Nicolas Magand on the internet

Comments about tech, media, nature, &c.

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: cars

When politicians try to sell you congestion and traffic as part of your identity

Arthur Neslen, on The Guardian:

Madrid may be about to become the first European city to scrap a major urban low-emissions zone after regional polls left a rightwing politician who views 3am traffic jams as part of the city’s cultural identity on the cusp of power.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who is expected to become the new Popular party (PP) president of the Madrid region, believes night-time congestion makes the city special and has pledged to reverse a project known as Madrid Central, which has dramatically cut urban pollution.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous excuses ever given by a politician, and that's a pretty high bar to reach.

Saying a problem is part of your city's identity as a way to earn votes from unhappy car drivers is not only hypocritical, but imagine if the same reasoning was applied to the London situation in the 20th century : "The London fog is part of our identity. Yes, it is mostly toxic smokes and poisonous gas causing thousands of deaths but is also part of our identity so we shall keep using coal and save the Smog."

Sidenote, still from the same article:

An estimated 30,000 Spaniards die each year due to air pollution, according to the European Environment Agency.

Whatever you think about low-emissions zone, I would think that politicians in favour of scrapping them can find better ways to justify it, like "We want to put all the money possible into social services, " or even "Traffic is the best way to convince the new generations not to buy a car in Madrid."

Improving traffic in New York City

Jason Kottke linked to a very interesting article on The New York Times, about how some European cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam can insprire new traffic patterns designs. The author of this article, architect and urban designer John Massengale, has a few ideas for New York City:

  1. Decrease the number of Manhattan streets that function as transportation corridors primarily devoted to moving machines through the city.

  2. Design and build Slow Zones where people actually drive slowly.

  3. Make the transportation corridors that remain better urban places, with a better balance between city life and moving cars.

All great ideas, and I think Paris could really use one or two to improve the mess that is car traffic here.

There is surprinsigly no mention of the promises of autonomous cars: reduced number of cars on the roads in the long run, radically different traffic patterns, improved safety, etc. This article on Slate explains this very well.

There is also no mention of electric vehicles, and their undeniable positive impacts on air pollution and city noise.