Motordom
February 21, 2019

Singing Road in Netherlands Drives Residents Batty

It developed as a novel method to regulate speed on local roads, and ended up being more disturbing than helpful. Leeuwarden in the Netherlands had just been named European Culture Capital and wanted to celebrate by having the  anthem of northern Friesland played out when cars drove over the nearby highway at the correct speed.

As the BBC News reported that all sounds well and good and would have been entertaining for the drivers. But no one expected that the  sound created by driving over “strategically-laid rumble strips“, would travel to adjacent residences.  The melody when driven over at 60 km/h would be loud enough to disturb citizens who called the acoustical project ” psychological torture”.

Read more »

In Barcelona residents living around Plaza del Sol, a popular square told authorities they were experiencing noise at all hours of the night. With the aid of sensors placed on their balconies they were able to record night-time noise at 100 decibels which are “far higher than World Health Organization recommendations”. With that information the residents were able to go to their city council with data, insisting that council rethink the uses of their popular plaza for nocturnal party makers.

As reported by the BBC, the residents were participating in an European Union project “Making Sense”  that using the smart city philosophy gave data back to the citizens.

Read more »

 

From the Saskatchewan in Motion program coaching children to walk to school and be more active in their communities is this “Bingo” card designed for children to take out on their winter walks.

And as Wildernook Fresh Air Training enthuses “This weekend we’re taking a break from our regular neighbourhood walking game of I Spy to try out Saskatchewan in Motion’s Winter Walking Bingo Card.

Read more »

We all know them and they are popular in cities~those blocky apartment buildings often with retail on the main floor . They’ve been called “stumpies” or “five-over-one” (relating to the condo units above the ground level retail use) but the form and function are completely familiar. Maybe a bit too common.

Justin Fox in Bloomberg Businessweek  describes this building form this way:  “The number of floors and the presence of a podium varies; the key unifying element, it turns out, is under the skin. They’re almost always made of softwood two-by-fours, or “stick,” in construction parlance, that have been nailed together in frames like those in suburban tract houses.” Fox sees these buildings everywhere~while 187,000 housing units were built in buildings of 50 units or more in the United States last year,  half of those units appear to be in this blocky mid-rise form. The balloon or stick framing construction costs appear to be from 20 to 40 percent less than buildings with “concrete, steel or masonry.”

The building method can take advantage of cheaper casual labour , and construction lumber is plentiful.

Read more »

I have been writing that there is one simple and inexpensive way to make roads safer for everyone and that is to lower the  vehicular speed limits. According to the European Transport Safety Council Switzerland is one of the safest countries in Europe to travel due to enforced speed limits that cap travel on highways at 120 km/h. Those speeds are strictly enforced by automatic cameras, with a rising scale of fines depending on how much over the limit drivers were travelling.

Via Neil Arason,  the National Post  discusses the  new 80 km/h speed limits that have been enforced in France over the last six months. Road deaths have been increasing in France, prompting the federal government to lower speed limits on 400,000 kilometers of “B” class road from 90 km/h to 80 km/h in July 2018.  Fifty-five percent of all road deaths occur on these Class “B”  roads that have no central divider or guard rail. In 32 percent of the fatalities  on these secondary roads the major factor was speed.

As The Guardian observed “The government has compared the 80 km/h limit..to the laws enacted since 1973 requiring the use of seat belts, and the installation of automatic speed radars in 2002. Those laws also drew the ire of thousands of drivers, but contributed to nearly four decades of declines in automobile deaths in France, which reached a historic low of 3,268 in 2013.”

Read more »

Imagine you are in a country that is looking to increase investment in a floundering real estate market. Even though real estate prices are now at 40 percent from their peak, Greece has not recovered from the 2009 debt crisis, and is offering  visas to non-European Union citizens when they invest 250,000 Euros in real estate. This is cheaper than Portugal’s offer of a visa which requires twice the investment of at least 500,000 Euros. Those prices translate to 374,000 Canadian dollars in real estate in Greece to obtain a visa, and 748,000 Canadian dollars  to get a visa in Portugal.

There are three direct flights a week from China to Greece, and for those Chinese investors in Athens real estate their buying power enables them to purchase two properties for the price of one in Portugal. Despite curbs on the exporting of currency from China,  Chinese investment has continued in Greece, along with Russian and Turkish real estate investment.

Read more »

While everyone waits to hear what the Provincial government is recommending for the new Massey Bridge/Tunnel/Fraser River crossing, it appears that Delta NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon spilled the beans that it is not one, but three options that will be developed and released for public comment in early 2020.

As Sandor Gyarmati reports in the Delta Optimist the Province announced in November 2018 that the multi-billion dollar ten lane Massey Bridge, a pet project of the previous Provincial Liberal government was axed.

Read more »

Addressing the popular myth that people migrate to warmer places to be homeless, this article in the Los Angeles Times  by Gale Holland outlines that five homeless individuals died from causes that included hypothermia in Los Angeles last year.

By comparison, two homeless people in New York City and two in San Francisco died of hypothermia in the same period.

“Hypothermia has led to more deaths in L.A. than in colder regions because 39,000 homeless people here live outdoors — by far the most of any metropolitan area in the country. L.A.’s generally moderate Mediterranean climate is no shield, because hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 50 degrees, experts say.”

A 2007 report from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council suggests that going without a hat can “drain up to half of a person’s body heat, and wet clothing can intensify heat loss twentyfold.” 

Read more »

 

Here are three interesting items that are linked to sustainability and surprisingly  involve the province of Alberta. As noted on Twitter by @TheGentYYC some extraordinary initiatives are moving that province in a greener direction. First off,  that Canadian oil stalwart, Petro Canada is building a network of Electric Vehicle (EV) fast charging stations across Canada.

Petro Canada says “Keeping people moving is what we do, and we know that Canadians needs are evolving. We want to help you along your journey, which is why we are building a cross-Canada network of EV fast charge stations. To keep you moving toward what matters most to you.”

As @TheGentYYC points out Petro Canada is owned by Suncor, the world’s largest producer of bitumen. Suncor had a revenue of over 29 billion dollars in 2015 and owns the oils sands plant near Fort McMurray.  For Suncor to sponsor electric vehicle charging stations is a “tectonic event” and suggestive of a major policy shift in “corporate climate leadership”.

Read more »

Simon Fraser University’s City Program is offering this two-day intensive course on how to develop the principles and strategies needed to plan healthy communities.

Building on recent work and new research on the relationship between urban design and public health, your instructors will introduce you to the Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Linkages Toolkit and provide guidance on how to develop a health impact assessment.

The course will be interactive, with guest speakers from the Metro Vancouver public health community, but also grounded in the practical demands of local government policy development, design and implementation.

Instructors and Guest Speakers

Neal LaMontagne, adjunct professor, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning

Claire Gram, Population Health Policy and Project Lead, Vancouver Coastal Health

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health

Charito Gailling, Project Manager, BC Centre for Disease Control

Lianne Carley, Vancouver Coastal Health Population Health Team

Read more »