How Much Does Idling at Red Lights Contribute to Urban Air Pollution?

Characterisation of nanoparticle emissions and exposure at traffic intersections through fast–response mobile and sequential measurements (17 page pdf, Anju Goela, Prashant Kumar, Atmospheric Environment, Feb. 3, 2015)

Also discussed here: Stopping at red lights exposes drivers to high levels of air pollution (ScienceDaily, Feb.12, 2015)

And here: Red Lights Are Air Pollution Hotspots (Jenna Iacurci, Nature World News, Feb. 21, 2015)

Today we review research into the role that traffic lights play in adding to the exposure of drivers, pedestrians and the nearby environment to toxic vehicle emissions. Results indicate that the 2% of time on the road spent idling at traffic lights contributes 25% to the exposure to particulate matter from emissions. The tendency for cars to be close together while waiting at red lights adds to the concentration of the pollution emitted and the development of urban “hot spots”. Adding to the pollution is frequent acceleration and braking that takes place along a road with signalized lights. Not directly mentioned are the benefits of using modern roundabouts to avoid these periods of pollution while idling.

traffic intersection hot spots

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

How Well is Congestion Pricing Accepted?

How Does Congestion Pricing Affect Household Behavior? (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Mat. 4, 2015)

Also discussed here: Effects of Full-Facility Variable Tolling on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the SR-520 Corridor in Seattle

(115 page pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Mar. 2014)
And here: Effects of an HOV-2 to HOT-3 Conversion on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the I-85 Corridor in Atlanta  (187 pg pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Apr.11. 2014)
Today we review before and after reports from two large American cities (Seattle, Atlanta) following introduction of congestion pricing on a bridge (Seattle) and on a HOV lane (Atlanta). Results indicate a decline of trips by 15-18%, a greater use of tolled segments by drivers with high incomes, a greater acceptance (40%) for tolling after introduction compared to before (25%) and a large drop in concern about the impact of tolling on low income users (from 74% to 57%). The key to successful implementation appears to be clear prior communication to the public on the need for congestion pricing.

tolling bridge

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

What are the Health Implications for Children in Schools Near Traffic?

Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study (24 age pdf, Jordi Sunyer, Mikel Esnaola, Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, Joan Forns, Ioar Rivas, Mònica López-Vicente, Elisabet Suades-González, Maria Foraster, Raquel Garcia-Esteban, Xavier Basaga, Mar Viana, Marta Cirach, Teresa Moreno, Andrés Alastuey, Núria Sebastian-Galles, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Xavier Querol, PLoS Med, Mar. 3, 2015)

Also discussed here: Monitoring Roadside Air Pollution and Urban Health Impacts (Pollution Free Cities, Feb. 15, 2013)

Today we review research into the impact on brain development of children at schools exposed to high and low pollution levels produced by traffic emissions in Barcelona, Spain. Results indicate that students in low pollution areas have almost twice the increase in working memory (11.5%) per year compared to children in high pollution areas (7.4%). This is a warning to urban planners concerning the locations of schools: locate them at least 500 m from heavy traffic or take responsibility for the health impacts to the young children who attend these schools. Unfortunately many cities have schools located on major roads with traffic (in Ottawa, for example, more than 50% of day-cares (and 20% of schools) are located within 50 m of heavy traffic).

air pollution schools

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

What are the Societal Costs of Air Pollution?

The social cost of atmospheric release ( 14 page pdf, Drew T. Shindell, Climatic Change, Feb. 25, 2015)

Also discussed here: New models yield clearer picture of emissions’ true costs (Phys Org, Mar. 4, 2015)

Today we look at research into the social costs of emissions both carbon emissions that provoke climate change and associated health and environmental impacts and non carbon emissions which directly cause health impacts. Results indicate that the typical gasoline-powered car causes $1,700 of environmental damages each year in comparison with a small electric car (Nissan Leaf) which causes less than half as much ($840) when the electricity comes from coal, or $290 from natural gas or negligible if from renewable energy courses. This equates to an environmental cost of $3.80 per gallon of fuel. These cost estimates suggest in turn a reasonable price to put on those who drive these vehicles which would not only encourage a shift to less damaging forms of transportation as it suggests a revenue source to pay for the damage they do to the social and environmental environment.

social cost of pollution

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Where are Europe’s Air Pollution Hotspots and How are they being Cleaned Up?

