U of M Accessibility Observatory announces partnership with TomTom to create national dataset of access to jobs 

A University of Minnesota Press Release about the Accessibility Observatory:

The University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory is partnering with TomTom to create a national dataset that studies and illustrates accessibility to jobs by automobiles and mass transit throughout the country.

“Accessibility metrics indicate how well a transportation system fulfills the goal of connecting users to valuable destinations,” says Observatory director Andrew Owen.

TomTom, a global leader in navigation and mapping products, will provide map and historical speed data to help analyze accessibility to jobs by auto for metropolitan areas across the United States. For transit data, the Observatory is relying on open, public sources using a method developed at the University with support from the Center for Transportation Studies.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is the lead agency and coordinator for the national pooled-fund study. Other participating agencies are the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the DOTs of California, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The annually updated dataset will give study partners digital access to detailed reports of local accessibility trends and patterns. Each partner can use the dataset for local transportation system evaluation, performance management, planning, and research efforts.

“Today’s transportation user wants more than mobility—they want accessibility and they want MnDOT to invest in the appropriate solution, at the right place, at the right time, and at the appropriate cost,” says Tim Henkel, division director of modal planning and program management at MnDOT. “The Accessibility Observatory offers solutions to these decision-making challenges.”

The Transportation Pooled Fund Program, part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, allows state DOTs, FHWA program offices, and other organizations to combine resources and achieve common research goals. Additional partners are welcome to join the study.

For information about the Accessibility Observatory, see access.umn.edu.

The race is on to figure out what self-driving cars should look like | WaPo

Matt McFarland writes in the Washington Post  “The race is on to figure out what self-driving cars should look like

David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, argued in a recent paper that we’ll see a Cambrian explosion of new vehicle forms that are designed for specific tasks.

“The fleet will have greater variety, with the right size vehicle assigned to a particular job. Today there is a car-size arms race: people buy larger cars, which are perceived to be safer for the occupant, and taller cars, which allow the driver to see in front of the car immediately in front of them,” Levinson said. “Both of these advantages are largely obviated with autonomous vehicles. The car-size arms race ends.”

Open Traffic

Open Traffic is a new initiative to make GPS traffic data open and available to the public and others, by linking it with OpenStreetMap. It is organized by Conveyal, MapBox, and MapZen with support from the World Bank. The Code is of course open source as well.

OpenTraffic is a free, global traffic speed data set linked to OpenStreetMap built with open source software.

Traffic speed data is a critical input to many transportation related applications. Fortunately many users who need speed data also produce the inputs necessary to create annonmyized traffic statistics.

OpenTraffic provides the space and tools to share traffic statistics from connected vehicles and mobile services. We support the development of analysis and routing tools that enable cities, businesses, and individuals to make use of this data.

How it Works

OpenTraffic connects anyone with real-time or archived GPS location data to processing technology, data storage, and routing and analysis applications.

Location data privacy is paramount. We allow contributors to share anonymized traffic speed statistcs from derived GPS data without disclosing individuals’ location information. In return, data contributors help build a global traffic speed data set that can be used in routing and analysis applications.

The OpenTraffic platform is comprised of several components to make it easy to share and use traffic data:

GPS Probes

GPS probe data can be generated from a variety of sources, including mobile applications or fixed GPS hardware. GPS data can be processed in real-time or archived and transmitted for batch analysis. The OpenTraffic platform has a variety of open source tools to help you load your GPS data from existing sources or connect to Amazon AWS Kinesis streams to manage real-time flows of any size.

Traffic Engine

GPS data is linked to the OpenStreetMap network via Traffic Engine. Data is converted from GPS locations to roadway speed observations and anonymized before being aggregated. As open source software, you control where Traffic Engine is deployed, allowing full control over GPS trace data. Simply install Traffic Engine and load your GPS data to start generating traffic data.

Data Pool

Once anonymized, traffic statistics are added to the global OpenTraffic data pool. By pooling data many different data sources are merged together to provide a seamless global data set, free for use by any application.

