Making Accessibility Work in Practice

Recently Published:

  • El-Geneidy, Ahmed and Levinson, D. (2021) Making Accessibility Work in Practice. Transport Reviews [doi] [first 50 free download]

Accessibility, the ease of reaching destination, is the most comprehensive land use and transport systems performance measure (Levinson & Wu, 2020; Wachs & Kumagai, 1973; Wu & Levinson, 2020). Accessibility has been applied in planning research since the 1950s (Hansen, 1959), and still today, we find major barriers to adopting it in practice (Handy, 2020). Advances in computing and software have enabled researchers to generate complex measures of accessibility with higher spatial and temporal resolutions moving accessibility research at a fast pace, while the implementation of accessibility, in practice, lags (Boisjoly & El-Geneidy, 2017). Even simple measures, such as the cumulative opportunities measures of accessibility, confront challenges in adoption.

Immigrant Settlement Patterns, Transit Accessibility, and Transit Use

Recently published:

  • Allen, Jeff, Farber, Steven, Greaves, Stephen, Clifton, Geoffrey, Wu, Hao, Sarkar, Hao, and Levinson, D. (2021) Immigrant Settlement Patterns, Transit Accessibility, and Transit Use. Journal of Transport Geography. 96 103187 [doi]
  • Abstract: Public transit is immensely important among recent immigrants for enabling daily travel and activity participation. The objectives of this study are to examine whether immigrants settle in areas of high or low transit accessibility and how this affects transit mode share. This is analyzed via a novel comparison of two gateway cities: Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Canada. We find that in both cities, recent immigrants have greater levels of public transit accessibility to jobs, on average, than the overall population, but the geography of immigrant settlement is more suburbanized and less clustered around commuter rail in Toronto than in Sydney. Using logistic regression models with spatial filters, we find significant positive relationships between immigrant settlement patterns and transit mode share for commuting trips, after controlling for transit accessibility and other socio-economic factors, indicating an increased reliance on public transit by recent immigrants. Importantly, via a sensitivity analysis, we find that these effects are greatest in peripheral suburbs and rural areas, indicating that recent immigrants in these areas have more risks of transport-related social exclusion due to reliance on insufficient transit service.

    Fig. 3. Bivariate maps of transit accessibility and density of recent immigrants.

    TRANSPORTIST: SEPTEMBER 2021

    Catbagger n. Someone who tries to put the cat back in the bag. I.e. someone attempting a futile act too late, which may have been prevented but cannot be reversed.

    In Australia are currently experiencing an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases as part of the Delta Wave. This is sad, and results in a few deaths daily (a rate, mind you, that is low enough other countries use it as a level at which lockdowns are lifted, rather than imposed). The rise is due to any number of mistakes that went previously. Iwon’t re-litigate the past. Instead, I posit that had those mistakes not been made at that time, lessons from those mistakes wouldn’t have been learned, and a similar mistake would have then been made shortly thereafter. This is not an apology for incompetence, and I am sure none of the Transportist readers would have made those mistakes had they been in charge, but is an acknowledgement that like COVID-19, incompetence is endemic and no one competent person can be everywhere simultaneously, and everyone relies on systems that are only as good as their weakest link.

    If not for some outbreak, people would not (over)-react, leaving the same conditions in place for a later outbreak. While on average one prefers to avoid mistakes, it is only by mistakes that lessons are learned, pre-planning is imperfect, and we can plan and prepare for any number of eventualities that would never occur at great cost, leaving us worse off than those who react to the eventualities that do actually occur without having wasted resources preparing for those that don’t.

    So while it may be psychologically or politically important to blame individuals who should have done this instead of that, or have learned from the mistakes of others, (and obviously the best people do better than the worst, by definition), and hopefully select slightly less incompetent administrators, that merely would have delayed the mostly inevitable outcome in terms of cases and deaths. And until there were COVID outbreaks, or very obvious prospects of COVID outbreaks, no vaccine would have been developed, no vaccine would have been manufactured, and no one would have gotten vaccinated, leaving everyone vulnerable to a COVID outbreak. 

    Posts

    Polls

    1. For authors, considering peer review: Are you biased so as to be more likely to accept papers that cite you? Are others (generally) similarly biased?
    • I am/Others are 46.3%
    • I am not/Others are 24.4%
    • I am/Others are not 0%
    • I am not/Others are not. 29.3%

    At least no one admitted to being more unethical than the population as a whole (choice 3). About half the people admitted bias (choice 1 and 3), indicating that the people who thought “Others are not” (choices 3 and 4) are hopelessly naive. I tend towards choice 2 for myself, at least I hope I am not.

