Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cars and Civilization

Jesse Ausubel sends along a link to his recent article: Cars and Civilization (pdf).

Rising incomes mean rising speed at all social levels. The rich, of course, accelerate more than
the poor. While poor means slow, even the slow today speed when compared with Queen Victoria.
In industrial countries, a poor man has a car and mobility superior to an ancient nobleman and at least equal to the Great Gatsby. When new travel modes are introduced, such as supersonic Concorde planes or maglevs, they will first be the province of the rich.

Worth reading if you like S-curves, travel time budgets, and other Macro-transportation topics. (Which of course, I do.)

Maturity of Bike Share Systems

Bike Sharing Takes Off by Statista
Bike Sharing Takes Off by Statista

I recently saw the above info graphic with an article in US News: The Exploding Growth of Bike Sharing

But if you look at the number of systems, the rate of growth is actually slowing

Cumulative Number Added

2002

7

7

2003

11

4

2004

13

2

2005

17

4

2006

25

8

2007

62

37

2008

128

66

2009

209

81

2010

328

119

2011

431

103

2012

497

66

This is a good thing in many respects. At some point we need to stop adding systems and start making them bigger, inter-connecting and inter-operating, and even merging them. Ideally I should have one subscription that can be used on any system in the world (I have said similar for transit passes, see Club Transit), and bikes could be borrowed and deposited anywhere. Very few people will of course take a bikeshare bike from Minneapolis to Chicago, but Minneapolitans should automatically be able to use the Chicago system (and vice versa). And like the electric inter-urban users of yore (one could take an electric inter-urban (trolley) from Elkhart Lake Wisconsin to Oneonta, New York, it was said), one should be able to bike share between major places, even if transferring bikes periodically. So while the chart does not represent what it purports to represent, the number of bike share users (and bike share bicycles) may still be growing at an increasing rate, i.e. we may still be on the left side of the S-Curve for the technology, even if the number of systems, like the number of cities (and railroads and airports) is not growing as much or at all.

Call for Host 2017 World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research

The World Society for Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR) invites all interested parties to propose hosting the 2017 World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research. WSLTUR is an international professional organization that promotes the understanding and analysis of the interdisciplinary interactions of transport and land use, offers a forum for debate, and provides a mechanism for the dissemination of information. The main vehicle for this promotion is the triennial symposium, which aims to bring together the leading researchers in the field to present scholarly papers on the broad set of topics falling within this enterprise. The Journal of Transport and Land Use (JTLU) is the official journal of WSTLUR and will publish select papers from the symposium. More information about WSLTUR and past and current symposia can be found at http://wstlur.org.

The second symposium in this triennial series will be held on June 22-27, 2014 in Delft, the Netherlands, hosted by Delft University of Technology and the University of Twente. We are planning for approximately 140 attendees and 100 paper presentations This follows the inaugural conference held in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada in July of 2013, which was a great success – with 80 participants and 60 paper submissions. For the 2017 symposium, we expect the numbers of attendees and presentations to grow at a modest pace from the 2014 conference.

Entities interested in hosting the conference should submit a full application including the following information:

  1. Name of the city (or town) where the conference will be held. The symposium can be held in remote areas, but a clear transport plan will be needed, regarding how participants will arrive at the conference location.
  2. A brief description about the suggested venue (stating what makes the venue (and/or its near surroundings) an interesting place to visit, seen from the perspective of transport and land use research).
  3. The strengths and profile of the host institution(s) in terms of research within land use and transport field.
  4. A detailed budget, including:
    • Total expected budget for the entire conference,
    • Expected registration fees, and
    • Number of meals included in the registration fees.
  5. Details of tours that the local host can accommodate in the conference city or nearby venues.
  6. Special agreements with local hotels in providing group rates for conference attendees.

WSLTUR will be responsible of all printable materials, conference proceedings, and gifts to attendees. All proposals should be received by email to Ahmed El Geneidy before May 1, 2014, and an announcement will be made regarding the host location during the conference in Delft in June. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

– Kelly Clifton and Ahmed El Geneidy

Overshoot and the Selective Pruning – WalkableDFW

Walkable DFW makes a nice distinction between inter-city and intra-city highways. They are nominally same technology, but placed in the wrong context they can have adverse unintended consequences.

