Confessions of a Recovering Engineer


Transportation for a Strong Town

by Charles L. Marohn Jr.

The costs of the North American transportation system are too high—not just in money, but in time, safety, and quality of life. Most Americans sense the transportation system is working against rather than for them, that the money spent on transportation may temporarily address a problem but ultimately makes their lives worse. They also feel powerless because they can’t put their finger on why it’s so bad, or how it can be made better.

Americans are rightly frustrated, yet what most suspect to be wrong about transportation is only part of the story. The reality is worse in many ways, with our efforts to fix these systems only reinforcing the problems we are hoping to solve. A new approach is needed.

Strong Towns founder and president Charles Marohn, Jr. is a professional engineer and planner with decades of experience. In his work, he saw firsthand how the conventional approach to traffic engineering is making people less safe, bankrupting towns and cities, destroying the fabric of communities, and actually worsening the problems (like congestion) engineers set out to solve. He founded Strong Towns in 2009 to advocate for a smarter, more resilient, and more fiscally responsible approach. Over the last 12 years, Strong Towns has grown into an international movement of people from all walks of life who are challenging the status quo and changing how we build cities in the U.S. and Canada.

In Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town, Marohn pulls back the curtain on the North American transportation system. He explains how transportation got so bad, and why it keeps getting worse. He writes about the deadly toll of bad design, why the conventional approach puts cities on the road to insolvency, and why public transit is in trouble. He also talks about how transportation can be fixed—and why fixing it will involve not just engineers, but local residents and officials who have become effective and empowered advocates, connected with others to make real change.

No one should be consigned to living in a community where transportation gets worse while costing more. Rather than being a burden, transportation should fit with your life. It is possible to build a transportation system that makes you, your family, and your community safer and more prosperous. This book will show you how.

Hardcover | 272 pages | Wiley; 1st edition | 2021