I am in the STRIB talking Time, Daylight Saving Time in an article by Kim Ode.
Or, we could just get up sooner
David Levinson, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, has studied the effects of daylight saving time from a traffic safety standpoint, finding the shift makes driving no more dangerous than at any other time. But he also views DST through sociological and economic lenses.
Energy savings used to be the primary reason, he said, with the logic that if it stayed sunlit later, people wouldn’t turn on their lights.
“My own view is that people should get up earlier,” Levinson added, not unreasonably.
Levinson concurred with the economic value of DST, noting that merchants believe that the longer it remains daylight, the more likely people will leave their homes to shop.
“The question is: How much benefit can there be? People are going to buy only as many groceries as they’re going to buy. How much is new business entirely because it’s still daylight?”
That may be impossible to determine, partly because at this time of year the days are getting longer in addition to shifting an hour. Where the Twin Cities have just under eight hours of daylight on Dec. 21, we’ll have a little more than 12 hours on March 21 and a whopping 15 ½ on June 21.
Today, about 70 countries use daylight saving time to some extent. And, like it or not, the eastern time zone — whether on DST or EST — makes everyone jump.
Central time zone residents are used to starting their days earlier if they’re dealing with the East Coast.
Our research is here.
I was interviewed by Mary Lynn Smith of the Star Tribune for the annual INRIX congestion report article:
Minneapolis-St. Paul is No. 16 on the list of America’s worst traffic cities
Depending on the methodology, rankings put the Twin Cities between the 13th- and 16th-largest U.S. metro area, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. “The fact that we’re ranked 16th in congestion seems about right,” he said.
Levinson said demographic trends are helping to mitigate road congestion.
“Travel times are declining in the U.S.,” he said. “People are aging. Old people don’t travel as much, and young people don’t travel as much as what young people used to. Fewer kids own cars. The big picture is that that the total amount of travel peaked in the U.S. a few years ago and it’s been declining ever since. We have some ups and downs during any given year depending on the price of the gas and whether the economy is doing a little bit better or not. Certainly [congestion is] more than in 2009 during the depths of the recession.”
Levinson and others are quick to point out that Twin Cities drivers could be dealing with much worse.
In Los Angeles, home to the nation’s most-congested roads, drivers spent 64 hours sitting in traffic, an increase of five hours from the previous year, according to the INRIX study. In Honolulu, the nation’s second-worst city for traffic, drivers sat behind the wheel 60 extra hours last year, while in No. 3 San Francisco it was 56 hours.
And, Levinson points out, there’s more good news for the Twin Cities. The average speed of travel in the metro area is the fifth-highest in the country.
“You sit in traffic at a particular bottleneck, but then when you’re moving on the freeway, you’re driving at 55 mph,’’ he said. “And when you’re driving on arterials, you’re driving at 45 mph, and that’s better than most metro cities.”
I am scheduled to appear at The Theater of Public Policy where they will be improv-ing Transit Revolution or a Streetcar to Heck?
The University of Minnesota’s resident civil engineering guru is known around the world as The Transportationist. Professor Levinson will join us to talk about the Twin Cities, traffic, streetcars, and why we don’t yet have hover bikes?
Doors at 6:00 – Show at 7:00
Tickets: $10 at the door OR $7 in advance, or $7 at the door with student I.D., kids under 12, or with a Fringe Button.
Buy Tickets here!
- Monday, April 7, 2014
- 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Bryant Lake Bowl (map)
810 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Shomik Mehndiratta and Tatiana Peralta Quiros from the World Bank write about Buenos Aires:
“[M]en and women’s average commuting times may be roughly the same, but men actually travel at significantly faster speeds and, as a consequence, cover larger distances. In general, trips made by women, particularly women with children were made at significantly lower travel speeds. (see table below: women with children, for instance, travel an average distance of 7.92km at an average speed of 9.98km/hr, as opposed to an average distance of 9.96km for men with children, which translates into a speed of 12.27km/hr).
