My newest report, Our World Accelerated, uses various data sources to examine how 120 years of transportation progress affects our lives and communities. It’s a fun and interesting project. As far as I can tell, this is the first time that this information has been assembled and presented in this way.
Transportation innovations have transformed society in the past and will surely do so in the future. In ancient times, travel was mostly by foot, so most people seldom ventured beyond their villages and imported goods were costly and rare. Over centuries, new technologies and services—wagons, boats, ships, railroads, automobiles and aircraft—expanded where we could go and the products we could use, improving our lives in many ways. The figure below indicates when new modes became widely available and their typical operating speeds.