I’ve taken a few days to reflect upon my experiences at the recent ITE/CITE 2017 conference in Toronto. While I’ve been to several CITE conferences in the past, this is the first time I’ve attended the international edition of the ITE. As always, it was a great opportunity to catch up with old colleagues and make new connections with other transportation professionals from around the world.
I wanted to share a few of my takeaways and impressions from this year’s conference while it’s fresh in my mind. Please keep in mind that my impressions may not necessarily coincide with my opinions on subject matter. Continue reading
Recently, I had the opportunity to have a call with an old acquaintance of mine, serial entrepreneur Dan Martell. Aside from personal pleasantries, he made me critically think about ideas for my industry… and ask questions internally… and… that’s a good thing! Big picture thinking is something many of us need to improve on.
I’d like to personally commend the ITE’s leadership in discussing the future of trip generation data and encouragement to gathering urban trip person data moving forward. I hope this is a fruitful endeavour and I hope that the ITE doesn’t lose sight of other technological opportunities during this process, such as the TripChain project.
This article is a response to the ITE Statement on the Future Direction of Trip Generation and Advances in Urban Trip Generation articles presented in the recent ITE Journal, July 2016, p. 16-19. More specifically, this response is to the “Steps Forward” section of the latter article and discusses how the TripChain project is positioned to contribute to accomplishing those steps forward in the industry.
I’m pleased to announce a project I have been working on called TripChain. TripChain is an open-source framework used for the derivation of trip generation rates for application in transportation planning and analysis.
Like many of us, I’ve worked with ITE trip generation rates throughout my career and at times questioned their relevancy in the context sensitive to a specific land use development. The ITE rates are a “tried and true” source of data, however they are not always the most applicable without additional data and/or local adjustment to best plan for transportation infrastructure. This is important both to transportation network planning and ensuring that development charges are appropriately levied.
Being an advocate of big data and open data, I believe these approaches are the best means to provide insight into real world situations. When a larger community is engaged to contribute more data, more easily, everyone wins – especially when that data can be easily shared in a manner that also ensures its integrity.
When I walk or ride my bike to work each day, I don’t typically think about this action’s relationship to my health. To me, it is an enjoyable part of my day and a utilitarian activity I need to perform in order to get from A to B. In my blissful ignorance, I don’t always consider how choosing active transportation is impacting my health, nor how my surrounding environment entices me to choose active transportation as my means of travel.
Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer as an independent panelist at the AGM of a major Ontario political party on the subject of Active Transportation and Health alongside their transportation critic and a registered nurse. It also allowed me to interact with the public to hear their questions and concerns regarding the topic. Both the preparation and the experience had the effect of making me further consider my role as a transportation engineer. Continue reading
In recent years, much ado has been given to the concept of proportional representation (PR) as it relates to governments and political parties, more specifically here in Canada at the federal and provincial levels. Canada currently has a “first-past-the-post” electoral system in which the candidate with the greatest number of votes in a geographical riding is elected. The purported problem with this type of system is that there can be a discrepancy between the popular vote and the number of party members elected. On the other hand, PR is a means to remedy this issue and better align popular vote with the number of party members elected (e.g. if 30% popular vote cast for a party, 30% of elected members will come from that party). This inherently assumes political parties are a good thing.
One of my own personal contentions with the current political system is party politics. In fact, party politics appear to dominate democratic systems worldwide. But have you ever asked yourself whether this is a good idea and why this is the status quo? While there are legitimate philosophical discussions about the necessity and form of government in any context, today I’m more focused on “band aid” solutions within our current system. Let’s treat this as an intellectual exercise, open for discussion. Admittedly, I’ll be working here with generalities and blanket statements, so please take them with a grain of salt. Continue reading
Transportation modelling software is a handy tool with respect to transportation planning. Admittedly, any practitioner needs to be careful that models are applied properly, based on good data and reasonable assumptions. As the old adage goes – garbage in, garbage out – if one fails to apply models properly. Are models perfect? Of course not, but they are still beneficial to the planning process.
Over the past several decades, transportation models have evolved tremendously from pen-and-paper plots and computer mainframe processing to microsimulation models with car-following algorithms on multiple processor computers. So to have the uses for transportation models evolved over time. Continue reading
Have you ever simply seen some new information and passed it along without giving it a second thought? I’ve been guilty – whether through work, your personal life, or social media. I’d wager that most of us are similar and don’t take the time to consider new information in our minds through our own “mental anti-virus” program before propagating it back into the world.
Why do we do this? Much of the time, we are busy people or simply just lazy. We don’t wish to spend the time to consider whether every piece of information we come across is true or not. Typically, this is not a big deal, since the vast majority of the information that passes us by each day is simply a potential input to our minds without necessarily outputting it back to others. While in many cases this is a huge time saver, it can also be the root cause of propagating bad information. Continue reading
When I lived in Calgary, Alberta, I fell in love with Stephen Avenue in the downtown. This dedicated pedestrian street was a great place for a walk at lunchtime – the people, the sights, the sounds – it was always one of my favourite places to be, especially during summertime and Stampede.
In 2009, I moved to London, Ontario and I looked for pedestrian spaces (similar to Stephen Avenue in Calgary) to spend time, but alas, none appeared to exist. Walking around downtown here, you quickly realize that there are several nice pedestrian spaces – such as around the Covent Garden Market, the Forks of the Thames, Victoria Park, and even Richmond Row, however these spaces aren’t always connected in an easy, walkable way. We need better spaces in London to entice people to spend more time in the core, primarily along Dundas Street. Continue reading
When I was a teen, I visited the City of Saskatoon’s traffic operations centre. Admittedly, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I recall a centralized control board visualizing the status of most of the traffic signals in the city. I also recall some complaint about “fault” conditions and “communication issues” with this centralized system. While impressive at the time, transportation technology has come a long way since the mid-1990s.
For the past decade, I have worked as a transportation engineer and conducted both planning and operational analyses. One of the biggest challenges to performing this type of work is acquiring relevant and sufficient field data – household activity surveys, vehicle turning movement counts, travel time surveys, etc. can become costly endeavours in many circumstances. Continue reading