Main Street – Glencoe, Minnesota

Welcome to Glencoe: Small City - Big Future
Welcome to Glencoe: Small City – Big Future

In my family’s quest to visit the county seats of Minnesota, on a Sunday morning in early November we went on a trip to Glencoe, Gaylord, Le Sueur (not a county seat), and Saint Peter. We had never been to Glencoe before, and in all honesty, would find it unlikely to be there again, as our travels generally do not take us that far in that direction.

Glencoe, just past Norwood-Young America and thus 60 minutes Southwest of Minneapolis, is the seat of McLeod County, and is home to over 5600 people. While still mostly white, the Hispanic population is about 15%. It is most famous to the rest of the world as the site of a Louis Malle documentary “God’s Country“.

The Enterprise, in Glencoe
The Enterprise, in Glencoe

As with many such towns, there is a Courthouse, a Grain Elevator, churches, a school, a small set of local shops on a Main Street (the main corner I judge to be Hennepin and 11th), including a local cafe (Gert and Erma’s), a Hardware Hank, a bank, a post office, a former bank converted to something else, a local newspaper. There are also specialty stores not found in every county seat, e.g. Therapeutic Attainment Options, offering massage and bodywork, and a local watch store – which Central Place Theory says “should” be in higher order towns. Off the historic main street, but on the road connected to the highway, are the farm implement stores.

Glencoe Independent Grain Elevator
Glencoe Independent Grain Elevator

Glencoe is off of Highway 212 in an awkward way. [Map] A rebuilt Highway 212 is south of the old gridded town. Some newer suburbs have emerged just south of 212, enabled by the faster accessibility the divided highway brings.

Glencoe Mexican Market - La Michoacana
Glencoe Mexican Market – La Michoacana

A full set of photos are available on Flickr

Cross-posted on

Journal of Transport and Land Use: Vol 7, No 3 (2014)

Journal of Transport and Land Use: Vol 7, No 3 (2014)

Table of Contents

Residential self-selection in the relationships between the built environment and travel behavior: Introduction to the special issue PDF
Jason Cao 1-3
Residential self-selection, built environment, and travel behavior in the Chinese context PDF
Donggen Wang, Tao Lin 5-14
Residential self-selection in travel behavior: Towards an integration into mobility biographies PDF
Joachim Scheiner 15-28
Revisiting residential self-selection issues: A life-oriented approach PDF
Junyi Zhang 29-45
Estimating the effect of land use and transportation planning on travel patterns: Three problems in controlling for residential self-selection PDF
Daniel G. Chatman 47-56
Tempest in a teapot: The exaggerated problem of transport-related residential self-selection as a source of error in empirical studies PDF
Petter Naess 57-79
Reaction to the paper Tempest in a Teapot: The exaggerated problem of transport-related residential self-selection as a source of error in empirical studies PDF
Bert van Wee, Marlon Boarnet 81-86
Response to Van Wee and Boarnet PDF
Petter Naess 87-92
Satisfaction with travel and residential self-selection: How do preferences moderate the impact of the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line? PDF
Jason Cao, Dick Ettema 93-108

Phantom Trips

Adam Millard-Ball has a nice article on Phantom Trips. in Access Magazine

Traffic lies at the heart of many fears about new urban development. In some cases, cities require developers to scale back housing or retail proposals to alleviate concerns about congestion. In other cases, cities widen roadways, add turn lanes, or lengthen signal cycles to accommodate projected traffic volumes.

In both instances, planners and engineers wield considerable influence through their predictions of the number of vehicle trips that a proposed development will generate. This seemingly mundane process—trip generation analysis—profoundly shapes the physical form and financial feasibility of urban development. Estimates of trip generation help shape the road infrastructure, determine the amount that developers must pay for new roads and greenhouse gas mitigation, and sway local support or opposition to proposed development. Trip generation practices also help determine how much urban space cities dedicate to cars; the viability and character of transit-oriented and infill development; and whether a project proceeds at all.

