You can go home again

I give a talk at my alma mater Georgia Tech on Thursday:

Thursday, February 2, 2012
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Instructional Center, Room 205
Join CEE and Dr. David Levinson of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota as he speaks about network structure and travel behavior on Thursday, February 2, 2012 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the Instructional Center Room 205 (behind ISYE building). A light lunch box will be provided.

Transportation networks have an underlying structure, defined by the layout, arrangement and the connectivity of the individual network elements, namely the road segments and their intersections. The differences in network structure exist among and between networks. This presentation argues that travelers perceive and respond to these differences in underlying network structure and complexity, resulting in differences in observed travel patterns. This hypothesized relationship between network structure and travel is analyzed using individual and aggregate level travel and network data from metropolitan regions across the U.S. various measures of network structure, compiled from existing sources, are used to quantify the structure of street networks. The relation between these quantitative measures and travel is then identified using econometric models.

Dr. David Levinson is a faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems (NEXUS) research group. He currently holds the Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation. In academic year 2006-2007 he was a visiting academic at Imperial College in London. He has authored or edited several books, including The Transportation Experience and Planning for Place and Plexus, and numerous peer reviewed articles. He is the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use.

Award time

Congratulations to Nexus group almnus Lei Zhang for winning TRBs Fred Burggraf Paper Award for paper 11-4223 – Behavioral Foundation of Route Choice and Traffic Assignment. This work extends his dissertation.

Belated congratulations to another Nexus group alum and co-winner of the TRB 2011 Best doctoral dissertation presentation: Shanjiang Zhu: The Roads Taken – Theory and Evidence on Route Choice in the Wake of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge Collapse and Reconstruction (Advisor: David M. Levinson), University of Minnesota.

Shanjiang is now a post-doc at the University of Maryland working with Lei Zhang and prof Gang-Len Chang.

Transportation futurist

I am mentioned in a MnDaily article on futurists.

David Levinson, a civil engineering professor, teaches evolution of transportation for the University’s Department of Civil Engineering.

Levinson heads the Nexus Research Group at the University, which studies the impact of technological developments on city transportation and infrastructure.

Levinson said he sees a future with fully-automated cars that remove human error from driving. Traffic fatalities have been declining as technology improves, he said, and the future will bring about safer commutes.

He said he also sees “green cars” as luxury goods rather than a practical solution to reducing pollution and lowering energy costs.

Levinson, who blogs prolifically about futurism, said mankind should leave for the stars by 2301 and “try to avoid destroying the Earth [or] solar system before then.”

Personal space travel is another frequent topic of speculation. Virgin Galactic started offering $200,000 space flights last month to anyone willing to pay for a trip aboard one of its star cruisers.

However, Levinson said personal space travel, while possible, is unfeasible due to cost, and he predicts it will become a niche market for the wealthy.

Aside from conflating short term and long term (green cars as luxury goods is clearly a short term phenomenon, vs space travel), and putting me in an article about futurists, not too much worth rebutting.

– dml

At what time in the morning do drivers begin to obey traffic lights?

At what time in the morning do drivers begin to obey traffic lights?

Early morning drivers seem more likely to run reds than later during rush hour. The reasons are obvious, who wants to be bossed around by a stupid lightbulb? Especially when there is little traffic.

– dml

Transit and road congestion

You often see claims that transit project X will reduce/alleviate/eliminate traffic congestion. E.g. This article discussing the issue

First this is usually wrong. Most transit users would not otherwise drive themselves. E.g. The 2004 Metrotransit strike could not be detected in the traffic counts. Most displaced users carpooled, walked, or biked. That is not to say there was no hardship, there was, but it was felt by transit users not drivers.

Second congestion reduction is not a good reason to support transit, anymore than claiming a new road will reduce crowding on the bus.

The purpose of transit is also not economic development, though that might occur as some people will pay a premium to live in places or work in places with good transit service. This indicates a willingness to pay above the fare being charged as well as an option value.

The purpose of transit is moving people from A to B who want (and/or don’t have a good alternative) to use transit. Their willingness to pay for that trip is the primary (and perhaps dominant) benefit transit provides.

All else is noise.

– dml