Archive for February 24th, 2010

Hummer Death Watch

Final nail.

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 4:31 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Yet Another Word on Winter Dibs

Thinking about the whole ongoing ‘winter dibs’ exchange that’s been going on here, I was reminded of our recent experience with weekend soccer. This is not an easy thing to do in the northeast in the winter; our usual haunt, the fields that lay amidst the Olmstead-ian splendor of Prospect Park, are closed to us (for reseeding, etc, a policy that is rather sporadically enforced). So we shifted to an artificial turf field; not quite as nice, instead of ponds and trees there’s a view of a Staples and a Pep Boys and gusts of Fourth Avenue exhaust. And yet it’s green and it’s flat. But then come the great batterings of snow — a dozen or so inches over the past few weeks.

We don’t sit around and kvetch, however, we bring out the shovels! And, wouldn’t you know it, after shoveling one weekend, we return to find someone else playing in our spot. But it’s a public park (as the streets are public), after all, first come, first served. There’s no nasty words exchanged, no vandalism (maybe it’s cars that breed that special sense of entitlement). So we shovel out an even bigger section — and shoveling is a great way to warm up for 90 minutes of football.

There’s now snow in the forecast again, so it looks like the shovels will be out in force. I’m starting to wonder why soccer isn’t included in the Winter Games.

(Photos by Jordin Isip)

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 8:15 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Freighted with Meaning

The new INRIX scorecard is out — time for all you sabremetricians of the traffic world to drool — and reveals that congestion is creeping back to pre-recession levels. One can, I suppose, take this is another form of economic indicator — like same-store sales or new housing starts — as more jobs and more activity equals more miles driven. Then again, some of the congestion is directly a result of the economic crisis:

“Stimulus spending on road projects nationwide is starting to have an impact on congestion, particularly in off-peak periods. Delays across the country during off-peak periods – mid-days, evenings, overnights and weekends – were up 25 percent. Of the nation’s biggest new work zone slowdowns in late 2009, more than half were directly tied to stimulus projects.

There was the usual mix of interesting data points (hello Philadelphia and welcome to the Top 10 most congested metros!; Friday between 5 and 6 p.m. remained the worst time to be on the road in America), but one particular bit in the section on long-haul freight traffic caught my eye in particular:

INRIX data highlights that the nation’s truck freight network is highly interconnected, with some of its most important links located in places that aren’t immediately obvious (except to fleets and people traveling those roads). Nationwide, less than 5% of road miles have 3 times or more the average density of freight data, and less than 1% of road miles have 4 times or more. Of the most intensely used 1000 miles, California has the most miles of any state (271), closely followed by Arkansas (228); and I-40 has the most miles of any road (314).

I was surprised to see Arkansas pop up as number two in this category — I would have expected the Chicago region or some such — and I couldn’t help wondering, as one always does when one thinks of Arkansas, if there was a ‘Wal-Mart’ effect here? But the simpler explanation is that Arkansas itself is a trucking hub, home to a number of the country’s largest haulers and, it turns out, the state with the highest percentage of private-sector work force employed in the trucking industry. I’m sure there’s a bevy of interesting geographical/logistical reasons of why that came to be (e.g., proximity to rail hubs, the distribution center of Memphis, etc.), but in any case, it’s just one of the interesting tales lurking in the INRIX data.

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 5:13 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
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June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
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California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
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Eero Saarinen Lecture

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Delaware Center for Transportation

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Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
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Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

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Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

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Australasian Road Safety Conference
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Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
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Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
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California Association of Cities
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American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
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Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
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April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
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April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
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January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

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Australian Road Summit
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New York State Association of
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Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
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September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



February 2010

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