Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tropos Radios and Novax

I visited Novax in Vancouver, BC and learned about their TransPOD system that they have implemented. They use Tropos Radios, which is a company that has a blog that I am going to follow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Charles Street Trolley

Every once in awhile I come across old newspaper mentions of the work I have done and it is interesting to recall the past efforts and projects I have been involved with. Here's one for the Baltimore Streetcar.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bicycle Detection at Traffic Signals

I have seen this memo before, but this one describes how to be detected as a cyclist at a traffic signal. I should have had something about this in the Signal Timing Manual (, but I forgot about this.

One of the best things about blogs is that for those that are professional, they are posting things that seems like they're their to stay. Let's hope so with The link is

Monday, October 27, 2008

Future Oregon Ride: Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway Route

The League of American Bicyclists came out with a statewide ranking of best Cycling States and Oregon ranked fourth. Washington and Wisconsin were up in the top 5 along with Arizona and Minnesota.

I just found this link to the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway Route and it is something to think about doing next year during the summer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top 10 Reasons I Bike

There was a contest at the City of Portland to have cyclists come up with reasons they bike.
Here was my submission.

10. Biking allows my car to develop really cool spider webs between the rear view mirror and the door.
9. Allows me to justify all the bike gear.
8. Makes the rest of the time indoors seem like a treat.
7. Gives you a reason to question your own sanity (a couple of the last days in particular).
6. Less congestion in the bike lane than in the summer.
5. Reduces the cost of getting Transit Tracker active on my phone.
4. Faster than walking.
3. Makes me laugh when I hear someone say "Drill, baby, Drill"
2. The view of wildlife from the Springwater Trail beats the view of strip development from McLoughlin Boulevard.
1. It makes the morning coffee taste that much better.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Organized City Bike Rides

I was just thinking about the next organized bike ride we'll do and was doing some quick research and found the following:

New York: Bike in all 5 Boros - 42 miles (first Sunday in May - 45,000)

Austin to Shiner: Great Austin to Shiner Pedal - 90 miles, okay not a City ride, but one in Austin to a brewery is worth noting. (first Sundy in May - 1,500)

Chicago: Lakeshore Drive is shut down - 30 miles (last Sunday in May - 20,000)

Montreal: Not a lot of information (Early June)

Portland: Bridge Pedal Second Sunday in August - 18,000

Los Angeles: River Ride June 8 (thanks Jake!)

San Diego: Bike the Bay - (September 7th, 2,000 riders)

Baltimore: Puts on Tour De Port - (First Sunday in October - 1,500)

Long Beach: Marathon route (Second Sunday in October - 26 miles)

Round Rock, TX:, special exception for a Texas Ride - third Saturday in October

I know these folks have rides, but they don't seem to do advance notice for them...(for anyone reading this, tell your local ride organizer to make a website that works 365 days a year).
Washington DC:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Amsterdam Bike Signals

Sad really that I take pictures of bicycle traffic signals during my vacation, but I will admit I do and I enjoy it.  
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Hamburg Transportation

We had a great trip to Hamburg, Germany and I was impressed with all of the bike and transit related innovations I saw in just a day walking around the City. 
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Street Standards and the Shaping of Suburbia

I am doing some research for a proposal and came across this article. I want to read it, so I thought I would post it here and come back to take a look at it in more detail later.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Streets were made Safe for Cars

Great blog entry that was actually taken from a professor from the University of Virginia.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blumenauer on his morning Commute on NPR

I have never been stuck in traffic.

How do we give people more choices? It may be something we learn more about on Monday, there is supposed to be something that he's announcing and it will be interesting to see what it is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Carfree Conference

Volunteering in the morning
I had a nice meeting Jay Graves and other bike celebrities. I had to scrounge for lunch at the conference as a wheat free, dairy free allergy guy.
I worked for a bit, delegated tasks I can't get to, and then hope that people work on
my stuff. Overextend myself on a project (bike related), promise things I don't have. I am working on everything I want to, but it is too much good stuff.