Get Involved

We are working with vehicle fleet operators, app developers, and governments to develop and operate the OpenTraffic platform. Learn how you can contribute and benefit: Contact Us

TeMA: Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment

I have recently been named to the Editorial Board of TeMA: Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment. This is an Italian open access journal on things I am obviously interested in. Though it is based in Italy, many of the articles are in English, the international language of science. The archive of past issues is here. I copy it below:

Archivio

2015

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Vol 8, N° 1 (2015): Cities, Energy and Climate Change

Urban population is rapidly reaching two thirds of the global population; thus, cities are the core of a change that need to be driven: the rapid urban population growth involve a large energy consumption and high greenhouses gas emissions which drive cities to face environmental challenges like as climate changes and energy resources’ scarcity. As remarked by the last Report of the United Nations on Sustainable Development, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and adequate strategies capable of mitigating and adapting to its impacts represents an immediate and urgent global priority. This issue of the TeMA focues on the topic of Cities, Energy and Climate Change, focusing on current strategies addressed to mitigation and adaptation.

2014

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Vol 7, N° 3 (2014): Smart City Challenges: Planning for smart cities. Dealing with new urban challenges

The role of urban planner is changing: ICT and big data availability, enabling them to monitor and analyse large amount of data and information, may contribute to better understand and plan the city, improving efficiency, equity and quality of life for its citizens and its capacity to face future challenges. Big data availability is shifting our focus away from the long to the very short term, affecting urban planner’s efforts on generating an effective knowledge base for planning.
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2014: INPUT 2014 – Smart City: planning for energy, transportation and sustainability of the urban system

This special issue collects a selection of peer-review papers presented at the 8th International Conference INPUT 2014 – Innovation in Urban and Regional Planning, titled “Smart City: Planning For Energy, Transportation and Sustainability of Urban Systems”, held on 4-6 June in Naples, Italy. The issue includes recent developments on the theme of relationship between innovation and city management and planning.
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Vol 7, N° 2 (2014): Smart Cities Challenges: Smart Communities Between E-Governance and Social Participation

Information and communication technology (ICT) is producing urban environments that are quite different from anything that we have experienced before. Cities are becoming smarter (or rather their population is becoming smarter) and can automate functions serving individual persons, buildings and traffic systems. At the same time, sensors streaming data, are giving rise to entirely new forms and patterns that enable us to watch how cities and their populations are responding in almost real time. Big data, open data, wireless sensor networks may represent basic tools for re-thinking our development model, decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation; re-designing our planning tools in face of the new challenges that cites have to deal with; creating inclusive and sustainable communities. The new ICT capabilities will allow the rising of a new dimension of the urban social capital and a new consciousness of citizens in the monitoring of the evolution process of the city.
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Vol 7, N° 1 (2014): Smart Cities Challenges: Smart Environment for Sustainable Resource Management

The role of urban planner is changing: ICT and big data availability, enabling them to monitor and analyse large amount of data and information, may contribute to better understand and plan the city, improving efficiency, equity and quality of life for its citizens and its capacity to face future challenges. Big data availability is shifting our focus away from the long to the very short term, affecting urban planner’s efforts on generating an effective knowledge base for planning.
This TeMA issue focuses on the theme of Planning for Smart Cities and invites contributions investigating innovative approaches, methods, techniques, tools for supporting urban and spatial plans (at different scales) on the following themes: Functional Densification; Social Housing; Urban Rehabilitation and Renewal; City Competitiveness in Economic Crisis; Brownfield Transformation; Maintenance, Upgrading and Innovation of Urban Infrastructures; Regeneration of Existing Building Stock; Reassessment of Urban Standards.

2013

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Vol 6, N° 3 (2013): Smart Cities: Research, Projects and Good Practices for Infrastructures

The volume n.6 of TeMA Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment deals with the topic of Smart City and this third issue deals in particular with the theme of Smart Urban Infrastructural systems. The main subjects that this issue point out are innovation of networks and infrastructural systems for people and goods mobility; advanced technologies of communication; intelligent systems for energy production and distribution; monitoring systems for provision of real time information on different aspects of urban life (mobility, climate conditions, safety and so on). In this broader context one of the key theme is the role of ICT in innovating government and the policy decision processes: by enhancing the linkages between various governmental and social organizations, ICT supported knowledge flows (Socio Technical System) is a mean for sustaining innovation in the public sector since they enables governments to better cope with the uncertainties of a complex environment.
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Vol 6, N° 2 (2013): Smart Cities: Researches, Projects and Good Practices for Buildings

