Energy & Resources
December 3, 2020

Did Child Safety Car Seat Requirements Lower Birth Rate?

For everyone that has three kids, you know how hard  it can be to put those three kids in a car with approved child safety car seats. It can be a challenge in many models of vehicles. But now work by Jordan Nickerson and David Solomon, professors of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College has linked the declining birth rate of American women on the design and carrying capacity of  American vehicles.

In fifty years the birth rate of American women has fallen from 2.12 children on average to 1.73. Of course the fact that there’s available birth control and  better educational and work  opportunities have impacted these statistics. But these researchers point out that declining birth rate curves do not dovetail with just those factors.

The Economist Science and Technology page describes the researchers’ study, “Car Seats as Contraception”.

The paper is available for download here.

The researchers looked at the impact of car seat policies on American birth rates for 43 years to 2017. In 1973 only small infants had to be legally in baby car seats. Legislation then evolved to make it mandatory for children to be in car seats until they are eight years old.

So could that be the reason that there are fewer three child families?

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State of New York City’s Streets

New York City has seen its streets transformed in 2020. From a surge in bicycling, to streets filled with restaurant seating, to near record high private car registrations, this year brought a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Leaders from across the city will discuss how our streets look today, and what lies ahead.

Featuring: Marco Conner DiAquoi, Deputy Director, Transportation Alternatives

Betsy Plum, Executive Director, Rider’s Alliance

Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance

Shabazz Stuart, Founder, Oonee Pod

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Time: 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Click here to register.

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Looking Ahead with Department of Transportation Leaders

Presented in partnership with Active Transportation Alliance, BikeHouston, and Denver Streets Partnership

National politics can limit or expand the ambition and scope of what’s possible on our streets. Local transportation agencies must abide by federal rules to fund, develop, and construct new projects, and must allocate federal funding to infrastructure for cars, public transportation, walking, and biking. In the wake of the 2020 election, DOT leaders from across the U.S. will discuss how the incoming administration will shape the future of how we move around our cities.

Featuring: Danny Harris, Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives

Eulois Cleckley, Executive Director, Department of Transportation & Infrastructure, Denver, CO

David Fields, Chief Transportation Planner, Houston, TX

Jeffrey Sriver, Director of Transportation Planning & Programming. Chicago, IL

Jessica Zenk, Deputy Director, Transportation Planning & Project Delivery, San Jose, CA

Date:Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Time: 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time

To register please click here.

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December 2, 2020

Daily Scot checking out the massive tech complex by Westbank, going up at 5th and Quebec:

Scot’s excited by the built-in alley, giving its name to the whole project: MainAlley.

But as we’ve asked before: why no colour?  Why, like the sea-green glass that covers almost every highrise since the ’80s, do developers, architects and the city’s urban designers, stick so conservatively with such a limited pallet, with one or two small exceptions?  There must be an architectural rationale, but mostly we hear supposition and speculation.

Further, the brutalist brick block (originally a data processing centre) at the corner of 5th and Quebec is coming down (or covered), so there will a net loss of colour and texture.

This is a three-block project; its impact on this part of the Main Street tech district will be substantial.  And it won’t be the green roofs we see from the street.




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What happened in the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic regarding mask wearing regulation?

In the first wave of the epidemic in Vancouver, Dr. F. Underhill and the Mayor of Vancouver advocated for “veils” or masks, made out of gauze. An article in the Daily Province on October 28, 1918 noted that the Japanese community in Vancouver was already wearing gauze veils “under the advice of their three Japanese physicians who have been successfully fighting the epidemic in the Japanese colony.” 

“Rooming house people” and shop keepers were universally wearing flu masks in the Japanese community and Dr. Underhill advised the public to “realize the necessity” of wearing a cheesecloth or gauze veil or a double strip of gause fastened around the nose and mouth. He also said the gauze could be medicated with a good antiseptic, and the cost was small for such veils and masks.

Elsewhere San Francisco had a mask order in October of 1918, which was dismissed in November and then reinstated in the second wave of the flu in January 1919. Fines for not wearing a mask ranged from 5 to 10 dollars, along with a ten day prison sentence.

Becky Little on notes that at the time mandatory mask regulations came to cities, people that did not mask up could receive prison time, fines, or risk “having their names published in the paper, revealing that they were a “mask slacker”.

Hygiene changed at this time, especially in New York City where regulations were enforced to stop people spitting on the streets. There was advice to keep your face turned away from others on street cars, and to cover your mouth and nose when you coughed. Fresh air and exercise were advocated, as well as the tie-in that such good habits could also arrest other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

There is also a move from individualism to a more collective way of looking at health with citizens being urged to protect themselves and also protect others. One message at the time was a jingle stating

Obey the laws and wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws”.

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Inclusive Planning in Tribal Communities: Engaging People with Disabilities in Designing Safe & Accessible Transportation Systems

On Wednesday, December 9th, America Walks will release a new White Paper on Inclusive Planning in Tribal Communities and broadcast a live webinar featuring the author and members of the Project Advisory Board.

Funded through a Partnership for Inclusive Health Innovation Grant, this project has involved research, key informant interviews, and expert analysis to understand how people with disabilities are currently engaged in tribal community planning processes, and develop recommendations for expanding inclusion and ensuring the design and construction of safe and accessible transportation systems.

White Paper author Yamelith Aguilar will describe her research and key findings around tribal culture, existing infrastructure for walking and rolling, and the legal applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A panel of experts in disability inclusion, community engagement/advocacy, accessible design, and tribal planning will discuss the implications of the study and recommendations for future projects and processes.

