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July 9, 2021

E212 - How Does “Speed” Affect Transportation Planning?

Recorded live on July 8th, 2021, hosted by Nick R…

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Recorded live on July 8th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Blake Arnsdorff.

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| Disclaimer: Transcript provided by IBM Watson Speech to Text. Any inaccuracies or errors are not attributed to the Hosts or contributors to Human Factors Cast. |


Welcome to human factors yeah your weekly podcast for human factors psychology and design. I hello everybody it's episode 212 we're recording this live on 7/8/2021 and this is human factors gas I'm your host Nick Rome joined by Mister Blake are in store as always 212 wow it's come a long way how you doing today mac I'm good it's a nice palindromic quality to the episode number tonight I'm good Hey well I I do have to talk really quickly before we get into the show proper tonight little come programming Notre community update if you well we are going to be taking a break off for the next couple weeks. Like I've got some stuff going on I R. L. we're gonna try to get as much stuff out there for you on our channels and all that stuff in the meantime but no show proper for the next couple weeks we're still gonna continue our news round ups on our blog there be some content coming out on our you tube as well and our patrons will continue to get their human factors minutes if you're really itching for some human factors content maybe subscribe for months if you like it and the the main show will be back on the 20 ninth for everyone so wanted to get that out of the way the top case you're listening. Yeah anyway. Anything else to add to that Blake does a great break down and I look forward to taking a little break and then coming back and getting rave right back into it it'll be a nice little break and when we come back my background will be a little different so anyway. Yeah anyway we're we know why you're all here you're here for human factors news. Yes even factors news this is the part of the show research all over everything related to the Philippines back everything I do that news stories on Tuesdays and the patrons choose it then it ends up being a thing from any one of the industry's associated with human factors software game as long as it relates to the field of human factors up like what we have up this week so this week we're talking about better speed valuation for transportation planning so transportation planning decisions believe or not often involve trade offs between travel speed and other goals it's important to consider all the impacts when making speed related decisions which the Victoria transport policy institute has come I will report that examines why and how to do that the report describes various benefits and costs of faster travel examining how speed valuations affect planting decisions also how those playing decisions waltz may affect the economy social impacts as well as environmental outcomes the report also provides guidance for comprehensive valuation of these various impacts analyze and Alice's indicating conventional planning tends to exaggerate the benefit and understate the cost of higher travel speeds this often favors mode such as automobiles over slower more affordable and healthy equitable and resource efficient mode such as walking bicycling to work transport but transit favoring Kennedy's hirer roadway design speeds over the slower modes of transportation. Second server cert consumer surveys have also indicated from this institute's report that many people actually want to drive less and rely on the slower modes of transportation I live in more complex and walkable communities serving these demands requires much more comprehensive analysis and we'll talk a little bit about kind of the benefits and trade offs for our this speed related transition so Nick we joked a little I joked a little but there's a good bit of seriousness and before this that I do like to drive fast whether it's you know on a bike in a car or running but there are there something I've never really thought about when it comes to transportation or even transportation infrastructure planning and that's the impact of doing things quickly or driving fast have you really ever thought about that yet like human factors implications of this kind of stuff for transportation knowing the pre show I mean we talked a little bit about it but I have my focus has always been or at least my my knowledge of transportation in general has always kind of been focused on the micro changes right the the distance between lane markings in order to influence a driver speed and and through perception right or or messaging on. Road signs or anything like that right now the on coming traffic risk reward it with passing a car you know so that's that's the kind of experience that I have with transportation and has never been one of those things where I've looked at it kind of this macro level so this this big meta analysis of the speed and transportation method tradeoff here's been. Re of really great article and I mean like I remember a couple weeks ago when I was picking this out for office hours. I look at this and said wow this is a great story and didn't think much of it in our patrons chose it and I was like wow okay get how we actually have to read it and get through it and it's insanely interesting. Mmhm and I don't know if it's just because I have a soft spot for transportation but this this article is awesome so I want to I think what we should start with your bike. Is kind of the key findings right like let's let's just get them out of the way at the top here maybe I'll read one you read one and if we have anything to say about them we can talk about it that way. M. L. it looks like there's what 5678910 looks like there's 10 key findings for this. So what we're gonna go through him. So the first finding here is the transportation planning often involves tradeoffs between speed and other goals and it's important to consider all speed related impacts and planning process you mentioned that impacts I don't know how much more we have to say about this is kind of the the whole it's like a top level finding right there's yeah it's got like the thesis statement at the U. S. thing really is like take this stuff into cal were doing up larger planning or macro analysis our second key finding here is for some trips such as urgent errands like we've all been on faster travel can provide large benefits but higher speeds are inherently costly so faster modes require much more expensive vehicles and infrastructure more space and energy and impose greater health risks and environmental damages something