When you’re investing time and energy in a startup you want to learn a lot from people who were successful and also from people who failed. So I watch quite a lot of startup talks and listen to podcasts. I recently watched a video where one of the founders said that the progress has to be continuous in the tech industry and we cannot stop because when we stop, we actually go backwards. As an example, he says that we built pyramids and then we stopped and forgot how to build them. Similarly, we built almost perfect aqueducts in Rome and South America that work until today and still, we forgot how we did it. Today’s reflection comes after my walk to work.
Yes, I am weird and I do walk to work as much as the responsibilities allow me. Can’t walk to every meeting so sometimes I do have to take a car. But this year I am trying to walk more than drive. It’s 2km between my house and work so it’s not a marathon but still, a good 40 minutes walk – good enough to stretch my legs and hear a podcast of people smarter than me.
If you’re not from New Zealand and especially if you’re a fella from a northern hemisphere you have to know that we have a holiday period now and schools are closed, it’s the middle of summer (yeah yeah weather, middle of summer ay?) and a lot of people are our of Auckland. Somehow in my head, that would mean more people on the streets, walking and enjoying views, listening to the birds and breathing the fresh air. Somehow, as usual, I am quite naive. When I walked today it was raining. It wasn’t even rain but a light drizzle. Yet, the remaining little amount of people in the city jumped in their cars to create similar traffic to any other day in the year. I realised that I am the only one walking on the street and I legitimately passed 2 people walking on my 2km journey.
Aucklanders, like many other big city habitants, constantly complain about the traffic. It’s probably subject number one on lunch breaks. But when it comes to the use of public transport, we complain even more. Oh, it’s never on time, oh there are other people there, it’s not on my way and so on. And I don’t think it will change – it will only get worse. The population of cities grow and the number of cars grows with it. So maybe the only solution is a drastic one?
Some of South Americans cities are so overpopulated and have so many cars that they introduced Pico y Placa. It is a rule that on specific days in rush hours only half of the cars can drive. So if your registration ends with an odd number you’re allowed to drive on some days and if it ends with even numbers you’re allowed to drive on the other days. This way in the morning and late afternoon when everyone goes to and back from work, half of the population is enforced to take public transport. Not a bad idea. But what if you go further. Let me be an extremist for a day. What if we closed all motorways in Auckland for one day a week. An exception would be big transport (trucks) and public transport but no cars allowed. Maybe, just maybe we would “train” some of the people about the availability of public transport but also the availability of magic solution that was invented hundreds of thousands of years ago – legs.
Another utopian idea you say, but those South American countries had the “day 1” too and they’re still alive. Half of the population on that day had to change their habit and take a bus/train. Why can’t it work in a Western country? Why in fact can’t we lead that change and do better? You’ll also help the environment, you’ll save money on petrol and you’ll be more healthy. Sometimes we’re such animals that we need a trainer to tell us what to do because en masse we are the same and we’ll do what a sheep next to us is doing. So we all drive cars – I’m guilty of that myself. When I came to New Zealand I used to walk to the beach. That was a 10km walk! But back then I swam against the current and now I gave up. So I’m motivated to try again but I feel in order to change us we need a strong direction from some crazy politician who will one day piss off everyone by saying “on Wednesday’s motorways are closed” but then in a few years we’ll all call him a hero. So let’s find that crazy politician but until then, let’s keep working on our progress and not forget how to walk.