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A recent study by MIT and UC Berkely using anonymous cell phone data and gps have determined that it is just 15 areas in the Boston metro area (out of 750 tracked by the census) are causing almost all of the traffic jams in Boston.
What they found, perhaps surprisingly, is that during rush hour, 98 percent of roads in the Boston area were in fact below traffic capacity, while just 2 percent of roads had more cars on them than they could handle. These congested roads included short stretches of I-495 southbound and Route 128 southbound, a number of downtown streets, and a wide scattering of suburban arteries, such as Bridge Street in Lowell (southbound) and Water Street in Haverhill (northbound). Each of these roads has what the engineers term a high degree of “betweenness”—that is, they’re essential for connecting one part of the metropolitan area to the others.
The backups on these roads ripple outward, causing traffic to snarl across the Hub. Marta Gonzalez of MIT, one of the lead engineers on the study, explains the effect this way. “The analogy we make is of your circulatory system,” she says. “When you have one artery that is blocked, it will affect your entire circulation.”
By tracking the cell records, they found that it’s just a small number of drivers from a small number of neighborhoods who are responsible for tying up the key roads. Specifically, they identified 15 census tracts (out of the 750 in Greater Boston) located in Everett, Marlborough, Lawrence, Lowell, and Waltham as the heart of the problem, because drivers from those areas make particularly intensive use of the problematic roads in the system.(via)
What this says to me is that, if we could connect these areas to decent public transportation and cycling options we could eliminate large amounts of traffic in this town. By working smarter, not harder, we could burst the bubble of traffic with laser guided improvements to our infrastructure.
The study demonstrated that “canceling or delaying the trips of 1 percent of all drivers across a road network would reduce delays caused by congestion by only about 3 percent,” MIT wrote. ” But canceling the trips of 1 percent of drivers from carefully selected neighborhoods would reduce the extra travel time for all other drivers in a metropolitan area by as much as 18 percent.”
The effectiveness of this “selective strategy” is attributed in the study to the facts that “only [a] few road segments are congested” and that these road segments are clogged by people originating largely from only a few areas. Even though data was anonymous, researchers were able to infer drivers’ home neighborhoods “from the regularity of the route traveled and from the locations of cell towers that handled calls made between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m,” UC-Berkeley said.(via)
If we can get drivers in these targeted areas to bus/train/cycle to work, we could dramatically reduce traffic in the rest of the town. Combined with some sort of congestion tax to keep otherwise non-car drivers from filling in the empty space made by the reduction of traffic, and using the money from that and a re-organized tax system to fund improvements in public transportation infrastructure, we could be living in a very pleasant city devoid of most single occupancy car drivers.
Tags: cars, MIT, science, traffic
Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 6 Comments »
I reported the sad news that several months ago a MIT student was fatality struck by a truck, the report about the incident was released today.
The investigation into the Dec. 27, 2011 death of Phyo Kyaw ’10 is complete, and it has been ruled an accident. Kyaw was killed when his bicycle and a J. P. Noonan tanker truck collided as the truck turned right from Massachusetts Avenue onto Vassar Street in rainy weather after dark that evening.
“We found that there is insufficient evidence to support negligence on the part of the driver,” said Jessica Venezia Pastore, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Pastore responded to a routine inquiry from The Tech about this matter on Friday. Pastore said the investigation had closed on April 8. Police reports on the accident were not available prior to that closure.
The Massachusetts State Police performed a collision reconstruction, and their 16-page reconstruction report, dated March 21, is available online at http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N26/kyaw.(full article here)
The article is pretty good, and worth a read. As a blogger you wish you could say something at the end of a post like this, something hopeful or uplifting but the sad truth is this was a senseless tragedy, and nothing will make it better. My best wishes go out to Kyaw’s family, and friends.
Tags: MIT, phyo kyaw
Posted in news | 10 Comments »
So my first impression was…what? Then I was sorta, hmmm. Now I am kinda What? Hmmm….
