Transportist: July 2019

Welcome to the July 2019 issue of The Transportist, especially to our new readers.  As always you can follow along at the or on Twitter.

New Interdisciplinary Master of Transport

The University of Sydney is pleased to unveil a new, interdisciplinary (Engineering, Planning, and Business) Master of Transport, and is accepting applications for Term 1 and Term 2 of 2020 now. Contact me if you have questions.

Transportist (the blog)





8th International Symposium on Transport Network Reliability (INSTR)

You are warmly invited to submit extended abstracts (maximum 2500 words) to the 8th International Symposium on Transport Network Reliability (INSTR), which will be hosted by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden on 24-26 June 2020. The INSTR series is the premier gathering for the world’s leading researchers and professionals interested in transport network reliability, to discuss both recent research and future directions in this increasingly important field of research. The scope of the symposium includes all aspects of analysis and design to improve network reliability, including:


  • User perception of unreliability and vulnerability
  • Public policy and reliability of travel times
  • The valuation and economics of reliability
  • Network reliability modeling and estimation
  • Transport network robustness and resilience
  • Transport network risk evaluation and management
  • Evacuation and disaster relief distribution
  • Network interdependencies and cyber security
  • Reliability of public transport and supply chains
  • Travel behavior under uncertainty
  • Vehicle routing and scheduling under uncertainty
  • Traffic management (including ITS) to improve network reliability
  • Reliability of connected and automated vehicles
  • Reliability and resilience of emerging mobility systems


Important dates

15th October 2019: Extended abstract submission

15th January 2020: Acceptance notification

15th March 2020: Submission of accepted extended abstracts


Special issue

The local organizing committee are arranging agreements with selected journals for special issues. Currently, the special issue on “Reliability and Resilience of Emerging Mobility Systems” in Transportmetrica B: Transport Dynamicshas been accepted. Guest editors will invite full papers to be submitted to these journals, which will be reviewed under the normal process.


Submission instructions and further information can be found on the conference website:


We look forward to your contributions and to seeing you in Stockholm next year!
On behalf of the Local Organizing Committee,

Erik Jenelius (chair)

Taken for a ride | AltMedia

Joan Henson writes Taken for a ride in AltMedia. My quotes below, the full interview below that.

Sydney lags internationally for cycling

University of Sydney Professor David Levinson has researched how the distance between commuters and stations can be shrunk by installing strategic station entry points, thus expanding commuter catchments.

As bicycle speeds can be three to four times that of walking, “many more people are in range of the station via bike.”

For safe accessibility, cyclists need entry points in low-speed residential streets and protected cycleways on high-speed roads.

In addition to better station accessibility, he says that Sydney “sorely lacks a protected bike lane network.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in five Australians hospitalised for a transport-related injury from 2015-16 was a cyclist.

In early May, it was reported that the rate of injury for other road users declined from 1990-00 to 2015-16 by 1.3 per cent per year.

Over the same period there was an increase of 1.5 per cent per year transport-related injuries for cyclists, until the last six years, where the average increased to 4.4 per cent per year.

Levinson says that far fewer people cycle in Sydney than in places with better cycling infrastructure like Canberra, Portland and Minneapolis in the United States, or “most places in Europe or China,” and that changes in road rules and infrastructure could make walking and cycling more attractive alternatives.

Andrew Chuter, President of Friends of Erskineville, says that his group has started canvassing the community about building a southern entrance to Erskineville station, inspired by Redfern Station developments.

The new Ashmore Estate development, which will house about 6000 residents, presents challenges for accessing the station via walking and cycling.

“That estate accesses Erskineville Station by walking up a hill to the top of the station, and then comes back down to the platform,” he says.

“It really doesn’t make sense… to come back down to the platform.”

The City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 target aims for 10 per cent of all trips to the city to be made by bicycle.

In early May NSW Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was “very aware that Sydney is not a cycle-friendly city”, and wanted to work with councils and the Transport Minister to make improvements.

The full interview is below:

I watched your Tuesday Friends of Erskineville talk where you spoke about the extended catchment area that would be provided to commuters at various Sydney railway stations by building an extra entry (bringing commuters closer to stations and potential workplaces).

