Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. Speed. Bump. Speed. Traffic considers the history and philosophy of roundabouts, speed bumps, the pedestrian mall, and other efforts to manage traffic. Exploring ways to reign in the power of the internal combustion engine, ramp back century-long efforts to increase the flows of traffic, and establish greater balance between humans and machines, Paul Josephson considers the history of traffic, and the political and other controversies that frame the belated technological efforts to calm it. Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
Paul Josephson is Professor of History at Colby College, USA. He is the author of twelve books, including Fish Sticks, Sports Bras, and Aluminum Cans (2015), The Conquest of the Russian Arctic (2014), Lenin's Laureate: A Life in Communist Science (2010), Would Trotsky Wear a Bluetooth? Technological Utopianism Under Socialism (2009), and Motorized Obsession: Life, Liberty and the Small Bore Engine (2007).
Introduction 1. Mushrooms in Minsk 2. Speed Bumps in Twentieth Century Philosophy 3. Utopian Visions of Machines and People: A World Without Speed Bumps 4. Mumford and Moses 5. The Historical Concatenation of Congestion 6. Speed Bumpology 7. Crashworthy Automobiles as Speed Bumps 8. Race, Equality and Traffic 9. Pedestrian Malls as Large Scale Speed Bumps 10. The Woonerf: The Neighborhood Speed Bump 11. Taming Roads Themselves 12. Curb Cuts for People, Roundabouts for Automobiles 13. The Bicycle as a Neo-Luddite Traffic Solution 14. Gendered Speed Bumps 15. If Stopped in Traffic, Hope for a Crashworthy Automobile 16. Safety Delays in the Name of Freedom 17. Speed Bump Downsides 18. Waxing and Waning of Brazilian Speed Bumps 19. Potholes and Paper Money 20. Speed Bumps for Other Hopeful Technologies Notes Index