April 8, 2019

London’s New Ultra Low Emission Zone Reduces Pollution, Sickness, Deaths

London leads in the intersection of  health and transportation planning for safer, healthier cities.  Asthma is a lung disease where the airways of the lungs are swollen and  inflamed, making it harder to breathe.  London, United Kingdom is the first city in the world  introducing ULEZ zones in the inner city. ULEZ stands for Ultra-Low Emission Zone and as reported in the Guardian implementation of this zone will “reduce the 36,000 deaths caused in the UK every year by outdoor pollution.”

London is wasting no time with the zone change happening on April 8. The World Health Organization has identified outdoor air pollution as  causing over 4.2 million premature deaths in low, middle and high income countries around the world. In cities particulates from diesel engines enters the bloodstream and damages heart and circulatory systems, impacting the most vulnerable and low-income. Since London estimates  50 percent of air pollution is from vehicles and 40 percent of that from diesel vehicles, charging more for diesel vehicles’ access to the centre city should be a deterrent and have healthy consequences.

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In these two current Streetviews of the Granville and Burrard Bridges, I counted the number of pedestrians, cyclists and cars – and yes, I know the weather is distinctly different in each.  (Click title of post to see images.)



Roughly, about the same number of cars on both, a few less pedestrians on the Granville, but no cyclists.   Notice, especially, the four south-bound lanes: empty.

That’s why the City’s proposal for a new walking, rolling, and cycling path across the Granville Bridge, without adversely affecting vehicles – cars, trucks, transit – is doable.  Just as we did on Burrard.

The draft project goals are to:

– Make walking, rolling, and cycling across the bridge accessible, safe, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
– Provide direct and intuitive walking, rolling, and cycling connections to key destinations and to the rest of the network
– Create a special place that provides an enjoyable experience for all.
– Accommodate motor vehicles, considering the needs of transit, emergency services, and people driving.
– Design with the future in mind, considering related projects and opportunities to coordinate work.

It was identified as a priority in the early 2000s as part of a False Creek Crossing Study, and included in the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan (2012).


Your chance to participate in the design is coming up.

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This is a very big deal.

You know the line: “If you can make it there …”

The fees are part of a groundbreaking congestion pricing plan … which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed upon early Sunday morning.

New York will become the first American city to charge such fees, though congestion pricing has been in place for years in London, Stockholm and Singapore, among other communities. The fees are expected to raise billions of dollars to fix the city’s troubled subway system and thin out streets that have become strangled by traffic.

Here’s some context … and implications for the rest of us:

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Design editor Lloyd Alter of Tree Hugger sums up what is truly happening in the “sharing the road” adage that is so popular these days. As Lloyd recalls in this article in  “Everyone hates everyone”. That is a pretty true statement and we have to do a better job and get that done now.

 Lloyd Alter states “Unless we start planning now and figuring out how to share the space we have equitably, in 10 years it won’t be drivers hating pedestrians hating cyclists, It will be everybody hating old people. Because we will be everywhere.”

It really is not about a demographic time bomb of old people showing up on adult tricycles scooting along bike lanes. It is really about our discussion on why when talking about sharing space, we still pit pedestrians against cyclists, giving vehicular users a relatively free pass to the rest of the street without much discussion.

I wrote about the unfortunate bicycle crash that happened with City of Vancouver’s Transportation manager (and all around nice guy) Dale Bracewell who suffered a shattered elbow when a vehicle literally debiked him.  Both Lloyd Alter and Dale quoted the just released study from Australia which suggests that many motorists don’t see cyclists as real people and vulnerable road users with as much right to the road space as they do. You can take a look at that study here.

If you have been a cyclist or a pedestrian in Australian cities you will know it is still a bit like the wild west, with vehicles having priority on streets, and state government at odds with the big cities who want to traffic calm on state run road networks and give pedestrians priority at signalized intersections.

Of course there are issues between cyclists and pedestrians as well.

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It is a bit of a 21st century thing~when a city hall staffer looks like they had been in a bar fight it usually is the result of a bike crash.. But it was extremely troubling news when the City of Vancouver’s transportation manager Dale Bracewell who was cycling to work from the north shore took the full brunt of road rage from a driver who sped off after knocking Dale off his bike.

