Mobility Matters Daily #406 - Estimation and School Transport
Good day my good friend.
Last week, someone at Mobility Camp said that in order to create this newsletter, I must have a highly professional setup. Here is my secret. At the moment, I have two small dogs fighting at my feet, two budgies screaming at the top of their lungs, and to help me concentrate I am listening to Slipknot (warning: listening to this will change your opinion of me). Professional indeed.
If you have any suggestions for interesting news items or bits of research to include in this newsletter, you can email me.
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The challenges of estimation, and their implications
Last week, a very good report was issued by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) on refining their estimates for traffic on minor roads. Estimation is part art, part science, part (educated) guesswork, and reviews into the baseline methodology such as this are essential for improving practice and the reliability of published datasets. Particularly for critical information such as estimates of road traffic. But as with many things, this report prompted arguments.
In summary, those against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) have latched onto the data saying how it disproves the case for LTNs. Firstly, it doesn’t. The case for LTNs depends on local circumstances, and should use local data collection to demonstrate the case. I would not trust any authority using DfT estimates to make the case for such schemes. Secondly, it also means the benefits of road capacity enhancements that benefit roads are also over-estimated. Understand what the data and changes to the method mean first, before deciding on whether it helps your cause.
School transport: the thorny issue we don’t talk about enough
Here in the UK, we spend a lot on home to school transport. As in over £1 billion a year of public money on it. Its a statutory duty on local councils to provide free home to school transport for eligible students. The average Brit takes 50 trips a year for education purposes. Yet it is an inherently complex problem, mixing in the choices of parents, the preferences of children and their sense of independence at different life stages, school catchments, and types of school.
The last point there really is not understood well at all. A recent study from Australia concludes that private schools disproportionately add to peak hour congestion as kids are more likely to be driven to school. This builds on previous work in Venezuela that links being driven to school to key socio-economic characteristics. With over 600,000 school children attending private school in the UK, and many millions more worldwide, this feels like a big slice of an unknown pie.
These links are meant to make you think about the things that affect our world in transport, and not just think about transport itself. I hope that you enjoy them.
Revitalizing a Tribal Economy through Cultural Connection (The Daily Yonder)
Delivery drone crashes into power lines, causes outage (Daily Register)
Landlords of the Internet: Big Data and Big Real Estate (Daniel Greene)
Something incredibly interesting is going on in agriculture, and that could have big implications for transport. Whilst the land area used for agriculture has gone down, production is up. More with less. Densification, rural style.
If you do nothing else today, then do this
Check out this Reddit thread on the new Highway Code and people’s experiences of it. A lot is said about people’s anxiety about the new rules, and how differently they will act depending on if they are a driver or pedestrian. There is a LOT of food for thought, and more valuable discussion than any Twitter thread.