Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot

A nice post by Bruce Schneir: Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot
… Security is the enemy of efficiency.

Nightmare at Reagan National Airport: A Security Story to End all Security Stories

Nightmare at Reagan National Airport: A Security Story to End all Security Stories |
The story speaks for itself. One only hopes that the abuse of power sows the seeds of its own destruction.

A success we should build on

The London Green Belt has been in place since just before World War II when Patrick Abercrombie’s study recommended establishing a ring around the city which would remain unsuburbanized (one hesitates to say undeveloped, as farms are there). Now with the housing shortage, people are again suggesting the Green Belt is “a success we should build on”:

Build on the green belt, and build now-Comment-Columnists-Minette Marrin-TimesOnline
Back in the day, the solution was to build new towns outside the Green Belt. Gordon Brown is proposing more of these. Towns like Welwyn and Letchworth were built as Garden Cities by Ebenezer Howard, and, but, by design are relatively small (on the order of 33,000 residents for Letchworth, 55,000 for Welwyn Garden City). From my visits, they seem excellent places to live, though the scale may be slightly off outside the town center (the residential density is a bit low, creating excessive walking distances).
Stevenge, (population 80,000) a post-war new town, (built on a much older town) is very much like Columbia, with large elements of Radburn, many pedestrian tunnels to access the town center and train station. There are also traffic roundabouts everywhere, so cars need not stop at signals. I felt like I grew up here.
Milton Keynes (population 185,000) on the other hand is much larger, but terribly overscaled, with large gaps between the residential and downtown areas. This creates opportunites for infill, but in the meantime there is an excessive amount of surface parking in the town center. Unlike the other towns I named above, the shopping mall (the largest single level mall in the world?) is disconnected from the train station.
Despite its imperfections, this model of new towns has a number of advantages over just adding another suburb in the Green Belt. They provide (or at least can provide) a coherent center and place. By increasing “surface area” they reduce the distance between people and the countryside. Every development in the Green Belt makes existing Londers that much farther from the country.
Now, one might suggest if the Green Belt is to be preserved, it should be done the right way, by buying the land (or development rights), rather than by fiat or regulations. This certainly seems a better way of controlling the use of land if property rights are to be respected. But the point here isn’t about the mechanics of how land should be preserved, but about what constitutes a better urban form
A) A giant unbroken conurbation where rings of development are fully contiguous
B) A large conurbation with satellite cities.
The latter, while it might increase average distance to the center, decreases distance to the edge. It also provides more variety and differentiation of the bundle of attributes that we call property.
Perhaps the market should decide, but the market fails in providing numerous public goods (access to the countryside being an example), as some things are very difficult to establish easily enforceable rights for.

Simulating Skyways

Two new movies/simulations of the co-evolution of downtown Minneapolis and its skyways system have been postedhere
These are large movies (132 and 137 MB), so be forewarned.
These are based on research done by Michael Corbett as part of his MS classwork and Feng Xie as part of his PhD. The research paper underlying this can be found:
Evolution of the Second-Story City: Modeling the Growth of the Minneapolis
Skyway Network
to be presented at the upcoming World Conference on Transport Research in Berkeley.

Bloomberg does the hard sell

Mayor Bloomberg of New York is doing the hard sell to get congestion pricing approved, along with some help from FHWA (Mary Peters) Urban Partnership Agreement. The Selling of Congestion Pricing –
Everyone thinks the losers will be commuters priced off the roads. But consider the poor parking garage owner, who will now have to lower their rates to attract back customers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see parking prices drop almost as much as congestion charges rise, meaning only “through trips” (New Jersey to Brooklyn, Queens, or the rest of Long Island) would be truly priced off the road.

KOSHER Transportation Funding

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, and Institutions by David M. Levinson and David A. King
A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, and Institutions by David M. Levinson and David A. King

We need KOSHER Transportation Funding, Transportation legislation that prohibits pork.

This New York Times article:
Campaign Funds for Alaskan; Road Aid to Florida describes the problem.
Local officials in Florida are receiving funds for a road they do not want, and are being blackmailed to accepting it with the threat they won’t get other funding. The reason, a local property developer contributed to

Congressman Young’s campaign.
And the really strange thing is in the whole scheme of things, they did not give that much … something like $200,000 for Republicans in exchange for $91 million in
local road projects.

KOSHER: Keep Our State Highway Expenditures Rational.


Journal of Transport and Land Use.

