What are the Health Benefits of Congestion Pricing?

Congestion Pricing, Air Pollution, and Urban Health (11 page pdf, Emilia Simeonova, Janet Currie, Peter Nilsson and Reed Walker, American Economics Association Meeting, Chicago, Jan. 2017)

Also discussed here: Driving Fee Rolls Back Asthma Attacks in Stockholm (Nala Rogers, Inside Science. Feb. 2, 2017)

Today we review research on the impact of the introduction of congestion pricing in Stockholm, in 2006, and the reduction of traffic that followed on the health of children in that city. Pollution levels in that city are lower than EPA’s standards. Results indicate that the pricing system caused a drop in traffic volumes by 25%, reductions in NO2 and particulate (PM10) pollution of 5 and 10% and a reduction in asthma cases by 12% in the first  seven months which increased to 45% over the longer term (several years). While the benefits in other cities with fewer diesel vehicles (emitting PM) may not be as great, it is clear that there are benefits even when the air quality in a given city (such as Ottawa) is considered “good” and that there are negative health impacts that begin at lower thresholds than EPA standards project.

stockholm-congestion-health

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Does Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Affect Dementia in Older Women?

Particulate air pollutants, APOE alleles and their contributions to cognitive impairment in older women and to amyloidogenesis in experimental models (8 page pdf, M Cacciottolo, X Wang, I Driscoll, N Woodward, A Saffari, J Reyes, M L Serre, W Vizuete, C Sioutas, T E Morgan, M Gatz, H C Chui, S A Shumaker, S M Resnick, M A Espeland, C E Finch and J C Chen, Translational Psychiatry, Jan. 31, 2017)
Also discussed here: Air pollution may cause 21 percent of dementias worldwide, study suggests (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 1, 2017)

And here: Early Onset Familial AD (Gabrielle Strobel, ALZFORUM)

Today we review research based on longer term exposure by female mice to PM 2.5 and how this could affect older women exposed to traffic-related air pollution in their risks of having dementia. Results indicate that women in the late 60s and 70s are 92% more likely to develop dementia if they live in areas that exceed EPA’s standards for PM2.5. The increase in the elderly and the greater risk of dementia has resulted in an overall increase in this disease, despite the improvements in levels of PM 2.5 over the last decade or two, as well as in the increase of deaths from Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death nationwide.

dementia-alzheimers

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How is the Brain Damaged by Exposure to Traffic Related Air Pollution?

The Polluted Brain – Evidence Builds that Dirty Air Causes Alzheimer’s, Dementia (AAAS Science, Emily UnderwoodJan. 26, 2017)

Also discussed here: Particulate Air Pollutants and White Matter Brain Aging (Abstract, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Xinhui Wang, Mark A. Espeland, Helena Chui, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Jul. 2014)
And here: Traffic-related air pollution and brain development (21 page pdf, Nicholas Woodward, Caleb E. Finch and Todd E. Morgan , AIMS Environmental Science. May 6, 2015)

Today we review a series of research articles that reaffirm the health risks presented to people (and mice) who breathe in air polluted by vehicles and containing ultra-fine particles, in particular. Signs of memory loss and Alzheimer’s are evident in mice exposed to UFP. Levels of fine air particles within 50 m of  major roadways are 10 times higher than at 150 m and those within 50 m stand a 12% higher risk of developing dementia. Tests involving prenatal mice showed that fetal damage can be done by fine particles without entering the placenta. The closer people live to major roadways, the smaller their celebral brain volume. What more do city planners and public health officials need to know about running highways and traffic through cities?

brain-pollution

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How Will We Get Around Town in 30 years and What Obstacles Need to be Overcome?

What will the local transport system look like in 2045? The future local transport system (David Levinson, Transportist, Dec.19, 2016)

Also discussed here: What key factors do you see driving these changes over the next 30 years? (David Levinson, Transportist, Dec.19, 2016)

And here: Future Demand – New Zealand transport and society: Scenarios to 2042 (23 page pdf, New Zealand Government, Nov. 2014)

Today we review an interview on the future local transportation with Marcus Enoch by David Levinson and a report looking ahead to 2042 as part of New Zealand project PT2045. Enoch sees the automation of vehicles, their conversion to electric and the rise of shared mobility, as opposed to owning a vehicle, as the three most important changes. There will be a lot more single passenger, two wheeled e-cars and goods will be delivered by robot cars. Manually driven cars on public roads will be prohibited in 25 years. Urban congestion will end before 2042 with fewer, if any, private vehicles on the road. Carbon emissions will fall dramatically.

nz-scenarios-for-2042

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How Would Vancouver Transition to a Driverless City?

