Transportation
September 30, 2020

Free Webinar~Right of Way~Organizing for Equitable Walkable Communities

IOBY AND ISLAND PRESS WEBINAR: RIGHT OF WAY: ORGANIZING FOR EQUITABLE, WALKABLE COMMUNITIES
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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In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department, three railway workers at Grand Central Station in New York City converted an unused room below the station into a private room for themselves.

The remodelling of the subterranean room was only reported last year, and the workers have furnished it with all the modern conveniences~there was a wall-mounted TV with a streaming device, a sofa, beer fridge, air mattress and microwave.  There was even a pull out bed cleverly hidden in an adjoining work room.

As reported by MSN, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector Carolyn Pokorny understood the fascination with it all:

Many a New Yorker has fantasized about kicking back with a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan real estate– especially one this close to good transportation. But few would have the chutzpah to commandeer a secret room beneath Grand Central Terminal & make it their very own man-cave sustained with MTA resources, and maintained at our riders’ expense.”

The three men who allegedly created and used the room have been suspended without pay and denied their involvement, despite addressed packaging  and half filled beer cans with finger prints on the exterior.

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It was Eric Doherty that started it all in this article by Jennifer Saltman in the Province.  In the summer more than 250 government leaders who are affiliated with the Climate Caucus sent an open letter stating that Covid related economic recovery monies should not be used for expanding highways and airports but fr supporting transit service, walking and biking.

In Canada after oil and gas industries it is transportation that is the largest source of greenhouse gas emsisons. In British Columbia  transportation produces 37 percent of emissions. Mr. Doherty representing the Better Transit Alliance in Victoria sees Covid recovery as an opportunity to reinforce transit which is suffering with lower ridership in this phase of the pandemic.

There are a few changes already evident from the pandemic. The first is that there is a clear adaptation to working at home. Mario Canseco’s work shows that 73 percent of Canadians expect to continue some kind of work at home, while 63 percent think that business travel and meetings are gone,with internet applications like Zoom replacing those trips.

The second change is that there has been an increase in physical activity as one of Mr. Canseco’s latest polls with Research.co indicates.  Two-thirds of people in this province say they are walking more despite living at home, and 26 percent of all people are running or jogging more.

But if more people are working from home, and as in the case of London
England only 25 percent of workers have come back to work in the downtown because of Covid concerns, what shifts can be made?

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Translation: Will the increase in people working at home mean we’ll drive less?

Answer: Apparently not.

Here’s a summary from the terrifically named Center for Advanced Hindsight:

While there may be less commuting, there will be more local trips for shopping and, no doubt, Zoom breaks.

There’s another big implication that’s not mentioned: possibly less congestion during the traditional drive times, but heavier traffic throughout the day.  More accidents too, I’d bet.  And more conflict in how we allocate or reapportion road space.  (In other words, bike lane wars.)

The real-time experiment as a consequence of the pandemic in how we manage our transportation network shouldn’t be wasted.  Minimally we should be measuring and reporting on the day-to-day changes that are occurring out there (as discussed here in “How do we start limiting congestion NOW?“)  and then trying out different options so we don’t lose the gains we’ve made even as we respond to the ‘climate emergency’.

(Of course, ‘climate emergency’ is not a concern of the Park Board apparently, which showed how easy it is to succumb to the desire to go back to ‘just the way it was.’   Even though we never can and never should.)

 

 

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Heads up, transit nerds (or anyone curious about the literal insides of our transit system): local Vancouver blogger Mike (born and raised!) DownieLivespent the day in Vancouver with Translink, checking out their bus simulator, an electric trolley bus, SeaBus, the West Coast Express and the SkyTrain.”

Love his enthusiasm when he’s driving a trolley. ( And totally not surprised to see trolley advocate and driver Derek Cheung in the background.)

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This is the way we like to think of Chinatown~a place to buy fresh groceries with wide sidewalks for stopping and looking in windows, and a place to go to bakeries or to restaurants for some of the best food in the city. But look a little closer.  Here on Pender Street the sidewalk is littered with cigarettes, newspapers and discarded clothing.

Even the Chinatown historic photo mural is defaced. Walk a little further and the area seems like a movie set of street maintenance abandonment.

 

 

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There are two kinds of towns in the Okanagan (and most of BC).

It depends on the provincial roads that connect them.  Some, as in Osoyoos, have a highway that divides the centre-right through its heart.


Very often the highway, like Crowsnest, is literally Main Street – a ‘stroad’ that has looked essentially the same for more than half a century: broad, muscular, low-slung and unambiguous.  Mid-century motordom, which even today, despite attempts to make them more friendly for people not in cars (which is the way most of them got there), are still car dominant.

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The Park Board has justified the removal of the bike lane in Stanley Park because “The data tells us we can return the park to its conventional traffic patterns.”  Now the question is whether the Beach Avenue bikeway will be removed for the same reason: winter is coming, so we’ll go back to the conventional pattern.

What our leaders do will tell us what kind of city we aspire to be.  Imagine the slogan: “Vancouver, the Conventional City.”  

Ian Austen who writes the Canada Letter for New York Times sees another kind of opportunity:

 

By late spring, it was becoming nearly impossible to buy a bike anywhere in the world. That was a reflection both of the unexpected surge in demand and a supply chain that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most bikes, aside from high-end, customized offerings, are churned out by a small number of companies based in Taiwan that have extensive operations in China. My colleague Raymond Zhong recently profiled the biggest of those companies, the aptly named Giant, and its chairwoman, Bonnie Tu. (Article here.)

In Ottawa, Canada’s bicycle boom has exhibited itself in an unusual way. The morning and afternoon bicycle rush hour didn’t return. But when I’m out doing errands by bike, it’s now often a struggle to find a parking space outside stores. And on weekends, when I’m on rides measured in hours, it’s increasingly common to see people on very inexpensive bicycles, who are not wearing fancy cycling clothes, cycling well outside the city.

Many cities have responded. Cars have been temporarily barred from some lanes or entire roads in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and elsewhere. In addition to closing streets, Halifax has moved to slow motor traffic on some streets and limit vehicles to residents.

The question now is, will this enthusiasm for cycling survive winter and the post-pandemic period?

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In the last three years there has been a lot of chest thumping at how autonomous vehicles would infiltrate the market, and how fast this technological change would happen. I have written about the autonomous vehicle that drove across the United States. The vehicle achieved that only on the highway, and had to avoid being autonomous in cities.

While the technology is being developed for the trucking industry as an advanced driving assistance system (ADAS), it is telling that it can only be used on highways. The reason is that this technology called “Copilot” cannot differentiate narrow streets, oncoming traffic, pedestrians and cyclists, all the components at play in a city setting. Despite the claims of autonomous vehicle boosters that the technology is close to being adopted in cities, the sophistication of the systems to recognize and respond to the multitude of discrete movements in a city have still not been developed.

Some of the speakers in the excellent AARP Transportation conference held last week were even more blunt. They posit that the Level Five completely autonomous technology is being developed by software engineers that live in a certain part of California, are used to certain populations of people, and have designed software based upon their own experience of open space and streets.

There have been suggestions that the current technology does not recognize human shadows, and has difficulty recognizing the human form in darker clothes or shapes.

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