We are pleased to announce the Journal of Transport and Land Use.
What, you ask? Another journal amidst an already overcrowded field?
Yes, we respond enthusiastically! Several journals touch on the interaction of transport and land use; however, they do so peripherally. This new venue puts both transport and land use front and center. We seek to be the leading outlet for research at the interdisciplinary intersection of these two domains, including work from the domains of engineering, planning, modeling, behavior, economics, geography, regional science, sociology, architecture and design, network science, and complex systems.
The Journal of Transport and Land Use (JTLU) will be peer-reviewed, web-based, open-content, subscription-free, and free to contribute. All of this is enabled by support from the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, where the journal will be housed. The advantages of this new journal and new process are several:
1. With a rigorous peer-review process, only quality papers that meet scientific standards will be published within the journal.
2. By being web-based (and web-only), we reduce costs significantly compared with paper journals. Web-based publication allows a much faster turnaround time than paper publication. Our goal is six weeks between submission and first reviews returned to the author. Being web-based also allows the inclusion of full color graphics and multi-media content, and the inclusion of datasets with the publication.
3. By being open-content, papers published in JTLU can be freely distributed (with attribution), increasing the value of papers published in the journal, and increasing their likelihood of being used in course readers and being read by the public.
4. By being subscription-free, we overcome a fundamental problem of today’s expensive journals published by for-profit publishers, which many libraries can no longer subscribe to.
5. By being free-to-contribute, we overcome the burden of the open-content journals that charge the authors to publish their paper.
We are now soliciting papers covering topics at the intersection of transport and land use. Details about the journal, its editorial process, and paper submission can be found at the journal’s website http://www.jtlu.org .
If you are interested in organizing a special issue, please contact one of the editors.
There will be a meeting at the World Conference on Transport Research in Berkeley to discuss the journal, contact the editors for details.
We look forward to any comments, questions, or suggestions you may have.
David Levinson and Kevin Krizek
David Levinson
Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation Engineering
Director Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems (Nexus) Research Group
University of Minnesota (612) 625-6354
Kevin J. Krizek
Associate Professor, Urban Planning & Civil Engineering
University of Minnesota (612) 625 – 7318

Connectivity and Class

While in London, we live here . As you can see this Council Estate (Ranelagh Estate) was constructed in the 1950s as a cul-de-sac at the end of Sefton Street. To the north are playing fields in Barnes, the west is Putney Commons, to the Northwest is the Thames River, and to the East is the rest of Putney. You see some tennis courts on the east side of the image off Stockhurst Close, next to the tennis court, obscured by tree cover, is a playground for small children, ideal for Benjamin (age 2.5). These are just a short distance away … if I were a bird.
Unfortunately, I am a pedestrian, which means I need to walk down Sefton to Lower Richmond Road and back up Danemere Street to Ashlone to access this particular playground. It is not a bad walk, but it is about 3 x longer than a straight line path.
Why is there no direct connection? Note that the development on Stockhurst Close was developed in the 1980s or 1990s and should thus been approved with fairly cognizant planners who should have ensured at least inter-neighborhood pedestrian connectivity.
On the front of my building is a sign “No Access to Thames”. I am not clear if this is intended to be a feature (don’t park here if you want to get to the Thames for a walk or to watch the Races) or a signal that people who live on Estates don’t deserve access to the River the way people who paid far more to live on Danemere or Ashlone do.
Just as Stockhurst Close does not provide access to Horne Way, there is another route, a pedestrian path between Pentlow and Danemere connecting the estate to Lower Richmond (which was probably once a driveway to access the estate), which is a quite lovely long park, surrounded by walls on both sides, with no connection to (or from) Pentlow or Danemere.
Having grown up in suburban Columbia, Maryland, fences and walls are strange, but this solid barrier preventing access is very strange, a corridor for the lower classes so they don’t interfere with their betters? In Columbia the homes would just back onto the trail so residents could access the park.
I mentioned the sign “No Access to Thames”. The sign is not strictly true, if one leaves the estate through a gate to the west you can access the Putney Commons, and if you turn north, you can access a nice unpaved pedestrian path along Beverly Brook (running in the trees between the northern part of Horne Way and the southern part of the Barnes playing fields). This winds its way to the Thames, and you can approach the playground there. This is not terribly well-marked, and is about as long as the more urban path along Lower Richmond, but locals know about it. (I discovered it after a few months).
Finally, if I think the Putney playground is too exclusive, I can walk across Putney Commons to Barnes Common (to the west, and there is a playground in Barnes tucked away hidden from the street, behind parking lots, playing fields and tennis courts ( here.
This is in another borough (Richmond upon Thames), supported by their taxes, making me (or Benjamin) a free-rider, as there are no longer inter-borough tolls (see Chapter 2), and the playground is free (though in principle excludable because their is a gate, the collection costs of charging for the playground probably outweigh the revenue.
Ahmed El-Geneidy and I have a recent working paper on Network Circuity and the Location of Home and Work. This paper deals with the question more macroscopically, at the metropolitan level. It turns out people arrange their home and work location to reduce circuity (so they can get more space for the minute of commuting).

New York Gets Decent Street Furniture

New York Gets Decent Street Furniture (TreeHugger)
I don’t especially like the aesthetic, but new is better than old for this sort of thing.