Turning Transportation Challenges and Opportunities Presented to the City of Vancouver by Autonomous Vehicles (93 page pdf, Cail Smith, Greenest City Scholars Report, Aug. 31, 2016)

Also discussed here: Vancouver Prepares For a Driverless Future That Includes Extra Space for Walking, Cycling, and Transit (Mobility, Jan. 17, 2017)

And here: Transportation 2040 Plan: A transportation vision for the City of Vancouver (City of Vancouver)

And here: Transportation 2040 (99 page pdf, Plan as adopted by Vancouver City Council, Oct.31, 2012)

Today we review plans and reports aimed at the future of Vancouver in 2040 which may include a transition to driverless or autonomous vehicles (AV) as well as meeting the target of having 2/3 of all trips made on foot, by bike or transit. With a 90% AV share, freeway congestion would be reduced by 60% from present levels and 30% of city traffic would be reduced by no need to search for parking. Garages could be converted to guest houses and garage lanes to useful parks or gardens. Shifting to AVs would save the average Canadian household $2,700 per year (4% of income) by decreasing insurance, fuel and parking costs, as well as saving the City of Vancouver $15 M/yr on maintaining and monitoring parking spots, while also reducing revenue from parking tickets by $53M/yr (also 4% of net revenue).

driverless-vancouver

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Impact of Nanoparticulates from Traffic Emissions on Viral Lung Infection

Nanoparticle exposure reactivates latent herpesvirus and restores a signature of acute infection (19 page pdf, Christine Sattler, Franco Moritz, Shanze Chen, Beatrix Steer, David Kutschke, Martin Irmler, Johannes Beckers, Oliver Eickelberg, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Heiko Adler and Tobias Stoeger, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Jan. 10, 2017)

Also discussed here: Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs (ScienceDaily, Jan. 17, 2017)

Today we review a lab experiment on cells in mice that examined the impact of exposure to nanoparticles (NP). Results indicate that these nanoparticles can “reawaken” latent herpes viruses in the lung by weakening the immune system and allowing viruses to invade the host cell. The researchers would like to examine if these results can be transferred to humans and if so, if exposure to emissions from combustion and traffic-related emissions suggest another serious impact.

nanoparticles-and-virus

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How Does the Environment Affect Perceived Wait Times at Transit Stops?

Transit Stop Environments and Waiting Time Perception Impacts of Trees, Traffic Exposure, and Polluted Air (Abstract, Marina Lagune-ReutlerRelated information, Andrew GuthrieRelated information, Yingling FanRelated information, and David Levinson, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Jan. 9, 2017)

Also discussed here: Transit Riders’ Perception of Waiting Time and Stops, Surrounding Environments (17 page MS Word, Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, David Levinson, Draft submitted to Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, July 2015)

Today we review research based on over 800 responses from users of public transit in  Minneapolis, MN. The key factor studied was the wait times –both real and perceived- and how this varied with the type of environment found at bus and transit stops. Results indicate that  polluted air and the presence of heavy traffic near the stops tended to increase the length of perceived wait time when this was over 5 minutes while the presence of trees and light traffic shortened the perceived wait time. Conclusions and recommendations to encourage more transit use include locating transit lines away from traffic and heavily polluted areas and planting trees and foliage near the stops. Canadians and those in cold climates would be heartened by the finding that more or less snow has little effect on transit users who, if anything were more likely to happy they were not driving a private car.

transit-and-aq

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Living Close to Traffic and the Risk of Dementia

Living close to major roads linked to small increase in dementia risk (Abstract, the Lancet, Jan.4, 2017)

Also discussed here: Living near major roads is associated with increased dementia risk, study finds (Susan Mayor, The British Medical Journal, Jan. 5, 2017)

And here: Living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia (Public Health Ontario, Jan. 4, 2017)

And here: Does Living by a Busy Road Boost Dementia Risk? Exposure to heavy traffic tied to cognitive decline (Alexandria Bachert , MedPage Today, Jan. 4, 2017)

Today we review a study with over 6.5 million people living in Ontario that examined the impact of living near high traffic roadways and the incidence of dementia, the first time such a study has been conducted in Canada. Results indicate a 7 percent higher risk for those who live within 50m (half a city block)compared to those who live more than 200 m from these roadways who have no higher risk. The specific pollutants found responsible include PM2.5 and NO2. Interesting that other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis were found to not have a higher risk.

dementia

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What is the biggest influence for commuters to walk, bike or drive a car?