I am not really sure how I feel about MIT’s new Copenhagen Wheel part of me is really excited about how this could bring more people into cycling, but another part of me is kind of turned off by all the gizmo’s and wizbangs. One of the reasons why I cycle is because it is simple. This is very complicated but wrapped up in a simple shell. If it all works like they say it might be a great way to get people who would otherwise not cycle (because they are lazy, or not physically fit enough) cycling. It also allows you to collect all sorts of environmental data about the routes you cycle.
The best part of the site in my opinion is the kinds of things cities could use all this data for:
A BIGGER CONTRIBUTION
You can also make a bigger contribution through your daily commute. And share your data, anonymously, with your city. When many cyclists donate the information their wheel is collecting, your city gains access to a new scale of fine-grained environmental information. Through this, your city can: Cross analyze different types of environmental data on a scale that has never before been achieved before. Build a more detailed understanding of the impact of transportation, on a city infrastructure Or study dynamic phenomena like urban heat islands. Ultimately, this type of crowd sourcing can influence how your city allocates its resources, how it responds to environmental conditions in real-time or how it structures and implements environmental and transportation policies.
Here is there press release and quotes from their website:
MIT’S BIG WHEEL IN COPENHAGEN
New bicycle wheel not only boosts power using Formula One inspired technology, but also can keep track of fitness, friends, smog and traffic – helping Copenhagen become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025 It looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center. But packed inside the sleek, bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions.
The Copenhagen Wheel, designed by researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, will be presented at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change on December 15, 2009 before heads of state and mayors form all over the world. It can store energy every time the rider brakes and then give that power back to provide a boost when going uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic. “The wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years.
When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so that you can have it back to you when you need it.” – explains professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “The bike wheel contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of en eye. In a sense, you drive by foot: when you pedal forward the motor supplements your torque; when you pedal backwards to brake, the motor starts regenerating electric energy while reducing your speed.”
The first goal of the Copenhagen Wheel is to promote cycling by extending the range of distance people can cover and by making the whole riding experience smoother so that even steep up-hills are not longer a barrier to comfortable cycling. Accordig to Ritt Bjerregaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, “our city’s ambition is that 50% of the citizens will take their bike to work or school every day. So for us, this project is part of the answer to how can we make using a bike even more attractive.”
But there are also a variety of extra functions hidden within the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel. By using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the user’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle’s speed, direction and distance traveled, as well as collect data on air pollution and even the proximity of the rider’s friends. “One of the applications that we have discussed with the City of Copenhagen is that of an incentive scheme whereby citizens collect Green Miles – something similar to frequent flyer miles, but good for the environment,” comments Christine Outram, who led the team of researchers at MIT.
The project aims to create a platform for individual behavioral change. “The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend: that of inserting intelligence in our everyday objects and of creating a smart support infrastructure around ourselves for everyday life,” comments Assaf Biderman, Associate Director of the Senseable City Lab. “The Wheel also has a smart lock: if somebody tries to steal it, it goes into a mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power, and sends you a text message. So in the worst case scenario the thief will have charged your batteries before you get back your bike.” The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were developed along with company Ducati Energia and the Italian Ministry of the Environment. It is expected that the wheel will go into production next year, with a tag price competitive with that of a standard electric bike. According to Claus Juhl, CEO of Copenhagen, the city might place the first order and use bicycles retrofitted with the Copenhagen Wheel as a substitution for city employee cars as part of the city’s goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.
The Copenhagen Wheel team at MIT is composed of Christine Outram, Project Leader, Rex Britter, Andrea Cassi, Xiaoji Chen, Jennifer Dunnam, Paula Echeverri, Myshkin Ingawale, Ari Kardasis, E Roon Kang, Sey Min, Assaf Biderman and Carlo Ratti. The project was developed for the City of Copenhagen in cooperation with Ducati Energia and with the support of the Italian Ministry for the Environment.
Patti Richards Director, Media Relations MIT News Office Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 11-400
Cambridge, MA 02139
QUOTES BY PROFESSOR CARLO RATTI,
DIRECTOR SENSEABLE CITY LAB
- “It uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has revolutionized
Formula One racing over the past couple of years. When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated
by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so you can get it back
when you need it.”
