The Healthiest vs. Greenest Path: Comparing the Effects of Internal and External Costs of Motor Vehicle Pollution on Route Choice 

AbstractOnRoadNOxCon
On-road emissions, a dominant source of urban air pollution, damage human health. The ‘healthiest path’ and the ‘greenest path’ are proposed as alternative patterns of traffic route assignment to minimize the costs of pollution exposure and emission, respectively. As a proof-of-concept, the framework of a link-based emission cost analysis is built for both internal and external environmental costs and is applied to the road network in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Metropolitan Area based on the EPA MOVES and RLINE models. The healthiest and the greenest paths are skimmed for all work-trip origin-destination pairs and then aggregated into work trip flows to identify the healthier or greener roads in a comparative statics analysis. The estimates show that highways have higher emission concentrations due to higher traffic flow, on which, but that the internal and external emission costs are lower. The emission cost that commuters impose on others greatly exceeds that which they bear. In addition, the greenest path is largely consistent with the traditional shortest path which implies that highways tend to be both greener and shorter (in travel time) for commuters than surface streets. Use of the healthiest path would generate more detours, and higher travel times.
Keywords
Route choice, Traffic assignment, Shortest path, Pollution, Emissions, Exposure, Intake

Measuring the transportation needs of people with developmental disabilities: A means to social inclusion (free version)

“Measuring the transportation needs of people with developmental disabilities: A means to social inclusion” is now available online. The “free” link provides free access, and is valid until May 31, 2017

Recently published:

Abstract

Background

One of the major causes of social exclusion for people with developmental disability (PDD) is the inability to access different activities due to inadequate transportation services.

Objectivefrequencyofsocialtrips-disability

This research paper identifies transportation needs, and reasons for unmet, but desired untaken trips of adults with developmental disabilities in Hennepin County, Minnesota. We hypothesize that PDD cannot make trips they want to make due to personal and neighborhood characteristics.

Methods

A survey measuring existing travel behavior and unmet transportation needs of PDD (N=114) was conducted. The survey included both demographic and attitudinal questions as well as a travel diary to record both actual and desired but untaken trips. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine reasons associated with their inability to make desired, but untaken trips.

Results

Most respondents did not live independently. More than half of the surveyed population worked every day and recreation trips occurred at least once a week for about two-thirds of the population. About 46 percent were unable to make trips they needed to make. Public transit posed physical and intellectual difficulties, however the presence of public transit in neighborhoods decreased odds of not making trips. Concerns about Paratransit services were also reported.

Conclusion

Findings from this study can be of value to transportation engineers and planners interested in shedding light on the needs of a marginalized group that is rarely studied and have special transport needs that should be met to ensure their social inclusion in society.

“Transit Makes you Short”: On Health Impact Assessment of Transportation and the Built Environment

Recent working paper

Coefficient-p-value-sample-size (CPS) chart for Transit Share variable
Coefficient-p-value-sample-size (CPS) chart for Transit Share variable

The current research provides a test framework to understand whether and to what extent increasing public transit use and accessibility by transit affect health. To this end, the effect of transit mode share and accessibility by transit on general health, body mass index, and height are investigated, while controlling for socioeconomic, demographic, and physical activity factors. The coefficient-p-value-sample-size chart is created and effect size analysis are conducted to explore whether the transit use is practically significant. Building on the results of the analysis, we found that the transit mode share and accessibility by transit are not practically significant, and the power of large-sample misrepresents the effect of transit on public health. The results, also, highlight the importance of data and variable selection by portraying a significant correlation between transit use and height in a multivariate regression analysis. What becomes clear from this study is that in spite of the mushrooming interdisciplinary studies in the nexus of transportation and health arena, researchers often propose short- and long-term policies blindly, while failing to report the inherent explanatory power of variables. We show that there is a thin line between false positive and true negative results. From the weakness of p-values perspective, further, we strove to alert both researchers and practitioners to the dangerous pitfall deriving from the power of large- samples. Building the results on just significance and sign of the parameter of interest is worthless, unless the magnitude of effect size is carefully quantified post analysis.

Keywords: Public transit; BRFSS data; ACS data; Accessibility to jobs; p-hacking

Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism

Volk et al (2012) Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and AutismAir Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism:

