Zero-Carbon City

From Fat Knowledge: World’s First Zero-Carbon City.
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE, recently broke ground, employing a design by noted architect Norman Foster. The aim in addition to being carbon neutral is to be zero-waste, applying advanced technologies in every infrastructure system.
Official Press Release:
The Masdar Initiative
And from the Inhabit Blog
Plans for Foster’s Masdar Carbon Neutral City Debut
The wikipedia article:
Masdar City
And finally: A Youtube

Transportation apartheid

From the New York Times Palestinians Fear Two-Tier Road System .
This is a classic problem exacerbated by Middle East conflict: the road serves different people than it burdens. It is further complicated because those it serves has been reduced as Palestinians were banned from the road in response to stone-throwing and drive by shootings. It is also complicated because the road was built under the guise of serving local Palestinian areas. The most recent solution is to build a different road for Palestinians.

Obama endorses congestion pricing

From Streetsblog: Obama Endorses Pricing as “Thoughtful and Innovative? after meeting with Mayor Bloomberg. (Obama/Bloomberg 08?)
With both major parties support, maybe pricing will become mainstream rather than fringe. (Still leaving private roads to the Libertarians).

Houston, The Next Great World City?

An interesting article from Joel Kotkin: Lone Star Rising —
The American, A Magazine of Ideas

about Houston, Texas, a city whose airport I have visited, but otherwise I only know what I read.

Heathrow Terminal 5

From the Guardian: Heathrow’s Terminal 5 launch not so good: T5 launch marred by delays and cancellations . Problems included a failed baggage handling system (a software problem), and flash mob protestors. The cost of the terminal was £4.3 billion ($8.6 b), which is pretty amazing, I mean, you could build 10 stadiums.
From the Times:
Cancelled flights and baggage chaos mar Terminal 5 opening
And from the Telegraph:
Heathrow Terminal 5 flights cancelled amid luggage chaos
From the Independent:
Disastrous opening day for Terminal 5
This has been controversial, and issues remain about runways, but clearly some of the terminals at Heathrow were obsolete; the question of “what is to be done” included encouraging traffic at other London airports, though Heathrow was the most convenient by far, with a stop on the Piccadilly Line.

Multi-university campuses

From the Minnesota Daily: Multiuniversity campus in Chaska recruits institutions
Is this the future of the university, divorcing the education from the shell? Perhaps a return to the day when each professor was paid directly by the students is in order, and students could walk from lecture to lecture, where a university is literally, not merely figuratively, a marketplace of ideas. I certainly wouldn’t need to charge 50% overhead.

Accessibility, Mobility and Density

Are accessibility and mobility complements or substitutes? I have a mental model a graph with a y-axis as density, and x-axis as mobility, where the Northeast corner would be high access: high density multiplied by high mobiilty.
This system behaves differently by modes. For transit, cities arrange themselves on a line from the southwest to the northeast (a positive feedback loop between supply and demand). For auto cities arrange on a line from the southeast to the northwest (a negative feedback loop between congestion and demand). Using data one could place specific cities on the graph. One expects places like New York and Hong Kong in the northeast corner, most US cities in the southeast corner, small developing-world cities without widespread adoption of modern automobile or transit technology in the southwest corner. Depending on where you draw the threshold, it is hard to see too many places in the upper northwest corner, as it would be difficult to grow to have high density without mobility. (Why would the city grow without the accessibility advantages?)
Density Mobility Tradeoff
Accessibility is a good, but it is not a good without costs, and there are limits to how much people are willing to pay for access. It may also suffer from diminishing returns, beyond a point each unit of accessibility is worth less and less. Places like Minneapolis have yet to reach that point, but surely there are places that have.

Weighted Density

Via Yglesias: Austin Contrarian: Density calculations for U.S. urbanized areas, weighted by census tract
The Census definitions are weighted by area, this is weighted by census track population, and produces a different, and some would say more intuitive result.
An interesting calculation, and goes back to the same issue regarding Observation Bias that comes up with transit ridership, although in this case, the observation bias may be weighting by area rather than population (so long as everything is properly defined).

Calvin and Hobbes: Dad Explains Science

Calvin and Hobbes Dad explains science
See first cartoon.

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