Go to City Hall to volunteer where people are drinking beer (I am helping pour) and checking out the bicycle postcard art show. It was pretty surreal. Bike related Sidewalk art, Sprockettes, and tall bikes.... And then to top it off there were the depave frogs on stilts.

Took the bus to SE where the speakers were celebrating the conference. Got to see Patrick and Jamie there and feeling good about helping them explore their interests. Really happy about how that's working out, hoping they are enjoying it too. Still it never seems like enough and is going to be transparent to others at KAI, which I seek some sort of validation from. Wish I didn't, but that's me.

Now checking my Treo as I try to make the perfect connection from the 15
to the 70 to get home. Glad I live in a transit rich area.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Views from the Burnside Bridge

I had to take the car into the shop and once there, I walk across the Burnside Bridge to work.  
As I took a look over Interstate 5, I was shocked at how many people were using the facility and the scope of how large it was as compared to the Bike facilities. It is an amazing decision to build something so large and perhaps we don't have that same fortitude to build something like this in Portland because of the environmental issues that are associated with the road building.  
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Green Bike Lanes in Brooklyn

We came across these bike lanes in Brooklyn on our trip to the Five Boro Ride. With all of the excitement over the bike boxes in Portland, it was great that we came across these walking from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Museum or Art.  
There was nothing special about the intersection treatments other than the approach was green. It seemed like a little bit of a strange application on this neighborhood street.  
Why are they green? The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) preferred green as opposed to the blue that Portland used in the initial study because blue is reserved for Americans with Disabilities.  
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I-5 Columbia River Crossing Project Article in Willamette Week

It is great that Portland has such an integrated transportation/environment to media system. It seems like every three weeks there is a huge article on the issues. It is great to see that the concept of induced traffic is alive and well. Although I don't agree with the concept like I used to. I think it is more like a system. Increased road capacity leads to land use patterns that utilize that capacity, i.e. people buy homes that are to their liking (reasonable commute, land for the kids to play, "safer" communities, newer parks, nice schools that leave the poor neighbors behind, lower taxes because they don't pay for the infrastructure like museums/libraries/Convention Center if owned by the City/etc, further from their work because the commute isn't that bad, and then later when it gets bad the community asks for improvements so that they don't have to move.

So at the end, you have travel that increases not because of the additional capacity persay, but rather becuase of the land use that follows the roadway capacity. The challenge is you need a certain amount of capacity to address freight and other important societal needs. I am not sure what the right answer is, I guess it would have to be improve the bridge, but make sure there is high speed transit and auto capacity (properly priced), and of course bicycle facilities.

Anyway, here's the excerpt: In fact, if you build it, however, they will drive…more.

There’s a concept transportation planners call “induced travel,” which means more road capacity results in more traffic.

While the precise relationship between capacity and demand remains under debate, CRC figures show if a new bridge were built without tolls, the number of people crossing the Columbia would increase dramatically, versus the no-build option. Figures show that without tolls, a new bridge would carry 225,000 passengers a day by 2030, while the current bridges, if left in place, would carry only 184,000. The difference of 41,000 is the “induced travel” generated by the newly built capacity.

If, as the task force proposes, the new I-5 bridge is tolled, and an adjacent light-rail, bicycle and pedestrian bridge is built, that combination would reduce traffic by 47,000 car trips, leaving only a small net reduction—6,000 trips from the no-build scenario (see chart below).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fight Global Warming with PediCabs

I saw this in NYC and thought it was a nice way to send a message with the right medium. Rather than advertising on a taxi cab, why not be part of the solution with your marketing. If only everyone thought this way, we'd be in a lot better shape.

I must admit though, I likely miss things that I could be doing better and then there is always conflicting advice. The best resource on this topic that I have seen is the book written by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

World Carfree Conference

I have been helping organize a few sessions at the World Carfree Conference in Portland. The program is coming together and I have nice flashbacks to the ITE conference that I hosted last year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

American Commuting Patterns and Travel Trends

An excerpt from the Transportation Research Forum.

