film technology transport

You are traffic

There’s a great billboard up in Luton, down by one of the busy streets by the station. In simple black letters on a bright green background it reads:

You are not stuck in traffic.
You are traffic.

It would have been nice if the billboard had left it with that bubble-busting little truth. It’s never us, it’s all the other people trying to do what we’re doing at the same time. As it turns out, it’s an ad for TomTom’s new HD satnav. That’s clearly ridiculous. If you’re peering at your satnav and aren’t sure what you’re looking at, it’s not because you only have standard definition. It’s because you’re lost.

A few years ago you just had to stick a lower case ‘i’ on the front of your product and it would sell like hot cakes. This year you could sell a turd on a stick if you tell people it’s HD.

It’s funny, but after 100 years of motoring, we’re still being sold visions of a driving experience without the hassle. The average speed of traffic in London is exactly the same as it was when it was horse-drawn. It’s one of those externalities again – the more of us buy into the idea of personalised motor transport, the worse it becomes for everyone who’s already on the roads.

Here’s one vision of future motoring that gets it right on sat navs, and pretty much nothing else. But who knows, maybe if you had HD, it would look more like this:


  1. “The average speed of traffic in London is exactly the same as it was when it was horse-drawn.”

    Yup, however the city stank of munure and I can’t remember the actual figure but the death rate in horses was phenomenal. Peta would be mad.

    Love your work Jeremy.

  2. That’s one scary video. No walking, except the few metres to his desk, the average commuter will be fat and lazy. Landscapes of great beauty or historical significance will be scarred by major highways. Urbanisation will spread across more and more agricultural land. Road building will consume and enable ever increasing amounts of energy and resource use.

    Maybe it got more right than GPS. And we’re living the nightmare.

    Wake me when the atomic cars come online.

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