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Archive for the ‘transportation and travel’ Category

Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States?, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 23, 2014)

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States?, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted concern over the risk that foreign travelers may carry the virus to the United States — a concern that has grown since an infected Liberian national who traveled to the United States infected two nurses who cared for him at a Dallas hospital. On Monday, October 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced new screening procedures at U.S. ports of entry for travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Several Members of Congress have gone further and suggested a blanket ban on the admission into the United States of foreign nationals who reside in or have recently traveled to Ebola-stricken countries – a suggestion that the Obama Administration has thus far opposed. Although it has never been used for such purposes, section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) seems to confer the President with authority to bar foreign travelers from Ebolastricken countries from entering the United States, if he deems such a restriction necessary to protect U.S. interests, regardless of whether there is a reason to believe that a particular traveler is infected with the Ebola virus.

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UK — Benefits of Investing in Cycling

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Benefits of Investing in Cycling (PDF)
Source: British Cycling

Investing in cycling will generate benefits for the whole country, not just those using a bike to get around. Eleven benefits are summarised here which can help solve a series of health, social and economic problems. This report shows how investing in cycling is good for our transport systems as a whole, for local economies, for social inclusion, and for public health.

Creating a cycling revolution in the UK requires sustained investment. In European countries with high cycling levels, levels of investment are also substantially higher than in the UK. The All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Inquiry has recommended a minimum of £10 annually per person, rising to £20, which would begin to approach the spending levels seen in high-cycling countries.

Investing in cycling will enable transport authorities to start putting in place the infrastructure we need to ensure people of all ages and abilities can choose to cycle for short everyday trips. As well as making cycle journeys more pleasant, safer and faster, it sends the signal that cycling is a normal way to travel. This is important because the perception of cycling as a marginal and minority mode is off-putting to many people.

Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

The number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways is trending upward, particularly for certain subsets of the population, according to a report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). GHSA’s Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety notes that yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities increased just one percent during the same time period.

The report’s author, former Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Chief Scientist Dr. Allan Williams, analyzed current and historical fatality data to uncover bicyclist crash patterns. There have been some remarkable changes. For example, adults 20 and older represented 84 percent of bicyclist fatalities in 2012, compared to only 21 percent in 1975. Adult males comprised 74 percent of the total number of bicyclists killed in 2012.

Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975. These changes correlate with an increase in bicycling commuters – a 62 percent jump since 2000, according to 2013 Census Bureau data.

While bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas – represented 54 percent of all fatalities.

Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development
Source: Social Science Research Network

A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. We investigate this question with the “outside view” or “reference class forecasting” based on literature on decision-making under uncertainty in psychology. We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. Using the largest and most reliable reference data of its kind and multilevel statistical techniques applied to large dams for the first time, we were successful in fitting parsimonious models to predict cost and schedule overruns. The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return unless suitable risk management measures outlined in this paper can be affordably provided. Policymakers, particularly in developing countries, are advised to prefer agile energy alternatives that can be built over shorter time horizons to energy megaprojects.

Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?
Source: Breastfeeding Medicine

Introduction:
State and federal laws have been enacted to protect the mother’s right to breastfeed and provide breastmilk to her infant. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide hourly waged nursing mothers a private place other than a bathroom, shielded from view, free from intrusion. Minimum requirement for a lactation room would be providing a private space other than a bathroom. Workplace lactation accommodation laws are in place in 24 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. These requirements benefit the breast-pumping mother in an office, but what about the breast-pumping mother who travels? Of women with a child under a year, 55.8% are in the workforce. A significant barrier for working mothers to maintain breastfeeding is traveling, and they will need support from the workplace and the community. This study aimed to determine which airports offer the minimum requirements for a breast-pumping mother: private space other than a bathroom, with chair, table, and electrical outlet.

Study Design:
A phone survey was done with the customer service representative at 100 U.S. airports. Confirmatory follow-up was done via e-mail.

Results:
Of the respondents, 37% (n=37) reported having designated lactation rooms, 25% (n=25) considered the unisex/family restroom a lactation room, 8% (n=8) offer a space other than a bathroom with an electrical outlet, table, and chair, and 62% (n=62) answered yes to being breastfeeding friendly.

Conclusions:
Only 8% of the airports surveyed provided the minimum requirements for a lactation room. However 62% stated they were breastfeeding friendly. Airports need to be educated as to the minimum requirements for a lactation room.

Note: Full text free online until November 27, 2014.

Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions

October 25, 2014 Comments off

Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

This paper investigates the importance of status in household consumption and financial decisions using household data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) linked to neighborhood data in the American Community Survey (ACS). We find evidence that a household’s income rank–its position in the income distribution relative to its close neighbors–is positively associated with its expenditures on high status cars, its level of indebtedness, as well as the riskiness of the household’s portfolio. More aggregate county-level evidence based on a dataset of every new car sold in each county in the United States since 2002 also suggests that the signaling motive might be important. These results indicate that greater income heterogeneity might have large consequences for household consumption and portfolio decisions.

Ranking Each State’s Highway Conditions and Cost-Effectiveness: Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota Are Best; Hawaii, Alaska and New Jersey Are Worst

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Ranking Each State’s Highway Conditions and Cost-Effectiveness: Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota Are Best; Hawaii, Alaska and New Jersey Are Worst
Source: Reason Foundation

More money is going to state highways, but there has been very little progress in improving their condition according to the 21st Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation.

“Many of the easiest repairs and fixes to state highway and bridge systems have already been made and the rate of progress is slowing down,” said David T. Hartgen, lead author of the Annual Highway Report since 1984. “A widening gap also seems to be emerging between states that are still making improvements and a few states that are really falling behind on highway maintenance and repairs.”

Spending on state-owned roads totaled $132 billion in 2012, up 6 percent from 2011. Spending varied wildly from state to state according to the Annual Highway Report. South Carolina and West Virginia spent just $39,000 per mile of road in 2012 while New Jersey spent over $2 million per state-controlled mile. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California and Florida were the next biggest spenders, outlaying more than $500,000 per state-controlled mile.

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