Alan E. Pisarski, Author of Commuting in America III
Feb. 13, 2008

Alan Pisarski's remarks were based in large part on the third edition of this book Commuting in America III, published in 2006. People travel on the earth's surface for many reasons – to get to work, go on vacation, transport freight, and provide private and government services (power, water, police protection, etc.). Commuting is a shrinking part of surface transportation. Daily trips to work have not increased per capita since 1975, while family/personal business trips have doubled and school/church trips have increased.

Three major trends will define future commuting.

Replacing the baby boomers in the workforce – Where will the workforce come from?
Continued expansion of metro areas – the doughnut metro with the focus on the suburbs
An affluent time-focused society – we value our time at $50 an hour and the value of goods moved triples.
Mr. Pisarki's listed his "Top 10" factors that will shape commuting:

#10 – Single-occupancy vehicle travel growth slows: It's currently about 80%, but trend-setting metro areas such as Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Phoenix, and Atlanta have shown drops in single-occupancy vehicle travel

#9 – Regional swings in carpooling and transit use from 1990 to 2000: Carpooling dropped dramatically in the Northeast, but grew by a large margin in the West. Transit use declined slightly in three regions, but increased in the West.

#8 – The growth of automobile ownership among African-Americans: From 1990 to 2006 the percent of African-Americans owning automobiles rose from 70 percent to 80 percent

#7 – Immigrant roles and patterns: Immigrants make up only 14 percent of workers, but have an impact on certain commuting modes. Carpooling is popular with immigrant communities, but drops off the longer they live in the United States. They are also more likely to use mass transit.

#6 – Older workers: while the percent of people over 55 who are still working is going up, many work from home. After 55 more people start taking alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles.

#5 – Increases in extreme commutes (longer than 60 minutes): In 2005 10 million people took longer than 60 minutes to get to work. Major population center states such as New York, New Jersey, and California ranked in the top 10 in longest average commute, but West Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi were also in the top 10.

#4 – The "donut" metro: The largest job growth has been in the suburbs. The largest percent of commutes are within suburbs. In addition 7.5 million people commute to the suburbs both from central cities and another 7.5 million from rural areas and exurbs to the suburbs.

#3 – Continuing growth of working at home: This is one of only two "modes" of commuting (the other being driving alone) that has shown continuous growth since 1980. Today working at home includes 4 percent of workers.

#2 – Workers out before 6 a.m.: The rush hour spreads out as a larger percent of people start from home before 6 a.m., and the percent that commute between 6 and 9 a.m. shrinks.

#1 – Increase in workers leaving their home county to work: More than one-fourth of worker now leave their home county for work. The Washington, DC, metropolitan area leads the nation in this trend.

In response to a question, Mr. Pisarski said that there are huge forces working against mass transit growth: the spreading out of the population away from central cities, increasing wealth, aging population, and continued preference for automobiles.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Moscow, the one in Idaho

I visited Moscow, Idaho as a part of the University of Idaho NIATT Advisory Board It was my first time visiting Moscow and I found it enlightening. On Wednesday before the festivities began, I walked from the hotel to downtown.  
The Advisory Board talked about how the University of Idaho should move their transportation engineering program forward. There can be both qualitative and quantitative measures, the group was not quick to assign specific quantitative measures, but I think measuring how much research work is done is something that could be on a list of nine or ten metrics.  
As I walked into Moscow Co—op a food store, it was apparent that even in a super small town like Moscow and a red state like Idaho that you could find earth friendly goods and a hippy supermarket. I took some pictures outside the market, there was quite a robust bicycle traffic out front (of course).
The U of I campus was a combination of small town community and classic uniersity setting. A lot of twentysomething kids getting oriented to the world, full of ambition, or not, one things for sure they all have a lot of life ahead of them.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama Advisor on Gas Tax Relaxation

Very funny excerpt describing John McCain's concept of relaxing the gas tax for the summer months to reduce Americans feeling the pinch at the pump.