This issue of the volume n.6 “Smart Cities” focuses on ideas, projects and good practices with specific reference to the building scale, keeping in mind that the urban fabrics have to be seen not only as structure following the most advanced technological solutions but, above all, as constructions capable of an effective interaction with urban context, capable of reducing energy consumption, optimizing the use of space, minimizing impacts on natural resources, assuring the safety of inhabitants, also through an efficient use of available technologies.
Therefore, based on a systemic approach, this issue collects and promotes ideas, projects and good practices at building scale, able to affect the quality of everyday life, without ignoring the complex tissue of physical, functional and environmental relationships between buildings and the urban systems they belong to.

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Vol 6, N° 1 (2013): Smart Cities: Researches, Projects and Good Practices for the City

The concept of the smart city has been quite fashionable in the policy arena in recent years and the question of how we can live “smartly” in a city has become the focus of policymakers and private industry. The label smart city is still quite a fuzzy concept and is used in ways that are not always consistent. However, starting from a general definition, what is central to the concept of the Smart City and what makes it differ from ‘sustainable cities’ or ‘ECO cities’ is the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the process of creating a more sustainable city but also the availability and quality of knowledge communication and social infrastructure.

This first issue of TeMA, Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, volume no.6 deals with the subject of Smart City with reference to the urban scale. Accordingly, the papers tackle the different aspects characterizing a  smart urban development: ranging from the more specifically economic ones, targeted to the implementation of strategies expected to improve competitiveness of cities in the global scenario; to those more involved in environment questions aimed at identifying strategies for improving the city capability of facing the important challenges given by the ongoing climate change as well as by the ever-growing reduction of traditional energy resources, paying particular attention to the improvement of urban mobility and energy saving as well as of those connected with the quality of life of communities, with specific attention to the participation to decisions-making processes, equity in the access to resources, individual and collective safety, social cohesion.

2012

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Vol 5, N° 3 (2012): Mobility and Competitiveness

This issue focuses on the relations between competition among regions and cities and policies and/or infrastructural facilities related to mobility. In other words, the issue explores the contribution that infrastructural systems and/or procedures and tools for mobility planning and management can provide to the raise of the levels of competitiveness that cities achieve. The broad topic  include both theoretical contributions and others more closely linked to policies/practices for mobility that positively affect the efficiency and livability of urban systems, increasing their potential for attracting businesses and families.
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Vol 5, N° 2 (2012): Resilient city

The Resilience concept has been largely debated in different disciplinary fields since the Seventies. An important contribution to the definition of Resilience itself and to the development of a peculiar focus on Urban Resilience has been recently provided by studies and researches on climate change. In this field, resilience has been defined as a set of adaptive capacities of urban systems dealing with different stress factors and, in particular, with phenomena of climate change and oil resources scarcity. A resilient city is defined as a city capable of absorbing shock and/or disturbances, without suffering significant alterations in its functional organization, its structure and identity features. According to these studies, this issue of TeMA focuses on national strategies and actions implemented both in  European and in different national and urban contexts, in order to increase urban resilience in face of the main factors threatening their development and, in particular, of climate change, related natural hazards and oil resources scarcity.

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Vol 5, N° 1 (2012): Landscapes of Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl processes characterize the landscape of the areas surrounding cities. These landscapes show different features according to the geographical area that cities belong to, though some common factors can be identified: land consumption, indifference to the peculiarities of the context, homogeneity of activities and building typologies, mobility needs exasperatedly delegated  to private cars. Furthermore, these processes increasingly develop while land use planning seems unable – due to the lack of  capacities or of will – to counteract the causes, with multiple effects, which can be summarized in an overall reduction in quality of life.
Scientific community has been questioning about the need to curb urban sprawl processes  for many decades, since when large suburbs have been changed from desirable residential places to areas characterized by poor relationships and social qualities.

