Peter Norton

Peter Norton is associate professor of history in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia (USA).  He is the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (MIT Press, 2008).  His article “Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street,” published in Technology and Culture, won the Abbott Payson Usher Prize of the Society for the History of Technology.  He is a frequent speaker to audiences of mobility advocates, transportation professionals, and planners.  He is a member of the University of Virginia’s Center for Transportation Studies and of the Sustainable Urban Mobility project of Technical University Eindhoven.  Norton teaches classes in history of technology and in technology and society.  He is a winner of the Hartfield-Jefferson Scholars Teaching Prize and of the Trigon Engineering Society’s Hutchinson Award “for dedication and excellence in teaching.”  He is working on a long-range historical research project that will show that Americans’ car dependence was less inevitable than is usually supposed; for this reason, alternatives to car dependence may also be more feasible than conventional wisdom would have it.  Though the project is based on the American case, its conclusions will be relevant to European cases where car-centric urban design is supposed to be a product of culture or popular preference, or otherwise inevitable.