Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Travelling for the Holidays?

(Photo courtesy of Näystin on Flickr.)

Do you have to travel for the holidays? Will your plans include driving to the airport to fly across the country? If so, John Van Horn at Parking Today's blog has offered up some airport parking tips:
  1. Take a cab or limo to the airport -- At the cost to park of $20 a day, if you are going more than four days, its probably cheaper to take a cab, both ways.

  2. Have a friend drop them off or pick them up.

  3. Reserve a space on line -- virtually all airports are represented at a number of sites -- Key in "Parking" on Google and see what pops up.

  4. Simply drive to the airport and park in an available space. My spies tell me that at virtually all airports there is parking available. It may not be the most convenient, but its there. Off airport parking is available, too. But its probably important to plan ahead and be sure you can find those little lots around the corner and down the block.

  5. Airport hotels are offering park/sleep/fly packages that let you come a day early, leave your car, stay overnight, and be well rested for your flight.

Of course most won't take this advice, and most main stream media won't print it. All those "one flight a decade" folks will jam the airport at the last minute, have far too much luggage, complain about just about everything, and actually be the cause of most late flights.

Cynic? Nope, just experienced.

The best solution - have Thanksgiving at your house and let the family come there.

Having Thanksgiving come to you can be convenient, though we here at the library understand that some people are going to travel in the next day or so to see relatives and eat lots of food.

There have been many developments in airport parking recently. Susan Shaheen of ITS Davis published a paper in 2005 entitled Smart Parking Management Field Test: A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District Parking Demonstration that explored using smart parking at BART stations and airports to increase efficiency.

Van Horn's list neglects the possible role of transit in getting travelers to their destination. As a recent BTS special report, Making Connections: Intermodal Links in the Public Transportation System, highlights- more and more airports are being serviced by transit agencies. You can avoid the parking lot all together and ride the bus or the train, saving yourself a headache.

Whatever your plans are for this holiday, be safe and have fun!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Time Change Leads To Accidents

The Toronto Star reports police in that city last monday kicked off their week-long "Smart Ped - Be Bright At Night" program in order to boost pedestrian and automobile safety. Similar safety campaigns held every November in Toronto are scheduled to coincide with the end of daylight savings time when police report a significant rise in the number of pedestrian/automobile collisions. Sgt. Allan Finlay explains that pedestrians and drivers haven't adjusted to the dark commute home.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Risk Compensation Rumble

The recent issue of "Status Report" (42:10, pp 6-8) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a polemical article against "risk compensation" approaches to safety restraint legislation. In the article, "Risk Compensation Theory Keeps Popping Up Where It's Wholly Irrelevant," authors argue that the introduction of new safety features does not inherently alter driving behaviors for the worse. It is noted that, in response to a recent article on risk compensation in the statistical analysis journal "Significance,"
To believe [risk compensation concerning safety restraints in automobiles] you'd have to believe that people have a certain tolerance for risk and that their levels of risk are regulated by a homeostatic mechanism so that, if forced to "consume" more safety than they voluntarily would choose, people will balance the safety increase by taking more risk. It's a stretch, isn't it? (p 6)

The article being argued against, "Seat Belt Laws- Repeal Them?" (pdf format, requires subscription) is written by a professor emeritus from the geography department of UCL, John Adams. Prof. Adams explains that
"the evidence with respect to seat belts suggests that the law had no effect on total fatalities but was associated with a redistribution of danger from car occupants to pedestrians and cyclists. (p 89)

Finally, an article in Accident Analysis and Prevention presents some quantitative research on the matter (found here, in pdf and subscription required).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

11 Most Bicycle Friendly Cities

Wired Magazine reports that Virgin Vacations has put together a list of the 11 most bicycle friendly cities in the world.

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands : see their Bike Dispenser
  2. Portland, Oregon : see a New York Times article on bicycle-friendly Portland
  3. Copenhagen, Denmark : see the Streetsblog Notes on biclycling in Copenhagen
  4. Boulder, Colorado : see the City of Boulder's bicycling transportation resources page
  5. Davis, California : see the League of American Bicyclists' extensive article on what makes Davis bicycle friendly
  6. Sandnes, Norway : see Marco Zanussi's profile on Sandnes Byke City (pdf)
  7. Trondheim, Norway : see the Trondheim bicycle hill-assist in action on YouTube
  8. San Francisco, California : get the 511 on bicycling in San Francisco
  9. Berlin, Germany : read the CBS News report on Berlin's bicycling boom
  10. Barcelona, Spain : see the Barcelona bicycling resources guide
  11. Basel, Switzerland : see stats and history of bicycling in Basel

The eleven cities were chosen based on "The Five Es" -- criteria drawn up by the League of American Bicyclists

  • ENGINEERING : facilities for accommodation of cyclists
  • EDUCATION : provision of funds for teaching safe cycling
  • ENCOURAGEMENT : how the community promotes and encourages bicycling
  • ENFORCEMENT : do bicycling laws exist and are they enforced
  • EVALUATION & PLANNING : is there a bicycle master plan

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Transportation Seminar and Cookie Time 9 November: A Macroscopic Approach to Urban Traffic