Modelling street level PM10 concentrations across Europe: source apportionment and possible futures (15 page pdf, Kiesewetter, G., Borken-Kleefeld, J., Schöpp, W., Heyes, C., Thunis, P., Bessagnet, B., Terrenoire, E., Fagerli, H., Nyiri, A., and Amann, M., Atmos. Chem. Phys., Feb. 13, 2015)

Also discussed here: Clearing up Europe’s air pollution hotspots (News, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Feb 19, 2015)
Today we review modeling sources of ambient air pollution across Europe down to the street canyon scale (using the GAINS, model developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) as measured by 1850 monitoring stations (including 300 traffic stations) and then applying various policy scenarios. Results indicate the while most areas show improvement over the next two decades, some continue to remain below EU air quality limits, specifically, southern Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, northern Italy, and Bulgaria. Adherence to these limits require more than vehicle emission controls such as introduction of low emission zones, improved road materials and road dust removal and eliminating studded tires and controlling emissions from home heating fuels such as wood burning.

europe hot spots

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

How Are Two Waterlocked Cities (Hong Kong and Ottawa) Coping with Traffic Congestion?

Report on Study of Road Traffic Congestion in Hong Kong (124 page pdf, Transport Advisory Committee, Dec. 2014)

Also discussed here: Hong Kong report proposes electronic road pricing (Road pricing, Feb. 19, 2015)

And here: Segregated Bike Lane Pilot Project (City of Ottawa)

And here: Feasibility Study for a Downtown Ottawa Truck Tunnel (City of Ottawa)

And here: Premier Wynne, MP Galipeau and Mayor Watson tour progress of Confederation Line tunnel (City of Ottawa, Aug. 11, 2014)
And here: How Congested with Traffic are Canadian Cities? (Pollution Free Cities, Jul. 7, 2014)

And here: Is It Time for Congestion Pricing in Canada’s Capital? (Pollution Free Cities, Mar. 22, 2013)

Today we review a comprehensive report by authorities in Hong Kong on measures that could be taken in the short and long term to ease traffic congestion which is having major impacts on economic activity by slowing mobility and as well as to the air quality of this large city where the number of vehicles has increased by 30% over the last decade to almost 700,000 while average vehicle speed has slowed by 11% to 22 kph in the urban area. One of the first steps taken by the working group was a poll of public views on the causes for the congestion – the top three according to a majority of those polled were: too many vehicles on roads, too much road work and illegal parking. The measures recommended included ones to strengthen public transit (by offering more options for pedestrians), ones to discourage traffic interruptions by illegal parking and by tourist buses, trucks or vans operating at rush hour (by giving more enforcement powers to police) and ones to reduce the number of cars on the roads by a electronic road charging system. The Hong Kong authorities also are constructing a tunneled bypass highway as an option to the roads being considered for tolling.

Many of the causes identified for congestion and the options being considered are, to this reviewer, very similar to conditions in Canada’s national capital. Although different in many ways, Hong Kong and Ottawa have similarities, especially in terms of high traffic volumes and pollution hot spots and the fact that both urban cores are surrounded by water and so are not able to expand to accommodate more and more traffic. Vancouver, British Columbia is another city almost entirely surrounded by water which has managed to overcome some of the congestion problems that hamper Ottawa and Hong Kong- not allowing a freeway through its centre and providing mobility options being some of its major accomplishments to lead the list of world cities with the highest environmental quality and quality of life. Singapore is another example of a waterlocked city that attacked its traffic congestion with electronic road tolling and was one of the first in the world to do that successfully (as is being recommended for Hong Kong).

Ottawa, like Hong Kong, has more than 600,000 registered vehicles on the road converging each day into the smallest Central Business District of any large city in the country and major road works (a downtown town tunnel to remove heavily polluting diesel trucks from city streets and a second tunnel for Light Rail Transit) are underway in the core which is guaranteed to disrupt traffic further. Recent feeble efforts to accommodate pedestrians, such as a pedestrian bridge over the canal (one done, another planned) and to offer some protection for cyclists with an 8 block segregated/curbed bike lane through the downtown core need to be expanded, along with improvements in non-polluting public transit for the whole city (now planned for 2030). A close read of the Hong Kong report by Ottawa city transportation planners is warranted.

hong kong

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Monitoring Air Pollution Exposure with a Smart Phone

Variability in and Agreement between Modeled and Personal Continuously Measured Black Carbon Levels Using Novel Smartphone and Sensor Technologies (Abstract, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, David Donaire-Gonzalez, Ioar Rivas, Montserrat de Castro, Marta Cirach, Gerard Hoek, Edmund Seto, Michael Jerrett, Jordi Sunyer, Environmental Science & Technology, Feb, 2015)

Also discussed here: Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution monitors  (ScienceDaily, Feb.18, 2015)

Today we review an article that describes a project at Barcelona in southern Spain involving the monitoring of exposure by 50 children from 29 schools using a smart phone and a sensor to measure black carbon during the day- at home, commuting to school and in school. While only 4% of their time was spent commuting, exposure was 13% of the daily total and this also had the highest levels while the levels at home were the lowest. cell phone aq To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

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