Time Pollution


Although time-savings provide the principal economic justification for new road schemes, the expansion of the road network and the increase in traffic does not seem to have given people more free time. This is because pedestrian time is not evaluated, because cars are deceptively time-consuming, and because people tend to use what time savings they do gain to travel further. —————————————————————————————————————————————————— Time is money, we are told; and increasing mobility is a way of saving time. But how successful are modern transport systems at saving time? Michael Ende's novel Momo 1 describes the changes which took place in the daily lives of a small community when ‘time thieves’ persuaded the residents to save time rather than ‘waste’ it on idle conversation, caring for the elderly and similar social activities. The effects were dramatic: as the traditional café was converted into a fast-food outlet and other changes took place, people were too busy saving time to find any time for each other. The village barber found that: ‘he was becoming increasingly restless and irritable. The odd thing was that, no matter how much time he saved, he never had any to spare; in some mysterious way, it simply vanished. Imperceptibly at first, but then quite unmistakably, his days grew shorter and shorter. Almost before he knew it, another week had gone by, another month, and another year, and another and another.’ Ende’s novel compresses into a few months the process of community disintegration that has been taking place over the last few decades in Europe. The observation that ‘no one has any time for each other any more’ is a commonplace, particularly among older people; yet there are few attempts to examine why this. should be so. How can we explain the Momo effect, the paradox that the more people try to save time, the less they seem to have? In other words, what do people do with the time they save?

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Whitelegg1993TimeP, title={Time Pollution}, author={John Whitelegg}, year={1993} }