Is commuting really the least enjoyable thing we do?

New method measures emotional quality of daily experience
“Some of the findings confirm what we already know while others are counter-intuitive. The researchers assessed how people felt during 28 types of activities and found that intimate relations were the most enjoyable, while commuting was the least enjoyable.” Full article here (requires registration)
This observation contrasts with Redmond, Lothlorien S. and Patricia L. Mokhtarian (2001) The Positive Utility of the Commute: Modeling Ideal Commute Time and Relative Desired Commute Amount. Transportation 28 (2), 179 – 205 and fails to explain why if people hate commuting so much, they do so much of it. While I suspect few would suggest commuting to be the most enjoyable activity, it really depends on your commute.
Despite Kahneman’s Nobel Prize, I think their methods were far more primitive than what is found in the transport and regional science literature (and if not for the NP, unlikely to have been published in Science), and they should have cited some of the prior transportation literature on this.
This issue arises of course because articles in emph>Science are noted widely, and cited broadly, this has emerged in a recent claim by Richard Florida about why cities are better than suburbs and “The Days of Urban Sprawl Are Over”.

Announcing the Journal of Transport and Land Use

Announcing the
Journal of Transport and Land Use – ISSN 1938-7849

The Journal of Transport and Land Use is a new open-access, peer-reviewed online journal publishing original inter-disciplinary papers on the interaction of transport and land use. Domains include: engineering, planning, modeling, behavior, economics, geography, regional science, sociology, architecture and design, network science, and complex systems.

Summer 2008 issue available:


Sprawl and Accessibility
Martin Bruegmann, Professor of Art History, Architecture, and Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Chicago
(Author of Sprawl: A Compact History)

Counterpoint: Sprawl and Accessibility
Randall Crane, UCLA Department of Urban Planning
(Co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning)

Cities as Organisms: Allometric Scaling of Urban Road Networks
Horacio Samaniego and Melanie E. Moses, Department of Computer Science, University of New Mexico

A Use-Based Measure of Accessibility to Linear Features to Predict Urban Trail Use
John R. Ottensmann and Greg Lindsey, Center for Urban Policy and the Environment, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Integral Cost-Benefit Analysis of Maglev Rail Projects Under Market Imperfections
J. Paul Elhorst and Jan Oosterhaven, Department of Regional Economics, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

To learn more about the Journal of Transport and Land Use, visit or contact:
David Levinson, General Editor:
Kevin Krizek, Editor (Americas):

The Journal is housed at the University of Minnesota and sponsored by the Center for Transportation Studies.

I’m less valuable to USDOT than to EPA

From WaPo Cosmic Markdown: EPA Says Life Is Worth Less
“Last week, it was revealed that an Environmental Protection Agency office had lowered its official estimate of life’s value, from about $8.04 million to about $7.22 million. That decision has put a spotlight on the concept of the “Value of a Statistical Life,” in which the Washington bureaucracy takes on a question usually left to preachers and poets.”
What interest me is that this value is still much higher than in the transportation community. USDOT in an official report recently raised its value to $5.8 million from $3 million previously (set in 2002)
So saving me from dying from pollution is more important than saving me from dying in a car crash. While some deaths are more horrible than others, this doesn’t make much sense, especially when you recognize that pollution reduces life at the end, while a car crash takes you out in the middle. I would much rather lose a day or week or month of life when I am already old than 30 or 40 years.