Our podcast called “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?” got a listener named Jenny O’Brien thinking. Here’s what she wrote us:
Here’s the back story: I live in a rural area in Northeast Kansas, where there is no bus, so I am forced to drive all the time. After I heard your podcast, I started thinking about how to make hitchhiking safe, easy and reliable so I and other rural residents can use it as a public transportation option. I figured that all the hitchhiker really needed was a credential, way to signal her destination, and a system to record who she is riding with for safety.
A podcast listener named Susan Guttentag, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, writes in to say:
I was compelled to email you after the following incident on our recent visit to Whitefish, Montana. My husband and I had finished a terrific bike trip through Glacier and Waterton Parks, and we were spending a couple of extra days in Whitefish, a very lovely town in the Flathead River Valley. We noticed that there was a terrific hike to the top of the local ski resort on Big Mountain and decided to venture out. Sadly, the trail starting point was a hefty distance away — too far to tack onto what proved to be a 4 h hike to the top– but the lodge did not provide shuttle service to this area. My husband suggested that we — wait for it — hitchhike! In nearly 53 years on the planet, I had never once hitchhiked but my husband is 6’3″ so I thought “why not?” I had listened to your podcast on hitchhiking and was somewhat comforted by the data.
Our “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?” podcast poked into various reasons for the decline of hitchhiking, including rising car ownership and the feature of strangers.
A Wall Street Journal article now highlights one scenario where hitchhiking is on the rise: at the George Washington Bridge, which links New Jersey and New York. The rise in hitchhiking (or, really, carpooling) is driven by a desire to escape the GWB’s high toll: vehicles carrying three or more passengers get a $6 toll discount. “There are no official meeting points or matching services for carpoolers,” writes Spencer Jakab. “So drivers approach the bridge and pick up pedestrians at a bus stop just before the toll plaza, giving a free ride to two commuters who would otherwise pay $2.00 to take a jitney into town.” Read More »
Season 2, Episode 3
We have just released our second series of five one-hour Freakonomics Radio specials to public-radio stations across the country. (Check here to find your local station.) Now these episodes are hitting our podcast stream as well. These shows are what might best be called “mashupdates” — that is, mashups of earlier podcasts which we’ve also updated with new interviews, etc.
This episode is called “The Power of the President — and the Thumb” (download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below). The first half is an overhaul of our 2010 podcast “How Much Does the President Really Matter?” We’ve mashed it up with our 2011 episode “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?” to create an hour of radio that shows, among other things, how “attribution errors” work. Read More »
Inspired by our podcast “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?,” transportation scholar Alan Pisarksi organized a discussion session on the topic at the recent Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. Pisarski, who was also featured in our episode, hoped the event would encourage scholars to apply insights from the past to current issues in transportation policy. Read More »
Season 2, Episode 3
In this episode we ask a simple, heretical question: How much does the President of the United States really matter? Stephen Dubner talks to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, economists Austan Goolsbee and Justin Wolfers, and constitutional scholar Bernadette Meyler about how the President’s actual influence can be measured. And Steve Levitt weighs in on how the President shapes the nation.
Also in this episode, we look at another supposed truism: hitchhiking is terribly dangerous. But is that really true? Read More »
What may not be super obvious to everyone out there is the meaning of the graphic above. So let’s play name that reference and throw in some swag for good measure!
We haven’t forgotten that your preferred method of giveaway is “random,” and we’ve had a contest before on this blog where the prize is contingent on your comment number. So here’s how it’s going to work this time: the 42nd comment will win if it bears the correct answer. If comment 42 has the wrong answer, the winning number doubles and the 84th comment will win — but again, only if the answer is correct. The winning number will triple, quadruple, etc. until we get a winner.
So tell us, what does 42 signify and where is it from? Hint: the title of this post.