Nostradamus – Right or Wrong?


Nostradamus – Right or Wrong?

Yes, we hear about the French sage Nostradamus and revel in the ‘predictions’ of virtually everything from the world wars, bombing of Hiroshima, the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to plagues, the destruction of London by Fire, the rise of Hitler and so on.

The fact that he didn’t mention any of these occurrences specifically and even stated that his predictions were meant to cover only Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor doesn’t slow down his supporters a bit. Nostradamus was famous for his ability to ‘predict’ in such vague generalities that his work could apply to almost anything.

What the hell does this have to do with parking?

I receive almost daily news releases from ‘thought leaders’ telling us about everything that is going to happen in the next month, year, or decade. The problem is that it seldom does work out that way, and by the time we realize that the predictions were false, we have already redesigned our businesses to fit them. Yikes!

We have worked hard, built our companies, survived a rough patch here and there, but yet seem to be unable to rely on our own good common sense. We read something or hear something and after all, it came from the New York Times, CNN or was on the Internet, or a Ted talk, so it must be true.

The big one I hear lately is “Micro mobility.” This is the coming thing where there will be scooters or bicycles everywhere and you and I will simply pick one up, hop on and be off about our business. Cities are seeing this as the end of the personal vehicle and the beginning of a more “livable” community. Right.

For some reason, I just can’t see it. Yes, kids (under 25) going to college or visiting friends with everything they own in a backpack might be hot for a micro scooter or bike, but what about folks in business attire, or who need to stop off at the store on the way home for a couple of sacks of groceries, or a pick up or drop off at the dry cleaners. Somehow it doesn’t seem ‘spot on’ to me.

And how does it work in inclement weather. Sure the Dutch seem to survive quite well in cold and rain, but they are a hearty folk. I just don’t see our snowflake generation surviving a Chicago winter or the heat in Phoenix.

Plus, have you simply looked outside to see if we are being overwhelmed, or even just whelmed, by micro mobility? LA is a hotbed of this kind of change and the special bike lanes built at a cost of millions sit empty. Those ‘nests’ of “birds” that found their way to my front yard are gone. And a three hour drive around the city yesterday unearthed one, count em ONE scooter and two bicycles.

There are a couple of other things to consider. When was the last time you heard about self-driving cars? That ‘just around the corner’ seems to have gone pretty quiet. How about the popularity of working from home and ‘zoom’ meetings? Even Microsoft. Apple  and Amazon are continuing renting office space like it’s going out of style. Remember just a few short years ago when cities were touting rapid transit as the ‘thing’ of the future. Now we find that folks are buying cars like mad.

Nostradamus hit a few out of the park, but only when his translators ‘adjusted’ the center field fence. I say believe your gut. When you see that neighbor across the street on a bike or scooter, it might be time to scratch your chin and reconsider. Until then…


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. About eight years ago or so, there was a Smart Parking and Intelligent Transportation Symposium held with an approximate attendance of 200 at the Chicago Transit Authority Headquarters in downtown Chicago. During the closing segment, the Director of Transportation for the City of Chicago, gave a presentation about the bicycle network installed throughout downtown, complete with remote storing stations logistically placed close to rail and marque city locations. He was proud of repurposing curbside parking spaces by constructing bicycle lanes all over downtown. He further amplified the necessity of this mode of transportation and how it was offering a tremendous reduction of carbon emissions. In fact, he promoted his personal use of this transportation method for his own daily work commute. During the final Q&A portion of his presentation, a question was posed from the audience. “You do know that this is Chicago, and we have what is called winter, how will this affect the publics use?” The directors retort was, ” we know there is global warming and it does not snow much here anymore.” To that, the audience sighed and bemoaned in unison.

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