), Room 1200-1500.  [NOTE: NOT IN SFU HARBOUR CENTRE.]

Admission free, but seating is limited, so we require reservations. Register here.

[Sponsored by TransLink.]


Jeff sent us a few more words on what he’ll be talking about:

Research in the health sciences has confirmed that …

Driving makes us:

  • Fat
  • Sick
  • Die early
  • Poor
  • Dumb
  • Angry
  • Mistrustful

While walking makes us:

  • Fitter
  • Smarter
  • Able to handle complex reasoning
  • Sexier
  • More loving
  • More trustful

When thinking about their own families, most people prioritize the items on the second list. But not us transportation professionals. Only one measure of success dominates our decision-making: LOS, or the seconds of delay that cars are mathematically predicted to experience at the peak time period. We loathe congestion, and we’ve convinced you to loathe it too.Jeff-4

From an economist’s perspective, however, congestion is merely roadway supply coming into balance with roadway demand. In active urban economies, congestion is a constant, not a variable. If we actually cared about congestion, we would use the same tools we use in every other sector of our economy – food, clothing, housing, utilities – to balance supply and demand, namely price. For transportation, however, we continue to use Soviet communist economics.

How can we complain about congestion, yet encourage more driving through subsidized roads? Government policies also require that there be more than three parking spaces for every car, and that 99% of all car trips end in a free parking space. Why are there not three housing units for every citizen, and why do many low income households spend over 40% of their income on housing?  More importantly, why do we still have policies encouraging driving when we know that excessive driving has profoundly negative social and health impacts?

The most common indicators of mental illness are engaging in behaviour that causes self-harm, and doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Is our relationship with our cars making us crazy? What are tools that citizens can use to lead happier, healthier, more successful lives, and how can we get government to invest its transportation resources in ways that have the highest return for the public good? Can we have a more pragmatic, less dysfunctional relationship with our cars?