  • In your estimation, briefly, which Sydney stations could most benefit from better bicycle accessibility and whyI imagine there might be some overlap with the study you referenced at the Tuesday talk, but also unique problem areas, such as connecting to cycleways and making wider concourse entry/exit areas?

I think all stations could benefit from better bicycle accessibility, including both bicycle access routes and bike storage at stations. Bicycles expand the catchment area significantly beyond the walk catchment. Bike speeds are about 3 to 4 times as fast as walking, so in the same 5 or 10 minutes, many more people are in range of the station via bike. The issue is not just bike access to stations on safe facilities (low-speed residential streets and protected bikeways on higher speed roads), but bike access to everywhere. Sydney sorely lacks a protected-bike lane network. People say no one bikes in Sydney, and while not true of course, far fewer people bike here than in good cities for bicycling like Canberra in Australia, Portland and Minneapolis in the United States, or most places in Europe or China. Is the lack of facilities due to the lack of bicyclists, or is the lack of bicyclists due to the lack of facilities? I think at this point the latter is true. Sydney’s roads have been given over to maximising automobile throughput at the expense of all other modes, and this is socially counterproductive. The new Metro was an excellent opportunity to connect to local neighborhoods with protected bike lanes. I don’t think this opportunity was fully taken advantage of (yet). It is much easier to do this in the Western suburbs, where the rights-of-way are wider (enabling protected bike lanes to be installed with less pain), and the distances longer, making the region even more amenable to bicycling than walking.

  • Have you done similar catchment studies related to bicycle accessibility? 

Not as such. The logic is the same though, bikes are just faster so the territory is wider. If we assume bike speeds are 3 times faster than walking, and bikes can go everywhere people on foot can, then the 15-minute walk access catchment is the 5-minute bicycle catchment.

  • How could Redfern station and Macdonaldtown cycling accessibility be improved? 

Part of the issue at both stations is that the railway tracks act as a barrier to north-south crossing. One (or more) pedestrian/bike crossing between would be useful. There are plans for this, but they haven’t been implemented. As the new south/west entrance at Redfern is planned, this helps shorten distances, but it should be designed to accommodate crossings for both modes (without bikes having to dismount), and the entrance should provide bicycle storage for bike-to-train travelers.

  • Do you see problems with the Transport for NSW’s Redfern station overpass model? What about its likability to the currently in-construction Wilson st cycleway and never-made Lawson st cycleway?

The plan is still a schematic. I think it should be wide-enough to accomodate separated bike lanes.

Lawson Street, which I use daily, is a separate matter, and needs a major redesign, far too much space is given over to cars for parking, and not enough for people on foot to move when Sydney University is in session. A shared space design, with many fewer parking spaces, and slower speed limits, might be appropriate here. But again the problem from a transport perspective is the tracks act as a barrier, so too many people are channeled onto a small road. The new entrance at Redfern would reduce pedestrian demand on Lawson significantly.

  • Does Sydney have a problem synchronising cycling infrastructure with roads and railways? How in particular? Should changes be made and what are the priorities in your view? Is there a disconnect between state government and Sydney City Council cycling prioritiesAnd does that confuse future infrastructure planning investments and commuters? If so, how?NSW Public Spaces Minister, Rob Stokes, recently said that the road network is shaped in a way that is not friendly to bicycle riders. The state has been reluctant to approve plans to link up cycleways in the inner city. There is no east-west cycleway in the CBD, links at King, Castlereagh, Chalmers and Liverpool streets lack state funding and approval.

Australia has given far more power to the State government, and less to local government, than most places in the United States, where I am most familiar. Given that governance structure, it is not surprising that NSW privileges the longer distance trips over shorter distance. Imagine local governments (or even a new metropolitan-level government) had more powers over local streets, they would be more responsive to local demands, and less to demands from people who would be considered non-residents (non-voters). You may periodically wind up with a sympathetic state government for bicycle issues, but structurally, it is not embedded in the system. Local governments, of whatever party, will support local travel rather than through travel.

