Linklist: October 24, 2011

Overcoming Bias: The Future Of Cities “How should we expect cities to change in a future em era, where trillions of human emulations live in virtual reality or in tiny android bodies? Since ems are easier to transport, require less space, and interact less with rural areas, optimal em cities should be even more concentrated than industry cities. Especially if ems learn to better subsidize density, to internalize today’s density externality. And since ems require quite different infrastructure from humans, and need large and rapid changes that most cities will initially be unwilling to allow, existing industry era cities may less constrain the size and location of em cities.”

Transportation For AmericaStates ranked by deficient bridges Metro Transit rides hit 60 million mark [LRT down, Northstar down, buses up]

WaPo [Brad Plumer] Old roads and bridges need love too : “Earlier this year, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn and the University of Minnesota’s David Levinson made a more detailed case for a “fix-it first” strategy for transportation spending. They note that, at the moment, federal highway spending doesn’t usually get subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis, and there’s usually public pressure to build new roads and bridges rather than maintain existing ones. You see this pressure in all sorts of subtle ways: When a highway gets clogged, it’s a lot more palatable to expand lanes rather than, say, put in place congestion fees — even though research has found that widening highways doesn’t do much to alleviate traffic jams.
And there’s a solid economic case for making repairs a priority. As Kahn and Levinson note (see the graph on the right), road pavement tends to deteriorate slowly at first but then accelerate over time. It’s much, much cheaper to repair a road early on, when it’s still in “fair” condition, than when it drops down to “serious” condition. They also cite research by John Fernald showing that, although the initial productivity gains from the Interstate Highway System was high, subsequent expansions have offered a much smaller boost. And that’s to say nothing of data suggesting that poor road conditions are a “significant factor” in one-third of all fatal crashes, and cause extra wear-and-tear on cars.”