On time and ready to go: An analysis of commuters’ punctuality and energy levels at work or school (Abstract, Charis Loong , Dea van Lierop , Ahmed El-Geneidy, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Dec. 23, 2016)

Also discussed here: Cyclists Are Winning Commuting (Andrew Small, The Atlantic City Lab, Dec. 23, 2016)
Today we review research into commuting choices made by staff and students at McGill University in Canada’s second largest city, Montreal. Although Montreal is hilly and quite cold and snowy in the winter, its cyclists and pedestrians are relatively well served by its city’s administration and policies as reflected in the infrastructure provided for pedestrians and cycling. Montreal has by far the best organized and extensive car free days each year. Montreal was the first city in Canada to have segregated bike lanes in its downtown. The study of McGill’s commuters reveals that, unlike what most people assume, commuting time per se is not the most important factor- punctuality and feeling energized on arrival are, while noting that the longest time for commutes were those taken by public transit or by private vehicle. If applicable elsewhere (and this may not be valid in cities where infrastructure is poor, where the commuters are older or where winter snow is too much of a barrier), this means that city transportation planners might have to give priority to punctuality and the benefits of arriving refreshed when deciding on improvements for commuters in their cities.

montreal-cycling
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The Impact of Traffic-Related Air Pollution on Cloud Formation

Effect of vehicular traffic, remote sources and new particle formation on the activation properties of cloud condensation nuclei in the megacity of São Paulo, Brazil (22 page pdf, Carlos Eduardo Souto-Oliveira, Maria de Fátima Andrade, Prashant Kumar, Fábio Juliano da Silva Lopes, Marly Babinski, and Eduardo Landulfo, Atmos. Chem. Phys., Nov. 24, 2016)

Today we review research on the impact vehicle emissions have on cloud formation in the largest city in South America with a 20M population and 7 M vehicles. Such a concentration of emissions may have global impacts on precipitation. Cloud condensation nuclei in this city originate from three sources: vehicle emissions, biomass burning in the vast tropical forests and from sea-salt. Careful direct and indirect (lidart) measurements over a four month period revealed that vehicles were predominant in producing these nuclei with two diurnal maxima during rush hours.

trap-and-clouds

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How Can Transportation in the USA Become Carbon Free by 2050?

50 Steps Toward Carbon-Free Transportation – Rethinking U.S. Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming (92 page pdf, Farontier Group, Oct. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: Report: Global Warming Solutions (Environment America Research & Policy Center, Oct. 24, 2016)

Today we review a report that recommends 50 steps aimed at state and federal program  and policies that could make the USA’s transportation system carbon free by 2050. The steps include making carbon reduction strategies a key priority by exploiting the growth of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and the sharing of cars and bicycles, adding more effective public transit, employing smart pricing policies and phasing out carbon intensive vehicles and fuels.

co2-emissions-by-country

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How do Travel Demand and Economics Affect the Development of Urban Road Networks?

A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads (33 page pdf,  Zhang, LeiLevinson, David M, Systems Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mar. 2004)

Today we review a seminal paper from over a decade ago that examines the dynamics of road development in a major mid-West American city (Minneapolis-Saint Paul) using a model that combines measures such as travel demand statistics (usually found on Origin Destination studies) with the economics of road pricing or tolls, geographical constraints (such as rivers and mountains) and how these change with newer technology over time (in this case over 20 years). Roads represent both figuratively and physically the link that join the issues addressed in this blog: how traffic is linked to pollution and how pollution is linked to health. Of particular interest is the way that travel demand and road volume capacity (VC) interact with road tolls and the cost of road construction and the resulting revenue that may be used to ease congestion, in addition to the overall design of the road network and design for a major urban area.

road-links

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The Tire and Brake Share of Traffic-Related Air Pollution

