Motordom
April 17, 2019

What happens when you tear down a freeway?

Nothing new or surprising here for Motordomheads, but a real nicely paced visual summary of three case studies: Portland’s Harbour Drive, San Francisco’s Embarcadero and Seattle’s Alaskan Way – real-life examples of what happens when a section of freeway is removed or closed.

Why, why does Carmageddon never happen?  (Confident prediction: same with Vancouver’s Viaducts.)

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From the South China Morning Post:

The son of a Chinese tycoon is buying a C$5.1 million (US$3.8 million) custom Bugatti sports car in Vancouver, apparently with his father’s Union Pay credit card, according to a picture of the invoice the young man posted on Instagram to complain about Canadian taxes.

Ding Chen published a copy of the bill bearing his father Chen Mailin’s name on his Instagram stories, with an exasperated message overlaid in Chinese: “These taxes … my heart feels tired”.

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Speed kills in cities, and in Great Britain many cities are considering lowering speed limits within their jurisdictions to save lives and reduce injuries under the banner “20 (miles per hour) is plenty”. Portland Oregon as part of its commitment to eliminate all road deaths by 2025 has adopted the Vision Zero approach, accepting no road deaths as acceptable on their street networks.

Last year the city of Portland Oregon lowered the speed limits on their municipal road system from a default speed of 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour, or 32 kilometers per hour. In one year, the results are starting to come in, with a death toll on the roads of 34 people in 2018, a reduction from the 45 lives lost in 2017 before the reduced speeds.

There is sea change in the United States regarding road safety. A University of Chicago  poll of 2,000 U.S. residents  showed that 60 percent were “were supportive of using speed and red-light cameras as an automated enforcement tool. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said they would support lowering a speed limit by 5 miles per hour if it was justified with crash data.”

Lowering road speeds in cities has a remarkable impact on crash survival rates for vulnerable road users~a pedestrian has a 20 percent survival rate being crashed into at 30 miles per hour. That increases to 70 percent at 25 miles per hour and to 90 percent at 20 miles per hour. In the United States municipal speed limits are set by each state or territory, with the default speed being 25 miles per hour or 40 kilometers per hour.

The cities of Portland and Eugene have been looking at the safety system and Vision Zero approach embraced by European countries like the Netherlands and Sweden in making their cities safer. A “context-sensitive approach that emphasizes safety for vulnerable road users will lead to safer outcomes on streets in urban areas” 

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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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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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Last month I wrote about the prudent initiative in France where the speed on secondary roads has now been cut back from 90 km/h to 80 km/h on the 400,000 kilometers of these roads. “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.” 

And if you were wondering, France has 5.1 road deaths per 100,000 population; Canada has more at 6.0 road deaths per 100,000.

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.” 

The reaction in France was mixed, with motoring and car clubs vehemently against the speed reductions, and in December 60 percent of the speed cameras had been vandalised.

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Kudos to the European Parliament who are not messing around about saving lives and reducing injury on European roads. Realizing that simply slowing speed on roads by one kilometer an hour would save 2,100 lives, the installation of  intelligent speed assistance (ISA) in new vehicles is being mandated to all new purchased cars in the next three years.

The ISA does not brake the vehicle, but limits the top speed by throttling engine fuel. Speed sign recognition cameras and a GPS-driven speed limit data system inform the vehicle about traveled speed.

Carlton Reid in Forbes.com observes that even though this technology has existed since the early 20th century speed regulators on vehicles have never been adopted by governments. The use of ISA if universally applied can reduce deaths by 20 percent.

Currently the vehicles with this technology can shut it off.

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While many cities have undertaken initiatives to make it safer and more convenient for walking and biking, the motor industry has been selling bigger and larger vehicles, with over 1.4 million Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers being sold in the United States in the first quarter of 2018. What is the difference between these two categories? A SUV is a vehicle built on a truck platform, while a crossover is a unibody construction on a car platform, and is supposed to  be more maneuverable and parkable. Both of these are large vehicles and are outselling sedans.

Indeed trucks and SUVs comprise 60 percent of the new vehicle purchases in the United States, and have been contributing to an increasing proportion of pedestrian deaths. From 2009 to 2016  pedestrian deaths have risen 46 percent and are directly linked to the increase of these large vehicles on the road.

Statistics show that SUVs with the high front end grille is twice as likely to kill pedestrians because of the high engine profile, but this information has not been well publicized. In the United States a federal initiative to include pedestrian crash survival into the vehicle ranking system was halted by opposing automakers.

So why are people buying these large vehicles?

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February 22, 2019

Vancouver’s Jericho Lands are essentially 90 acres of greenfield, located amid some of Canada’s most expensive and most desirable real estate.  [Ocean Views!!]

Here’s your chance to have your say about the evolving plan. Remember, though, Ken Sim and the NPA did not win council — so you won’t get a veto, even if that were possible here, given who owns the land.

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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”.

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