Top 19 Transportist Posts in 2019

This year ends with a list of the most popular posts on the blog, written this year. Many of the most popular posts have been written in previous years, and are now perennials, but I’d like to go out of this precarious decade focusing on newer content. Obviously posts earlier in the year had a better opportunity to accumulate reads, but most articles live short lives, and get their hits quickly.

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
  1. A Political Economy of Access (Many more of you read the post than purchased the book, but really, you should get the book).
  2. Gradial or the Unreasonable Network (This is a chapter in my 2020 book, to be released shortly)
  3. How to increase transit ridership by 35% with one weird trick. (This was a Conversation article, which is perhaps the most popular thing I have written)
  4. The automobile as prison, the city as freedom
  5. 21 Solutions to Road Deaths
  6. Sydney Metro Opening Day: A Review.
  7. On Trackless Trams
  8. Transport Newsletters: An Incomplete Lists
  9. Elsevier and the quid pro quo (see also Open Access in Transport).
  10. GTFS But For
  11. Transport Findings launches (see also In Praise of Brief Articles)
  12. What’s Access Worth (see it at TRB)
  13. The Transit Travel Time Machine (see it at TRB)
  14. The 12th Annual Martin Wachs Distinguished Lecture in Transportation With David Levinson: Designing the 30-Minute City
  15. Observations of Melbourne
  16. Journal of Transport and Land Use Transitions
  17. Why Australian road rules should be rewritten to put walking first (reposed from The Conversation)
  18. How close is Sydney to the vision of creating three 30-minute cities. (reposted from The Conversation)
  19. 1953 Detroit Metropolitan Area Traffic Study – Data Discovered

Lists from previous years:

All Time Most Popular Posts in the WordPress era of the Transportationist/Transportist Blog

  9. NOT IN OUR NAME (2016)

So none of the 2019 have made it onto the all time list yet, but I think a couple might eventually get there.

18 Most Popular Transportist Posts of 2018

These are the most popular posts for 2018. If you missed any of these, go read them now, before the Singularity makes everything obsolete.

  1. 21 Strategies to Solve Congestion * (for second year running, note it was only 10th most popular in the year it was written.)
  2. What Do We Know About the “First Mile/Last Mile” Problem for Transit? * (by David King)
  3. Signalling Inequality (Blog version, adding views of the version on the Conversation: How traffic signals favour cars and discourage walking, would make this #1)
  4. Road Rent – On the Opportunity Cost of Land Used for Roads
  5. How much time is spent at traffic signals?
  6. A Pedestrian Bill of Rights
  7. Why is the Walking Man White?*
  8. Why is Public Transport Use Higher in Australia and What to Do about it? 
  9. An Argument in Favour of Streetcars.
  10. On Academic Compliance Bullsh*t.
  11. Evolution of the Sydney Trams Network
  12. Speed vs. Safety
  13. Five rings, five continents, five Olympic host cities*
  14. Are Australian Vehicles Getting Bigger?
  15. Uber’s Self-Driving Car Killed Someone Today.
  16. On the Four Paths
  17. Is Reducing a Negative Externality a Positive Externality (Or on biking and Vikings)
  18. Observations of Canberra

Those published in earlier years marked with an *.

The most popular post was 2x the second most popular post, 4x the third post, and 7x the fourth post (and 60x the 18th post). So much for a Zipf rule.


Previous Years:

Transportist – Top 21 Posts of 2016

These were the most popular posts written in 2016 on this blog. You should read them all before the year is out, or before next year is out.

  1. Not in our Name
  2. The A Line – A Review
  3. The Era of Big Infrastructure is Over
  4. On Why Bike Lanes Might Appear Underutilized
  5. Car2Gone: On the decline of carsharing in the late 2010s
  6. What Do We Know About the “First Mile/Last Mile” Problem (by David King)
  7. The Hierarchy of Roads: 7 Axioms on street design
  8. Urban Scaffording: 6 transport technologies which will be largely removed in the coming decades
  9. Police Shootings are a transport matter
  10. 21 Strategies to Solve Congestion
  11. On Academic Rankings
  12. The Timeless Way of Building Roads
  13. The best show about urban planning, economic development, and transportation that you are not watching
  14. The Shapes of Streets to Come
  15. Follow the Red Brick Road
  16. On ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Smart Growth’
  17. #NoNewParking
  18. The Economics of Academic Self-Promotion
  19. AVs After Alphabet
  20. Cars, People, Buses, Bikes
  21. 5 Ways to Reduce Racial Bias in Traffic Stops

The top post was 8 times more widely read than the 20th. Total readership in 2016 was 33% higher than 2015, and the number of visitors set a record (indicating more people reading posts one-off rather than returning).

I have been doing this for 10 years. I still cannot figure out what makes a popular post. Obviously the academic announcements of papers published are less popular, but still worth doing.

Last year’s post: Transportationist – Most Popular Posts of 2015 was not a huge performer, but it may have driven additional traffic to last year’s winners. I named this year’s “Top 21” on the theory that people like numbered lists, and posts with numbers do well (4 of the top 21 had numbers in them, not including Car2Gone).

Transportist 3000

Statistics tell me that I have now posted 3000 times to the Transportist (Transportationist) in its various forms, excluding posts by colleagues. I suspect the actual number is not quite right given deletions and repostings, but it’s close enough.