Dale Bracewell is simply a nice guy and his kids’ dad as well as doing a lot of work advocating for safer streets for cyclists in Vancouver. Dale took to Twitter on Thursday morning stating

 “Today this was so real as an aggressive driver knocked me over while I was biking to work,I’m in the hospital right now getting x-rays. I still am in shock that a driver did something like this. Thanks to all who cared for me after the car knocked me over.”

Dale also did the right thing by not describing what happened but contacting the Vancouver Police Department and ICBC ( Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) to immediately follow-up. And that driver who left the scene after knocking Dale off his bicycle is responsible for Dale’s fractured elbow.

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I have written before about leading pedestrian crossing intervals  for pedestrian crossings.  Last summer I wrote about New York City’s successful implementation of them which has resulted in a 40 percent decrease in pedestrian and cyclist injuries, and a decline in deaths.

It’s a very simple concept. For a nominal cost of $1,200 per intersection, crossing lights are reprogrammed to give pedestrians a seven to ten second start (in New York City) to cross the street before vehicular traffic is allowed to proceed through a crosswalk. There are over 100 of these leading pedestrian crossing intervals installed in New York City where their transportation policies prioritize the safety of walkers over vehicular movement.

Carlito Pablo in the Georgia Straight has taken a look at the City of Vancouver’s Transportation Plan that notes that 75 percent of Vancouver’s vehicular collisions with pedestrians happen at intersections. In his article he wonders why the City is not looking at implementing more of these leading pedestrian intervals to stop injuries and save lives.

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The City of Vancouver’s Greenway system comprises of a network of 140 kilometers of streets that are designed for walking and biking as a priority. This was an  innovative concept that was developed by the Urban Landscape Task Force chaired by Moura Quayle  in the early 1990’s under Mayor Gordon Campbell’s leadership. The original intent was to have a greenway a 20 minute walk or a ten minute bicycle ride from every residence in Vancouver. For some reason that has changed to a 25 minute walk on the city’s website in the last couple of years. You can read a bit more about greenways at the City’s link here.

Price Tags has been writing about the two kilometer downtown  Comox-Helmcken Greenway that links Hornby Street to Stanley Park and you can see some images here,  posted by Gordon Price when the greenway first opened in 2016. Like many things, the City has built a lot of the network, but has not undertaken any analysis of  the greenways’ effectiveness and impact on city residents~until now.

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Over the years, I thought I had seen all the renderings and sketches for the various freeway proposals that had been put forward in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Nope.  The indispensable John Mackie, the Sun journalist with the time, interest and access to the paper’s archives, has pulled out some great pics to illustrate this week’s history column: 1967 — Wacky Bennett and Tom Terrific team up to push for a third crossing.

In the 1960s everybody seemed to have a plan for a new bridge or tunnel at the First Narrows. But nobody wanted to pay for it.

So on March 23, 1967, Social Credit Premier W.A.C. Bennett came up with a funding formula: 40 per cent from the federal government, 40 per cent from the provincial and civic governments, and 20 per cent from the National Harbours Board and the developers of Project 200, a giant highrise development on the downtown waterfront.

Bennett talked Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell into supporting his plan. But federal Liberal Arthur Laing dismissed it as “ridiculous nonsense.” …

The same day Bennett announced his formula, a consortium of four city engineering firms unveiled a $57-million plan to twin the Lions Gate Bridge.

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It’s not a park, and, at least for buses, not very royal.  Nor for their riders, waiting in the rain:


This is the stop for all West Van buses heading east, north and south.  It’s really a slightly enlarged bus stop serving as a transit exchange, except without sidewalk capacity, real-time signage, adequate seating and overhead protection.  Forget any prospect of a washroom.

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The Planning Institute of British Columbia South Coast Chapter  is offering an afternoon  workshop on Accessibility~Understanding the Why and Then the How.

We invite urban planners, policy makers, architects, builders, engineers, park planners and anyone else who can learn from meeting people with various and levels of abilities that face barriers in the built environment. Let us learn how to make the built environment easy and safe to navigate from a mother with a baby carriage, grandmother with bags of groceries, Andrea Bocelli and friends, to Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye

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