“Context  Autism is a heterogeneous disorder with genetic and environmental factors likely contributing to its origins. Examination of hazardous pollutants has suggested the importance of air toxics in the etiology of autism, yet little research has examined its association with local levels of air pollution using residence-specific exposure assignments.
Objective  To examine the relationship between traffic-related air pollution, air quality, and autism.
Design  This population-based case-control study includes data obtained from children with autism and control children with typical development who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment study in California. The mother’s address from the birth certificate and addresses reported from a residential history questionnaire were used to estimate exposure for each trimester of pregnancy and first year of life. Traffic-related air pollution was assigned to each location using a line-source air-quality dispersion model. Regional air pollutant measures were based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System data. Logistic regression models compared estimated and measured pollutant levels for children with autism and for control children with typical development.
Setting  Case-control study from California.
Participants  A total of 279 children with autism and a total of 245 control children with typical development.
Main Outcome Measures  Crude and multivariable adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for autism.
Results  Children with autism were more likely to live at residences that had the highest quartile of exposure to traffic-related air pollution, during gestation (AOR, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.20-3.31]) and during the first year of life (AOR, 3.10 [95% CI, 1.76-5.57]), compared with control children. Regional exposure measures of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter less than 2.5 and 10 μm in diameter (PM2.5 and PM10) were also associated with autism during gestation (exposure to nitrogen dioxide: AOR, 1.81 [95% CI, 1.37-3.09]; exposure to PM2.5: AOR, 2.08 [95% CI, 1.93-2.25]; exposure to PM10: AOR, 2.17 [95% CI, 1.49-3.16) and during the first year of life (exposure to nitrogen dioxide: AOR, 2.06 [95% CI, 1.37-3.09]; exposure to PM2.5: AOR, 2.12 [95% CI, 1.45-3.10]; exposure to PM10: AOR, 2.14 [95% CI, 1.46-3.12]). All regional pollutant estimates were scaled to twice the standard deviation of the distribution for all pregnancy estimates.
Conclusions  Exposure to traffic-related air pollution, nitrogen dioxide, PM2.5, and PM10 during pregnancy and during the first year of life was associated with autism. Further epidemiological and toxicological examinations of likely biological pathways will help determine whether these associations are causal.”

In general pollution has been going down in the US, and autism diagnosis has been going up. Some of that may be diagnosis issues (though the previously linked article suggests not). However, there is an interesting point, in the Volk article: “In addition, ultrafine particles (PM0.1) may penetrate cellular membranes.” As we filter larger and larger pollutants from the tailpipe, we may be making more small pollutants (One way to reduce measurable pollution particles is to make them smaller, so they are no longer measured). For instance the as wikipedia says about the Diesel Particulate Filter “maintenance free DPF break larger particles into smaller ones.”

Breakfast cereal, Utopia, and Eugenics

There is a strange connection between breakfast cereals, utopia, and eugenics.
Wikipedia writes about Ralstonism, which begot the Ralston Purina company, Chex cereal (now owned by General Mills), and whose successor company Ralcorp owns Post Cereal :

“Ralstonism was a minor social movement in 19th century USA. It claimed about 800,000 followers. Ralstonism was the brainchild of Webster Edgerly (1852 – 1926). In Edgerly’s words, “Ralstonism is the grandest movement that man is capable of establishing”. Ralstonism began as the Ralston Health Club, which published Edgerly’s writings. It was a hierarchical organization where members were ranked according to the number of “degrees” they had, which ranged from 0 to 100. Members advanced five degrees at a time, and each Ralston book that a member purchased counted as five degrees. Although Edgerly claimed in the 1900 edition of The Book of General Membership of the Ralston Health Club that the letters for the word RALSTON came from Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen and Nature, earlier editions of the same book are credited to Everett Ralston, a pseudonym of Edgerly, with the implication that Ralstonism is named after this fictitious person. Edgerly saw his followers as the founding members of a new race, based on Caucasians, and free from “impurities”. He advocated the castration of all “anti-racial” (non-Caucasian) males at birth.”

John Harvey Kellogg

“… was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg He led in the establishment of the American Medical Missionary College. The College, founded in 1895, operated until 1910 when it merged with Illinois State University.”

He founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium

“Battle Creek Sanitarium was world renowned and became the ‘in’ place for the rich and famous to seek their lost health, to listen to health lectures and to learn and practice the principles of a healthy lifestyle”. “Kellogg was outspoken on his beliefs on race and segregation, though he himself adopted a number of black children. In 1906, together with Irving Fisher and Charles Davenport, Kellogg founded the Race Betterment Foundation, which became a major center of the new eugenics movement in America. Kellogg was in favor of racial segregation and believed that immigrants and non-whites would damage the gene pool.”

Similarly C.W. Post

“Visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium operated by John Harvey Kellogg for his failing health. He was inspired to start his own cereal company based on the products used there.”

Now for the tenuous transportation angle: Among the visitors to the Battle Creek Sanitarium were Richard Halliburton

” Best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal and paying the lowest toll in its history—thirty-six cents—Halliburton was headline news for most of his brief career. His final and fatal adventure, an attempt to sail a Chinese junk, the Sea Dragon, across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, made him legendary.”,

Amelia Earhart and Henry Ford.
Chew on that as you eat your Wheaties (which as a General Mills product seems to be free of the Eugenics craze of the turn of the last century, and depicted Jesse Owens on its box in 1936, breaking the color barrier quite early).

Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia.

Annie Lowrey in Slate Magazine: Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia. : “This week, researchers at Umea University in Sweden released a startling finding: Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.”

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

Is Bicycling Bad for Your Bones?

From Well Blog – NYTimes Is Bicycling Bad for Your Bones? . Seems to apply only to racing cyclists, but still raises questions about the healthiness of active transportation.