Table 1: Travel times, distances and speeds for work trips for men and women.
Work Trips. ENMODO 2009. Expanded Survey
||Average Time (min)
||Average Distance (km)
||Average Speed (km/hr)
|Women without Children
|Men without Children
|Women with Children
|Men with Children
How can we explain those differences? Our hypothesis is that women’s travel choices are limited in part by household maintenance activities, which force them to rely on comparatively slower modes: the survey finds that women walk more than men and take buses, while men are using cars and trains more.
If women are indeed constrained to smaller commutes, it also means they have access to fewer employment opportunities – with inevitable consequences on their wage rates and related labor market outcomes. The map below highlights the stark contrast in job accessibility between men and women in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area: in parts of the city, men with children have access to over 80% more jobs than their female counterparts.”
I was interviewed on Marketplace (by American Public Media) about ‘Lexus lanes’ and the price of saving time (this is drawn from the same interview as last week’s article).
Part of the problem appears to be a phenomenon documented on Minnesota’s MnPASS system, after which Florida’s I-95 Express plan is modeled. Engineers found that, up to a point, drivers are actually drawn to higher tolls.
“And that’s surprising,” said David Levinson a professor of civil engineering at University of Minnesota and a study author. “Our expectation was that when we raised the price, that fewer people would consume the good … which is what you typically find.”
He says you don’t normally think about driving on high-occupancy toll lanes as a prestige good, where people perceive more value as the price goes up.
On the other hand, Levinson says, maybe there is a real value. “So if you’re a ‘type-A’ person you might get some sort of psychological benefit from passing 20 other cars on your way to work. Even if by passing 20 cars you’ve only saved yourself a minute or two, you’re ahead in the race, so as a positional good you think it’s better.”
And for the record, express lanes may or may not be “better” as the price goes up. Dynamic tolling changes to ensure free-flowing traffic in the express lanes — it has nothing to do with what’s going on in the not-so-express lanes.
The paper is here: HOT or Not: Driver Elasticity to Price on the MnPASS HOT Lanes.
There is a nice interactive by the National Association of Counties (by my former co-author Emilia Istrate and others): The Road Ahead which maps the variety of financing issues facing local governments in the US.
The Road Ahead
There is a huge variety of organization across the United States. The page notes:
The interactive provides individualized PDF profiles for 43 states where counties have authority over roads and/or bridges. Counties in four states (Delaware, North Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia) do not have authority over both roads and bridges. New Hampshire counties do not own roads and only one county (Belknap County) owns a bridge. Connecticut and Rhode Island do not have county governments and are not included in the study. They are marked in gray on the map.
So why do we need 3 or even 2 levels of government managing roads when some states can do with one? [See Jurisdictional Overload]. Should this be government owned (or executive branch controlled) at all when other utilities are cooperatively or privately managed and publicly regulated? In this era of declining demand for travel, it is seriously time to rethink how we manage roads. Some rationalization is in order.
See also Enterprising Roads.
Express Lane Tolls Enforced. Credit Jeffery Katz / Florida Department of Transportation
I was interviewed by Kenny Malone of the Miami Herald / Miami Public Radio on HOT Lanes in Trying To Free Up 95 Express, FDOT Prices ‘Lexus Lanes’ At Lamborghini Rates
FDOT numbers show that the express lanes, of late, have failed to provide a reliably free-flowing trip during peak traffic hours, most notably the 4-7 p.m. northbound trip.
Part of the problem appears to be a phenomenon documented on Minnesota’s MnPASS system, after which 95 Express is modeled. Engineers found that, up to a point, drivers are actually drawn to higher tolls.
“And that’s surprising,” said David Levinson a professor of civil engineering at University of Minnesota and a study author. “Our hypothesis as to why that’s the case is that users of the system are using the posted price… as information about what the time savings is on the MnPASS lanes.”
FDOT is seeing evidence of the same thing, drivers assuming a higher toll means more time savings.
The article is part of the series: WLRN’s the end of the road