Saturday, October 29, 2016

Distributive justice and equity in transportation

Good news! The 1st paper of my thesis has finally been accepted for publication \o/

 This is the first theoretical paper I've dared to write and I can promise this is a good read for those of us with insomnia issuesIt is a literature review on distributive justice and equity in transportation policies, particularly focused on transport accessibility and social exclusion. The paper provides the general theoretical framework of the dissertation.

The paper should be published early next year as part of a special issue on transportation equity in the journal Transport Reviews. In case you are interested  or have sleeping problems , you can find the final manuscript accepted by the editors here. If you want to access the published version, just drop me an email.

Pereira, R. H. M., Schwanen, T., & Banister, D. (2016). Distributive justice and equity in transportation. Transport Reviews, 0(0), 1–22. doi:10.1080/01441647.2016.1257660

Over the past decades, transport researchers and policymakers have devoted increasing attention to questions about justice and equity. Nonetheless, there is still little engagement with theories in political philosophy to frame what justice means in the context of transport policies. This paper reviews five key theories of justice (utilitarianism, libertarianism, intuitionism, Rawls’ egalitarianism, and Capability Approaches), and critically evaluates the insights they generate when applied to transport. Based on a dialogue between Rawlsian and Capability Approaches, we propose that distributive justice concerns over transport disadvantage and social exclusion should focus primarily on accessibility as a human capability. This means that, in policy evaluation, a detailed analysis of distributional effects of transport policies should consider minimum standards of accessibility to key destinations and the extent of which these policies respect individuals’ rights and prioritize disadvantaged groups, reduce inequalities of opportunities and mitigate transport externalities. A full account of justice in transportation requires a more complete understanding of accessibility than traditional approaches have been able to deliver to date.

* From paper submission (Feb 2015) to acceptance letter (Oct 2016), the whole process took 1 year and 8 months with a couple of iterations with three reviewers who were really generous with their time and detailed comments. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The impact of public transport on traffic congestion

"... we find that average highway delay increases 47 percent when transit service ceases."

This is from a 2014 paper by Michael Anderson (Berkeley), analyzing the impacts of public transport on traffic congestion in Los Angeles. An ungated working-paper version is available here.  Via Renato Vieira.

Anderson, Michael L.. 2014. "Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion." American Economic Review, 104(9): 2763-96.

Public transit accounts for 1 percent of U.S. passenger miles traveled but attracts strong public support. Using a simple choice model, we predict that transit riders are likely to be individuals who commute along routes with severe roadway delays. These individuals' choices thus have high marginal impacts on congestion. We test this prediction with data from a strike in 2003 by Los Angeles transit workers. Estimating a regression discontinuity design, we find that average highway delay increases 47 percent when transit service ceases. We find that the net benefits of transit systems appear to be much larger than previously believed.

Despite this really interesting finding, I just would like to note that the main purpose of public transport is not to reduce congestion, as many politicians and the general media like to think. The purpose of public transport  is to help people to access activities and opportunities. Although this might sound a subtle difference for some people, this difference has serious implications for how one should plan and evaluate transport policies.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Urban Picture

Chicago towers over lake Michigan
by Nick Ulivieri (2016)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

PhD feelings

This is how doing a PhD feels like. I'm the clumsy flying fish

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Quote of the Day: Bureaucracy

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Visualizing the space-time geography of flow data

Till Nagel and Christopher Pietsch have created an art installation that allows one to visualize and compare the spaces of flow created by bike-sharing systems in New York City, Berlin, and London. The name of the project is city flow, a comparative visualization environment of urban bike mobility. They have recently published a paper (co-authored with Marian Dörk) with more technical information about their project.

These guys are doing a fabulous work with design, and I believe they're really pushing the boundary of data visualization in urban and transport studies with new tools to visualize the space-time geography of flow data. 

Take a look at how easy it gets to explore trajectories of cyclists in space and time with their tool.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cycle infrastructure is democracy in motion

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Social Fabric of Cities

Vinicus Netto (Twitter) has published a new book called 'The Social Fabric of Cities' (contents and introduction available here. There is also a website of the book). This one is going straight to my reading pile and I'm sure it will be of interest for all the 100 million readers of this blog. Here are the foreword by Mike Batty and a description of the book.


"Linking the physical to the social city is the challenge of our times. This is one of the first attempts to systematically do so, and Netto brilliantly succeeds in showing how encounters, segregation, movement and interaction are reflected in our understanding of the form and function of the city." (Michael Batty, CASA, UCL)

Book description:

Bringing together ideas from the fields of sociology, economics, human geography, ethics, political and communications theory, this book deals with some key subjects in urban design: the multidimensional effects of the spatial form of cities, ways of appropriating urban space, and the different material factors involved in the emergence of social life. It puts forward an innovative conceptual framework to reconsider some fundamental features of city-making as a social process: the place of cities in encounters and communications, in the randomness of events and in the repetition of activities that characterise societies. In doing so, it provides fresh analytical tools and theoretical insights to help advance our understanding of the networks of causalities, contingencies and contexts involved in practices of city-making. 
In a systematic attempt to bring urban analysis and research from the social sciences together, the book is organised around three vital yet relatively neglected dimensions in the social and material shaping of cities: (i) Cities as systems of encounter: an approach to urban segregation as segregated networks; (ii) Cities as systems of communication: a view of shared spaces as a means to association and social experience; (iii) Cities as systems of material interaction: explorations on urban form as an effect of interactivity, and interactivity as an effect of form.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Urban Picture

Times Square, NYC, 1903
credit: ?


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Inequalities, cities, big data, transport and health

These are the core issues covered in five special issues of top journals this year, what I think reflects how these topics and particularly cities and social inequality have gained strong momentum in recent years.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Quote of the Day: progress

Sean Illing: What would you consider the most dangerous idea in human history?

Tyler Cowen: The idea of progress. ... Well, we're all for progress. It's easy to say the most dangerous idea is evil or racism or genocide or murder, but those ideas tend to persist only when they're packaged with some notion of progress. Progress, for all of its good, brings us new technologies and threats against which we can't deter, environmental problems, biodiversity loss, and so on. That we cannot avoid believing in progress may also prove to be our undoing.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

How Brazil compares to other countries in terms of area, population and human development

These maps were made by Roberto Rocco with data from 2008.



Human Development Index (HDI)