Climate Change
October 8, 2020

Dutch Road Innovation~Bye Bye Bitumen, Hello Lignin!


Do you know what the biggest use of bitumen is? Bitumen is “low-grade crude oil which is composed of complex, heavy hydrocarbons.” It is composed of sand,water and viscous oil, and needs a lot of energy to make it into any kind of useable product. It is what the oil sands  around Fort McMurray are full of.

Once refined, 85 percent of all bitumen product is used as a “binder” in asphalt applied on roadways, airports, and parking lots. Add in gravel and crushed rock to bitumen, heat it up, and you are good for road building.

The City of Vancouver has experimented with “eco” asphalt in the past, being one of the first in Canada to use a plastic based wax to create a “lower-heat” asphalt mix in 2012.

But as Maurits Kuypers in Innovations describes the Dutch  have gone one step further in their adaptation of “bio” asphalt~asphalt that uses plant-based lignin to replace bitumen. This of course also fits in with using less oil based products.

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We’re looking for a group of young people from around the world to join C40 and our global mayors in the fight against the climate crisis.

If you are: 

– Aged 14-25
– Located in a city
– Actively involved in the youth climate movement
– Supportive of inclusive and science-based climate action to limit global warming to 1.5°C
– Committed to the principles of a Global Green New Deal

Around the world, young people are demanding action on the climate crisis to secure a just, sustainable future. As the youngest generation, their lives are most at stake. Young people have put the climate emergency on the global political agenda, demanding that global leaders respond and take action in an equitable and just way. Mayors from the world’s leading cities have heard this call and agree: we must push forward with courage and ambition to change the status quo that has generated this crisis.

Now, C40 mayors are inviting young leaders from the climate movement to be a part of shaping how the vision of a Global Green New Deal can be made a reality in cities across the world.

The Global Youth and Mayors forum will bring together around 15 young people and around 10 mayors from every continent to discuss:

• How we can implement a Global Green New Deal;
• How cities can better engage and work with youth leaders on climate to push forward ambition;
• and how youth movements and mayors can work together to push forward science-based climate action and overcome opposition.

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I have written about the City of London England being one of the first cities to embrace the concept of slower streets during the pandemic through the adoption of “red routes”. These major roads lead to the inner city and in partnership with Transport for London (TFL) the City of London developed a unified strategy to opening streets across boroughs for walking and cycling through wider sidewalks, thinner driving lanes, and road closures.

They also initiated traffic light signal changes to allow pedestrians and cyclists longer greens when crossing, knowing that walking and cycling would prevail as a way to get around during the pandemic.

Greg Ritchie writes for that many of those initiatives embraced for physical distancing will continue in the future even when the pandemic is over. In the words of Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan, the pandemic has accelerated many changes that would be happening over a much longer time period.

London’s central core the “square mile” has narrow streets that make the two metre separation for physical distancing challenging.

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America Walks presents “The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America – a conversation with author Lawrence T. Brown

Join America Walks for a conversation with Lawrence T. Brown about his upcoming book The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America. In The Black Butterfly—a reference to the fact that Baltimore’s majority-Black population spreads out on both sides of the coveted strip of real estate running down the center of the city like a butterfly’s wings—Lawrence T. Brown reveals that ongoing historical trauma caused by a combination of policies, practices, systems, and budgets is at the root of uprisings and crises in hypersegregated cities around the country. Drawing on social science research, policy analysis, and archival materials, Brown reveals the long history of racial segregation’s impact on health, from toxic pollution to police brutality.

In his book and this conversation, Lawrence T. Brown offers a clear five-step plan for activists, nonprofits, and public officials to achieve racial equity. Not content to simply describe and decry urban problems, Brown offers up a wide range of innovative solutions to help heal and restore redlined Black neighborhoods, including municipal reparations. He argues that, since urban apartheid was intentionally erected, it can be intentionally dismantled, The Black Butterfly demonstrates that America cannot reflect that Black lives matter until we see how Black neighborhoods matter. Following his presentation, he will answer questions from the moderator and the attendees.

Date: October 14th, 2020

Time: 11:00-12 noon Pacific Time

To register click on this link.



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Our words and how we view the street are all oriented for the vehicle.  Sidewalks were developed to get pedestrians out of the way of vehicle drivers so they could enjoy unfettered speed on the street. Mid-block pedestrian crossings are a lot safer for pedestrians because there are no vehicular driver turning movements, but are less convenient for car drivers  which have to stop mid-block. Instead pedestrians cross at corners where there are lots of vehicular drivers turning as well. When it is helpful to the car driving lobby, we treat vulnerable street users, those not encased in a steel cage, like vehicles.

That has transpired in language too where we have car accidents instead of crashes, and we talk about cars making right turns and crashing into hapless pedestrians instead of describing it as the inattention, speed or behaviour of the vehicle driver. It was Dr. Ian Pike, Director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at the excellent B.C. Vision Zero Summit  who provided a media briefing on the fact we just have to start labelling pedestrian crashes as the deadly catastrophes they actually are.

And that means making our media use of terms accountable too. Last week The Vancouver Sun stepped right into it with a headline proclaiming “Elderly woman dies in Point Grey after being struck by a vehicle”.  

What? Who defines elderly? And does that make it better that she died because the writer decided to list the victim that way? This was a 73 year old lady that was walking at the 10th Avenue and Sasamat signalized intersection with  pedestrian markings that was mowed down by a inattentive driver at 5:00 p.m.

It was a clear day, it was sunny, there were no excuses.