- “The Wheel is a self contained unit. It can be plugged into any bike without requiring additional
electronics or wires. It is fully controlled by your feet: when you pedal forward, the motor supplements
your torque; when you pedal backwards to brake, the motor starts regenerating electric energy while
reducing your speed.”
- “Over the past few years we have seen a kind of ‘biking renaissance,’ which started in Copenhagen
and is now transforming the urban experience in many cities from Paris to Barcelona or Montreal.
We could also call it a ‘Biking 2.0′ revolution, whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes
and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system.”
- “The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were expensive, but after production streamlining,
we calculate that the price will be competitive with that of a standard electric bike.”
- “The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend of inserting intelligence into our everyday
objects to create a smart, supporting infrastructure around ourselves.”
QUOTES BY ASSAF BIDERMAN,
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE SENSSEABLE CITY LAB
- “Our goal with the Copenhagen Wheel is to promote cycling by expanding the range of distance
people can cover and by making the riding experience smoother. When long distance and steep hills
are no longer barriers to comfortable cycling, many cities can become more bicycle-friendly.
- “The bike wheel is an extension of your personal mobile device.
Controlled through your smart phone, the wheel recognizes you as you approach. While you ride, you
can switch gears and motor modes using your phone, and receive real-time alerts automatically”.
- “The Wheel also has a smart security system: if someone rides away with it, the Wheel goes into a
mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power and sends you a text message
with its location. So in the worst case, the thief will have fully charged your batteries before you get
back your bike.”
- “As bikers collect and share air quality data, cycling becomes more than a clean mode of transport. It
opens yet another door for citizens to participate in governance and in the maintenance of public
- “Bicycles are very efficient machines. Rather than reinventing them, we’re introducing a simple
technological enhancement that allows any bike to become a smart and responsive hybrid”
QUOTES BY CHRISTINE OUTRAM,
COPENHAGEN WHEEL PROJECT LEADER
- “One of the applications we developed for the city is a Green Mile program, which is similar to a
frequent flyer program, but good for the environment.”
- “It opens the door for individuals to participate in plans to reduce emissions, such as carbon cap and
trade, which have so far been offered mostly to large organizations.”
QUOTES BY CORRADO CLINI,
COPENHAGEN WHEEL PROJECT
- “In 2009, The Italian Ministry for the Environment put aside 12 million euros for supporting the
dissemination of cycling in cities. The Copenhagen Wheel fits with our vision and represents an
exciting step towards sustainable urban transportation.”
Here are some images of it in action. Sleek looking design, but I worry about the spokes…they look a bit…fragile.
Tags: Copenhagen wheel, e-bike, MIT, science, technology
Posted in Mechanical, news, video | 9 Comments »
Everybody loves it when something has a #.0 after it right? And 3.0 is better than 2.0, so by my unbeatable logic you should go to this.
Bike-Sharing 3.0 – The future of urban shared transport systems
December 7, 2009 5:30pm-7:30pm
A discussion of the past, present and future of shared-transport systems using Paris Velib as a model.
Matthieu Fierling- Velib, the Paris bike-sharing project
Robin Chase-Founder of ZipCar and GoLoco
Nicole Freedman- Director of Bicycle Programs, City of Boston
Carlo Ratti- Director, SenseableCity Lab, MIT
Chris Zegras- Assistant Professor,
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Ryan Chin-PhD Candidate, MIT Media Lab, Smart Cities group
32-123 (click for map), Kirsch Auditorium, Stata
Center for International Studies, MISTI, SA&P, The Cultural Services of the French Consulate in Boston
Open to public
Tags: 3.0, Bike Sharing, MIT, talk
Posted in advocacy, education, fun, infrastructure | No Comments »
This looks really interesting and who knows, those smart kids over at MIT might make another awesome invention that changes the world!
We are team of MIT students in 2009 Product Engineering Processes and are working on a design project related to helping people during cycling accidents. This survey should take 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will be very helpful to us in developing our design. All answers will be kept confidential. Thank you very much for your participation.
Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] with any questions/comments/suggestions/concerns.
Tags: bike safety, crash, helmets, MIT, survey
Posted in advocacy | 2 Comments »