This also more or less marks 10 and a half years of regular blogging. Ten years is a long time. Ten years ago two of my children did not exist. Ten years ago I was in London. Ten years ago, the iPhone did not exist. Ten years ago Facebook was small but growing fast, MySpace was a passing fad, and Twitter was launching. Ten years ago, driverless cars were science fiction instead of in test-mode, and hybrid EV cars were set to rise significantly. Oil prices were rising, peak oil was around the corner, fracking wasn’t really a big thing, and the global financial meltdown had yet to take place.

I am not entirely sure why I started a blog at all. But I did it then and not earlier because I had tenure, and could at least risk pissing off some people without serious danger to career. Sure, it probably excluded me from elective politics, or better, from appointed positions, but I didn’t really want that.

The first real post on this blog (excluding back-dated retro-blogging posts thoroughly investigated by SEC, and the generic “welcome” post) was April 29, 2006: What is a transportationist? Reprinting it in full:

From my book with Bill Garrison The Transportation Experience:
An important thing we did learn was not to think of ourselves as transportation geographers, or transportation engineers, or transportation planners, or transportation policy analysts, or transportation economists, but rather, to coin a term, “transportationists”. The study of transportation is sufficiently interdisciplinary to warrant a discipline of its own. The movement of people and goods across networks over time and space is the unifying object of study. The central research questions in transportation concern what moves, why and how people and goods move, how networks operate, how the interaction of travelers and shippers and carriers and networks shape behaviors, how networks are (or should be) built and paid for and so on.
While in our forthcoming book Place and Plexus Kevin Krizek and I write:
We are transportationists. This means we are interested in understanding the transportation system holistically. While we both have training as transportation planners, transportation policy analysts, transportation engineers, and transportation economists, it is the subject of transportation (and in this book, its inter-relationship with location or land use) that is of interest. 
The key is thus what has traditionally been called “interdisciplinarity” in transportation, but may alternatively be viewed as redefining the discipline to be transportation-centered.
— dml

I think we are slowly moving in this direction. In practice, the transport non-engineers are beginning to get more technical and thus taken more seriously, the transport engineers are beginning to appreciate the value of things like the values embedded in their equations. Education remains a trailing indicator. Infrastructure changes slowly, as do professional paradigms.

The blog itself served various purposes over time:

  • Interesting links and news in the field (though this has mostly migrated to Twitter and the newsletter)
  • Announcements
  • What I am doing / have done
  • My longer form takes on the history, state, and trajectory of transport, which has led to 2 books at this point: The End of Traffic and Future of Transport and Spontaneous Access and two more in process: Elements of Access and The Political Economy of Access.

I don’t know if it has made much difference in the world. It’s hard to say ‘butfor’ the transportist blog, this would or would not exist. It did lead to And gets results. I also want to claim credit for the LRT running on a Washington Avenue closed to traffic (rather than in a tunnel, on a northern alignment, or on a Washington Avenue with traffic), but I don’t think the blog gets the credit per se, it was just too obvious, though of course the world misses many obvious things. More likely, it subtly influenced people about various things, moved the Overton window on some issues, and got some people interested in things that they would not have otherwise been interested.

Since I migrated to WordPress in mid 2013 there have been over 200,000 views. Which might amount to more than 200,000 minutes (or 3,333 hours), which is a human work year and a half. That’s an adequate Return on Investment, it didn’t take that long to write.  Google Analytics on the old site (Moveable Type, UMN Library hosted) gave me 55,339 views from October 2010 to mid 2013. Working backwards from that, at ~20,000 views per year before, there were probably another 80,000 views or so before I started tracking.

I don’t think this was the first transport blog, but there were a lot fewer, and most have not survived. I did once get a lot more invitations to events as “media” and offers to advertise on my blog than I do now. SEO has changed over time.

Anyway, it’s more reach than if I kept my virtual mouth shut and just muttered at my computer about how people are wrong on the Internet.




The Transportist

If you are especially eagle eyed, you may have noticed the name of the blog lost 5 letters recently. We don’t need no stinkin’ “ation”. As I noted in an earlier post It’s Transportational, we could save valuable time and resources if we shortened the most important word in our vocabulary.

There is a more important reason, and this has to do with verbal clarity. An anti-transportationist is one who opposes the transportation of prisoners and debtors to penal colonies [See Definition 2 here]. Now of course, those colonies have grown up to be fine states and countries, but the policies that made them are not appropriate. Thus,  I am an anti-transportationist. How can I be both a transportationist and an anti-transportationist at the same time?

To that end, I have also shortened my Twitter handle to @trnsprtst.

Transportationist – Best Posts of 2015

Yesterday I listed the quantitative metrics of my most popular posts. Today I will qualitatively identify what I think are my best posts (excluding guest posters, who are often good too, and cross-posts from other sites, like, National ReviewMove Forward, ULI, and Strong Towns, which are exceptional, and announcements, and working papers, and recently published articles, and infographics, and the Elements of Access series).

In reverse chronological order, because this is a blog:











My output is, as the economists would say, lumpy. This is due to the vagaries of my day job, as well as how inspired or annoyed I feel on a given day. Aside from posts, I don’t really know what I will be writing or posting next year.

OPML – List of Transportation Journals and List of Transportation blogs

With the rise of RSS feeds, it is easier to stay on top of the academic literature, especially for those of us without a nearby physical library. I have compiled a list of the journals I track into an OPML file, which should be importable into the newsreader of your choice (e.g. Google Reader)
Also, the list of transportation blogs that I follow is below:
Happy reading.