  • What led you to found the Walk Sydney group? What feedback have you received?

Brigid Kelly was the main organiser of WalkSydney. I and others helped. There was no one advocating for pedestrians in Sydney, and so pedestrians get the short end of policies. I saw this especially with traffic signal timings. While Sydney is walkable from a land use perspective, there are lots of adjacent activities and interesting things to see. The footpaths are decaying, and the delays for those on foot so that cars don’t have to stop are appalling. The road rules favour cars rather than pedestrians in a way that is strange.

I was previously involved in establishing and chairing the group in Minnesota, which provided a forum for discussion of transport and land use issues, and grew to be a pretty successful website and community that influenced public perception of transport and land use questions. Minneapolis has become much more progressive on these issues since we started talking in a coherent way about them.

I think Sydney needs something similar, that brings together intelligent people discussing the transport and land use problems here in a civilised forum. There are lots of small advocacy groups, but no strong voice, and no one looking systematically at the problem multi-modally.

  • What are the most pressing safety concerns for you for cyclists on Sydney transport networks?

Crash and fatality rates in Australia are higher for cyclists than many other countries. We need to ask why. And then we need consider whether the putative safety solutions with heavy fines are important  to improve safety or just ’safety theatre’. It’s not like we can’t learn from other countries that have a much safer environment, and import their strategies. Some of this is driver education and behaviour and enforcement, but most of this is road rules (which are especially hostile to pedestrians here and give drivers an expanded perception of their privilege) and infrastructure (protected bike lanes, wombat crossings for pedestrians and cyclists), things that can be directly affected by pubic decisions.

  • Where do you see thefuture of transport alternatives in Sydney, like cycling, walking and new alternatives like shared electric scooters, Lime Bikes (after failure of share-bike predecessors)?

I think walking remains the most important of the set you gave, followed by bicycles and e-bikes. I see more privately owned e-scooters/e-skateboards around. Dockless Bike share (and scooter share) did not work here the first time around. The issues are in part for the shared bikes/e-bikes/e-scooters etc. are that people who are using them are traveling faster than walking, so shouldn’t be on footpaths generally, but not as fast as cars (or feel unsafe doing so) so don’t want to use streets. Thus, without a comfortable place to use the device, prospective users aren’t going to rent bikes (or scooters). So this gets back to infrastructure. The companies are doing what companies should do, explore the market. But as they have learned, the market environment here unfortunately isn’t ready for them.

Polycentricity Podcast

Following up on our article in The Conversation on Polycentricity, I was interviewed on 2SER (107.3) radio (June 13, 7:30 pm) about polycentrism. Here is the podcast:


One CBD… how about 3? Sydney is becoming polycentric. The original CBD remains an ideal place for some businesses, but for others, it is impossible expensive or too far away. David Levinson a Professor of Transport and Engineering at the University of Sydney believes it is a requirement for any growing city to create a structure which suits the businesses.

William Gleeson spoke to him for this report.

Some comments on Hyperloop

I have some comments on the so-called Hyperloop on p. 10 of the current issue of Modus.  There are comments by others as well.


Hyperloop is not a reality, and may never be 

Hyperloop can’t be a solution to any current transport problem, as it doesn’t exist. This is like the Wright brothers pitching airports before they’d flown an aeroplane – it’s a bit premature. Magnetic levitation technology has been around for years and we’ve had pneumatic tubes since the 18oos. Putting these two technologies together doesn’t work at this time. There’s no reason public agencies should propose to build lines until they’ve built a test track that functions.

Long tubes of metal are going to expand and contract. You can imagine shorter tubes connected by rubber or something, but what ‘s the loss of vacuum? We don’t know. Nobody’s built one. Since they’ve never put a person in a hyperloop, they have no idea how people are going to react. In addition to not having technology, they don’t have a business case. How do they get passenger flows that justify the cost? This isn’t faster than anything that has come before – we have aeroplanes. They haven’t come up with a market where this works better than anything we already have.

