My Dinner with Corrado

Last week, I had the delightful opportunity join a small group for dinner with Corrado Poli (warning, it’s in Italian). Poli is a professor of “Economics and Environmental Ethics” in Padua. He is in the U.S. on a fellowship at Johns Hopkins to do an English translation of his book “Rivoluzione Traffica” (Traffic Revolution).

Poli also spoke at a brown bag session at Metro. Some of the highlights of his ideas:

  • The most livable cities in Europe are in the range of 50-500K in population (everything is bigger in the U.S., so he says Portland at 550K is not too big yet).
  • Vancouver, BC is an example of what North American cities should be like. Portland is not a North American city (i.e., it’s more like a European city).
  • We don’t live in a mass society, why do we build transportation systems that assume everyone has the same travel behavior?
  • Traffic Inflation (what we would call induced demand)

He is also the founder of an interesting ridesharing system called “Poli Cars” (not from his name – or so he says – but from the Greek root “polis”). The system uses a central registration system and communication via SMS to provide a sort of “hitchhiking with trust”. When you give or accept a ride from another system member, this gets registered to create accountability. Interesting…

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