I don't often think about when I think about traveling quickly and often by an order of a large magnitude so all of these things kind of compound together but because higher speed travel tends to increase with wealth street prioritization planning tends to be an equitable I increases cost the affluent travellers impose on disadvantaged groups now talk about a very mad at impact that is not I don't think in the zeitgeist sell out self evident that's that's exactly something that's never even crossed my mind is that with more wealth you tend to acquire it like on out in correlation with correlation wise faster vehicles and ultimately that ends up impacting disadvantaged groups of people that don't have cars that's that's incredible really do private jets it hasn't occurred yet so I guess somebody get about like just cars and think how slow my car drives it didn't I don't I don't really know it's interesting I didn't even think of jets like yeah so a Lear jet that would have a lot of impact yeah and at this is this is an interesting point for a lot of reasons right and I I think it it talk. It's about a lot of different. Sort of costs here the the space and energy required to run these things right and and. This is something I think we talked about briefly before before the show but I didn't actually consider that the space of infrastructure required for faster vehicles and it might seem obvious to some but right like big parking lots is a thing that you need to store all these vehicles or that's kind of the obvious when the move less obvious one at least to me was that there are certain requirements for distances between vehicles I'm like a freeway and so the faster the speed limit the more distance between cars you need to have and so the more lanes you need to have to accommodate that type of. That type of road right which is why their speed limits on on the roads. That's to get at how much space for the flow of traffic that there there needs to be between you and the car had a you it's it's kind of insane I didn't think about that. There's you know like the just in terms of the the distribution of wealth right I mean it's a lot cheaper to take a bus or to walk than it is to own a vehicle owned the insurance for that vehicle pay for gas for that vehicle. And so yeah it does incur all these additional. Sort of. So what I'm looking for it's inequitable right did you have those with more money are able to afford those things where those with less are unable to afford those and are are almost forced to take some sort of public transportation and what any other closing thoughts on point to want to get into point 3 here all right head on into point 3. So at a point 3 here planners often assume that faster travel provides time savings but people tend to maintain fixed travel time budgets they devote about the same number of daily minutes to personal travel regardless of speed so as a result faster travel increases travel distances rather than saving time this causes mobility inflation it ratchet ups the M. it ratchets up the amount of travel people require to meet their needs which is costly to communities and unfair to people with limited mobility so I want to break this went down because. That's a lot of words and basically what it's saying is that. As more and more people get access to these faster vehicles we own a car and so it's not inconvenient for us to drive 15 miles down the way to go to the grocery store. That is hugely inconvenient for people that rely on walking or public transportation because then they have to figure out what the schedule is they they're on that schedule and it's quite a distance and so when you're thinking about time budgets for travel. Right it may take you 5 minutes to drive that 15 miles because you just hop in your car go down the freeway and you're there door to door 5 minutes where somebody else might it might take them an hour to get there because they're dependent on public transportation and so we're talking about these time travel time budgets for people and we think about it what the what this is point here is saying is that we think about things in terms of travel time budgets and not necessarily distance or time it takes to get something the daily minutes of personal travel and that's regardless of speed right so here in California great example. When you say how far as something away we often reply with it depends on the time of day because of traffic and that builds into our estimation of how long it's going to take us to get to somewhere right 5 miles could take 5 minutes or it could take an hour depending on which street you're on here in southern California so yeah so we we tend to the whole point here is that we look at those travel time budgets rather than distance or speed we're looking at the destination we're looking at. Those types of things and budget according to that not necessarily the mode of travel. Any other at any point on that lake. That is very interesting to me because I feel like one thing I really start taking advantage of it is walking to places that I can just because of where I live. And but it's it's not really something that I think about is my personal travel time like I I know it only probably takes 10 minutes to walk to the grocery store and then you know 10 minutes back. But it's not something that I I guess I budget for all the time and it's it's it be interesting like because at some point I'm going to have to move or change apartments if we want to buy a house or whatever and so that that change in my personal anchored time cost is going to be much different now that I can't like walk to the grocery store and I'll have to drive I said it's cool to think about it this is a much more scientific way is the best way I can think to put it then like normally I'm thinking about time or distance savings. Yeah it's it is interesting right and and I think that's a great point that they make in this article about the time budget rather than the the speed budget so. Well when we get into point for here all right so contrary to common assumptions higher speeds do not necessarily support economic development see this another connection that I find fascinating so faster travel can increase productivity if it increases overall accessibility but those benefits are generally offset by the additional cost of increased vehicle travel and sprawl. So it again like another connection that I would not necessarily drawl because I I think for me I do associate you know living closer to work and being able to drive there get there quickly as a a productivity or efficiency creek increase or however I guess like overall maybe that's not actually the case and it could even have economic impacts depending on how it impacts other people if they're able live