Air pollution: Tyre and brake fatigue compound an exhausting problem (OECD, Shayne MacLachlan, OECD Environment Directorate, Sep.8, 2016)

Today we review research into the impact of particles generated from tires and brake wear. The amount of particulate matter for an average urban arterial road with 25K vehicles per day can produce up to 9 kg of dust per km- bigger roads or highways with 100K VPD can produce four times that. Recycled tires from the billion cars in the road globally into materials used in playgrounds is being called the new asbestos. Banning petrol powered cars from cities to encourage e-cars and cycling means less emissions from the tailpipe and good for carbon emission reduction but it also means the same wear and particles from brakes and tires, in terms of air pollution and health, even from bicycles!

Studded tyre Español: Neumático de invierno co...

Studded tyre Español: Neumático de invierno con clavos, modelo Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Future of the World and Cities in It

Urban futures: anticipating a world of cities (6 page pdf, Geci Karuri-Sebina, Karel-Herman Haegeman and Apiwat Ratanawaraha, Foresight, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review an introduction to a series of papers on cities from a foresight point of view. It begins with a prediction that the city has evolved from the city-state in Ancient Greece to city-worlds in the next 100 years. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, compared to 54% today. While cities can improve economic prosperity, reducing poverty and becoming more inclusive socially, there are also downside risks of unemployment and poverty, as well as tensions based on religion, race and values – in addition to the major health threats that resulting congestion and emissions from downtown traffic where city government has not taken steps to alleviate. While cities are good at generating problems they also have a problem solving capability. The paper ends on an optimistic note: “In a world that increasingly appears ungovernable, cities – not states – are the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built”- something that those who try to come to grips with climate change and urban air pollution need to acknowledge and take count of in reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the challenge.

Indoor and Built Environment

Indoor and Built Environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How Feasible are Electric-Powered Cars for Widespread Use?

Potential for widespread electrification of personal vehicle travel in the United States (Abstract, Zachary A. Needell, James McNerney, Michael T. Chang & Jessika E. Trancik, Nature Energy, Aug. 15, 2016)
Also discussed here: Today’s electric vehicles can make a dent in climate change: Electric vehicles can meet drivers’ needs enough to replace 90 percent of vehicles now on the road (Science Daily, Aug. 15, 2016)
And here: Low-carbon infrastructure strategies for cities (Abstract, C. A. Kennedy, N. Ibrahim & D. Hoornweg, Nature climate change, Mar.16,2014)

Today we review research into the feasibility of widespread use of e-cars for urban transportation. Results indicate that 87% of current needs can easily be met by today’s electric vehicle technology, noting the obstacles that are holding back their full acceptance can or will be overcome. The need to charge batteries can be done overnight or during the day in parking facilities. The relative short driving range can be overcome for driving long distances by utilizing alternatives such as car-sharing with conventional vehicles or by purchasing a second car for those needs. Converting 90% of today’s vehicles to electric power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the USA by 30% – or more if power came from utilities with lower carbon fuel use.

charging-ecar
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Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP) by Children up to 15 Years Old

Long-term air pollution exposure and lung function in 15 year-old adolescents living in an urban and rural area in Germany: The GINIplus and LISAplus cohorts (Abstract,  Elaine Fuertes, Johannes Bracher , Claudia Flexeder , Iana Markevych , Claudia Klümper, Barbara Hoffmann , Ursula Krämer, Andrea von Berg , Carl-Peter Bauer , Sibylle Koletzko , Dietrich Berdel, Joachim Heinrich, Holger Schulz, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Mar. 2015)

Today we review research that tries to answer the question of whether exposure to traffic-related air pollution by children has both a short term and long term effect on their lung development. Results indicate that while no link was found between long term exposure on lung development, that those who had asthma did show a link with long term exposure to NO2. It was also observed that the impact of short term exposure may be reversible later in their lives.

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How Can Self-Driving Cars Improve Mobility in Cities?