— David Levinson is professor of transport at the University of Sydney


Friends of Erskineville: Conversation with David Levinson

I am honoured to be invited to present to the Friends of Erskineville (Facebook signup) group on Tuesday, 11 June 2019 from 19:30-20:30, at the Erskineville Town Hall Committee Room talking about a bunch of things, notably station access.

Friends of Erskineville's photo.

David hails from the USA but since 2017 has been a professor of transport engineering at Sydney University. His area of expertise is travel behaviour and transport planning. Recently he founded the Walk Sydney group and has written numerous articles about how we can improve walkability in Sydney. He has analysed the design of a number of intersections in the Erskineville neighbourhood and suggested ways to improve them. In a recent article he wrote about the possibility of improving station access, such as by creating a southern entrance to Erskineville station.

David will give a presentation on these issues followed by an informal Q&A.

See the following links for some of David’s recent articles:

Update June 13, 2019

The recording is up on Facebook in two parts:

Master of Transport at the University of Sydney

Develop your critical understanding about the engineering, urban planning, and business management of transport. Understand the prevalence and identification of transport systems and core capabilities for analysing and designing them.

Our Master of Transport is Australia’s first interdisciplinary degree, focusing on the engineering, urban planning, and business management of transport.

This professional full-time degree is ideal for graduates wanting to pursue a career in the global transport sector or professionals already in the field wanting to upskill.

It is designed to further your ability for strategic and logical reasoning, deduction, network and temporal data analysis, and expand your proficiencies in broad interdisciplinary analysis.

Our Master of Transport is truly multidisciplinary, allowing professionals the opportunity to undertake a unique combination of units spanning engineering, architecture and business throughout their studies.

It also leverages the strengths of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, which has exceptionally strong links with industry and is recognised by the Australian Government as a centre of excellence in research and education, and the ongoing transport engineering research being undertaken by the Faculty of Engineering.

Candidates for the Master of Transport complete 72 credit points, consisting of:

  • 48 credit points of core units
  • 18 credit points of electives
  • a 6 credit point capstone unit

Find out more about the study plan for this degree.

This program can also be taken as a:

The Master of Transport will commence in Semester 1, 2020.

More details.

To apply, visit here:

Transportist: June 2019

Welcome to the June 2019 issue of The Transportist, especially to our new readers.  As always you can follow along at the or on Twitter.

designing the 30-minute city

I briefly made an incursion upon the USA, and gave the 12th Annual Wachs Lecture, designing the 30-minute city, available on YouTube. (Note: There are some sound issues for the first few minutes, but those get resolved quickly.)

The Conversation

Transportist (the blog)


Transport Findings


Papers by Us

by Others


  • Survey for Uber Pick-up Times (A PhD student is trying to determine the actual distribution of schedule delay for Uber pickups, you can help expand human knowledge by sharing your data. It will not be used for nefarious purposes.)

Revived Open Access Journals



Safety in Numbers for Bicyclists at Urban Intersections

Recently published:

  • Carlson, Kristin, Murphy, Brendan, Owen, Andrew, Ermagun, Alireza, and Levinson, D. (2019) Safety in Numbers for Bicyclists at Urban Intersections Transportation Research Record. [doi]

Abstract: This study assesses the estimated crashes per bicyclist and per vehicle as a function of bicyclist and vehicle traffic and tests whether greater traffic reduces the per-vehicle crash rate, a phenomenon referred to as “safety in numbers” (SIN). We present a framework for comprehensive bicyclist risk assessment modeling, using estimated bicyclist flow per intersection, observed vehicle flow, and crash records. Testing a two-part model of crashes, we reveal that both the average of annual average daily traffic (AADT) over a 14-year period and the estimated daily bicyclist traffic (DBT) have a diminishing return to scale in crashes. This accentuates the positive role of SIN. Higher volumes of vehicles and cyclists lowers not only the probability of crashes, but the number of crashes as well. Measuring the elasticity of the variables, it is found that a 1% increase in the average of AADT across the time window increases the probability of crashes by 0.14% and the number of crashes by 0.80%. However, a 1% increase in the estimated DBT increases the probability of crashes by 0.09% and the number of crashes by 0.50%.

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