close enough to work if they're able to take transportation that's our own versus walking or taking public transport so the impact here is. Kind of kind of intense because it's again it's not something I think about in terms of the macro level or the overall impact of you know taking the highway to work. Yeah I mean. This coming from my experience like I used to drive upwards of like 4:00 hours a day to and from you know to get there and back for work and. You know it's kind of interesting that this was done during the pandemic like how how are things going to change now that like. People are working from home more and not commuting and is that going to impact our travel budgets right like for me I was very drained after a 2 hour drive home right. And so when when you know is asked me to do anything after work it was like no thank you I'm good I'm just gonna stay home my budget is expended but now I'm at home all the time working here and it's like yeah I want to get out and I one of the things I have all that time in my budget that I didn't have before for travel. And is there any way I can take public transportation I don't know I see it as it's it's one of those things where like yeah there's a lot of costs but I'm a parent and I can't it's like taking a toddler on public transportation is a huge thing and like maybe if we lived in a community where that's possible like we do walk to you know some of the businesses close by. When we can we take the stroller but it's like. To do that. The the the further you get the harder it becomes right the more moving pieces you have. Yeah interesting point. I think we skip when I'm gonna go back here so current planning practices tend to exaggerate so I guess this is technically point for Blake read point 5 but we'll just call this point 5. Current current planning practices tend to exaggerate the benefits under estimate the costs and ignore inequities of faster travel current planning generally recognizes tradeoffs between speed and safety but overlooks the other impacts such as reduced affordability public health and mobility for non drivers this results in an over invest in faster modes and higher roadway design speeds which over the long run increases total vehicle travel and sprawl. So what we're talking about here is because of this mis understanding and planning activities. They are not taking into consideration some of the things they should be in terms of smart design of a. Like community lay out right you work right next to where you reside and there's also a grocery store there and everything you need and so you don't really need to travel that far right this kind of that smart city approach where everything's kind of close by and you don't really need to take transit. But that gets. A gets harder the further away from the city you are right the the further away you are from these highly dense population areas but we're talking about here is this this misunderstanding in focus during these planning activities it basically it means that they're going to make design the roadways to be higher speeds which means you get to some place further away faster. But that increases sprawl which makes it less likely for somebody to be able to use those public transportation pieces to get somewhere or to walk right. So that's kinda the point any anything to follow up with that one. That was really tough to think about because you have to then almost make a pretty big trade off in terms of where you decide to live like do you live close to where your job is or do you like live in a community that makes you you know able to walk to places are kind of have you know public transit will be more accessible for things you want to do with your family or your partner or whatever it may be and it's it's interesting that it's the world's at least here in California I mean I don't know what it's like everywhere it doesn't feel like it's really set up to unless you're working like downtown and living downtown you're really not able to kind of have all that stuff easily accessible without having a car without having a mode of transportation that is beyond you know walking or biking so it's a it would be cool if like more and more I I don't know if more more cities is the answer but more more communities being designed to support like life and work. I'm in some way which is in a lot of ways it's it's interesting because this does play into you know the impact of the pandemic and more people working remotely and in may from my perspective it's definitely given me that capability to you know live be more absorbed in the community that I live and and not being you know traveling as much to go back and forth to and from work all kind of stuff. Yeah I I think that's a great point to it's like when you when you have these I think there's going to be a massive shift right when you have these people able to work from home. You are eliminating that commute that sprawl to get to work and so I think that is helpful in a lot of situations there's still the inequities that come with being able to afford a computer being able to afford the space to be able to work at home. I'm. But I think we're going to see a lot more of like a come compacting. Of the. Sort of spaces right because this takes care of one of those branches now all that's left is to design a community where you have people living in this could be a suburb where you have people living and then you have a grocery store right next to it and kind of the basic needs and then maybe you drive further for you know one off things maybe like hardware stores down the line you don't need one of those in every community but a grocery store is something that people go to frequently or like a clothing store or something like that you know so designing with those in mind to where you could walk to those depending on where you live and it could be central to a suburb so that way everybody can get to it equidistant and there's this whole. You know it's like planning piece of. Of infrastructure and where people live and how all things kind of you know the smart design of how things are laid out it's really interesting and I think the impact of because the I think it on intended impact here maybe that you have people that are also kind of their living because there used to be like you know transportation from a manufacturing perspective was different 10 years ago that it is now now we have we don't know much more Amazon kind of various vehicles on the world potentially impacting a bunch of different potentially impacting how the infrastructure in various places was originally designed and then we've also you know got like the advent of more vehicles and more travel as well as people that do things like lift or uber so now we have more people