Bike battles by James Longhurst

In a recent post about telegraph delivery boys, I noted that their employers were reluctant to take responsibility for collisions between them and pedestrians.  This, and many other points about the history of cycling on the roadways of the United States are related in "Bike battles" by James Longhurst of the University of Wisconsin.

Smart lights reduce congestion in Pittsburgh

An item in IEEE Spectrum by Prachi Patel notes the development of a smart traffic system in Pittsburgh.  Called Surtrac, the system developed by CMU professor Stephen Smith uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to adapt traffic signals to current conditions.

Prof. Smith's research suggests that Surtrac has reduced trip times 25 percent and idling times by over 40 percent, a significant difference.

Traffic inefficiencies and technological change

Technology is often linked to efficiency. As in, technology change or technological progress equals greater efficiency. In our courses we try to break students of that assumption, and consider cases where greater efficiency may be harmful or anti-progressive. One of our favourites is Jevon's Paradox, in which an improvement in efficiency can paradoxically lead to an increase in consumption of the resource.

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