Letter: Why does Aspen put up with its traffic problem?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the mass psychology of public policy and began by describing beliefs that an individual may hold but cannot explain. It is extremely common that people cannot account for the source of some of their deepest convictions or defend them in any logical way. Passionate convictions often seem to have been surgically inserted in the brain of the adherent, after which they are beyond the reach of actual information. We have the perfect local issue to illustrate this phenomenon.
The Entrance to Aspen is an ugly, polluting mess for at least five days a week during about six months of the year. The traffic jam is the one feature of Aspen that makes the town seem more urban than it really is, robs users of their time and generally causes unneeded frustration and anxiety.
The solution to the Entrance to Aspen is simple and mechanical. The road needs to be straightened out, and two additional lanes need to be added that everyone can use. Eliminate the S-curves and the bus lanes, and there isn’t nearly enough traffic to seriously degrade the operation of an expanded highway.
The lack of uproar over the inbound backup could be dismissed as some sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation. However, the outbound clog fills the length of Main Street all the way into the heart of town. I have facetiously referred to Aspen as the town that so loves traffic that it doesn’t want it to leave. But seriously, it is without compare that any community of people would endure such blight, and it is clearly a mass mental-health problem that they do.
Carl Heck was nice enough to write in and provide us with an example of exactly the point I was making. Since Carl favors one-liners, we can reproduce his entire letter: “Jeffrey Evans keeps writing bizarre letters supporting a four-lane high-speed NASCAR track out of town. Keep the ‘S’ in ‘S-curves’!”
OK, so Carl was probably being satirical, but the fact that you can’t really say for sure pretty much defines the problem.
Our next subject will be the way people self-censor if they think nobody will agree with them. You witness this phenomenon every time someone declares that some unidentified “they” will never fix the highway. People say this because they are afraid to say, “It’s time to cut the crap and fix the highway.”
Why do people avoid stating the obvious?
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