depending on transportation means of various types and being on the road at more times they could you know in a way impact whatever models actually put forth and the macro design that originally came up in these different cities and I wonder how much of if any a lot of that is kind of considered here is when you have a burgeoning businesses that have these unintended consequences. Come into play. Yeah good point you wanna get into this next point here point 6 I I shrunk it so you're gonna see this top one nice thank you so much all rights the inefficiency and the inequity of speed prior are prioritizing planning are evident if transport performance is evaluated using affected speed defined as the travel distance divided by time spent traveling and earning money to pay for travel expenses measure this way audible G. Beal travels often slower than bicycling or public transport and is regressive because it benefits affluent motorists to have more time value time more than money but it hurts lower income people who prefer a lower cost. Modes that totally makes sense because it's it's even like a the first one this is not the best example for the the lower cost problem but think about working in Silicon Valley it's very expensive to live there but there's a lot of job opportunities special people in human factors are you acts that are interested in various types of tact like it's a giant center for that but there's like a giant cost of having to drive or take transportation to work for a lot of these companies and you end up doing that like 2.5 hour back and forth if you want to live in a you know more affordable housing or anything like that and so there is this this kind of really big issue I think if you have this access to a lot of great working opportunity but it comes at a severe cost from a kind of like transportation perspective and think things like having more public transit which symptoms of give San Francisco's benefit has more access from my perspective but having more modes of that kind of stuff with more affordable kind of. You know options around the board I mean I don't even know how to tackle that issue yeah it's insane because like a lot of the city's built right now are not equipped for large structural changes in infrastructure so the best they can do is like throwing extra bus route in there maybe or you know that's it and I don't like yanking at the chain too much here but that this is why novel ideas like the. Like the Hyperloop or even these underground tunnels that he like musk is talking about that's why those are so sort of interesting is because they're sort of these solutions that could benefit these cities that are already out there right you think about a big city like Los Angeles you put tunnels underneath and now you've opened it up to a whole different dimension you are literally going not just X. Y. but now you're going Z. down below to get from point a to point B. at least for longer distances and that might help and you can keep digging down as far as you'd like. So you know things like that are interesting when you think about patching some of these issues especially with the cities that are not built for this infrastructure already I'm not saying it's a good idea to put tunnels down below but the L. thinking of these out of the box ideas can you have like. Uber drones that also take advantage of the Z. plane but now they're above you know navigating through the city and get you to a certain landing spot a little closer to where you're going and how do you make that affordable right I think tunnels are probably a little bit more affordable than a drone flying across the city yeah. But you know I think over time maybe that then makes the other things a little bit more accessible if if you know upper middle class can afford the uber drone. Then. Does that then open up better infrastructure to eat or to utilize the infrastructure that is already built for others. I don't know and and it'll be interesting to see I mean the total thing is interesting right because if if like maybe that's a way to. Stick at the wrong turn of phrase below I can think of like clean up the streets themselves so making it so basically if you own your own vehicle like great use the tunnel system and free up more space for public transport so we can add you know more bus routes are more options in that realm or more kind of about like free of that ride sharing concept they can take advantage of the amber infrastructure that exists but also providing benefit to various types of different income situations but then still allowing anybody who owns a vehicle and all that kind of stuff to still take advantage of the tunnel system yeah there's a lot to figure out there but I think you're right thinking outside the box and trying to take different solutions and is ultimately really what's gonna allow for a restructuring of any kind of planned infrastructure for transportation it's not like we can just you know how everything in the city for a couple of years and wolf we'll reconfigure it that everybody will be fine yeah I mean or do you like as buildings become available. Or are constructed do you start making them to where you have a grocery store on the bottom floor and you know apartment buildings above that and so like that then becomes a grocery store for the entire apartment building. That could be something that helps right I know that in some places but not everywhere and if you start thinking about things that way providing the basic needs to everybody to where they just take an elevator down and boom there there. I don't know I mean I have alley you yeah. I'm all right I'm gonna get into point 7 here so this is faster travel is not bad but it is costly for efficiency and equity stake planning should favor slower affordable and resource efficient modes over faster costly modes and traffic speed should be set to optimize community livability so this is kind of combining a couple of the points that we've already talked about you know its. Sort of the cost associated with these faster speeds. The end inequity that's associated also with these faster speeds so making sure that the speed limits make sure that you know we're taking advantage of not encouraging sprawl but rather you know sort of compacting the community and making it a little bit more walkable a bit more bikeable able to get to point a to point B. with some of this transportation it's a pretty simple point I don't know how much more we can elaborate on that so I'm gonna pass back over you Blake 1.about that day I want to say is that it's it definitely makes me appreciate it look at speed limit signs and traffic limit signs differently yeah usually it's just like okay that's a number but there is some way that is put together that that