Today’s traffic engineering stuck in neutral

Despite advances in technology, improvements are nowhere in sight

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Someday, when the history of our Petroleum Age is written and the internal-combustion automobile is considered a quaint and rather silly conveyance on par with the oxcart, scholars will have a field day examining the myriad aspects of our vanished autocentric society. And without a doubt the most moribund and farcical discipline connected with this era will turn out to be that of the traffic engineers, whose automotive monomania helped turn the built environment into a playground planned almost exclusively around motor vehicles -- to the detriment of pedestrians, other modes of transport, and Mother Nature herself. It may not seem odd that traffic engineers should be preoccupied with cars. But the word "traffic," it's well to remember, doesn't refer to automobiles by default -- it refers to the movement of people and goods. You'd never guess as much judging by contemporary usage, because the central and practically sole concern of traffic engineers across America has to do...