"that's like giving free Coke to addicts"


Wilamette Week Article for Earth Day

I liked the concepts in this article. It challenged Portland's position as a Green leader and described 7 concepts for moving us forward, including raising the bottle bill and forgoing streetcars for faster buses ala Curitiba. Good ideas on the eve of Earth Day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Not that we shop there, but this was something I heard about and then finally tracked down the article while writing a Strategic Highway Research Proposal tonight.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

TSP Question from San Francisco

It is an interesting question that you pose. You were interested in “the physical operation of TSP, its strength and weaknesses, limits, and the range of flexibility for modification to fit certain traffic conditions”.

To answer this, I would simply say that TSP enables a communication between the traffic signal and the transit vehicle to provide an opportunity to adjust the signals to improve the efficiency of transit movements. Obviously, knowing when a bus is going to stop to pick up passengers and when it is going to move through a traffic signal is of key interest, thus the typical interest in far side stops.

Given the assumptions, I will give you some advice on what I would say having implemented TSP in Portland with some corridors that are similar (signals every 260 feet in some cases with stops every other block).

He bases his assumption on the following facts: 1) On a 2.3 mile corridor Van Ness has 29 intersections, 2) cross traffic on several streets cannot be impacted too much because the traffic is very heavy so Van Ness doesn’t have as much control re. signal timing as may be needed,

** Pedestrians may be more important than the traffic, given what I know about the City’s policies. Jack Fleck and Bond Yee from the City are two that I have talked with about this in the past. This largely depends on the performance measures that are used, so I would say I am not sure that I would agree with this in all cases. If the signals are actuated, it may be possible to benefit the bus even at near side stops.

3) the likely infrastructure plan will use exclusive bus lanes so traffic congestion is either a minor issue or not an issue at all as buses move in the corridor, 4) buses will be able to average a consistent speed on the exclusive lanes that will be a major part of the signal timing plan, 5) the likely headway of buses in the corridor will be about 2-3 minutes at peak times in both directions, and 6) if a bus falls off the signal progression “schedule” it automatically resets when they get the first green – and then they should see green lights for the next 2-4 blocks until a stop is made, and if they complete the stop in the allotted time, they will continue to see green at that light and 2-4 more. He developed a similar signal / near side transit stop plan for F-Market Streetcar service on Market Street, and his assumptions were proven mostly correct. The end result shaved 3-4 minutes (10%-15%) off the run time on the route in one direction and 1-2 minutes off in the other direction.

** On most of these points I agree, but one issue that is different than streetcar service in many cases, is that there are situations where buses aren’t stopping at every stop. Given this case, it may be beneficial to have TSP at select locations that could reduce delay associated with bus stopping or not. A standard plan such as what was implemented on Market Street (which I have seen operate and is an extremely good plan), works well if the stops are consistent. The bus service would benefit during periods when bus stop frequency at a particular stop is variable. I know the signal vendor that the City is working with on the 3rd Street light rail project and one of the innovative steps that they took on that corridor was to use the TSP system and detection of multiple intersections upstream of the stop to reduce the likelihood that any stop would occur. This sort of predictive priority is a powerful tool, considering the potential for bus stop dwell times that are variable. One of the reasons the Market Street corridor looks good is that it leaves the stop when the signal goes green. In many cases, the dwell is unnecessary and activation of TSP may improve that operation adjacent to the stop and at the downstream intersections.

** The reliability of the service may also be improved with TSP, if it is used only for vehicles that are late. This would help maintain the 2-3 minute headways and result in bus bunching, but it is the case at that as the headway increases to that sort of level (near the signal cycle length) that changing the signal timing may be best and TSP becomes less effective.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My ITE Resume

I was submitting an application to ITE for the National Young Consultant Award and thought I would copy this to the Blog. It seems like I am using this to document a few things. When writing proposals, I find I forget the activities I am involved in, so better to put them in more than one place.