    1. How much time would you be willing to sacrifice at the end of your life (your life would be X units of time shorter) to forego 1 month of lockdown for yourself?
    • 0-1 hour 44.4%
    • 1-24 hours 17.8%
    • 1-6 days 11.1%
    • 7 or more days 26.7%

    Now these are Twitter polls, so sampling bias is rife, and questions cannot be particularly sophisticated (lockdown means different things to different people in different places, what about lockdown for other people, etc.), but it does suggest that many people think that lockdown makes their life worse off in a way that suggests their benefits (reducing COVID cases) need to be countered with their costs (diminished quality of life). It also suggests that some other people really like lockdown, and if there had been negative numbers, some people who elected for choice 1 might have given up time at the end of their life to preserve lockdown longer. This I think gets pack to the Plants vs. Animals dichotomy I developed last year.

    Videos

    Conferences

    DAVID LEVINSON AWARD FOR BEST PAPER

    WSTLUR 2021 (PORTLAND)
    • Viewpoint: Turning streets into housing
      Adam Millard-Ball, University of California Los Angeles 
    HONORABLE MENTION BEST PAPER
    • The inevitability of automobility: how private car use is perpetuated in a Greenfield estate
      Jennifer Kent, University of Sydney 

    BEST STUDENT-LED PAPER 

    WSTLUR 2021 (PORTLAND)
    • Traffic-Land Use Compatibility and Street Design Impacts of Automated Driving in Vienna, Austria
      Emilia Brucke and Aggelos Soteropolis, Technical University of Vienna 
    HONORABLE MENTION BEST STUDENT-LED PAPER
    • Traffic Noise Feedback in Agent-Based Integrated Land-Use/Transport Models
      Nico Kuehnel (Technical University of Munich), Dominik Ziemke (Technical University of Dresden, and Rolf Moeckel (Technical University of Munich) 

    BEST PHD DISSERTATION

    WSTLUR 2021 (PORTLAND)
    HONORABLE MENTION BEST PHD DISSERTATION

    Research and Presentation

    Research

    Research by Others

    Jobs

    News & Opinion

    Post-graduate studies at the University of Sydney

    The University of Sydney Faculty of Engineering is running two events in Research Week aimed at recruiting prospective Higher Degree by Research Students. The event on September 9 has a breakout room led by Mohsen Ramezani discussing Transport Engineering.

    8 September 2021 – 1:00 pm AEST
    The Value of a PhD in Engineering, Computer Science or Project Management
    Associate Professor Kalina Yacef, Associate Dean Research Education

    Breakout rooms – Our Research

    • Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering- Dr Donald Dansereau
    • Biomedical Engineering – Dr Omid Kavehei
    • Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering – Dr Farshad Oveissi & Professor Fariba Dehghani
    • Civil Engineering – Associate Professor Daniel Dias Da Costa & Associate Professor Yixiang Gan
    • Computer Science – Dr Shuaiwen Leon Song
    • Electrical and Information Engineering – Professor Xiaoke Yi
    • Project Management – Dr Nader Naderpajouh

    Admission, Scholarships and the Student Experience
    Lyndon McKevitt, Research Education Manager

    Registration – https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_82bLLWm2QwOYqfPSgfnJ8A

    9 September 2021 – 7.00pm AEST
    The Value of a PhD in Engineering, Computer Science or Project Management
    Associate Professor Kalina Yacef, Associate Dean Research Education

    Breakout rooms – Our Research

    • Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering – Professor Stefan Williams
    • Biomedical Engineering – Dr Omid Kavehei
    • Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering – Professor Fariba Dehghani
    • Civil Engineering – Dr Mohsen Ramezani
    • Computer Science – Dr Chang Xu & Dr Qiang Tang
    • Electrical and Information Engineering – Professor Xiaoke Yi & Dr David Boland

    Admission, Scholarships and the Student Experience
    Lyndon McKevitt, Research Education Manager

    Registration – https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_yl-BsIj7Q2GNKj2uGIl5-w

    Sydney’s motorists are still suffering breakdowns despite the lockdown | SMH

    Andrew Taylor of the Sydney Morning Herald writes “Sydney’s motorists are still suffering breakdowns despite the lockdown” about a relative spike in NRMA calls (calls have not fallen as much as traffic). My quote:

    David Levinson, professor of transport engineering at the University of Sydney, said an increase in battery call-outs could indicate less driving, as a battery will drain more if a car is unused, rather than being recharged daily.

    “People may prefer to call NRMA than ask their neighbours for a battery jump start in these conditions, presuming professionals are more likely to be vaccinated,” he said.

    “Even more speculatively, additional NRMA calls may be made by people who are especially lonely for any kind of in-person interaction during lockdown, and otherwise would not have made a call.”

    Calls have fallen, but not as much as traffic has (according to the article numbers: 17.5% NRMA vs. 50% traffic compared with 2019), but I am not sure that is surprising.


    1. NRMA may be substituting for people traveling to service stations (servos, or whatever the local Australian term is for car repair). Cars that are not properly maintained are more likely to fail.

