A View Of Urban Sprawl From Outer Space

A View Of Urban Sprawl From Outer Space by Jenny Hall
Hall writes: ‘Roads, on the other hand, have no impact on the extent to which development is scattered, despite commonly held beliefs to the contrary. “We looked at a lot of measures of road density – miles of road per area, average distance to a road, distance to an interstate exit – and we could find no relation between those measures and the scatteredness of development,” Turner says.’

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The world loves a train ride

The Minnesota Streetcar Museum, Minnesota’s “other light rail” will be open for rides again. See related article in the Strib about rail nostalgia, when life was simpler and trains were faster than cars. All obsolete transportation systems become rides, what will we do with interstates once we get flying cars?

Computing the commute

Computing the commute, Minneapolis Star Tribune May 1, 2006
Every so often the newspaper (here the Star Tribune) rediscovers urban economics (people are trading off time for space). As gas (or other) prices change, people’s utilities change, and they reassess where they want to be on the curve. The newspaper always focuses on the extreme person with the 60 or 90 minute (one-way) commute instead of the normal person with a 22 minute commute, giving a misleading perception of the problem.
The problem is not people having long commutes in exchange for more real estate, that is (presumably) rational behavior on their part given their preferences. The problem is the system that subsidizes those trips by not charging users for the full cost of the trip or developers for the impact they are imposing. We need some way of paying for the fixed costs of roads as well as their variable costs that is fair.

Covering the Economy: Gasoline Prices

Brad DeLong on the politics of gas prices … Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: Covering the Economy: Gasoline Prices

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Transforming Education: Engaging Students with Technology

I will be on the panel of Transforming Education: Engaging Students with Technology. I will be discussing “Development of Transportation Planning Model Software for Classroom Instruction”, which describes the ADAM (Agent-based Demand and Assignment Model) (JAVA Applet) which I developed with graduate students Shanjiang Zhu and Feng Xie, extending research done with Lei Zhang.
This seminar will be held Wednesday, May 3, 2006, 12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m., 402 Walter Library, East Bank, Twin Cities campus.


I will be attending the MeshForum conference in San Francisco May 7th and 8th.
This will be an interesting combination of random people from social networking, futurists, and Web 2.0, and me, apparently representing physical networks. I will be talking about the evolution of transportation networks. The conference also has a wiki. The conference is organized by Shannon Clark of JigZaw.
I saw a reference on a social networks message board, which is how I found out about it, and then saw that Professor Anna Nagurney carried the flag for transportation networks last year. Her talk is available at IT Conversations.

Deconstructing Busytown

My first understanding of how places work probably came from the book What Do People Do All Day? by children’s author Richard Scarry. The Busytown in which this book (and others) are set faded from my consciousness until my son was born, and we decided to go shopping for books again. Rereading the book from an adult (and planning and transportation professional’s) point-of-view provides a new perspective on the Scarry memes that have shaped the neural networks of millions of young minds. How many youth are inculcated in the idealized place of Scarry? Estimates suggest that over 300 million copies of Scarry books are out there, no small set of infected brains.

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What is a transportationist?

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

Welcome to The Transportationist

This is my new blog on transportation policy, planning, and economics.
— David Levinson