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Synapse #3: Urban Mobility and the Identity Crisis

Synapse #3: Urban Mobility and the Identity Crisis

Urban Mobility

Why is a big city so polluting and unsafe for bike or e-scooter users? It’s entirely built around cars. If we want to make our cities greener and calmer, we have to start thinking about how to re-layout them for getting around in the future.

Next time you’re walking around, imagine the thousands of parking spots were used for something else: a big sidewalk, some more trees, or room for bikes and e-scooters. When you think about it, we have a lot of free space to build an environment that makes us happier. Brussels has recently published their Good Move plan for 2020-2030 which looks promising. I’ll be getting more in-depth with it.

That’s all just theory, of couse. We’ll have to see how much of this will actually work out. For example, I’m thinking about the big families that have to take the car when they go grocery shopping. Will we all switch to grocery delivery, or would we rent out a car to go shopping? Can we reduce road capacity while still letting these people buy food?

Some hope: only in the past few years are we back at the level of public transport use we were at in the sixties. What happened? The car happened. In the eighties, many more people could afford a car and preferred that mode of transport.

Awakening from the meaning crisis

I’m watching this very interesting video series from John Vervaeke, professor philosophy at the university of Toronto. It’s only been two episodes but here are already some insights.

The origin of the handshake. We’re very used to living together with a ton of strangers around us. It seems obvious to us humans but when you think about it, it’s hard and not obvious at all. We’re the only species that can do this. This is why we needed to evolve rituals that we could perform to quickly build trust with strangers, for example the handshake: we know the other person isn’t holding a weapon and can feel things like clammy hands. It’s not useless at all—we just forgot its meaning.

You’re not psychic but you can learn implicitly. What we call intuition is actually learned—only we’re not aware of it. Think of throwing a piece of paper into a trashcan: how do you do it? Can you explain someone, or can you write a book to teach it? Throwing is something we “just do” but it’s actually a very complex thing. People learn complicated patterns, without knowing they’re doing it (if they’re made aware they’ll do a worse job) and without knowing how to explain it.