That’s why we must understand that there are two types of highways:  Inter-city and Intra-city.  Inter-city highways are those necessary for linking regional economies, such as Houston to DFW.  They are necessary, provided they’re also competing with overlapping regional linkages by air and rail.  Intra-city highways are inner-city highways.  These disrupt and disconnect more than they actually connect.

You can’t have a conversation about improved and optimized cities and public infrastructure without understanding the two types of highways and which is appropriate and beneficial.

The reason is the point of any highway is free flow.  Anything that interrupts free flow thereby diminishes the efficacy of the infrastructure.  The closer you get to an urban core, the more friction there will be due to the more interchanges, exits, intersections, and crosswalks (as these frictional elements decrease in scale closer to the core).

Free flow and friction cannot coexist.  They are antagonists. Thus in Lewis Mumford’s terms, they are anti-city and city.  Therefore, bodies politic must prioritize, which is more important:  free flow or the friction of economic vibrancy.  Otherwise, free flow will erode the friction until there is none.  We must also remember what that free flow is in service towards, economic activity.  If it is killing economic activity that it is supposed to be supporting, we have indeed entered a cancerous stage of infrastructure and in turn city building.

Do Smartphone Traffic Apps Really Work? – Strib

Katie Humphries at the Star Tribune asks: Do Smartphone Traffic Apps Really Work? I briefly get quoted:

While tech-fueled traffic updates aren’t always accurate, they can help people adjust their expectations, said David Levinson, a civil engineer at the University of Minnesota who specializes in transportation.

“If it’s going to be 15 or 30 minutes because of some incident and you can’t change it, then you can notify people or feel much more comfortable about accepting it,” Levinson said. “You feel better about the situation when you have more information about it.”

 

The Transportation Experience (20% discount from publisher)

My publisher, Oxford University Press, would like me to let you know that you can save 20% off the price of the The Transportation Experience: Second Edition if you buy directly from them. Click on the Flyer for details.
GarrisonFlyer

The Transportation Experience explores the historical evolution
of transportation modes and technologies. The book traces how systems are innovated, planned and adapted, deployed and expanded, and reach maturity, where they may either be maintained in a polished obsolesce often propped up by subsidies, be displaced by competitors, or be reorganized and renewed. An array of examples supports the idea that modern policies are built from past experiences.

William Garrison and David Levinson assert that the planning (and control) of nonlinear, unstable processes is today’s central transportation problem, and that this is universal and true of all modes. Modes are similar, in that they all have a triad structure of network, vehicles, and operations; but this framework counters conventional wisdom. Most think of each mode as having a unique history and status, and each is regarded as the private playground of experts and agencies holding unique knowledge, operating in isolated silos. However, this book argues that while modes have an appearance of uniqueness, the same patterns repeat: systems policies, structures, and behaviors are a generic design on varying modal cloth. In the end, the illusion of uniqueness proves to be myopic.

While it is true that knowledge has accumulated from past experiences, the heavy hand of these experiences places boundaries on current knowledge; especially on the ways professionals define problems and think about processes. The Transportation Experience provides perspective for the collections of models and techniques that are the essence of transportation science, and also expands the boundaries of current knowledge of the field.

INSTR 2015 The 6th International Symposium on Transportation Network Reliability

I serve on the International Scientific Committee of INSTR, which is announcing its 2015 conference:

The 6th International Symposium on Transportation Network Reliability

-The Value of Reliability, Robustness and Resilience-

2-3 August 2015, Nara, Japan

http://trans.kuciv.kyoto-u.ac.jp/instr2015/index.html

The 6th International Symposium on Transportation Network Reliability (INSTR) will be held in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, from 2-3 August, 2015. The symposium is jointly organised by the Department of Urban Management, Kyoto University, and the Japan Society of Transportation Engineering. The INSTR series is the premier gathering for the world’s leading researchers and professionals interested in transportation network reliability, to discuss both recent research and future directions in this increasingly important field of research.

