Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Distilling for Posterity's Sake

There are some great nuggets in this Guardian piece on commuting and happiness, which itself is an extract from this recently released book.  I present:
People were choosing commutes that made their entire lives worse. Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love.
How we overvalue the immediacy of now:
"Most good and bad things become less good and bad over time as we adapt to them. However, it is much easier to adapt to things that stay constant than to things that change. So we adapt quickly to the joy of a larger house, because the house is exactly the same size every time. But we find it difficult to adapt to commuting by car, because every day is a slightly new form of misery."
Implicit understanding of the subjective push and pull of livability, on demand and the inevitable undesirability of the desirable:
The sad part is that the more we flock to high‑status cities for the good life – money, opportunity, novelty – the more crowded, expensive, polluted and congested those places become. The result? Surveys show that Londoners are among the least happy people in the UK, despite the city being the richest region in the UK.
The driver as Mr. Hyde:
Driving in traffic is harrowing for both brain and body. The blood of people who drive in cities is a stew of stress hormones. The worse the traffic, the more your system is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the fight-or-flight juices that, in the short-term, get your heart pumping faster, dilate your air passages and help sharpen your alertness, but in the long-term can make you ill.
The dinosaurs in transportation planning:
"We all know old mobility," Britton said. "It's you sitting in your car, stuck in traffic. It's you driving around for hours, searching for a parking spot. Old mobility is also the 55-year-old woman with a bad leg, waiting in the rain for a bus that she can't be certain will come. New mobility, on the other hand, is freedom distilled."