How do we predict how much more traffic there will be? In the United States, the Institute for Transportation Engineers’ (ITE) Trip Generation Manual, now in its 9th edition, is the standard reference. It provides data on the number of trips generated by 172 different land uses, from “Baby Superstore” to “Cemetery.” Some of the land-use categories are remarkably specific, such as “Batting Cage” or even “Coffee/Donut Shop with Drive-Through Window and No Indoor Seating.”


Given the ubiquitous influence of the Trip Generation Manual on the built environment, it is important to understand the validity of its data and ITE’s recommended practices. Rather than accurately forecasting the impacts of new developments, I show in this article that ITE substantially overestimates trip generation rates. Moreover, I explain why ITE’s core premise, that development always generates new trips, is misleading in many circumstances. Because ITE rates do not fully consider how trips are reshuffled among destinations, they are often inappropriate for evaluating traffic, fiscal, and environmental impacts. In short, we are planning for “phantom trips” that never appear in reality.

This article is adapted from “Phantom Trips: Overestimating the Traffic Impacts of New Development,” originally published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use. [forthcoming 8(1)]

Adam Millard-Ball

adam millard ball

Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz (

Accessibility moves out of the lab and into practice

Eric Sundquist at SSTI writes: “Accessibility moves out of the lab and into practice

Accessibility, long considered a more robust measure of transportation system success than simple mobility, is moving out of research and into practice, according to panelists on an SSTI webinar.

Accessibility measures the ease by which travelers can reach desired destinations, or “opportunities.” Often, but not always, it is measured in terms of time. As such, it combines both mobility and proximity of land uses, bringing together two directly connected public policy concerns that are often poorly integrated in decision-making.

While accessibility is not a new concept, data limitations have made it difficult to measure. Now it is becoming practice-ready, panelists said.

The webinar, broadcast Dec. 4, featured Andrew Owen of the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory, Richard Kuzmyak of Renaissance Planning Group, and Kate Sylvester of the Maryland DOT. Slides and a recording are available on the SSTI website.

Owen, who cited commentary in the conservative National Review and libertarian Reason Foundation about the benefit of accessibility measures, has been working with Minnesota DOT and now is developing a pooled fund study to mainstream accessibility measures across the country. Kuzmyak has applied accessibility measures in the Washington, D.C., area, including in a project with Sylvester’s Maryland DOT.

While both efforts aim to make use of accessibility for better transportation and land use decision-making, the approaches are somewhat different.

Owen’s group uses a cumulative opportunities count, generally using jobs as the critical opportunities. They estimate the number of opportunities that can be accessed by car and transit from neighborhoods around the nation within a set time, say 30 minutes. …


Autonomy Island

Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize Fantasy Island (1977)
Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize Fantasy Island (1977)

“Ze Car, Ze Car.”

“My dear guests, I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Autonomy Island.”

Yes, here on Autonomy Island, all of the cars are autonomous. Your adventure will be to ride and drive in a place without fear of a human running you over.

When will an automaker (or collective of automakers, or government, or Google) buy all the cars on an island (and perhaps rent the government), replace them with new autonomous vehicles, and see what happens … to safety, to travel behavior, etc?

This is the kind of real world laboratory experiment that would be highly useful to understand the implications, the unintended side effects, the bugs and so on of robotic cars.

For instance, take the US Virgin Islands. St. Croix has a population of about 50,000 people. If it follows general US patterns, it has about 33,000 light vehicles. For about $1B [Less than the cost of a single NFL stadium] all of the cars could be replaced with autonomous vehicles at about $33,000 each. [This might be a stretch, but that would be a typical mass production cost.]

The USVI collectively has between 10 and 20 auto fatalities annually. At a $9.1 million value of life, that is at least $91M per year. In 11 years, the experiment would pay for itself if in fact it eliminates fatal crashes the way autonomous vehicles are expected to, leave aside any other potential benefits.

The advantages of an island are that it is a closed system, it can be fully mapped, no one can drive on or off. The advantages of a real island with real people are the ability to see how these interactions might actually occur in use.

Autonomous vehicles interacting with only autonomous vehicles should be much easier to design than autonomous vehicles in mixed traffic, as the environment is less variable. People, animals, weather, and so on are still potential confounding factors, but should be simpler to manage than a person in a car.

a blog about Networks and Places


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,237 other followers