Cover image for Breaking gridlock : moving toward transportation that works
Breaking gridlock : moving toward transportation that works
Motavalli, Jim.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Sierra Club Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
x, 306 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HE206.2 .M67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Motavalli (editor of E: The Environmental Magazine) simultaneously critiques our current reliance on the automobile and offers suggestions for alternatives of urban transportation. Adopting a conversational style, he looks at various forms of transportation and discusses the pros and cons of cars, buses, trains, air travel, and ferry travel. While some of the discussion verges on fantasy, such as the speculations on personal hovercrafts, much of the material focuses on vital infrastructure and city planning issues that affect and are affected by choices in transportation. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Author Notes

Jim Motavalli is the editor of "E: The Environmental Magazine". He has written for the "New York Times", "Los Angeles Times", & many other publications. He teaches journalism at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

If the eternal cycle of more cars/more roads/more cars causes angst in your community, library patrons may be interested in the range of options explored here. Motavalli--editor of E: The Environmental Magazine and author of Forward Drive: The Race to Build "Clean" Cars for the Future (2000)--recognizes that "for transportation to change, the nature of home, work, and family has to change." Even without this sort of fundamental change, however, he sees possibilities. Breaking Gridlock surveys past science-fiction scenarios and current transit struggles in five U.S. "transit cities" (New York, Boston, L.A., Portland, OR, and Arcata, CA) and regionally planned European cities such as Zurich and Copenhagen. It examines smart cars and smart tolls as responses to sprawl, and telecommuting and e-commerce as a reaction to burgeoning "edge cities." And Motavalli's study considers both the auto industry's and environmentalists' visions of cleaner cars, as well as potential improvements in bus technology and opportunities for improved water and air transportation. A lively exploration of a broad range of potentially valuable transportation improvements. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this informative but scattered survey of transportation issues in America, ecologist Motavalli presents a legion of reasons why automobiles are the wrong choice for metropolises. They range from the global (ozone layer depletion) to the personal (long commutes) to the social (isolation and urban sprawl) to the near-farcical (increasing numbers of women giving birth on the way to the hospital because highways are too congested). Despite all this, of course, Americans are still addicted to their cars so much so that they'll even use dummies to fake their way into HOV lanes. Partly, Motavalli believes, this is because cars seem to fulfill Americans' desires for individualism. But it's also because of the historic narrow-mindedness of city planners like Robert Moses, who had such distaste for mass transit that he purposely built highway bridges around Long Island and upstate New York that were too low for buses. Unfortunately, Moses's modern counterparts aren't much better. For every Portland, Ore., which has committed to light rail and refused to spend money on highways, there is a Boston, which has thrown billions of dollars into its Big Dig program to extend highways underground. While Motavalli is a proven expert at diagnosing these problems, he is less adept at prescribing solutions. He believes in an interconnected hodge-podge of transit systems subway, light rail, buses, ferries, bicycles along with (most importantly) a total readjustment in American sensibilities based on the European model. Readers will undoubtedly have their own opinions; after finishing Motavalli's earnest and well-researched book, however, they will have no doubt as to its necessity. Agent, Sabine Hrechdakian. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Looking Forward from the Pastp. 13
2 We Can't Go on Like Thisp. 25
3 Sprawling Out: Highways to Nowherep. 39
4 Transit Citiesp. 59
5 Europe and America: Different Roads Takenp. 117
6 Rethinking the Car: A Future for Fuel Cellsp. 133
7 Greening the Bus: Next Stop, Sustainabilityp. 161
8 On Track with High-Speed Trainsp. 181
9 The Future of Flyingp. 213
10 The Water Route: A Dream of Fast Ferriesp. 233
11 Moving Forwardp. 249
People Interviewedp. 269
Resources: Getting Involved with Transitp. 273
Notesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 295
Indexp. 297