COVID Place making
September 17, 2020

How do we start limiting congestion NOW?

A challenge question for PT readers:

How should we start to limit congestion before it becomes unacceptable?

There’s a real-life experiment unfolding on our streets – one that will fundamentally affect our future – discussed here in “Our Real World Experiment in Traffic Congestion. “

As people switch from transit to cars, it won’t take much to fill up available road space.  It may only take a 10-15 percent to reach a level of inefficiency and frustration where we reverse the gains we’ve made in this region, notably with transit, in the last half century.   Without response, something has to break, even if we don’t yet know what that level is.  Waiting until we get to a breaking point seems kinda stupid knowing how much more difficult it is to reverse something if instead we can limit it before it happens.

Knowing we will have to slow, stop and reverse a move to post-Covid motordom worse than pre-March, what steps should we take now?

Read more »

One of the drawbacks of the use of wind turbines is the massive amount of birds killed by them each year.  It is estimated by Audubon that of this form of “green” energy is actually the most deadly. In the United States there are 49,000 wind turbines in 39 states. They are responsible for the death of 140,000 to 328,000 birds annually. Another study suggests that number is higher, and does not include the deaths of 800,000 bats annually.

In Canada there are 6,600 wind turbines that kill 54,000 birds annually. Nature Canada estimates that  in ten years as wind energy increases ten-fold, bird kills will approach 500,000 on an annual basis.

There are various techniques that have been trialled to keep birds away from the blades of the turbines including radar, GPS, bright lights, and even dressing turbines up to mimic trees. Industry has even tried to produce “smart blades” that sense when a bird is approaching.

And it’s not just about the birds, as damage from bird strikes also compromises the blades which are difficult and expensive to repair.

 But as Alex Fox in The Smithsonian and Mark Kinver with the BBC have reported a new study published in Ecology and Evolution has found that if just one of a wind turbine’s blades is painted black, the number of birds killed is greatly reduced. The study done in Norway found that turbines with one black blade killed 71.9 percent fewer birds.

At the Smøla wind farm in Norway “the researchers found that nearly 500 birds were killed by the site’s 68 turbines over a 10 year period. After finding a 2002 study suggesting a single black blade may help deter birds the team decided to try it out on four turbines beginning in 2013.”

The next year found only six birds killed by the painted turbines versus 18 killed by four unpainted turbines. How does this work?

Read more »

Ian Robertson found one solution in Paris.  From Euroactiv:

In Paris, as in many European cities, the number of cars is declining, which is leaving a vast amount of underground car parks empty. With its start-up project called “La Caverne”, Cycloponics is reclaiming these urban territories and using them as a way of growing plenty of organic vegetables. …

At Porte de la Chapelle in Paris, the two have set up a 3,500 m2 urban farm located underground, in a former car park. …  Gertz and Champagnat responded to call for tenders from Paris, whose empty car parks were squatted by consumers and crack dealers. It’s been more than two years now since ‘organic has replaced crack’, and about fifteen jobs have been created. …



Small packets of water-soluble, sterilised and packaged straw are hung from floor to ceiling, and the mushrooms grow through tiny holes. Everything is calculated to ensure their optimal growth. The air is saturated with moisture, the endives grow in the dark, and the mushrooms get a few LED lights.

But the car park has definite advantages over the limestone cavities usually used to grow mushrooms, as there is a permanent and precise control of the weather, as well as better thermal stability. …  Farming in car parks also makes it possible to better resist the climate crisis. Parasites and other insects, for instance, are rather rare in the subsoil, even if endive tubers and straw bought outside can also be vectors of diseases, such as sclerotinia, which destroyed part of this year’s endive harvest. …

“In Paris, as in many European capitals, people no longer have cars, there are too many parking lots, especially in the poorest districts. But we also visited unused car parks on the Champs-Elysée. It would be possible to do something about it!” according to the entrepreneurs.

Full article here.

Read more »