TOPICS

A special focus of this symposium will be the increasing practical value of reliability improvements for project evaluation. In particular the value of infrastructure investments to improve network resilience to counter large disasters is nowadays a critical issue. Contributions that discuss this issue are specifically encouraged for this symposium though the scope of this conference is wider and includes all aspects of analysis and design to improve network reliability, including;

  •  User perception of unreliability and vulnerability
  • Public policy and reliability of travel times
  • The valuation of reliability
  • The economics of reliability
  • Network reliability modelling and estimation
  • Transportation network robustness and resilience
  • Reliability of public transportation
  • Travel behaviour under uncertainty
  • Risk evaluation and management for transportation networks
  • ITS to improve network reliability
  • Vehicle routing under uncertainty
  • Disaster relief distribution

IMPORTANT DATES

30 May, 2014 : Submission of extended abstract (1,000 words)
3 September, 2014 : Notification of abstract acceptance
19 December, 2014 : Submission of full papers for peer review
16 March, 2015 : Notification of full paper acceptance
20 May, 2015 : Submission of full, revised papers in camera-ready format

NOTES

- It is envisaged to arrange special issues in prominent journals with papers drawn from the symposium proceedings. For further details, see http://trans.kuciv.kyoto-u.ac.jp/instr2015/index.html.

- The 21st International Symposium on Transportation and Traffic Theory (ISTTT21) will be held on the days subsequent to INSTR from 5th to 7th August at Kobe, which is about a 1.5 hours train ride from Nara.

Main Street – Austin | streets.mn

Cross-posted at streets.mn: Main Street – Austin

Main Street – Austin

SPAM Museum, Austin MinnesotaCaveat: This is at best drive-by urbanism, I didn’t do any investigative reporting besides citing Wikipedia and visiting and photographing. I don’t really know what makes the towns tick, but even at a short glance, some issues can be identified.

Austin is [the county seat of] Mower County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 24,718 at the 2010 census.

The fourth town visited was Austin [some photos of the Museum, by this time it was raining, so none of the town]. Austin is best known as the home of Hormel, and thus the SPAM Museum. The SPAM Museum is better than I imagined. Though I saw Spam-A-Lot last year at the Orpheum, (a musical alluded to at the museum) I could not actually remember the taste of SPAM. My experience with most canned meats was poor (aside from tuna and some other fish products), but I had not ventured over to SPAM. So we bought the variety 12 pack. The first thing to note is it tastes okay, sort of like Baloney. The second thing to note is though the different cans are nominally of different flavors, this would barely be discernible without the label and a well-tuned tongue. (Okay, the one with tabasco is a little spicier).

Geo. A. Hormel Provision Market

For some reason, I expected the SPAM museum to be on Main Street. Well actually it was on Main Street. But I expected it to be on Main Street in the heart of the town. It wasn’t, it was in an industrial area. This is urbanism mistake #1, spreading your resources too thin. Cities thrive on concentration (in fact the only reason cities exist is concentration compared to the countryside). Within cities, they are more effective if concentrated (at least to a point). If I can park in one place and walk to many things, I will spend more money. Once I have to get back in my car, there is no guarantee I will park at the next things.

Instead, the SPAM Museum is a road-side attraction that has little spillover to the rest of Austin. Is it better for Austin than no SPAM-museum? … Almost assuredly. Is it better than one with a SPAM museum among the architecture of the older part of town? … No. At this point, the museum looks very new, so I don’t think this mistake will be rectified any time soon. I also don’t think there is enough growth in the core to spread it to connect contiguously with the SPAM Museum. It is just an unfortunate design decision.

SPAM Alive

Strangely, there was more classic urbanism inside the museum, with the traditional “Geo. A. Hormel & Co. Provision Market” evoking a classic early 20th century grocer.

Of the four towns we visited (the others were FaribaultOwatonnaAlbert Lea), Austin was by far the weakest in terms of efforts applied to its Main Street area. There were certainly some efforts to spruce it up, and there were businesses there, and the economy seemed perky enough, it had not gone through as much historic preservation efforts and Main Street restoration as the others. The town is again growing, after some down years, and so has good prospects to continue to improve.