supposedly should optimize how you're able to get from point a to point B. but also change how community is structured all right real quick I jump in with a comment from Kristin. With the tunnel comment. You know using tunnels for non automated vehicles and freeing up the freeways for fully automated vehicles that could be one solution and I I would think it's it's the opposite right you build the tunnels for fully automated vehicles because then they can all be set for a certain parameter you can make them turn them into their own vehicles the optimize the space within the tunnels. And you don't have to worry about well what happens if a tunnel gets congested below you know you still leave that infrastructure above because you have all that access but the tunnels might be you know for longer distances or something like that I don't know I don't have the answers that's just my thought but it's interesting to think about how do we optimize the spaces right we can't use the Z. space above us for you know non automated vehicles right now because cars don't fly although there is a new story this week that was very cool you should go check that out but the you know where do you put things and you put buses below in the tunnels to help them get from point a to point B. better and make public transportation more reliable it's a question. So I don't know. When we get into this next point here point I guess what 89888.5 all right so to their credit many policy makers and planning practitioner support slower modes and traffic speed reductions more than their economic models justify they realize intuitively that slower modes play important roles in an efficient and equitable transportation system and so does and so deserve public support however this occurs despite rather than supported by standard analysis practices reforming these practices can justify more support for slower modes of transportation interesting so it's it sounds like that there needs to be a change or a reconfiguration of what's going on from the analysis perspective to make it more probably more clear and more self evident that there is like a a a a trade off for making by allowing faster speeds not just for our like travel time and sprawl but you know there's economic impacts and so although people realize this from the policy perspective because it's not the you know I I would assume in the zeitgeist or is popular about known topic there without kind of better analysis or better meta analyses like this paper or this kind of like larger report it's kind of hard to make that case as evident to you know all of the policy makers. Yeah I think it's it's interesting because we need to shift the paradigm to rather becoming a. If the. A preferred thing because it's saying it's this it's this occurs despite rather than supported by right so I think it needs to become the standard. To favor these things and and a brief format the process right now that's what that's what they're saying here at this point and wondered if like your point earlier about that it's it's not straightforward to make these restructures or to make a lot of these changes wholesale to create communities that support this stuff so that that could be why although we understand that there's issues it's not like generally supported just a lot of cost so my call to action for this episode is if you're listening to this and want to get involved in your local government you can bring them this article get involved with transportation you know division of your local department and set speed limits for places and be like look we need lower speed limits for this reason. All right I'll get into point 9 here so this is a. More comprehensive speed analysis is likely to result in less investment in urban highways more investments into active and public transport modes lower roadway design speeds more planning to improve travel comfort and convenience rather than speed that's good I like that right if it's the basically spending a few more spend more time on this analysis. You're basically investment shifts from. Making things more efficient 2 more comfortable and convenient for the end user which in this case is people traveling from point a to point B. at least in public transportation right so and and that even goes for walking to if you plan a city from the top down and look at you know say somebody can walk from this place to this place and that's great. Then it will have a lasting impact as well. Any other follow ups to this one there's one more fight left I really like the point about improving the travel comfort of the existing you know transportation options is it imagine if you did have a far there can you but you had a slower option that allowed you to maybe you know do something outside of just drive the car or like sit and get it over or whatever it is like if you're able to get some work done or you know do something that's like a hobby you're the you're the you're interested in like reading or whatever it could really be I don't know change how people kind of perceive these different modes of travel and it could change how employers see the different modes of travel in terms of you can still be efficient and get your work done by taking you know a train to work but anyway all right last point up so of course every traveler has unique needs and preferences and many choose faster modes such as automobiles despite their higher costs for the sake of convenience or status however current demographic and economic trends such as aging population and increasing urbanization plus a growing affordability health and environmental concerns are increasing demand for slower modes and level neighborhoods. Given better options many people would choose slower travel modes and homes more compact multi multi modal neighborhoods that provide more accessibility with less mobility everybody benefits if our planning practices respond to the these demands and this is really like right I honestly we I we said that first bullet was the thesis of the article by really feel like this kind of drives everything we've talked about home there's a lot of different kind of multi variate factors going on here they are impacting it for the sake of transportation that's really the the main thing that's focused on here but the potential benefits of changing basically the existing infrastructure and thinking about this in a macro way could have you know potential benefits to not just you know how long you're spending in a car or how much it's costing but just larger implications like environmental concerns or just making your life a little bit more enjoyable because you have a much tighter knit community. Yeah I agree I think this is a great in cap point for this entire article and I think we did a good job of covering