2011

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Vol 4, N° 4 (2011): Mobilità e conflitti

L’esercizio, la realizzazione o la previsione di insediamento di un sistema di mobilità possono generare diverse forme di conflittualità. Queste ultime possono riguardare principalmente la sfera socio-territoriale ed il rapporto fra infrastruttura (in generale grandi sistemi di trasporto e scambiatori) e collettività locale, interessata dai mutamenti territoriali indotti e esposta agli impatti che si originano per effetto del sistema di trasporto.

In prima ipotesi, è possibile identificare una serie di conflitti riconducibili a fattori quali: la tipologia di infrastruttura, la scala dell’intervento, il tipo di impatto generato, le caratteristiche delle collettività coinvolte, la distribuzione territoriale delle infrastrutture di mobilità, la tipologia di spostamento, ecc.

Il numero si pone l’obiettivo di analizzare le possibili ed eterogenee forme di conflittualità, estendendo l’approfondimento anche a forme di conflitto che possono riguardare: le procedure di concertazione, i percorsi di ricerca del consenso, ma anche gli squilibri nell’erogazione del servizio ed i conflitti indotti fra classi diverse di utenti dalle nuove politiche di gestione delle infrastrutture (per esempio considerando le nuove opportunità di spostamento offerte dalla rete A/V).

Un ruolo particolarmente rilevante va riservato alla riflessione sugli impatti, gli squilibri e le discrasie generate sul “sistema  ambiente” dalle nuove infrastrutture di mobilità che intervengono a modificare gli assetti orografici e le specificità ambientali di siti di consistente valore (territori alpini, insulari, costieri, etc.) ambientale e per i quali sussiste un forte senso di appartenenza radicato nelle comunità locali.

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Vol 4, N° 3 (2011): Mobilità e grandi progetti

Questo numero di Tema si occupa della realizzazione di grandi progetti infrastrutturali, con particolare riferimento al rapporto tra grandi progetti e competitività territoriale, alle tecniche e ai metodi per valutare gli impatti dovuti alla realizzazione di interventi nel settore dei trasporti, all’efficacia degli investimenti nel settore dei trasporti su scala europea, ai cambiamenti nei sistemi metropolitani indotti dall’attuazione dei progetti infrastrutturali, alla valutazione, 10 anni dopo la Legge Obiettivo, delle implementazioni di infrastrutture strategiche in Italia, agli impatti dei grandi progetti infrastrutturali sul paesaggio e sull’ambiente.

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Vol 4, N° 2 (2011): Green Mobility

La mobilità delle persone e delle merci è largamente riconosciuta quale presupposto imprescindibile per la crescita economica e lo sviluppo della società, elemento strategico per lo sviluppo competitivo di città e regioni e diritto fondamentale delle collettività. Nel contesto europeo i trasporti costituiscono uno dei settori economici più rilevanti ma, anche, uno dei principali fattori di deterioramento della qualità ambientale e della vivibilità, soprattutto nelle grandi aree urbane: inquinamento atmosferico e acustico, consumo di fonti energetiche non rinnovabili, consumo di suolo, congestione, incidentalità sono tra i principali costi ambientali connessi ai trasporti.

Pertanto, questo numero di TeMA intende focalizzare l’attenzione sulle strategie e sulle messe in campo sia in ambito europeo che in diversi contesti nazionali ed urbani, per ri-orientare la politica dei trasporti verso obiettivi di sostenibilità, al fine di garantire una complessiva crescita della mobilità e, nel contempo, una significativa riduzione dei costi ambientali ad essa associati.

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Vol 4, N° 1 (2011): Unità d’Italia e Mobilità

L’unificazione italiana nel 1861 è stata l’inizio di grandi modifiche all’interno del paese, ha cominciato, tra gli altri, un processo di unificazione della rete di mobilità nazionale, per lungo tempo fossilizzata all’interno dei confini dei diversi stati . Il processo di unificazione si è basata sulle reti esistenti; il risultato fu che le aree attrezzate con le reti più avanzate sono state favorite, mantenendo la propria supremazia nella competizione con le aree meno sviluppate. Lo sviluppo della rete nazionale si è basata, per molto tempo, sul miglioramento della rete ferroviaria. Solo dopo l’inizio della motorizzazione di massa, dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, la rete autostradale ha prevalso assorbendo, a partire dagli anni Sessanta, la maggior parte degli investimenti nazionali.L’obiettivo di questo numero di TeMA è quello di indagare lo stato dei sistemi di mobilità in Italia secondo una prospettiva storica. L’unità italiana è stata, infatti, una opportunità rilevante per influenzare profondamente diversi settori, tra cui quello delle infrastrutture.