    2. The people who belong to NRMA are not the same as the general population. My guess is they have higher than average income, and thus be more likely to be office workers (and thus be more likely to be working from home during this period), but you would have to ask them for the socio-economics and demographic makeup of their membership. But they also may be located disproportionately in areas that are not as subject to as stringent a lockdown as non NRMA members are (i.e. their membership rate in hard lockdown areas is lower than average).

    3. An increase in battery call outs could be indicative of less driving, as the battery will drain more if the car is unused, rather than being recharged daily. (This is also consistent with increased calls from home.) After not starting the car for a month, people find the battery is dead.

    4. Speculatively, people may prefer to call NRMA than ask their neighbours for a battery jump start in these conditions, presuming professionals are more likely to be vaccinated.

    5. Even more speculatively, additional NRMA calls may be made by people who are especially lonely for any kind of in-person interaction during lockdown, and otherwise would not have made a call.

    NRMA Roadside Assistance. Image from the Internet somewhere.

    Towards a General Theory of Access: Video

    Levinson, D. M., & Wu, H. (2020). Towards a general theory of access. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 13(1), 129-158. https://doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2020.1660

    This paper integrates and extends many of the concepts of accessibility deriving from Hansen’s (1959) seminal paper, and develops a theory of access that generalizes from the particular measures of access that have become increasingly common. Access is now measured for a particular place by a particular mode for a particular purpose at a particular time in a particular year. General access is derived as a theoretical ideal that would be measured for all places, all modes, all purposes, at all times, over the lifecycle of a project. It is posited that more general access measures better explain spatial location phenomena.

    WSTLUR Awards

    The World Society for Transport and Land Use Research presents awards at each Symposium. The conference took place last week, and I had the honour of bestowing the Best Paper and Best Student-Led Paper awards (and the honour of being the namesake of one of the awards). Congratulations to the winners who are:

    David Levinson Award for Best Paper

    WSTLUR 2021 (Portland)

    • Viewpoint: Turning streets into housing
      Adam Millard-Ball, University of California Los Angeles 

    Honorable mention best paper

    • The inevitability of automobility: how private car use is perpetuated in a Greenfield estate
      Jennifer Kent, University of Sydney 

    Best Student-Led Paper 

    WSTLUR 2021 (Portland)

    • Traffic-Land Use Compatibility and Street Design Impacts of Automated Driving in Vienna, Austria
      Emilia Brucke and Aggelos Soteropolis, Technical University of Vienna 

    Honorable mention best student-led paper

    • Traffic Noise Feedback in Agent-Based Integrated Land-Use/Transport Models
      Nico Kuehnel (Technical University of Munich), Dominik Ziemke (Technical University of Dresden, and Rolf Moeckel (Technical University of Munich) 

    Best PhD Dissertation

    WSTLUR 2021 (Portland)

    Honorable Mention Best PhD Dissertation

    Accessibility-oriented planning: Why and how to make the switch

    Laura Aston and I are presenting: Accessibility-oriented planning: Why and how to make the switch
    We will talk about the Transport Access Manual, and our recent article in ITE Journal.

    AUGUST WEBINAR
    Accessibility-oriented planning

    Why and how to make the switch

    Date:  Tuesday, 17 August 2021
    Time:  4:30 pm to 6:00 pm AEST
    Venue: Online
    Cost:  free

    Accessibility is not a new measure of transport system performance. It was conceptualised in its present form more than 60 years ago. It has garnered attention of late, buoyed by the dual concerns of equity and sustainability in transport, as well as the increased availability of data and software to measure it. The Transport Access Manual has been developed to demystify access measurement. In this seminar, David Levinson and Laura Aston discuss the essential elements of access measurement.

    Presenters:


    David Levinson
    Professor David M. Levinson teaches at the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, where he leads TransportLab and the Transport Engineering Research group, and directs the Master of Transport. His most recent research emphasises transport-land use interactions, accessibility, and transport system evolution.


    Laura Aston
    Laura is a sustainable transport professional with experience across research, government and consulting. She has contributed to projects which aim to increase access by active and public transport modes through urban design and land use integration. Laura holds a PhD from Monash University for research exploring the link between the built environment and public transport use.

    Please register your attendance and receive a link to the online meeting via Trybooking.

    ** Attendance at this event may be claimed as 1.5 hours of CPD. **

    Update: The Webinar can be seen here.

    COVID-19, Travel Time Reliability, and the Emergence of a Double-Humped Peak Period

    Recently published:

    • Gao, Yang, and David Levinson. 2021. “COVID-19, Travel Time Reliability, and the Emergence of a Double-Humped Peak Period.” Findings, August. [doi].

    This paper explores the travel time variance, occupancy heterogeneity level, and average network traffic flow of Minneapolis-St. Paul freeway network and determines the time-lag relationship between travel time variance and the spatio-temporal distribution of congestion (occupancy). It finds COVID-19 reduced the travel time variability of the urban freeway network and notably makes visible a double-humped peak period in the diurnal traffic flow curve.

    We believe the reason for the emergence of the double-humped pattern is the changing composition of the commuting workforce.