This week's talk, given by CEE PhD student Nikolas Geroliminis (CV in pdf format), approaches a description of vehicular movement in urban areas on a macroscopic scale. Geroliminis has formed his conclusions using both simulation and real data from metropolitan areas (here is a link to a 4-hour simulation by Geroliminis and Prof. Daganzo). Here is the abstract:
Various theories have been proposed to describe vehicular traffic movement in cities on an aggregate level. They fall short to create a macroscopic model with variable inputs and outputs that could describe a rush hour dynamically. My dissertation work shows that a Macroscopic Fundamental Diagram (MFD) relating production (the product of average flow and network length) and accumulation (the product of average density and network length) exists for neighborhoods of cities in the order of 5-10km2. It also demonstrates that conditional on accumulation large networks behave predictably and independently of their Origin-Destination tables. These results are based on analysis using simulation of large scale city networks and real data from urban metropolitan areas. The real experiment uses a combination of fixed detectors and floating vehicle probes as sensors. The analysis also reveals a fixed relation between the space-mean flows on the whole network and the trip completion rates, which dynamically measure accessibility. This work also demonstrates that the dynamics of the rush hour can be predicted quite accurately without the knowledge of disaggregated data. This MFD is applied to develop perimeter control strategies based on neighborhood accumulation and speeds and improve accessibility without the uncertainty inherent in today’s forecast-based approaches. The looking-for-parking phenomenon that extends the average trip length is also integrated in the dynamics of the rush hour

The seminar will be in 240 Bechtel at 4:00 and will be preceded by Cookie Time in the ITS Library (4th Floor McLaughlin) at 3:30. Please Note: Cookie Time will still be held regardless of other ITS closures for Veterans' Day

New SWARM Report Does Not Concern Honey

A new study out of Portland State University ITS (TRB paper found here in doc format) discusses the efficacy of the System-Wide Adaptive Ramp Metering (SWARM) system in the Portland, Oregon area. SWARM replaces older fixed-rate metering systems that remain static regardless of the prevailing traffic conditions. This means SWARM should be sensitive to both regular fluctuations as well as non-recurrent changes. Wikipedia has a reasonable sketch of ramp metering here. Here is the abstract:
A System-Wide Adaptive Ramp Metering (SWARM) system is being implemented in the Portland metropolitan area, replacing the previous pre-timed ramp-metering system. SWARM has been deployed on six major corridors and operates during the morning and afternoon peak hours. This study entails a “before” and “after” evaluation of the benefit of the new SWARM system as compared to the pre-timed system using the existing data, surveillance and communications infrastructure. In particular, the objective of this study is to quantify the system-wide benefits in terms of savings in delay, emissions and fuel consumption, and safety improvements on and off the freeway due to the implementation of the SWARM system. A pilot study was conducted for two weeks on a 7-mile freeway corridor in an attempt to develop a strategic design for the future regional-level study. This paper discusses the selection process of the study corridor, experimental design, and the results that were obtained from the pilot study.

Caltrans has also implemented such a system (pdf format) in the Los Angeles area in 2000 and earlier (in pdf, see pages 12-13 for an overview of the Irvine SWARM).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Menus Online!

Northwestern University's Library has announced today the launch of a Web site of 381 airline menus from the 1950s to the present, at http://digital.library.northwestern.edu/tranmenus, reproduced in their entirety in high resolution. The "Clug Calypso" menu pictured at right is from a 1968 Air Canada flight to the Bahamas.

According to Northwestern's Wendy Leopold,

In 1966, a passenger flying BOAC economy class from London to Tel Aviv enjoyed a lunch of foie gras, fresh Scotch salmon, salad, cheese, fruit and coffee, followed by afternoon tea. And one had only to ask for a complimentary Martini -- sweet or dry -- and free in-flight cigarettes in plain or filter tip.

TWA travelers flying first class from London to Chicago that year chose their cocktails, whiskies, highballs or champagne from a menu in the form of a scroll that doubled as a souvenir. Their dinner of curried squab chicken or Maine lobster Newburg began with fresh Malossol caviar, and was capped off with assorted French cheeses, pastries or ice creams. Diners with less rarified tastes could substitute a hot dog and malted milk.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Major EIS collection now searchable in TRIS

The Northwestern University Transportation Library (NUTL) has provided the Transportation Research Board (TRB) with more than 19,000 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) bibliographic records for the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database, creating one of the world’s largest publicly accessible collections of environmental impact statements.

NUTL's EIS collection includes about 80 percent of all the EISs issued by US federal agencies since 1969 and is the largest EIS collection in the United States. It has more than 19,150 titles, including draft statements, final reports, findings of no significant impact, records of decisions, supplementary reports, and maps. A small EIS collection from state departments of transportation and non-US government agencies is also maintained.

The TRIS database is the largest and most comprehensive bibliographic resource on transportation information. TRIS is produced and maintained by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies with sponsorship by State DOTs, the various administrations at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other sponsors of TRB's core technical activities.

EIS volumes found in TRIS can be borrowed by contacting NUTL's Interlibrary Loan unit.