2010

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Selected Papers 2010

This special number is a selection of papers published in TeMA 2010 volume and is the second item completely in English. The selected papers are works previosly published in Italian and now presented in a different layout collected into a unique item.
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Vol 3, N° 4 (2010): Small/Large Urban Projects

Questo quarto numero dell’anno 2010 vuole fare il punto, con la illustrazione di progetti e casi di studio, sui processi di integrazione della progettazione e quindi della realizzazione delle infrastrutture di trasporto, puntuali o lineari, con gli interventi di trasformazione della città e del territorio. Nel vasto panorama degli interventi progettati o realizzati in questi ultimi anni, in Italia e all’estero, abbiamo privilegiato le due tipologie che consentono una sintesi più immediata degli approcci, dei sistemi di intervento, delle soluzioni progettuali adottate e dei problemi non risolti che questa metodologia pone in essere: i Large scale projects e gli Small projects.

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Vol 3, N° 3 (2010): Moving for Leisure

Partendo dalla consapevolezza che lo spostamento sia una condizione necessaria allo svolgimento della pratica turistica tout court e di quella urbana in particolare, il numero affronta il tema della mobilità turistica nelle aree urbane, analizzando alcuni principali interventi messi in campo per adattare l’offerta di trasporto alle richieste di un’utenza temporanea ma con una forte incidenza sul bilancio economico della città.
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Vol 3, N° 2 (2010): City Logistics

Il numero affronta il tema della city logistics, ovvero di quel settore della logistica che studia ed attua soluzioni per l’ottimizzazione del trasporto delle merci nelle aree urbanizzate. In un’epoca in cui il fenomeno dell’urbanizzazione è a livelli mai prima raggiunti la city logistics rappresenta un tema di grande attualità sia per il trasporto merci, attività essenziale per la sopravvivenza delle persone, che per la qualità della vita, atteso che il trasporto in genere e quello delle merci in particolare sono tra le cause principali dell’inquinamento ambientale.
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Vol 3, N° 1 (2010): Urban Planning and Mobility

Urban Planning and Mobility propone un approfondimento sul tema del governo integrato trasporti-territorio. Questa forma di coordinamento deve essere finalizzata al raggiungimento di un equilibrio tra le politiche urbanistiche come input per la programmazione dei sistemi di trasporto, mantenendo salda l’ipotesi che il sistema di trasporto è un determinante per l’evoluzione del sistema territoriale.

2009

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Vol 2 (2009): Selected Papers 2009

This special number is a selection of papers published in TeMA 2009 volume and is the first item completely in English. The selected papers are works previosly published in Italian and now presented in adifferent layout collected into a unique item.
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Vol 2, N° 4 (2009): Flussi Metropolitani

Il numero Flussi Metropolitani propone un approfondimento sul tema della mobilità alla scala sovra-comunale ed in particolare sul sistema di relazioni esistenti tra i processi di espansione metropolitana e il ruolo della rete e dei sistemi di mobilità. L’espansione della città alla scala metropolitana modifica l’organizzazione dello spazio territoriale e dei sistemi coinvolti, in particolare quelli residenziali, ambientali, produttivi, delle attrezzature e dei servizi pubblici; non ultimo il sistema della mobilità, che innerva i territori e ne caratterizza l’efficienza, al punto che, in molti casi, i ritardi infrastrutturali arrivano a condizionarne l’organizzazione e la competitività.
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Vol 2, N° 3 (2009): Porto, mare e città

Questo numero di TeMA propone un approfondimento sul rapporto tra la città e il mare. L’idea guida è quella di considerare i waterfront urbani e i nodi portuali come aree di confine e allo stesso tempo di cerniera tra le aree metropolitane e il mare. I fronti marittimi urbani e le aree portuali, proiettati sul mare e parte integrante del contesto territoriale in cui sono localizzati, “aree sensibili” sia in termini fisico-funzionali che di pianificazione e gestione.

