Philosophy, grad school, and a challenge to ‘BRT’
Apologies for the slow posting here lately…grad school has been swallowing an outrageous amount of my time the last couple of weeks. I do have some interesting things in the works though, so I’ll just whet your appetites until they’re ready to fruit before leaving you with some methodological musings.
- My first semester as a geography grad student is finally over! I haven’t picked a thesis topic yet, though I do have a feeling it’s going to have a lot to do with cartography and transportation when it comes. I’ll be TA-ing Human Geography next semester, and using some (formal, advised) independent study time to further develop a bicycle map concept.
- So, about that bike map… after three or four months of teaming with Queen City Bike, they still hadn’t pulled together enough money to make me feel confident that the project was going to happen. $500 in four months is not a great start when I was shooting for $5,000 in the first! I’m currently, slowly looking into grants and doing everything I can to avoid having to do all the fundraising personally. As much as I enjoy talking with each and every one of you and asking for money, I learned from the transit map project that doing that puts too much of the burden of keeping the project alive on me. I’d really like to make this next big map project into something that keeps going for more than a couple printings and if that’s going to happen, I need someone else to seriously invest in it and care about it’s continuing success.
- I’m presenting at the first poster session of the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in DC this January! This is exciting for three reasons: My topic(next bullet), it’s a mostly-free trip to a city, and I’ll get to print my poster at 8’x4′. Yes, that is eight feet by four feet! My poster will be bigger than me which is pretty cool, especially if the resolution on the printer is any good :-)
- My poster topic, and the biggest devourer of my recent time, is a quantitative analysis of total access in several stop-spacing and service frequency scenarios. It’s my intention to prove(or disprove) that people, at least in the short term, would have better ‘access’ if SORTA abandoned their ‘BRT’ plans and simply added service to existing lines and got rid of some low-ridership stops. You’ll hear more about this here when it’s ready.
But I may also blame the slow posting on a rapidly developing understanding of my approach to such problems as the ones I’m trying to address through this blog. My rational side says I need to be positive and empirical, adding nuance and evidence to the general discussion of transit in Cincinnati, but the less rational sides of me want prankishness and a negative reproach to the nonsense I see going on all around me, particularly about ‘the streetcar’. As much as I want to tear down the populist John Schneiders and John Cranleys I want to take the high road and pretend that I might thereby climb high enough to avoid them. But would I then still be able to see the ground to which I must ultimately return for food and shelter? I’m torn. I wonder if a positive approach which strives for intellectual rigor first is more than an acknowledgement that practical political change in Cincinnati is hopeless (in the short term at least) and that my personal prospects lie in a different context with different values. Am I seeking validation from a group of elite critics and experts, popularly ignored, or actually trying to change a system largely run by demagogues and their uninterested employees? Is a synthesis possible?