Peter J. V. Koonce, P.E., is currently serving as Principal Investigator for the Traffic Signal Timing Manual project. He is the primary author of Chapter 2 of the Manual which deals with Policies and Processes similar to what is described in this paper. Peter is an active member of ITE, having recently served as the Local Arrangements Committee Chair for the highly successful District 6 Annual Meeting held in Portland, Oregon in July of 2007. He has served on National ITE Committees such as the Smart Growth Task Force and the Intelligent Traffic Signal Operations Committee and participated as a reviewer on the ITE Information Reports entitled: Improving the Pedestrian Environment through Innovative Transportation Design and Smart Growth Transportation Guidelines. He is looking forward to having his first article in the April issue of the ITE Journal published entitled: “Improving the Application of Transit Signal Priority Using the NTCIP 1211 Standard”. In the past, he was the Oregon Section Student Chapters Liaison, Newsletter Editor, and Webmaster. He has also served District 6 as the Technical Editor for the WesternITE Newsletter. He is secretary of TRB Committee on Traffic Signal Systems and serves as chair of its Signal Timing subcommittee.

Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting

I have been asked to speak at the Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA on August 20, 2008. The topic of discussion is TSP: Trafic & Transit Agency Partnering the Portland, Oregon Perspective.

An abstract that I am a coauthor on with Bill Kloos was accepted. It is related to Dilemma Zone protection.

Peter's Appointments to University Boards, Academic Journal Reviews, Etc

I often forget what sorts of things I am doing outside of the workday that is on my own time, so I thought I would write them down.

American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Transportation Engineering, Peer Review (1 article in 2007, 2006)

Journal of Public Transportation, University of South Florida, Peer Review (6 articles since 2005)

National Bus Rapid Transit Institute, University of South Florida

National Institute for Advanced Transportation TechnologyUniversity of Idaho

initiative for bicycle & pedestrian innovation, Portland State University

Monday, March 17, 2008

Transit Signal Priority Articles

I was asked about some of the past publications on TSP today and I have it in my resume, but I thought I should add it here.

Comprehensive Evaluation of Transit Improvements

2005 TRB Publication on Evaluation of TSP using Hardware in the loop

Other TSP articles from PSU

Results from the Line 12 Barbur Study

2002 TSP Workshop Summary at TRB

Guidance on setting when to request Priority

Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual - section on transit preferential treatments

Metro Mobility the Smart Way

Monday, March 3, 2008

Urbanism in this day in age

Interesting reading from the Atlantic. I can't recall whether these guys are on the right or the left. The Atlantic is on the right coast if I recall :)

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

The suburban dream began, arguably, at the New York World’s Fair of 1939 and ’40. “Highways and Horizons,” better known as “Futurama,” was overwhelmingly the fair’s most popular exhibit; perhaps 10 percent of the American population saw it. At the heart of the exhibit was a scale model, covering an area about the size of a football field, that showed what American cities and towns might look like in 1960. Visitors watched matchbox-sized cars zip down wide highways. Gone were the crowded tenements of the time; 1960s Americans would live in stand-alone houses with spacious yards and attached garages. The exhibit would not impress us today, but at the time, it inspired wonder. E. B. White wrote in Harper’s, “A ride on the Futurama … induces approximately the same emotional response as a trip through the Cathedral of St. John the Divine … I didn’t want to wake up.”

The suburban transformation that began in 1946, as GIs returned home, took almost half a century to complete, as first people, then retail, then jobs moved out of cities and into new subdivisions, malls, and office parks. As families decamped for the suburbs, they left behind out-of-fashion real estate, a poorer residential base, and rising crime. Once-thriving central-city retail districts were killed off by the combination of regional suburban malls and the 1960s riots. By the end of the 1970s, people seeking safety and good schools generally had little alternative but to move to the suburbs. In 1981, Escape From New York, starring Kurt Russell, depicted a near future in which Manhattan had been abandoned, fenced off, and turned into an unsupervised penitentiary.

Cities, of course, have made a long climb back since then. Just nine years after Russell escaped from the wreck of New York, Seinfeld—followed by Friends, then Sex and the City—began advertising the city’s renewed urban allure to Gen-Xers and Millennials. Many Americans, meanwhile, became disillusioned with the sprawl and stupor that sometimes characterize suburban life. These days, when Hollywood wants to portray soullessness, despair, or moral decay, it often looks to the suburbs—as The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives attest—for inspiration.

