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Slow down, to get there sooner

Slowing down, working less, taking more time to do things, not always moving forward... seem to be part of a list of heresies. How could anyone be thinking about these slogans in a modern city?


"Everyone wants to go faster, but they take longer and longer" says

Carlos Felipe Pardo, Colombian, Senior Manager - Pilots at NUMO -New Urban Mobility Alliance in Washington, founder, in his native Bogotá, of despacio.org based on the slow philosophy.

Despacio.org aims to find ways to live the city at an appropriate speed to move towards a humane urban space and help mitigate climate change.


Traditionally, the city is associated with a fast life, to always be in a hurry, to arrive earlier. What is happening in the cities that we hear all the time about the crisis of the transportation systems, their collapse in some cases and the endemic financial difficulties they suffer from?


Being a psychologist, Carlos had no problem reading several engineering books and answering the question on speed from a more technical angle


CP: "There are many assumptions in transportation planning that say that the main indicator of performance and efficiency of a system is its average speed.

While this is not wrong, there are nuances: they assume that the solution to achieve this is to increase everyone's speed and for this it is necessary to build more infrastructure, without realizing the negative consequences this has had: basically speed kills people."


And convinced of his assertion he adds, "with avenues designed to go 80km/h drivers lose track of the fact that they are in an urban context".


This true epidemic is of a global nature, with more or less drastic statistics, it is a phenomenon that crosses cities all over the world.


Paradoxically, following this policy of -the faster the better-, the results are that we are going slower for the worse. Carlos completes "it is a very strange world," not with pessimism, but with a dose of uncertainty.


In fact, this is a phenomenon that has been studied as the accordion effect: when everyone wants to go faster on a road, the constant fast forwarding and braking of each vehicle produces a decrease in the speed of the whole.

To go slower is to arrive sooner and, more importantly, to arrive alive.

Let's try now to add a layer of complexity to the issue of speed and urban transportation by analyzing the new digital platforms such as Uber, Rapi, Globo, including those that plan to operate with autonomous vehicles, whether for transporting people, goods or drones for delivery.


What to do about this?


CP: If you want to improve mobility and adopt the best of these systems, you have to first have an open mind, but also begin to understand that you are going to have a very expensive but brutally necessary job of redefining the streets, the vehicles and the conditions of entry into the market. And pricing, just by saying that, you can faint with anguish, but redefining the streets and the vehicles is the first step.

We need to say, this is no longer a car, this is something else. This is no longer a skateboard, this is something else, put them into broader categories.



It is very difficult to understand why cars are sold that can double the maximum speed allowed on a highway or quadruple the urban maximum. Except for Germany, which has certain stretches of some highways without speed limits, in the rest of the world the maximum allowed speed does not exceed 130km/h. What is the point of going from 0 to 100km/h?


What will happen with cities saturated with autonomous vehicles waiting to be used by their owners? Geofencing systems can be a solution to regulate traffic, just as metered parking was imposed many years ago and the first resistances were overcome, it is very likely that in the future, getting on public transport will be free and occupying a street with a private vehicle will have an additional cost.

This is already happening thanks to technology, with virtual tolls that flexibly charge those who drive in certain areas according to traffic levels.


Slower is better, and you get there faster.

There are strong decisions that need to be made by governments to reclaim space for citizens.




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