There are a handful of policy phrases that reliably trigger outrage among urban mobility wonks. “Sharrow” is one; “parking minimum” is another. I’d like to suggest a couple more: “first in the country” and “staying ahead of our rivals.” If you hear either spoken by your mayor or governor, head for the hills (or the next community meeting). More likely than not, your elected officials are basing mobility policy decisions not on cost-benefit analysis or strategic foresight, but on a classic modern insecurity: FOMO.
For the uninitiated, FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out,” and it’s a common abbreviation in texts and social media chatter. If you’re frantically visiting stores to get your hands on the hot new smart phone that everyone is talking about, blame FOMO. Same goes if you feel a pang of envy when you see your friend’s gorgeous social media posts of her tropical vacation—and then hop online to check flights to the Caribbean.