Harlem subway riders may be fighting a losing battle against rats in their station (via NY1).
New York legislators are proposing installing street cameras to catch city speeders (via NY Times).
More Bronx residents are heading north, rather than south, in the mornings (via Transportation Nation).
Adrian Benepe, called the most ambitious Parks Commissioner since Robert Moses, is stepping down to work for a non-profit (via NY Times).
Some neighbors of the UN building are concerned that nearby bike share stations could be used by terrorists (via Gothamist).
Mobilizing the Region argues for the importance of the MTA’s Capital Program, which funds many of the Authority’s improvement projects.
- Catherine Dwyer
The Walking and the Life of the City symposium was held last Thursday at the Rudin Center. The event put walking back at the center of urban life by presenting research from six transportation scholars on why people walk, its role in urban life, and how walking is likely to change in the future.
The event was led off by journalist Tom Vanderbilt, who gave a keynote about the challenges of walking in America, while showing that even in the suburbs, the need for more walking and better pedestrian infrastructure exists. He set the stage for the research presentations, which presented some of the latest findings on walking in transportation research:
- Kevin Manaugh from McGill University in Montreal described the relationship between walking and socioeconomic status, showing a complex relationship between income and walking, where those at the high end of the spectrum walk when they want to fulfill a personal attitude or desire, but those at the low end walk far more because they have to.
- Dick Ettema, Associate Professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, explored the relationship between walking and personal feelings of well-being, showing the close relationship between walking and quality of life.
- David King, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, presented an argument for refocusing transportation policy and finance on walking, relative to our current focus on other modes such as cars and transit.
- Andrew Mondschein, research fellow at the NYU Rudin Center, described how information and communication technologies (ICTs) may facilitate walking in previously unexplored neighborhoods, while still presenting a potential threat to the quality of our personal cognitive maps that we traditional have relied on to travel.
- Sarah Kaufman, also an NYU Rudin Center research associate, extended the discussion on ICT and walking with a presentation on augmented reality (AR). She showed that AR has already arrived with smartphones, and she discussed the positive and negative potential consequences of augmenting a life on the street with so much new information.
- Robert Schneider, a post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, wrapped the symposium by describing future walking research needs. He described the need for going beyond traditional travel surveys and counting all walking trips, including the ones that often get missed.
Overall, the presentations and the audience’s response showed that walking is a central part of urban life, and that transportation research and policy is just now beginning to catch up to that fact.
Thank you to all the presenters and attendees! The six research presentations, as well as an event summary, will be compiled into an edited book, which will be available later this summer. Please check back for more information, and in the meantime, check out our event photos here, and the Storify summary here.
The event was excellently summarized by The Atlantic Cities here.
Posted by Andrew Mondschein
Welcome to our summer research assistant, Catherine Dwyer! Here’s her first post of the season; we look forward to many more.
An interview with Mitchell Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, was featured in this morning’s AM New York. Moss touched on a number of topics, including plans for congestion pricing, the Second Avenue subway, and the problems with weekend parking in SoHo.
Moss advocated for the widening of narrow and overcrowded downtown sidewalks, noting that New York is a city of pedestrians. Congestion is a problem that affects both walkers and drivers. Street parking, he argued, “impedes the flow of pedestrians and auto traffic,” ultimately contributing to higher congestion levels in busy areas like SoHo. Moss discussed Sam Schwartz’s congestion pricing plan, remarking that raising public concern of the issue was an admirable accomplishment. Moss said, though, that the specifics of his plan would not succeed due to the financial inner-workings of the MTA.
Moss was somewhat critical of the progress made on the Second Avenue subway, explaining that “It’s taken half a century to get from 96th St. to 53rd St. Actually, it’s taken 60 years to go 30 blocks, so it might take 200 years to finish it.” He believes that the difficulty in completing the project comes from the complexity of construction in an established urban environment, as well as difficulty in procuring adequate funds.
A native-born New Yorker, Moss discussed some favored spots around NYC (including Miss Lily’s on Houston Street), as well as the best way to invest yourself in the city. For Moss, “it’s just walking and enjoying the city. There’s always something to discover. There’s no other city that gives people the opportunity to walk like we do.”
The full article can be found here (http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039/urbanite-mitchell-moss-on-sidewalks-subways-and-gentrification-1.3729225) on AM New York’s website.
The presentations at last night’s event, Short Talks, Big Ideas: Transportation at the Tech Frontier, were extremely successful- informative, thought-provoking, and even charming. A range of thinkers, ideas and projects showed the audience new ways to consider the present and future of getting around. Here are some takeaways from the presentations:
When thinking about transportation, consider: what is the purpose of travel? What are the best tools people can use for navigation? Andrew Mondscheim (of NYU Rudin) showed that when people have mobile phones, they walk further from home. Sophia Choi (of NYC DOT) is exploring taxi ride patterns through GPS data, and told us that 13 million taxi trips are taken every month. John Geraci (of faberNovel) explored tools for getting around cities, and what we can expect from future navigation tools, while Elizabeth Paul unveiled MTA‘s plans for a future fare payment system that will one day work in cities across the globe.
Don’t overestimate the power of the grid. Communications infrastructure needs better buildouts and policy revisions to account for the increased data requirements of smartphones, tablets and other devices, according to Anthony Townsend (of NYU Rudin and Institute for the Future).
Disruption can be unifying, as shown by Mark Krawczuk (of WeMakeCoolSh.it) in his L Train Notwork project, in which he connected passengers in the morning rush hour.
Thank the people doing the thankless task of getting us around, reminded Lizzy Showman and Kathleen Fitzgerald (of School of Visual Arts) in their IHeartM15 project, in which they gave seat pillows to M15 drivers.
The future is promising if we maintain the increase of collaboration in city planning, involving communities in transportation decisions and share information between neighbors, noted Frank Hebbert of OpenPlans.
Hopefully all attendees came away with new ideas and insights about the future of transportation. Feel free to leave comments below.
For those of you unable to attend the event, presentations will be posted shortly.
We’ll be doing another Short Talks, Big Ideas event in September; feel free to suggest speakers or themes in the comments section below.
And please join us on May 1 for our next event, Technology and Urban Mobility: Perspectives from the Front Lines. Thanks to City College’s University Transportation Research Center for their sponsorship of both events.
Here are some photos of the event:
Our recent report on super-commuters has struck a chord across the country, making the news in a variety of places:
- Businessweek, Bloomberg, Toronto Globe & Mail and Atlantic Cities, among others, covered the growing trend of longer commutes.
- WNYC’s Transportation Nation featured a map of air commuters to New York City.
- USA Today discussed the number one super-commute corridor, between Tucson and Phoenix.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch featured a law professor who commutes weekly from Chicago to St. Louis.
- The Houston Chronicle saw the report as a call for more transportation options in the region.
This roundup is only some of the coverage shown here. What’s most telling is the broad reach of people affected by this growing trend, and how it affects local economies, commuters’ families, and the shrinking importance of in-office time.
On the average work day, Manhattan’s population increases by nearly 1.5 million people. See the chart below for the top 10 workday population increases in counties across the United States.
This chart is part of our report, “The Dynamic Population of Manhattan,” which analyzes the volume of people flowing in and out of Manhattan during a 24-hour period. Click here for the full report.