In the past decade, as cities have gentrified, the suburbs have continued to grow at a breakneck pace. Atlanta’s sprawl has extended nearly to Chattanooga; Fort Worth and Dallas have merged; and Los Angeles has swung a leg over the 10,000-foot San Gabriel Mountains into the Mojave Desert. Some experts expect conventional suburbs to continue to sprawl ever outward. Yet today, American metropolitan residential patterns and cultural preferences are mirror opposites of those in the 1940s. Most Americans now live in single-family suburban houses that are segregated from work, shopping, and entertainment; but it is urban life, almost exclusively, that is culturally associated with excitement, freedom, and diverse daily life. And as in the 1940s, the real-estate market has begun to react.

Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium. Per square foot, urban residential neighborhood space goes for 40 percent to 200 percent more than traditional suburban space in areas as diverse as New York City; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

It’s crucial to note that these premiums have arisen not only in central cities, but also in suburban towns that have walkable urban centers offering a mix of residential and commercial development. For instance, luxury single-family homes in suburban Westchester County, just north of New York City, sell for $375 a square foot. A luxury condo in downtown White Plains, the county’s biggest suburban city, can cost you $750 a square foot. This same pattern can be seen in the suburbs of Detroit, or outside Seattle. People are being drawn to the convenience and culture of walkable urban neighborhoods across the country—even when those neighborhoods are small.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is The World Flat?

I read Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat" and he summarizes flatteners that include:
#1: Collapse of Berlin Wall--11/'89: The event not only symbolized the end of the Cold war, it allowed people from other side of the wall to join the economic mainstream. (11/09/1989)
#2: Netscape: Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by 'early adopters and geeks' to something that made the Internet accessible to everyone from five-year-olds to eighty-five-year olds. (8/9/1995)
#3: Workflow software: The ability of machines to talk to other machines with no humans involved. Friedman believes these first three forces have become a “crude foundation of a whole new global platform for collaboration.”
#4: Open sourcing: Communities uploading and collaborating on online projects. Examples include open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia. Friedman considers the phenomenon "the most disruptive force of all."
#5: Outsourcing: Friedman argues that outsourcing has allowed companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components, with each component performed in most efficient, cost-effective way.
#6: Offshoring: Manufacturing's version of outsourcing.
#7: Supply chaining: Friedman compares the modern retail supply chain to a river, and points to Wal-Mart as the best example of a company using technology to streamline item sales, distribution, and shipping.
#8: Insourcing: Friedman uses UPS as a prime example for insourcing, in which the company's employees perform services--beyond shipping--for another company. For example, UPS itself repairs Toshiba computers on behalf of Toshiba. The work is done at the UPS hub, by UPS employees.
#9: In-forming: Google and other search engines are the prime example. "Never before in the history of the planet have so many people-on their own-had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people", writes Friedman.
#10: "The Steroids": Personal digital devices like mobile phones, iPods, personal digital assistants, instant messaging, and voice over IP (VoIP).

As someone that has been skeptical of globalization, because of its seemingly pro-business stance and you hear many stories in the media of American's losing their jobs, which is of concern, you think that the story will be a fairly straightforward one regarding the reality of global change.

He strikes a cord with me in that I found the book interesting in that he took a turn to discuss what Bush should be doing to leave a legacy for making America stronger. The author describes a "Green New Deal". He suggests that we should execute a national science initiative that would be our generation's moon shot: a crash program for alternative energy and conservation that would make America energy-independent in ten years. He suggests that would dry up revenue for terrorism, strengthen the dollar, and improve our standing. It would also create a magnet to inspire young people to contribute to America's future by becoming scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

A few other tidbits worth contemplating:
The most important competition today is between you and your own imagination. We are in a world that whatever can be done will be done. And the small shall act big.
The best companies are the best collaborators.

