CONTROLLING TRAFFIC BY INFORMAL MEANS. In the Harvard Gazette article, Mayor Mockus, as befits an academic, pays tribute to some of the thinkers who influenced him: Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North, who has investigated the tension between formal and informal rules, and JÃ¼rgen Habermas who has published on how dialogue creates social capital.
Enforcing traffic behavior by formal legal penalties can be cumbersome and expensive in big cities—who directs traffic while a policeman is writing out a ticket? (Of course, there are governments that rely on fines to finance a good deal of their budget).
Whenever I see gridlock—cars blocking the box—in New York City it occurs to me that simply directing a violator to pull over and wait for somebody to process a ticket for him would create a powerful disincentive for bad behavior. By hypothesis, the violator is in a hurry, and an enforced time out (visible to other drivers) would sting.