a lot of the concepts I don't know if we need to go through those. You know I think it I I one interesting point that I do want to bring up here is like you know people might say in surveys that they would prefer a slower travel but like at least here in California speeding is the norm right we get frustrated cars going below the speed limit or going faster than the flow of traffic and so like how can we do what can we do to sort of make this slower transport like bicycles or public transportation walking more attractive to people right that's another sort of interesting point that I don't know if this article necessarily touched on so much it kind of took highlighted the differences between the modes but. How do we sort of. Push a message to encourage people prosocial messages to encourage people to utilize those other ways of transportation right like for me public transit isn't even in the equation like I don't even think about a bus when I think about going to somewhere I'm I might think about it if I am on travel in a new place I might think about it if I am going a long distance like maybe. You know to a different state or something take a greyhound or take a train or something like that but I don't think about it locally and how do we you know what's what can we do locally I think as a as a bigger question. Yeah I think that'd be going back to almost taking some of the planning aspects are funding and putting it more back into the community for public transit may help because making things more comfortable and more attractive and have more utility for local folks could have a lot of impact but I don't know it just it really depends because I think a lot of the stuff that's being mentioned this in this article is not just that people like to drive faster but there's also some kind of like status marker that's coming with owning a vehicle owning a fast vehicle that has like it it'll it's afforded to people who have a certain lifestyle but it does trickle down and have impacts on potentially everybody else the one thing that is just jumping out at me is I wonder if like if these meta analyses get more more public and people released really do from a policy maker standpoint tried out see the benefits of slower means of transportation or slower modes that if we start seeing newer like newer communities that are developed start to develop in a way where it's got a lot more things locally accessible to them or if as we're seeing like the tech boom expand outside of Silicon Valley if places like Colorado or Texas kind of star forming their communities around some of these larger corporations if we if bike that can be a push to start making communities a little bit more accessible in terms of modes of transportation or any of that stuff yeah yeah. Great points and yet he I I don't really have much else on this article I will say Blake that I was a little worried that we were going to be at I was gonna worry I was worried that we weren't gonna have enough to talk about but we're like 40 minutes into this podcast there we go and the magic happens. Do you have any other closing thoughts on this amazing article just thanks to the pager outs are picking it this is something I think we don't touch on and off and it is like a very seminal human factors topic or industry when we think about it transportation and like Nick said think about this in the macro level is fine because it's it's really kind of stretching my mind to really think more systems up system style then like at the met the microbe Hey beer stuff that I'm used to. Yeah I agree so thank you to our patrons this week for selecting our topic and thank you to our friends over at Victoria transport policy institute for a news story this week you want to follow along join me for office hours on Tuesdays where I find these news stories and we do post the links to the original article's on our weekly roundup center blog you can also join us on our slack or discord for more discussion on the stories we're gonna take a quick break and we'll be back to see what's going on in human factors community or right after this human factors cast brings you the best in human 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a. One reason that you might want to do that it to help our transcripts help those who are hearing impaired all right let's go ahead and get into this next part of the game show where to switch gears that came. If this is the part of the show where we search all over the internet to bring you topics that you the community the human factors community the user experience community the design community psychology community any community songs it's human factors tangent dole is talking about. We got to tonight I think we're gonna go ahead and get into this first one I really like this question this one is thoughts on working at a designer human factors agency versus a product based or in house company and this is from Gupta 98 on the user experience sub reddit they go on to write would you rather work for companies like I DO which are mainly agencies for comp or or sorry which are mainly agencies or companies like Netflix apple or Spotify can you please list of pros and cons of each or are you or if you are working at any how do you like it. Blake have you worked for an agency if you work for a tech company like this and what's kind of the difference yes I am at work specifically for one of these kinda like Fang companies or anything like that but I have had the experience of working in an agency style model and being focused on a singular product like something like Netflix or apple. I th obviously this is this might not be everybody's favorite answer now but I love both I think both have massive benefits and can teach you a lot regardless of what you're doing so from the focal product aspect you get immensely familiar with your user base the product itself and you can really optimize something for human factors work or user experience research and design work so you have a lot of opportunity to have a high impact on like a singular product you're focused on I think from the agency perspective it's nice to get a lot of variety and get a giant set of touchpoints so for agency work you could be doing anything from responsive web design to like application designed to even working on physical products so and I think that has massive benefit it specially earlier in your career yeah if you haven't had a lot of experience with a diverse set of products and I can really tell you like do I want to go spend most of my career life individual products or do I really like to do physical product design so I think both third provide very different experiences that allow you to kind of hone skills but I think it's if you can try both of them so that you can really