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Vol 2, N° 2 (2009): Mobilità e sicurezza

Questo numero di TeMA fornisce un approfondimento sul tema della sicurezza applicato ai sistemi di trasporto, che, come attrezzature di importanza strategica alla vita quotidiana delle comunità, costituiscono elementi esposti ad elevata vulnerabilità sia in relazione all’uso degli stessi, sia rispetto al verificarsi di fenomeni calamitosi. Il numero affronta i diversi aspetti del tema della sicurezza applicato ai sistemi di trasporto di persone e merci, per i diversi modi di trasporto e con differenti approcci.

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Vol 2, N° 1 (2009): Politiche della sosta e città

Il numero fornisce elementi di riflessione ed approfondimento sul ruolo del governo della sosta per la mobilità sostenibile nelle aree urbane, illustrando metodi, strategie, strumenti ed interventi da implementare attraverso lo studio della recente bibliografia e l’analisi di best pratices nazionali e internazionali.

2008

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Vol 1, N° 3 (2008): Soft Mobility

Il numero affronta il tema della mobilità dolce (pedonale e ciclabile) alla scala urbana e alla scala vasta, attraverso riflessioni toeriche e studio di pratiche innovative in Italia ed in Europa.

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Vol 1, N° 2 (2008): Mobilità e grandi eventi

Il numero affronta il tema della pianificazione e gestione dei sistemi di trasporto e della mobilità in occasione dei grandi eventi. Attraverso riflessioni teoriche ed applicazioni, si analizzano le scelte messe in campo per rispondere alla necessità sia di rendere accessibile l’area dell’esposizione a grandi flussi di visitatori, sia di integrare le nuove opere nel disegno di sviluppo della città.

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Vol 1, N° 1 (2008): High Speed Cities

Questo numero della rivista affronta un argomento di grande interesse per chi vuole studiare le relazioni tra sistemi urbani e sistema della mobilità: le High Speed Cities. L’obiettivo è riflettere sui molteplici effetti, non ancora sufficientemente indagati, che l’entrata in esercizio dell’Alta Velocità ferroviaria può avere, da diversi punti di vista e a diverse scale, sull’organizzazione spaziale e funzionale dei sistemi urbani coinvolti.

2007

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Vol 1 (2007): Numero Zero

Con il numero zero di TeMA, ed il lancio della nuova rivista l’intenzione è dare il nostro contributo alla costruzione di nuove competenze, scientifiche e allo stesso tempo professionali, su uno degli argomenti di sempre maggior interesse per chi studia e opera nei settori delle trasformazioni fisiche della città e del territorio: l’integrazione tra le discipline che studiano le trasformazioni urbane e quelle che affrontano le tematiche del governo della mobilità. Direi di più, forse è arrivato il momento di porci un obiettivo più ambizioso: costruire un nuovo corpus di conoscenze teorico-metodologiche che, superando gli steccati che segnano il confine – del tutto apparente – tra queste discipline, sia in grado di formulare soluzioni nuove ai problemi che oggi continuiamo ad affrontare con i vecchi arnesi della cultura scientifica del secolo scorso.

Elements of Access: The Fundamental Diagram

The Fundamental Diagram
The Fundamental Diagram describes congestion

“The fundamental diagram” describes the relationship between traffic flow (q) (throughput, or vehicles per hour pass a point), density (k) (vehicles per unit distance), and speed (v) (how fast those vehicles are going distance per hour). This can be expressed as an equation:

q=kv

So why does the “Fundamental Diagram” have the shape it does?

When density on the highway is zero, the flow is also zero because there are no vehicles on the highway. As density increases, flow must increase if speed is constant. It turns out, that we can drive the speed we want to, unaffected by other drivers, at lower densities. So if there is only 1 car per kilometer, you travel at what is called “freeflow speed”, and if there are 2 cars per kilometer, or 5 cars per kilometer, you are still largely unaffected by the other cars. However as density rises, you are eventually slowed by other vehicles.

There is a maximum throughput (capacity), determined by the minimum following headway. In good conditions, drivers can travel at freeflow speed up to that point, but then congestion sets in, and as more cars are added, everyone slows down. At jam density, flow is also zero.

