April 16, 2018

A Speed Bump and Earthquake Fissures in Mexico City

The Director of Engineering at the City of Vancouver, Jerry Dobrovolny was in Mexico City assessing the earthquake damage which severely impacted some of the poorest neighbourhoods. He sent this photo of an augmented speed bump.
The two photos below show the impact of an earthquake fissure three feet deep that runs through a park, and also separates a parking garage from the ramp into the back lane. Photos by Jerry Dobrovolny.

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Yes, carwalking is a  thing, and surprisingly became popular with Michael Hartmann in Munich Germany back in the 1980’s. He took this kind of thing seriously, climbing over hoods of cars that were in his way. Think back to the 1970’s and 1980’s, when motordom reigned supreme and everything was just a freeway ride away. Of course vehicles took advantage of their use of space and parked just about anywhere.
Besides Michael Hartmann other creative individuals have also carwalked, including the legendary Peatonito in Mexico City. Wearing a wrestler’s mask and superhero cape he “works tirelessly” through humour and other pedestrians to draw attention to cars that are in pedestrians’ way. This link from citylab shows Peatonito’s actions in New York City traffic a few years back.

And here is the link to Michael Hartmann’s Autoschreck video from 1993  describing why he carwalks. Has much changed in 25 years  in the relationship between pedestrians and vehicles in the pursuit of safe and equitable space?

And one more with Mission Impossible music, from Honduras, to complete the Friday file. This can also be viewed here.


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The C40 Mayors Summit has just finished in Mexico City and incoming Chair of the C40, Mayor of Paris Anne Hildalgo has announced a remarkable policy-four world cities, all known for their sometimes questionable air quality have committed to banning  all diesel vehicles in their municipalities by 2025. Following Tokyo’s lead the mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens stated that they would promote walking and biking, and incentivize the use of  other technologies in vehicles.
In Europe where gasoline is expensive, diesel can be a more cost-effective alternative for running vehicles. But with the World Health Organization attributing three million deaths a year to outdoor pollution exposure,  diesel engines have been pinpointed as a particular problem.

As the BBC notes: “Diesel engines contribute to the problem in two key ways – through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death. Nitrogen oxides can help form ground level ozone and this can exacerbate breathing difficulties, even for people without a history of respiratory problems”.

These types of changes will mean that car makers will need to adapt to new regulations, and look for alternative ways to power vehicles. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is considering expanding an innovative Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London’s centre. And the Mayor of Mexico City states:: “It is no secret that in Mexico City, we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic”.

The banning of diesel vehicles and the promotion of active transportation and connected transit routes promises to rewrite what a legible city looks and feels like. Paris has already undertaken a regulatory ban on vehicles registered before 1997 from even entering the city,  and has embraced the closing of the Champs-Elysee to vehicular traffic one day a month.  Price Tags has also written about  a three kilometer section of the right bank of the Seine, once a throughway for motor cars becoming a walkers’ paradise, despite the fury of commuting traffic.

Eliminating diesel engine use is a direct approach to addressing the health of the city. Will Metro Vancouver follow?

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