Details of a new Tribal Inclusion Mini-Grants Program will be announced ahead of awarding two $2,500 mini-grants in January.

Date: December 9th, 2020

Time: 11 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific Time.

Please Register Here

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It has been frustrating watching the proposed shipping container terminal expansion at Deltaport near Tsawwassen. This is the  Port of Vancouver’s jurisdiction. They are stickhandling the Terminal 2 expansion proposal through the review process. The Port hopes to create more  turf by drivepiling a new industrial island  in waters off Roberts Bank. This is on the traditional  territory of the Tsawwassen First Nations. That black area you see in the photo above is Deltaport’s coal terminal.

It is Vancouver Port’s dirty secret~American ports on the west coast refuse to ship thermal coal for environmental reasons. But not the Port of Vancouver, which has doubled thermal coal exports in nine years to over 11 million tons. This dirty American coal also moves tariff free.

The Port was relentless in their pursuit of the Terminal 2 prize expansion, despite the fact that Roberts Bank is one of the few places on the planet for the migrating western sandpipers going to their spring Arctic breeding grounds. As I have already written these birds feed solely on an algae that is only available on these mudflats.

That algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this important bird migration on the Pacific Flyway would be annihilated with port expansion. Extinct.

 Larry Pynn in The Province pointed out that the written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area. Their exact words were Among the findings, the panel report also notes there would be “significant adverse and cumulative effects on wetlands and wetland functions at Roberts Bank.”

Environment Canada was not happy, and it was at this time Global Containers (GCT), Deltaport Terminal’s operator did a bait and switch, stating that the proposed Terminal 2 complex at Roberts Banks was “outmoded and no longer viable.”

Sadly, abandoning this terminal expansion and working smarter (this is the only major port on the Pacific Coast that does not work on a 24 hour basis)  was not something proposed by Global Containers Terminal (GCT) .

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The Fraser River runs 1,300 kilometers from the Rocky Mountains to the Salish Sea, and creates a wide river delta that attracts millions of migrating birds.  You can walk along the Fraser River or visit the George Reifel Bird Sanctuary (call ahead for a reservation during Covid times) to see some of the millions of migrating birds that pass through this area.

Roberts Bank where the Deltaport Shipping Terminal is has mudflats that are kilometers long during low tide, and provide nutrients for over half a million Western Sandpipers daily during the spring migration. It is a highly sensitive area in terms of habitat and use.

This article in Business In Vancouver by Nelson Bennett describes a new study that has just been published in the journal Conservation, Science and Practice.  This study was undertaken by a team of University of British Columbia scientists who estimate that  “100 species in the Fraser River estuary could go extinct over the next 25 years, unless better habitat management, restoration and loss prevention is implemented in a more harmonized way”.

The species identified include  Southern Resident Orcas, the four types of local salmon~chinook, coho, chum and sockeye, and the Western Sandpiper that uses the Roberts Bank area as one of their sole feeding grounds on their migratory route.

Habitat loss is a contributing factor, as well as climate change. And the fact that nearly three quarters of the biggest cities are located on estuaries puts tremendous pressure on the biodiversity. Add in items like Deltaport’s proposed Terminal Two expansion which would take out the biofilm required for migratory birds at Roberts Bank, and you can see the pressures on this ecologically unique area.

The scientists did conclude that there was a solution, and noted that there was not one overall piece of legislation and not one overall managing governance structure for the estuary, that would represent federal, provincial and First Nations leadership.

They proposed a 25 year investment of $381 million dollars ($15 million a year) to develop an overall regulatory act and to develop a “co-management” governance system. That on a per capita basis for each person in Metro Vancouver is the equivalent of one beer a year.

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When I first heard about the proposal for ‘Transport Pricing’ in the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan that went to council a few weeks ago, I thought, sorry, that’s a lost battle.

The political capital required to start ‘taxing the road’ is so high, reports that recommend it – like this one – are typically dead on arrival.  As elections approach, political leaders jump over each other to reject anything that looks, sounds or smells like a toll.  Here’s Bowinn Ma from the NDP, passing along the blunt words from John Horgan (who won the 2017 election by taking tolls off the Port Mann): “I have to be clear: it (congestion pricing) is not in our platform … and John Horgan has stated very clearly today that it would not be supported by our government …”

Not that it matters.  Congestion charging as it has been demonstrated in a handful of cities so far, notability Singapore and London, is way out of date – so 20th century.  Using gantries, cameras, IED passes and other visibly intrusive technology to establish a geographic cordon for pricing entry and exit for one particular part of a region will never pass the fairness test.  Why wouldn’t we include other places – for instance, the North Shore – where congestion is bad and getting worse?  (Minimally, there will have to be ‘discussion’ among the municipalities on either side of Lions Gate Bridge.)

Again, so much more political capital required.  Add in an equity requirement*, and good luck in getting a majority vote.  That’s why so few cities have done it.

So I was impressed when Council, by a bare majority, voted to support the part of the report that had actually recommended Transport Pricing (despite media, and my own, perception of what was being proposed).  Staff, having played in this rodeo a few times before (a previous report listed 14 examples), really wanted one key thing from council:  ‘Authorize us to develop a road map that will get us to Transport Pricing (TP).  Do not take it off the table, ship it off to the region, qualify it into irrelevance or remove any deadline for response’ – and that’s what they got.

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