Main Street – New Ulm, Minnesota | streets.mn

New Ulm, Minnesota, (map) in Brown County, is the local urbanist small town Utopia. New Ulm is definitely in good shape as small towns go. Having a college (Martin Luther) in town is good, but its location away from Main Street means it doesn’t interact as much as Carleton in Northfield. It parallels the Minnesota River, and aligns its grid with that mighty stream. The main part of town (Main Street here is called Broadway) is separated from the River by railroad tracks. Its most important feature is a giant statue of Hermann the German, commemorating Armenius’ victory over the Romans at Teutoburg Wald, which helped liberate New Ulm, which reflects the strong German culture of the area, as illustrated by the local Schell Brewery.

Broadway is a county, but not state level road, so it doesn’t have the traffic issues facing St. Peter, where a heavily trafficked US highway comprises Main Street.

The buildings along Broadway are almost fully rented. Yet parking is available. The town itself has an interesting idealistic planning history. Wikipedia writes:

The city was founded in 1854[9] by the German Land Company of Chicago. The city was named after the city of Neu-Ulm in the state of Bavaria in southern Germany.[10] Ulm and Neu-Ulm are sister cities, with Ulm being situated on the Baden-Württemberg side and Neu-Ulm on the Bavarian side of the Danube river. In part due to the city’s German heritage, it is a center for brewing in the Upper Midwest, home to the August Schell Brewing Company.

In 1856, the Settlement Association of the Socialist Turner Society (“Turners”) helped to secure the city’s future. The Turners originated in Germany in the first half of the nineteenth century, promoted with the slogan, “Sound Mind, Sound Body.” Their clubs combined gymnastics with lectures and debates about the issues of the day. Following the Revolutions of 1848, substantial numbers of Germans emigrated to the United States. In their new land, Turners formed associations (Vereins) throughout the eastern, midwestern, and western states, making it the largest secular German American organization in the country in the nineteenth century. Following a series of attacks by nativist mobs in major cities such as Chicago, Cincinnati, and Louisville, a national convention of Turners authorized the formation of a colony on the frontier. Intending to begin a community that expressed Turner ideals, the Settlement Association joined the Chicago Germans who had struggled here due to a lack of capital. The Turners supplied that, as well as hundreds of colonizers from the east who arrived in 1856.[11]

As a representation of Turner ideals, the city plan reflected those values. The German Land Company hired Christian Prignitz to complete a new plan for New Ulm, filed in April 1858. This master plan for New Ulm expressed a grand vision of the city’s future. At the heart of the community stood blocks reserved for Turner Hall, the county courthouse, and a public school, representing the political, social, and educational center of the community. The westernmost avenues were named after American heroes George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine—the latter three noted for their freethinking philosophies. Members obtained the means to support themselves — in harmony with nature — through the distribution of four-acre garden lots located outside of the residential area. Historian Dennis Gimmestad wrote, “The founders’ goals created a community persona that sets New Ulm apart from the Minnesota towns founded by land speculators or railroad companies. . . . The New Ulm founders aspired to establish a town with a defined philosophical, economic, and social character.”[12]

The socialism has faded, but the logic of the well thought out grid remain.

Buesch Building 1890
Buesch Building 1890
Marktplatz Mall gateway, the mall is now out of receivership.
Marktplatz Mall gateway, the mall is now out of receivership.
A decorative navigational tree
A decorative navigational tree
Masonic Block Building. The quality of Masonry has declined in the past century.
Masonic Block Building. The quality of Masonry has declined in the past century.
The local jeweler sponsors an oversized timepiece.
The local jeweler sponsors an oversized timepiece.
Four cars can park in parallel on Center Street
Four cars can park in parallel on Center Street
Buenger Store 1892, 1902
Buenger Store 1892, 1902
Teutonic Architecture
Teutonic Architecture
New Ulm - 1870s: View of Minnesota Street circa 1871, looking north from Center Street
New Ulm – 1870s: View of Minnesota Street circa 1871, looking north from Center Street
The town is in the shadow of Hermann the German.
The town is in the shadow of Hermann the German.
New Ulm on fire in the Dakota Wars
New Ulm on fire in the Dakota War of 1862
Herberger's Department Store in New Ulm. Department stores are not only for shopping malls.
Herberger’s Department Store in New Ulm. Department stores are not only for shopping malls.