get a gamut of what it's like to work in both settings but Nick have you had experience in both these realms dammit Blake would you say it depends maybe. I need the it depends but my promise one of these days I'm gonna get a state out in it I've worked for both and I think. I'm gonna agree with you Blake I think it does depend I didn't know how it's going to answer this question until I was faced with it just now I. Each of them have their pros and cons and I think we can go over those pros and cons so I think let's start with just a an in house or product based company like your Netflix like your Spotify. I think in this example you are heavily invested in one specific product and you are making adjustments at the micro level like we talked about these macro and micro adjustments in our news story tonight and I think that was a great thing kind of primer for this because I think of this as a way to. Improve. Marginally upon a product but have a large impact so what I'm talking about here is there's always going to be ways to improve our product and it's kind of like I don't know if you've ever seen that graphic of like what education is like where you have kind of the the expanding circle where you have like Hey here's your general education here's your specialty and then here's your PhD in it looks like a little bump off to the side and that bump keeps extending as you learn more in your domain. And that's kind of what I'm thinking of when it comes to this like there's so much blanket user experience blanket human factors principles that you can apply towards a product but once you get to that point there's going to be room for improvement but their marginal but you dig deeper into that one product to make it better over time that's why some of these products that have these in house teams feel so polished is because they've been working on it for a long time they've tested different things with just this one product. Now take the other approach where you're at an agency you are usually on contract for something and so you don't have a history with the product that you might have for an in house agency sorry in in house company if you are with one of these design agencies are design company human factors company you're going to be doing like Blake said a variety of different work and that can also benefit you. I'm. You know when it comes to working and problem solving on some of these solutions right you might encounter a problem on one project that has a solution from another project and having those connections of neurons in your brain that go this is a great solution from this other thing that we can apply this is really useful but I also feel like that's a trap in a lot of ways because then you are so not necessarily pressed for time but. The solutions that you make towards a so towards the solution on one thing might not necessarily benefit when you're just taking a plug and play thing from another project. I think it it does largely depend and you do get the breath with the designer human factors agency but you get the depth with a. The product or an in house company so if you're very passionate about a specific product I think that could be right for you if you are still experimenting and figuring out what is right for you I think the design agency or human factors company it's probably the right way to go or if you just enjoy a variety of different things and don't really want to settle I know that's you know an attractive quality for some people and so that might be a better fit for human factors company that's kind of where I'm at anything else to add to that when Blake no that was perfect man really brought it home and kind of made some specific points there. Thanks man I try I'm all right so this next one here this is what do you do when you're stuck on a problem this is by caters on the human factor sorry that user experience sub reddit they go under right currently stuck on a problem that I can't solve properly I'm curious to hear what's your approach when you find yourself in those situations do you re frame the problem in a different way do you have a specific set of questions that you always ask yourself or any other systems that you follow really curious to know about this thanks Blake what do you do when you're stuck on a problem so I am so I've learned the hard way. The to do this and I think it it sounds obvious but sometimes it is not the most rate for the media. At go ask for help because you couldn't ruminate on our problem apply your specific framework or systems thinking to it and you still may not be coming at it the correct way and expertise or just sometimes bouncing ideas off of somebody else within your team or like within the company you work for who has a diverse set of experience outside of your own current experience could really change how you're looking at a problem to help you figure out if you do need to re frame it do you take a step back and do more research before you actually define what the problem is but there's there's a reason that all my god even. Even when I did contracting on my own like as a freelancer I was with this is where the podcast studio was at 1.and it was a start up incubator I would go to the developer that worked outside my office and ask him questions about something I was tackling and him not even you know being a part of you know my little contracting thing that I was doing it still was helpful to like talk through ideas and get concepts down so in my case when I get stuck on a problem I've gotten to the point where I make myself ask for help either with somebody I'm super comfortable with like a mentor or one of my teammates and I'm currently working with. That's a great advice Blake I actually. It might even sound simpler than that but what I do the very first thing when I encounter a brick wall the first thing I do is I step away. And I don't work and I typically find that when I come back to a problem with fresh eyes it's a little bit better I think asking for help is a great great solution you know there are benefits like here's here's another ties into our last question design agency human factors company you're working with a bunch of people who have a variety of experiences with human factors and so they can come back to you and say Hey here's X. Y. Z.. You know different solutions that you could employ for that product. But I think when you're stuck on a problem the best thing for me to do as I step back and I say okay I let my team know Hey I am stepping back for a couple hours I am I've hit a wall and here's my problem I let them know and I'm I'm just typing back if you need me I'm here but I'm stepping back and I will I'll step back and think about it for a couple hours I'll go do something else I'd switch modes. Which