Hi

I’ve been meaning to do an official introduction, but then had content posts to write. So here goes: I have just obtained a Ph.D. in pure mathematics from Columbia, and will move to Providence sometime this summer. My research has nothing to do with transit or other social or political issues, but living in New York I gradually picked up an interest in transit. I’ve always been interested in walkable cities, and fell in love with the Manhattan grid even as a tourist.

Although I have a pedestrian perspective, in practice most of what I write about is technical transit issues. I don’t intend for this blog to be the Systemic Failure or Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog of the Northeast, but I do share their perspective and analysis. It does not mean supporting a technocracy, but it does mean looking skeptically at projects and future plans.

For many years, even before my previous blog, I was skeptical of American exceptionalism, and often looked abroad for guidance. This is true for transit, too. Discovering how much higher American construction costs are than European ones was one of the forces galvanizing my distrust of American agencies; if they build subways for so much more than peer cities, then why take their studies at their word?

Before living in New York, I lived in Tel Aviv and Singapore. Singapore is transit-oriented, but for pedestrians it’s cul-de-sac hell. Tel Aviv is partly walkable, but the haphazard street network would always make me get lost outside my own neighborhood. My parents live in the Riviera, which has small very walkable patches surrounded by sprawl. If I mention one of those three regions as a comparison base, chances are it’s personal experience, whereas if I mention other cities, chances are it’s a case study.

P.S. The WordPress comment moderation feature seems to hold everyone’s first comment. Once I approve a comment, future comments are free. If anyone knows how to kill this feature and free comments from the start, I’m all ears.

6 comments

  1. M1EK

    Congratulations and welcome back to the land of the bloggers. I will link forthwith.

    Do you know recent Columbia-ites Mark Collins and/or Sarah Tuttle? They both just got their PhDs and are renting the house next door to mine.

    • Alon Levy

      No, I don’t… if they’re not in math, chances are I don’t know them. Grad school is very segregated into departments like that.

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