Left-Right convergence on Highways.

Reihan Salam at National Review on Hillary Clinton’s Infrastructure Speech

 Different infrastructure services require different kinds of expertise, in large part because they depend on different business models, some of which are more conducive to public investment than others. I’m a heretic on the subject of our highway system. I don’t think our main problem is that we’re not spending enough on highways, as Clinton seems to believe. If anything, I think our highway system is overbuilt [emphasis added]. ​Beyond handing over responsibility over highways to states, which should in turn hand over responsibility to independent road enterprises that operate on sane, commercial lines, I’d say the federal government would do us all a favor by getting out of the way.

What we do is more important than how much we spend. And I of course agree that we are mostly overbuilt, which the environmental community has been saying for years, as have local community groups opposing specific projects, and Strong Towns more recently. The problem is we don’t know how much because we underprice both infrastructure and the externalities of transportation. The daily shortages of roadspace we call congestion arise because people perceive travel as costing less to themselves than its real social cost. No one pays for  the delay they cause others, we all pay for the delay others cause us. Moving beyond this Soviet style resource allocation is the most important thing we can do now to address congestion, far more than the few widening projects we could actually afford.

Once we have pricing with the right governance structure, we will see far less congestion and traffic along with higher quality roads that are properly funded and maintained. Nothing is a sliver bullet, but this is as close as you can get in the road sector.

Beijing: CICTP 2015

I have been invited to present at  15th COTA International Conference of Transportation Professionals (CICTP 2015) in Beijing, China.

Plenary Session I: Sustainable Multimodal Transportation (Saturday July 25)

Chair: Dr. Yu Zhang, Conference Organizing Committee Chair, Associate Professor, University of South Florida, USA

14:00 – 16:10 Conference Room 1 Building 7 瑞宾楼 Beijing Friendship Hotel

14:00 – 14:20 The Transportation Experience: From Steamboats to Streetcars Dr. David Levinson, Professor, University of Minnesota, USA

This will be second trip to Beijing, so I can see how things have changed in 13 years. I am looking forward to it.

Climbing Mount Next: The Effects of Autonomous Vehicles on Society

Recently published
Climbing Mount Next: The Effects of Autonomous Vehicles on Society

Levinson, David (Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, 2015)
Title 

Climbing Mount Next: The Effects of Autonomous Vehicles on Society
Author(s)

Issue Date

2015
Publisher

Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology
Type

Article
Abstract

The United States spent almost the entire twentieth century climbing Mount Auto. From the 1920s onward, the automobile was the dominant mode of travel for Americans, accumulating more miles per capita than other modes. While the Great Depression slowed the auto’s growth, it did not result in decline. There was a brief downturn during World War II, and a few hiccups in the steady rise of mileage. But the later 2000s and 2010s have seen a sharp downturn in motor vehicle use per capita. This drop is greater than the drop during World War II in absolute terms (though the War saw a drop of twenty-three percent off the pre-war peak, and the 2012 drop is seven percent below 2005). It is complemented by an apparent plateauing in total miles of paved roads since 2008. Within the transportation sector there have been small shifts over the past fifteen years, which cannot explain much of the decline of travel. There are active transportation modes, like walking and biking, which work well for short trips, and certainly have niches they can grow into if land development intensifies and people reorganize their lives to enable them. For instance, I am one of the seven percent of Minneapolitans who walk to work. The numbers are much lower outside core cities, and nationally, at three percent. Transit ridership per capita is up ever so slightly. There are a slew of “new mobility options” which use information technologies to allow travel without owning an automobile, but are not yet visible in the transportation statistics. These include peer-to-peer taxi and ridesharing services and dynamic real-time rental cars. While these are useful in their niches, they likely are not cost-effective enough to be the main transportation mode for the vast majority of the population with the given technology. Today these new mobility options are supplements when the main mode does not solve the job to be done. In the future, that might change. Technologies allow people to do more of the same, and they allow people to do new things. It is easier to predict more of the same than new things.
Appears in Collection(s)

Suggested Citation

Levinson, David. (2015). Climbing Mount Next: The Effects of Autonomous Vehicles on Society. Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/172960.