is often helpful and what I often find myself doing is when I tried to switch modes as I fixate on the thing and I don't know if that's helpful but sometimes fixating on the problem while you're doing something else like playing a game or watching TV or something and it just drives into your brain it's like okay there it is that's at least my next steps I try to not necessarily solve the problem but identify what the next steps are to ask for help do I do a competitive analysis with other things that are trying to do the same thing do I. Research X. Y. NZ to try to solve the problem do I need to talk to a user about the thing that I'm trying to solve like so if I think about the next steps necessarily not necessarily the solution and I find that when I come back to work when I sit down and go okay I at least know what I need to do next and then I do it so that's kind of what I do want to but I'm stuck on a problem I noticed that it's easier to say step away not everybody can especially if you work in an office with other people that depend on your schedule make yourself available and I know it's not necessarily always easy to step away in an office environment where you're expected to work but if you are working from home and have that flexibility that helps. So anyway. Well why don't we anything else out of that one like I do have one more tidbit for again you did drive a good a good thing home and like I strategy that I use probably once a week because I get hung up on development issues is I just really hit a wall I can't do anything else because of the benefits of working from home I will step away and do as hard of a workout as I can and sleep on the problem and what example that is it happened to me this week yep E. and happen to be basically yesterday. Did the work I went to sleep I woke up about like 545 this morning and had a random idea that just came to me so is 1 of those things that like you said stepping away from the problem and letting it remain in the back your mind because I go to bed thinking about problems I've had during the day trying to solve them and probably I'm still doing so sub conscious while sleeping. But sometimes it just provides you a different perspective when you wake up the next day and you can try something new so that's another strategy can try and take. All right well why don't we get into one more thing this needs no introduction this is like a nice banter Blake what do you have a pure one more thing this week. Of this week one thing that I've really been enjoying neck is any you may have seen this in the discord if anybody's been you know hang around the tool section of our discord I would throw a bunch of python resources in there because that came up actually in the lab meeting for one of the weeks for the human factors cast digital media lab correct me if I'm wrong no that's N. it's been fun like python is so it's interesting because it's it's different from Java script for me one thing that Kate has come up for me is that finally now after all these kind of years of playing in web development I feel much more confident in Java script I ever have so I can pick up other languages a little bit easier and it's not as daunting to tackle and one thing that I really enjoy about python is it's made for data analysis so it's letting me dive into machine learning concepts a little bit deeper than I would have before it's a great companion for some of these Google courses I'm taking on machine learning I'm sorry I don't know it's been fun if you if anybody's interested in python we do have a couple resources from free code camp in our tool section of our discord yeah that's kind of it Blake you let me know when we can use machine learning to produce these episodes when work yeah yeah for the articles so we just set up automation patrons choose it it uses deepfakes to mountain you know master voices in and our faces and it uses machine learning based on the article that we talk about on the week UP that N. as the input and the output is us talking about let me know okay. My one more thing this week is that moving socks and moving sucks really bad. And moving sucks especially bad when you have a small human that you must take care of at the same time hi because there are certain rooms that are off limits at certain times of the day so nap time you know the the room is a mess. Sleep time the room is off limits and so I'm trying to figure out how to optimize you know packing everything that you own into these boxes and. Putting them in places where the small human can't get to or open up or take things out of is a real challenge and. Did really sucks I want to do it again and so. Bad at least like you the movie is coming soon. Yeah I mean like we're we're pretty close which is why summer hiatus everyone but like it it sucks really bad I don't wanna do it anyway that's that I I just it sucks and I feel for anyone who's got a move and all the logistics behind everything finding hotels rooms at the appropriate distances along the way getting to from point a to point B. worrying about all the you know movers and U. haul and movers and. Some out and check in and all anyway. All that well you know what everybody that's going to be it for today everyone let us know what you guys think the news story this week what you can hang out with us on a slack or discord forget to us on any of our social channels you can visit our official website sign up for our newsletter stay up to date with all the latest in human factors news you like what you hear you wanna support the show there's a couple ways you can do that one you can leave us a 5 star review on where ever you're at right now there's likely a little button that says review the show do that tell your friends about us that's the second way you can do it the best way we can grow is if you tell your colleagues about us especially if you're a human factors check that out and 3 consider supporting us on Patreon like I said if you're able to go check this out and and we're gonna be off for 2 weeks here if you wanna fill that void we have I think something like 70 something sectors minutes up there anyway go check that out if you if you can and you know as always thanks to all of our socials and website gonna be in the description of this episode Mr Blake or instruct where can our listeners going find you if they want to talk about infrastructure and transportation absolutely all come and find me in the discord just at Blake be in there any time but across social media you can also find me a don't panic you axe as for me I've been in his neck road you can find me streaming on twitch Tuesdays at 1:00 Pacific for office hours in across social media at Nick _ Rome thanks again for tuning into human factors cast until next time. It depends.