All over the world in what historians will call the Great Boom or perhaps the Golden Age 1993-2008 people bought cars in order to be free agents and spent increasing large amounts of time sitting in traffic jams. When I first came to Bucharest one could have sat down and had a picnic in Calea Victoriei on Saturday or Sunday. Now most journeys of less than two miles are quicker on foot than by car.
What to do?
First, let's all agree that what Bucharest desperately needs are wheel clamps! A hundred thousand of them! Please. Now!
And cars should be taxed more to discourage people from buying them. Petrol should be taxed higher too. I know this is a lost cause but cheap efficient public transport which we are lucky to enjoy in Bucharest is the acceptable face of socialism. Drivers cost the community a lot - road building, urban sprawl, road deaths, pollution, gridlock, etc. etc. and should contribute more.
The answer to congestion costs very little: wheel clamps and a congestion charge to pay before you can enter inner Bucharest between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Instead we are increasingly living in the Romanian version of the American dream/nightmare: people working long hours for multinational firms, suburbia, shopping centres, cars, mortgages, consumerism, expensive lawyers, sitting endlessly in traffic on the way to the gym, no time to sit on a terrace and drink beer which is in any case not good for your health.
Meanwhile the mass of taxpayers dream of buying a car. These poorly-paid employees support the great majority of Romanians who are not employed, pay for the thefts of the political class and the Romanian oligarchs and pay for outrageously overpriced roadworks that take years to edge a few miles.