Wednesday, December 7, 2016

summary: Distributive justice and equity in transportation

Hi all, the 1st paper of my thesis is now published \o/. You can download it here. If you cannot access the PDF, just let me know and I'll send it to you. Here is a summary of the paper:

Pereira, R. H. M., Schwanen, T., Banister, D. (2017). Distributive justice and equity in transportation. Transport Reviews, 37(2), doi:10.1080/01441647.2016.1257660

What's it about?

As I've mentioned before in the blog, this is a review paper on distributive justice in transportation, particularly focused on transport accessibility and social exclusion. While transport planning has been traditionally concerned with improving the efficiency of transport systems, this paper argues why policy makers and researchers should take issues of equity more seriously and it discusses how justice could be considered in evaluating the distributional aspects of who benefits from transport policies and investments.

In short, the paper:
  • reviews how issues of equity and social exclusion have been covered in the transport and mobilities literatures 
  • 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 
  • proposes a distributive justice framework for policy evaluation, with a focus on transport accessibility and social exclusion

Core ideas of the paper

In the final part of the paper, we build a dialogue between Rawls’ egalitarianism and the Capabilities Approach to 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 the distributional effects of transport policies should take account of the setting of minimum standards of accessibility to key destinations and the extent to which these policies respect individuals’ rights and prioritise 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.

As you will have noticed, there are five key points developed in the paper. I should try to unpacked them in another post in the future.
  1. Accessibility as a human capability
  2. Minimum standards of accessibility to key destinations 
  3. Respect for individuals’ rights 
  4. Prioritization of disadvantaged groups and reduction of inequalities of opportunities
  5. Mitigation of transport externalities

Practical implications

For now, I close this post with some of the practical implications of the ideas proposed in the paper:

  • "Some of the practical implications of this perspective can be illustrated with issues that commonly arise in cities with investments in public transport (e.g. metro and bus rapid transit developments) and cycling/walking. These types of investments can be good ways to prioritise transport modes which are more widely used by low-income classes. To be considered fair, however, these investments should not override the social rights of families threatened with eviction due to the infrastructure projects. The distributional effects of such investments should be evaluated in terms of the extent to which they reduce inequalities in transport accessibility, particularly by improving the accessibility levels of low-income public transport-dependent groups to key destinations such as employment opportunities, healthcare, and education services. According to this approach, the design of those transport projects (including the design of vehicles, stations, cycle paths, etc.) must be inclusive towards social groups such as the elderly and disabled in order to minimise the impact that non-chosen disadvantages have on people’s capacity to access activities. Moreover, this perspective also calls for complementary policies that discourage car use (e.g. congestion/parking charge and fuel tax) in highly congested and polluted areas to mitigate the negative externalities imposed by drivers on everyone else, particularly on vulnerable populations" p.15-16
I will be glad if some of you have read this far without falling asleep. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mapped history of population expansion in the US

Great data visualization created by Nathan Yau using R and NHGIS data. Nathan's website Flowing Data is one of my all time favorite websites and I strongly recommend you check it out.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Brasilia, 32 years of urban expansion

Google Earth Engine has released new data for their project Timelapse, which combines over 5 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades and allows for a zoomable video of land transformations at a global scale. You can play around  procrastinate  on their website zooming in different areas. I find Dubai and Las Vegas particularly interesting. There is a good playlist on Youtube!

This is the timelapse of Brasilia (Federal District), my hometown. During this period between 1984 and 2016, the population of Brasilia went from approx. 1.2 million to 2.9 million. The video shows some very interesting transformations including the expansion of poor settlements largely undeserved by urban infra-structure in the south and southwest of the city, but also some illegal occupations of protected areas by middle- and high-income gated communities in the east and north-east parts of the city.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Social Dilemma of Driverless Cars

Iyad Rahwan presents in a TEDx his recently published paper on the the social dilemma of driverless cars (arXiv version here). HT Cesar Hidalgo.

You should try out the Moral Machine

Related link

Monday, November 28, 2016

Japan fact of the day

You know that 30-metre sinkhole on a road in Japan? It was fixed in just a couple of days.

UPDATE: November 28th, Japan's giant sinkhole is sinking again just a month after it had been repaired.

image credit: AP , The Guardian

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cycling infrastructure and gender

A few days ago, I share a paper by Roger Beecham (Twitter) exploring gendered cycling behaviors in London. The paper brings a very interesting descriptive analysis of over 10 million journeys made by members of London's Cycle Hire Scheme.

A recent study by Rachel Aldred (Twitter) and colleagues sheds some more light on this debate with a review paper on how infrastructure preferences vary by gender and by age.

In this paper, we represent a systematic review of stated preference studies examining the extent to which cycle infrastructure preferences vary by gender and by age. A search of online, English-language academic and policy literature was followed by a three-stage screening process to identify relevant studies. We found 54 studies that investigated whether preferences for cycle infrastructure varied by gender and/or by age. Forty-four of these studies considered the extent of separation from motor traffic. The remainder of the studies covered diverse topics, including preferred winter maintenance methods and attitudes to cycle track lighting. We found that women reported stronger preferences than men for greater separation from motor traffic. There was weaker evidence of stronger preferences among older people. Differences in preferences were quantitative rather than qualitative; that is, preferences for separated infrastructure were stronger in some groups than in others, but no group preferred integration with motor traffic. Thus, in low-cycling countries seeking to increase cycling, this evidence suggests focusing on the stronger preferences of under-represented groups as a necessary element of universal design for cycling.

Urban Picture

Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), 2014

Friday, November 25, 2016

Carmageddon and Jamzilla in Los Angeles

I have already posted in the blog about the The Black Hole Theory of Highway Investment. For this matter, LA's 405 freeway is quite an iconic case as it has been the stage of 'Carmageddons' and 'Jamzillas' over the years.

Happy thanksgiving to our friends in LA.

Related links:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Age of Data

BBC Four has a produced a fascinating documentary on The Joy of Data, presented by the great Hannah Fry (Twitter).