The  Vancouver Sun article then goes on that the critically injured victim was dead at arrival at the hospital and that the driver of the vehicle “remained at the scene and is co-operating with police”. 

Seriously? The driver is doing what is required as per the law.

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Cruise ships have a life of thirty years before they need to be revamped.

But in Liaga Turkey which is just north of Izmir on the Turkish coast there has been a surprising increase in cruise ships being beached here to be wrecked.  One of the cruise ships being scrapped is the former Sovereign of the Seas, the first mega cruise ship launched in 1988 with 2,278 passengers.

Other ships being wrecked include the MS Monarch, Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Inspiration.

In March 2020 American authorities issued a no-sail order for all cruise ships that remains in place.”  Cruise ships were one of the first places that the Covid pandemic appeared.

Where  previously the wrecking yards at Aliaga focused upon freighter ships, cruise ships have become a major part of the dismantling operation. It takes 2,500 workers six months to take apart a passenger ship, with ship’s furnishing recycled to hotel operators.

The volume of dismantled steel has almost doubled to 1.2 million tons since January.

The cruise industry generates about 200 billion dollars in global economic activity and provides one million jobs.

This YouTube video below by Chris Frame describes the scrapping process and how some of the items from ships, including full panelled dining rooms are reused ashore.


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 A graduate student with the Urban Studies program at Simon Fraser University is looking for participants for a masters research study titled: Exploring the role of the outdoor built environment for aging in place: A look into the False Creek South neighbourhood.

The intention is to understand older adults’ ages 65+ years perspectives on aging in place issues and impacts of the outdoor physical environment on their ability to remain in False Creek South for as long as possible.

The study involves an online semi-structured interview over Zoom video online conference. The interview will be approximately 45 minutes long. Participation is completely voluntary and you may withdraw from the interview at any time. The study is completely anonymous, it does not require you to provide your name or any other identifying information.

This study is being done by City of Vancouver staffer, mom, AND graduate student Beverly Chew .

Bev is specifically  seeking older adults ages 65+ years living in False Creek South to participate in a photo-taking and photo documentation activity, followed up with an interview. You can email Beverly at for further information.

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The Duke of Data Andy Yan seems to be everywhere these days, bringing practical information,municipal data, and a prudent approach on how best to navigate through the Covid crisis. He brings a clear, cogent, well researched and thought out voice to the pandemic conversation, and has really raised the profile of Simon Fraser University’s City Program as an active, engaged place with a researcher who always has time for students and discussion.

Mr. Yan  in concert with the Canadian Urban Institute has worked on a data base to assist with the recovery of retail and commercial districts in Canada. That database access is absolutely free.

With a long and still expanding list of main street partners Mr. Yan is part of a nationally-coordinated research and advocacy campaign ensuring best solutions for Covid-19 recovery. The strategy includes main street business leaders as well as leaders from academia, developers, industry and professional organizations and advocacy groups.

With an aim to enrich the “value of our main streets~their connection to the health of the economy, social life, and vitality of our neighbourhoods and cities” the work strategizes actions that “can guarantee their survival”.

As Nic Rockell in BC Business writes the Main Street Primer helps to navigate a “sea of data” to enable commercial areas to bounce back from the pandemic with resiliency.  This national project was undertaken with the Canadian Urban Institute through their “Bring Back Main Street” initiative.

By carefully examining seven commercial areas in British Columbia and Ontario, the data compares business closures, foot traffic before and after the pandemic, and other factors that changed how the street was being used.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020 – 1:00pm EDT

Healthy, vibrant communities are often places where you can walk safely to school, the grocery store, or just down the street to a neighbors house. Walkable communities are good for our physical health, but also our neighborhood’s health. And yet, pedestrian deaths are up 50% in the last decade, and the stark geographic patterns of traffic violence tell a story about systemic inequality—where immigrants, the poor, and people of color are disproportionately impacted by traffic violence. In this live webinar, hear about some of the causes of this public-health crisis, and learn about some of the programs and movements that are beginning to respond. You’ll also hear from every day neighbors who stepped up to address pedestrian safety in their communities, and see how you could do it too.

Panelists for the webinar are:

Angie Schmitt, author of Right of Way
Rachel Jefferson, one of the project leaders with Come Walk with Us WYCO
Adé E. Neff , project leader with Street Beats.
This webinar is co-hosted by ioby. (In My Back Yard)

Date: Wednesday October 7, 2020

Time: 10:00 Pacific Time

To register please click on this link.

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It has been Duke of Data Andy Yan who has been reminding us forever that there is a radical disconnect between household income and the price of housing. People working in Metro Vancouver can’t afford to buy housing here.

In 2017 Mr. Yan summed it up this way:

It’s surprising to me that we have only  the 15th highest incomes in Metro Vancouver, even coming behind Toronto. What we learned today is in Vancouver you are living in paradise, but your wages are in purgatory.” 

The median household income Mr. Yan was referring to is $72,662. At that time he saw the major issue was how to reconnect local incomes to local housing, noting that needed policy enactment would be  different in each city.

Photographer and former editor of Price Tags  Ken Ohrn sends along this article by Natalie Obiko Pearson who writes that Amazon. com is expecting to triple its workforce in Vancouver. Why? Because software engineers here are “cheap, smart and plentiful”, like an overabundant agricultural crop.

A conversation with an Amazon vice president revealed that  a “weak loonie, lower wages and a steady flow of graduates make Canada an attractive place to expand for tech companies whose largest expense is labour”. 

 The salaries in Vancouver are substantially less than for similar jobs south of the border, as are office rents.

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