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Transportist: November 2023
If I care too deeply about climate change, and I don’t change my behaviour to help, then I am a hypocrite. If I don’t want to a hypocrite, I shouldn’t care too much about climate change. QED.
I am going to Warsaw, Mumbai, and Perth in November, and may be the only person to hit those three cities in that order, ever. If you are near there, and want to meet up, let me know. I will also be in Washington, DC for TRB in January.
[The last is moot, the Voice went down.]
We are recruiting a PhD on Environmental Pollution Caused by Tire and Brake Wear. Click link for details.
My friend James Pethokoukis is out with his new book: The Conservative Futurist: How to Create the Sci-Fi World We Were Promised. (Way cheaper on US Amazon store than Australia’s) [Apple Books]
I really want to be a Techno-Optimist, and agree with much of what is said here. But there is a reason there is an environmental movement, and there is a reason people believe the gains are unevenly distributed. There is too little acknowledgment of real environmental problems on what is traditionally referred to as “the right” or “conservatives”. The pro-technology attitude is one-half of the wing on the right, but anti-science is strangely the other. You can see the instability that results. But the critique of the anti-technological bias of American liberalism and especially “the left” is generally fair. The book is a bit too pro-Musk as well, and a bit too credulous on the issue of nuclear power (the “trams” of the left, woulda, coulda, didn’t). Jim promotes the term “Up-Wing” rather than “Left” or “Right” because he supports, and believe in, faster economic growth than the US has seen for the past 50 years. Jim also self-identifies as a conservative,1 but really this is an optimistic conservative of his Reagan-era youth, and completely incompatible with what conservatism has become in the real world.
The general question is whether ‘tis better to be an optimist or a pessimist. If you are watching your favourite sports ball team on TV, your good or bad vibes are probably too weak to reach your team. In the arena, however, it matters a lot. Teams have a huge home court advantage. Surely this is due to the fans. In your own life, if you are either an optimist or a pessimist, it tends to be a bit self-fulfilling. Being a pessimist on something you control almost guarantees failure, while being an optimist gives at least the possibility for success. BUT there is a limit, being delusionally optimistic has its costs as well, resources will get misallocated.
David Leonhardt writes: Longer Commutes, Shorter Lives: The Costs of Not Investing in America For decades, spending on the future put the nation ahead of all others. What would it take to revive that spirit? The article is adapted from the book “Ours Was the Shining Future,” published on Oct. 24 by Penguin Random House. (I read the article, not the book). Leonhardt too is nostalgic in his way, longing for the big muscular investments in physical infrastructure of the Eisenhower era, forgetting the reason those investments, which may have been good then, stopped being good, facing diminishing marginal returns (rising costs and decreasing benefits as projects were conducted based roughly in sequence based on the Benefit-Cost ratio, and we are now well below 1.0 on most new infrastructure projects), the S-curve, saturation. We don’t actually need more roads (or airports) in the US, which passes for a developed country, we need to maintain, manage, and better operate the things we have, using pricing and the like. I won’t comment on investments outside transport, but I suspect there are similar problems. The only thing that continues to grow in transport is the number of lines we can draw on maps. But in a country with a birth rate below replacement level, do we really think infrastructure is the scarce component to economic growth, rather than people?
Turner, H, Lahoorpoor, B, and Levinson, D. (2023) Creating a dataset of historic roads in Sydney from scanned maps. Scientific Data 10, 683 [doi]
This study creates a historic dataset of road opening dates in Sydney. A method was developed for map digitization to extract spatial data from historic maps and place them in a collective vector layer. The method includes extensive georeferencing of the maps, as well as editing and cleaning the maps through raster and vector analysis. Preferred methods for map digitization used in the project were identified. For a considerable area of Sydney, in which approximately 52000 road links were included, almost half of the links were identified with an open date by the start of the twentieth century. A further half of these links were confined to opening within a thirty-year period. The project has established a strong foundation for a historic road dataset for Sydney. It has also outlined methods and procedures that can be followed to progress the dataset further.
We are also going to add the data to the OHM, a fascinating project, putting time stamps on roads and buildings referencing OpenStreetMap.
My argument about how bike lanes might appear empty, even when they're not has made an appearance in
Title: Highlights of Lane-Free Automated Vehicle Traffic with Nudging by Markos Papageorgiou
Everything is fine.
Separating Minneapolis’s Metro Transit (the operating agency) from the Met Council (the planning agency)
Broward County wants a $3B train tunnel rather than a $300M bridge. And they want Uncle to pay for it (of course they do). Is that difference in urban quality the best use of $2.7B? A casual inspection of Fort Lauderdale will suggest not much existing land use will be harmed by a bridge compared to the existing at grade tracks. To call the place “bustling” is to redefine the meaning of the word. And won’t this all be underwater soon?
Two covers of “Police On My Back”. You might recognise the lead singer (and songwriter) of The Equals, Eddy Grant, for his later work on the very different “Electric Avenue”
I think there is surgery in Sweden to reverse this.