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Lean Urbanism

I never do this, but…after watching this video for the fourth or fifth time over the last year, I feel the need to simply ‘share’ it, with relatively little comment. Take an hour out of your day to give it a proper listen, especially if you’re a planner or you’re otherwise working in government. If you’re a ‘millenial’ like me, a group fully disjoint with the previous one, watch it with caution; it has helped to bend my frustration past the point from which it might spring back.

There’s not much to the visual, so you can really just listen without watching if you like.

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Posted in: Personal
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Car Wars: Return of the Gentry

Star Wars is not a story of a war between stars but a war about them. Stars set the scale of the series, it’s characters travelling in great loops about their massive references, always thinking on the scale of planets and moons and whole races of people. As the scale of their epic battle dictates the scale of their thoughts and attacks, so cars set the scale of our struggle today. Our American lives orbit these machines.

At the height of the battle we see our powerful protagonists, the rich, on the edge of a knife splitting between dark and light, seclusion or civilization. The tide is turning, and the rebel alliance may gain the upper hand…

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Posted in: Aphorism | Silly Bullshit
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Delay Variance Through Time

Just some preliminary results from my first attempt to archive real-time bus data, these from the Champaign-Urbana ‘Mass Transit’ District:

Animated Delay Variance

This is a look at variance in the distribution of delayed buses throughout the day. It’s only looking at off-schedule buses right now so we aren’t seeing any change in the proportion of precisely on-time buses (if there is any such change). The little clock in the top right is the time of day the event was recorded, and right below that is the number of events used to ascertain the momentary distribution. For now, this sample size is as much a reflection of when I was running my computer as it is of schedule frequency.

I assumed that the first and last percentiles of the overall distribution were outliers and clipped them off.

I don’t actually see much going on here except random fluctuation, but I suspect this will get much more interesting with larger samples and many more and more diverse agencies included. I’m actually quite eager to see what that turns up! Right now, I’m working on developing a tool to query APIs from the Toronto Transit Commission and Philly’s SEPTA. Unfortunately, because neither Cincinnati transit agency is willing to share their data, which they’ve been collecting and using for years, it will be impossible to include them in this sort of analysis.

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Posted in: Data
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Bike Map locations

So far I know for a fact that bike maps have been dropped off in the following locations, though I’m certain there are others:

I’ll keep adding to this list as I carry maps out the door. Check back! And as I said before, I’m happy to send a couple in the post if I haven’t made it to your neighborhood yet. Or even if you’re out of town. Just send me an email with your address.

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Posted in: Events
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Gratuitous lists

In response to a gratuitous question posed by a potential flatterer, I respond drunkenly:

“What needs fixed in Cincinnati? What would you change? Give me a bulleted list of projects. Things a person might actually do. Transportation related. And do it by tomorrow.” (I paraphrase)

…so susceptible an ego.

I write these things for you too, my readers, because I think an honest word is worth at least four silences — and because of point two: treat people like they’re capable of an adult conversation and perhaps they will be. Whether you care to surpass my bombast or surcease it, I’ll see all comers to the debate.

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Posted in: Personal | Plans
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Why the buses just stop

A friend of mine just emailed with a very good question: Why do the buses just stop sometimes, with no one getting on or off, no traffic jam, etc, and no clear reason why they  aren’t running?

The Answer:
The buses here operate on a fixed schedule, with a set time for each and every stop. Planners try to adjust these times to accommodate varying traffic conditions like rush hours and other factors. Obviously, they can’t do this perfectly, and sometimes buses tend to run late, ie slower than the schedule says they ought to. Just as often, they should tend to get early. This can happen if traffic is particularly light, there aren’t as many passengers as usual, or maybe the bus just hits a string of green lights. When that happens, the driver tries to stay on-schedule by driving more slowly, or sometimes stopping completely. When they do stop completely, they’ll often take the opportunity to read a couple pages of their magazine, send a text, take a bite of lunch, etc.

To someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, it probably looks like the driver is behaving quite capriciously. Many systems make announcements explaining any longer-than-usual waits, but I’ll speculate that SORTA and TANK don’t do this because they’re not seriously trying to attract or retain new passengers. They see themselves as serving a relatively captive and stable audience who has already spent a lot of time learning the system’s quirks. This also explains their complete inattention to providing easy-to-understand overviews of the system in favour of obtuse and overly detailed maps and schedules.

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Posted in: Back to Basics
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