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All Traffic Models are Wrong: A Book Review

Confessions of a Recovering Engineer – Transportation for a Strong Town by Charles L. Marohn, Jr.

Strong towns founder Charles Marohn has done it again; the second Strong Towns book: Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, empowers the reader by providing engaged citizens with the knowledge to present a well-educated argument and effectively advocate for safer and more productive transportation in their city.

In this book, you’ll learn the key to a radical transformation of any city transportation network, no matter how disjointed or auto-centric it may be. It may surprise you but, the answer isn’t self-driving cars, hyper-loops, or bullet trains; it’s you!

If you look around your neighborhood or urban center and see that the dangers of fast-moving traffic, excessive parking, and lack of access keep it from being a productive and prosperous place, congratulations, you’re halfway there – what you do next will determine the success of your community.

Confessions of a Recovering Engineer leverages decades of the author’s civil engineering experience and clearly communicates how and why the built environment developed in an auto-centric fashion and combatting the popular misconceptions on how to fix it. You’ll learn how roads and streets function, how they’re supposed to function, and that they are, in fact, not interchangeable. How do transportation planners determine if a road is adequately functioning, and if an improvement project is warranted, how is it funded? Charles does a wonderful job presenting this inside knowledge and educating the reader to be an informed advocate.

Transportation for a Strong Town applies the same thoughtful approach for positive, incremental change used in the first Strong Towns book.

  • Humbly observe where people in the community struggle.
  • Ask the question: What is the next smallest thing we can do right now to address that struggle?
  • Do that thing. Do it right now.
  • Repeat

Transporation for a Strong Anchorage

Anchorage is a city nearly as auto-centric as Houston, with a built environment almost entirely post-war. I’ve watched the progression of road and street improvements and the evolution of our stroads. Extra lanes were added to combat congestion, which created more congestion. Neighborhood collectors became defacto thoroughfares, and parking lots consumed places – this forces the question: Can we build our way out of congestion?

We’re in a unique position – as a growing city and having the capacity to grow; we have the luxury of deciding how we’ll manage our land use and access. Will we continue facilitating wasteful and ineffective systems, or will we become the pioneers of productive and prosperous transportation strategies that grow wealth and improve our quality of life? As a reader of and an advocate for positive change in Anchorage, I challenge you to read this book discuss it with your friends and neighbors.

For my friends and associates in the planning and civil engineering profession:

I asked Charles Marohn: What would be your elevator pitch to get civil engineers and managing principals to read this book? He answered, in short: “Read this book if you want to stay relevant.” An assertive statement indeed, but after reading this book, I can tell you this: The status quo is shifting – understanding this movement will be increasingly significant and ultimately paramount to securing public support of civic projects.

Available today

Confessions of a Recovering Engineer is available at all major book retailers and hopefully some of our local bookstores as well. Click here for ordering information.