In the last chapter, he took a turn for the dramatic and discussed 9/11 in a way that I wasn't really agreeable with. He did end on a positive suggesting that what we need to do is to teach people above all things. He highlights a Bangalore community that he visited where all the kids hope for a better day. He made contrasts to a West Bank community in Israel that describes kids that are studying engineering but are angry men because of the Israeli occupation and are "martyrs in waiting", becuase the engineers are likely to find a better life because the US and other companies are treating them like terrorists already.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Abby's Social Calendar

Abby is going to Amazin' Glazin, a local pottery shop to celebrate Katie's birthday. Katie is a few months older than Abby and lives down Lexington Street. It should be a good time for her. I am hanging with Amelia and will join them later. Sheila and Dan are supposed to come in for dinner to celebrate her birthday and I fly to Baltimore on the red eye, so it looks to be a busy day. Time to do some editing on the Signal Timing Manual.

Worst Day of the Year Ride... well not exactly

Susan and I did the Worst Day ride and it was great. It was the first time I was on my bike for probably two months. The weather was awesome, just a little mist about a third of the way through. Our neighbor Allegra babysat the kids although we could have taken them along. It was great to see the folks on the ride, it was amazing that 2,000 people decided to take up the Worst Day challenge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I got asked a question about how to analyze transit signal priority at traffic signals and to answer the question, I would say that simulation is a good tool for the assessment. I would also say that you want the simulation to reflect what's going on in the field and for this to be true you should use the controller software that is operating in the field. This leads us to a new development called software in the loop simulation which you might have heard about. The University of Idaho has worked with PTV to integrate various controllers into their model with varying degrees of success. I am helping the U of I as a peer review member for their training materials they are developing.

With respect to setting TSP to 10 seconds or an amount of time to give, I would say that is normally a good place to start, but at the same time look at the policy of the agencies involved, the cycle length (10 seconds means a lot more in a 60 second cycle), and the traffic impacts you and the other agencies are wiling to allow. Now if ever there may be conflict, this is where it is, but that's what life is all about. I am spending a lot of time helping WMATA in Washington DC figure this all out with their partnering traffic agencies.

This is okay to be over capacity momentarily, as long as people are willing to accept that. I would model person delay in VISSIM and use that as a starting point. The transit agency service is a cost that we're all investing in, so even motorists have a stake in making transit effective.

Beyond the 10 seconds, if it is in the middle of the night or other periods of low traffic volume intensity, let them be more aggressive with the signal timing because there's no reason not to be if there's no traffic. Keep in mind the public (and UTA) are still paying the driver the same amount per hour, so there is savings in getting them through the intersection quickly.

One quick aside is that one of the other problems with a 10 second rule is that it is a rule that only makes sense if it serves our purposes. Why aren't we using the detectors and the information we know in the field (green times) to estimate delay. Our NCHRP 3-79 research focused a bit on that and developed some algorithms. This is something transit agencies could use to sell the aggressiveness of TSP to the agencies. For instance, if your signals could tell you that they were operating at LOS B and that by giving 10 seconds you would only go to LOS C on the side street, wouldn't you say, it is okay to go to LOS D if you knew it was only going to be this one cycle?

As you can probably tell, this is where I love to debate both the details of signal timing and the policy level of transit performance and what is best for all of us, so I'd be happy to talk more. I am off to TRB on Thursday, but if you want to, drop me a line. I think we may even have a UDOT flexible services contract that we never use, so if you want me to look into that or help provide some review of the work that's been going on, I'd be happy to help. You know us consultants, always looking for someone to work for :)... it must be nice on the other side.

The example that I am passing along is a study that is a demonstration of a corridor review where we used Synchro as a first cut to estimate the impacts and benefits. The impact assessment is better than the benefit assessment, but from UDOT's perspective this may be your primary focus. I will say that we weren't allowed to be very aggressive in this example and we were trying to show limited impacts.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy New Year

A new year and exciting new opportunities with life, work, and making connections. I am trying to be more planful about life and get thing schedule so I can create the sort of role I want. I'd like to make stronger personal connections and not just go through life. I have to be careful not to take a shotgun approach, rather one that is more meaningful.

It seems that without building relationships, you just tread water. There are a lot of people that I would enjoy learning from that requires time commitment on my part to generate that sort of opportunity. Let's see how it goes...