What’s up with traffic?

Traffic is a part of my daily reality. I endure slow traffic on the way to work every weekday morning, and then again when I head home in the evening. I don’t like driving in slow traffic, but there’s not much I can do about it. And yet, I don’t really see why it should exist at all.

Traffic is, to me, just a problem waiting to be solved. Either no-one is really trying to solve it or no-one is able to solve it. I find it hard to believe the latter – there are a lot of very intelligent people solving a lot of interesting problems in the world. Why not traffic?

Just a few examples of problems that have been solved using human ingenuity:

  • We (I can hardly claim participation, but hey) found a way to make people fly, which made quick travel across oceans possible
  • We then went a few steps further and flew into space
  • We developed a worldwide network that enables us to communicate very quickly with each other (the internet)
  • We have vaccines that stop us from dying from a whole bunch of horrible diseases
  • Quite recently, human beings landed a spacecraft on a comet. That still seems like science fiction to me.

If we could achieve all of the above (a very short sample of a potentially almost infite list), then would someone please explain to me why we still have traffic jams?

The only answer I can come up with is misallocation of resources. The people who have the ability to solve the traffic problem are instead occupied with other tasks. Perhaps some of them are more important (developing vaccines for the Ebola virus, for instance), but I doubt all of them are.

Can’t we just get some bright people together and find a solution? I’d certainly be very happy if I didn’t have to crawl through traffic for an hour to make a 13km trip to work every day.