The Problem with Traffic

The Traffic Hierarchy: Report


One is not born a motorist, one becomes one.

Mobility and class are deeply entangled. Not only because one’s potential for mobility often has to do with one’s economic position, but also because a society built on today’s mobility paradigm – automobility – directly contributes to growing economic and social differences.

A society which puts the car on a pedestal quite obviously favors motorists. Another obvious fact is that white high-income and middle-aged men are an over-represented group among motorists. And the opposite is true among public transport users. But, a society that prioritizes motoring, and looks at ever-growing mobility as an almost magical recipe for development, increases the differences between its citizens and different parts in other ways as well.

The current traffic hierarchy, with the car on top and with public transport, bikers and pedestrians at the bottom, manifests itself in the fact that these means of conveyance are given different amounts of space and resources. With the car on top of the traffic hierarchy we get a society built on automobility: a world where our lives, to a far too great extent, are steered by cars.

This article is written to clarify how the current traffic hierarchy manifests itself and what its consequences are: a society built on automobility does not only pose grave danger from an ecological point-of-view, it also enhances the current notions towards greater economic and social segregation. By highlighting the problems with the current traffic hierarchy and starting to map out the edges of another way of planning and handling movement we hope and believe that we can also give some clues on how to handle other societal problems.

The car is pitching us towards each other. Who has not experienced the feeling of putting oneself in a car and suddenly being transformed into a motorist? The pure act of putting oneself behind the wheel seems, for almost everyone, to lead to egotistic behavior, a situation where everyone is trying to gain something on someone else’s behalf. While driving a car, one’s fellow human beings (other drivers, public transport users, pedestrians, bikers) become nothing more than obstacles. Who cannot, honestly, recognize the almost aggressive and competitive feeling that the car produces in oneself? Since we do not want to encourage this kind of behavior, and since we are confident that one is not born a motorist, but rather becomes one, we strongly believe that the risk of people becoming motorists has to be minimized.

Because of this we do not only want to change the order of the traffic hierarchy and take the car down from its pedestal. Rather, we want a society built on totally different premises. A society where no one is forced into motorism, whether passively or actively. A society where proximity and availability to what people need to satisfy their needs and desires are put at the forefront.

Report by

Click here for full report in PDF. The Traffic Hierarchy – Report


Promoting Environmental Solutions in New York City

Nurture New York’s Nature

Balanced Transportation Analyzer (BTA)


A masterpiece” — Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Absolutely astonishing” — Reuters economics blogger Felix Salmon

The best [modeling] tool that I have seen in my nearly 40 years” — renowned transportation expert ‘Gridlock’ Sam Schwartz



Here you can find a list of cities that currently provides their public transport for free.

Cities ordered by Country


  • Hasselt


  • Changning
  • Changzhi County


  • Zagreb


  • Rotherham
  • Sheffield


  • Aubagne
  • Colomiers


  • Troia


  • Jokkmokk
  • Övertårneå


  • Baltimore
  • Cache Valley
  • Chapel Hill
  • Hanover
  • Park City
  • Watauga County
  • West Memphis
  • Whidbey Island


Related Reports

  • Increased walking and cycling will benefit health and climate more than lower emission motor vehicles

  • Deaths of cyclists in london: trends from 1992 to 2006

Related Articles

  • “Nanoscoops” Could Spark New Generation of Electric Automobile Batteries

robotic taxi and free public transportHeroin and Cornflakes has often advocated the need for a reduction in the the use of the personal car and the introduction of free clean public transport. Recent technological news has given us hope for this scenario. If only political leaders around the globe shared in this vision. Dirty polluted cities could become history.

Full story

***** is a network of Swedish groups that works for free public transport. In Stockholm, all those who make less then 40 000 kronor per month (about 4500 euros) would benefit by letting a small tax raise finance the public transportation. organizes commuters in a fare strike which includes a solidarity fund where members pay each others fines. Free public transport

For more information about the global free public transport movement, please visit


Related Studies

exposure to traffic-related air pollution and fetal growth, Traffic-Related Air Pollution Impacts on Birth Outcomes

Prenatal exposure to traffic-related air pollution and fetal growth

Air pollution affects the health of children as well as the elderly, and it has been increasingly noticed and also studied in the recent years as a new public health challenge. Some studies have already shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk rate of adverse pregnancy outcomes……   More info


Greenest City in the World?

Greenest city urban design Curitaba Brazil

Greenest city: urban design – Curitaba, Brazilmore info



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    1 comment for “The Problem with Traffic

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