NACTO Policy Statement on Automated Vehicles (4 page pdf, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Jun. 22, 2016)

Also discussed here: NACTO Releases Policy Recommendations for the Future of Automated Vehicles – New disruptive technology has the potential to remake city streets, and policies must directly address their expected widespread impact on safety, mobility, and land use (Press Release, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Jun. 23, 2016)

Today we review a policy statement by an association made up of municipal transportation planners from 40 major cities in the USA that transforming cities constrained by congestion and old vehicle technology to future ones where automated cars improve mobility and safety by all modes of transportation, not just for cars but even that could be much better. Automated cars offer a way to dramatically increase the capacity of (and lower the capital and maintenance costs) city roads and highways as well as making them safer for pedestrians and cyclists by imposing a speed limit of 25 mph. They will also offer more space in cities for homes and businesses by virtually eliminating the need for on and off street parking – a function that today covers as much as 40% of urban areas in the form of parking lots and driveways

English: Disruptive technology graph

English: Disruptive technology graph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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How Does the Cost of Urban Sprawl Compare Internationally?

Sprawl Tax: How the US stacks up internationally  ( Joe Cortright, City Commentary, Jun.7, 2016)

Also discussed here: Transportation Costs and the Spatial Organization of Economic Activity (Abstract, Stephen J. Redding, Matthew A. Turner, National Bureau of Economic Research, Jun. 2014)

Today we review a comparison of the costs of sprawl in terms of extra transportation costs for commuting and added time in traffic. Results show that the average daily commute time in the US and Canada is well above (50-62 minutes) that of 17 countries in Europe. As a percent of household income transportation costs are highest for the US at 18% (or $1,500/household )followed by Austria, Canada and Portugal at 15-16% and an average of 12.8% overall (where the higher fuel prices in Europe are countered by the longer commute trips in the US and Canada).

sprawl tax

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Are Plug-In Hybrids the Best Option until Electric Cars Become More Common?

Going the Extra Mile – Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (6 page pdf, Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth, ACCESS, University of California, May 2016)

Today we review some testing of energy management strategies to find the optimum use of the battery in a plug-in hybrid while minimizing the use of carbon fuel. This is in the context of the fact that electric cars are less than 1% of all cars in many parts of the USA and Canada and that in some regions of those countries (for example, California, Ontario, Quebec) electric power is produced from carbon free energy sources. Results indicate that if electric energy use is restricted to when the battery level is between 20 and 80% charged (such as in stop and go traffic or going downhill) then the fuel use is minimized.  Overall gasoline consumption can be reduced by between 9 and 14% over what a normal hybrid electric car would achieve which in turn is twice as efficient as car that uses only gasoline. This is true if the power used to charge the battery some from renewable energy (hydro or nuclear).

plug in hybrid diagram

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What are the Best Incentives to Buy an Electric Car?

Incentives for promoting Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) adoption in Norway (12 page pdf, Kristin Ystmark Bjerkan, Tom E. Nørbech, Marianne Elvsaas Nordtømme, Transportation Research Part d 43, ScienceDirect, Jan. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: What are the most effective ways of promoting electric cars?  (Science for Environment Policy, European Commission, Apr. 22, 2016)

Today we review research on which incentives are the most effective in selling battery electric (BEV) cars based on a survey of Norwegians. The survey analysis considered low and high income levels, the differing impacts of reduced (or subsidized) cost at purchase to ongoing costs and benefits such as exemption from tolls. The typical Norwegian owner of an e-car is male, aged 36-55, high income, university education and living in the capital (Oslo). The single biggest factor was the initial purchase price (with discounts), followed by (exemptions from) congestion or road pricing, followed by free access to bus lanes. This supports the tactics used by governments in countries, such as Canada, in offering significant discounts for new e-car purchases and less emphasis on using exemptions from road tolls (even though road pricing is much less used and there are far fewer electric cars on the road in this country compared to Norway).

ecar incentives

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When Will the Corner Gas Station Disappear?

End Of Gas Stations III: Coming To A Corner Near You (Walker Angell , Streets.mn, Apr.8, 2016)

Today we review a forward looking article that predicts, on the basis of recent sales of electric vehicles and longer range because of battery technology improvements, that this may well be the last decade that we see, let alone buy an internal combustion engine vehicle. Several car manufacturers are already planning on major increased production of BEVs [battery electric vehicles] by 2020 and the market share of these vehicles has been increasing by 60% per year in recent years. Further, as battery efficiency continues fewer people will buy hybrid cars, preferring to jump to all electric with greater ranges. On the horizon this will have a major and positive impact on urban air quality.

gas station

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What is the Local Environmental Impact of Fracking?

Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations (13 page pdf, Paul S. Goodman, Fabio Galatioto, Neil Thorpe, Anil K. Namdeo, Richard J. Davies, Roger N. Bird, Environment International, Feb. 1, 2016)

Today we review an aspect of fracking, not often investigated: the impact of local fracking wells which is a combination of the air pollution emissions from the fracking itself and the removal of waste water by tanker trucks which adds vehicle emissions and noise. There is a requirement for 9,000 to 29,000 cubic metres per well, or 54,000 to 174,000 cubic metres for a six-well pad. Total CO2 emissions associated with extraction of shale gas from a well were small (0.2–2.9%) compared to the combustion of the gas from the well. Modelling of NOx emissions showed increases reaching 30% over non-fracking periods and noise levels doubling.

fracking traffic

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Does the End of Privately-Owned Cars Mean the End of Parking ?

The High Cost of Minimum Parking Requirements (27 page pdf, Donald Shoup, Transport and Sustainability, 2014)

Also discussed here: Autonomous cars and the end of parking (Scott Forman, sjforman, Feb 21. 2016)

Today we review an intriguing column that looks at the problem presented in many cities by mandated indoor parking requirements and outdoor parking spaces that create as much as 40% of the paved urban surface area- as well as requiring the use of carbon-based asphalt in their construction and maintenance and an added building cost of $32K per space. One result of autonomous, self- driving cars could be no need for parking spaces, especially privately-owned ones, as the robot cars will continue to move around the city to meet demand and, when not needed, will simply drive to unused parking spaces in the outskirts.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone- end vehicles emissions with electric robot cars and make much better use of the wasted space now solely dedicated to parking.

LAPARKING CRATER

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How Much can e-LRTs Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

The Role of Rail Transit Systems in Reducing Energy and Carbon Dioxide Emissions: The Case of The City of Rio de Janeiro (16 page pdf, Carlos Eduardo Sanches de Andrade  and Márcio de Almeida D’Agosto, Sustainability, Feb. 5, 2016)

Today we review a paper that uses a model to estimate the GHG emissions avoided by shifting urban transportation mode from passenger car to electric rail transit as a test case for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a city of 6.5M, projected over the period from 2016 to 2040. The amount of GHG emissions avoided were 55,449 tonnes per year for the city or 44.53 grams per passenger kilometer. Although cars in Brazil use more ethanol in their fuel than elsewhere and this is accounted for here, many of the assumptions made to model the shift could be applied to other cities.

Light Rail Transit train on the Dudley B. Menz...

Light Rail Transit train on the Dudley B. Menzies Bridge in Edmonton, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Where is the Worst Traffic Congestion in Canada?

How Bad is the Traffic Where You Live? (Zack Gallinger and Arik Motskin, The 10 and 3, Dec. 10, 2015)

Also discussed here: Which Canadian city has the worst traffic? (Alexandra Pope, Canadiana Geographic, Dec. 10, 2015)
And here: Vancouver has the worst traffic in Canada, new congestion study claims (Jake Edmiston, National Post, Mar. 31, 2015)

And here: TomTom Traffic Index – Measuring congestion worldwide (TomTom, 2016)

Today we review new data showing which city has the worst traffic. By one measure, TomTom’s 2014 traffic index show Vancouver with 35% as the worst, followed by Toronto (31%), Ottawa (28%) and Montreal during the day but this changes during the evening rush hour to Toronto and Vancouver tied at 66% followed by Ottawa at 63%. Another measure, the average stretch multiplier, the ratio between free flowing and congested traffic, shows Toronto as the clear winner/loser with 2.8 with Calgary and Ottawa gaining rapidly as equally sprawled and growing large cities.

canada_traffic_map

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How Does Urbanization Affect Urban Air Quality in China?

Estimating the Impact of Urbanization on Air Quality in China Using Spatial Regression Models (23 page pdf, Chuanglin Fang, Haimeng Liu, Guangdong Li , Dongqi Sun and Zhuang Miao, Sustainability, Nov. 20, 2015)
Today we review research into the main characteristics of close to 300 Chinese cities that affect the degree of urban air pollution. Results indicate a close relationship between population density and private cars per unit of developed urban land and that this and the proportion of secondary industry has the greatest effect on the pollution of most cities, especially in the North (in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong). The authors recommend that China strictly control the scale of their mega cities and actively develop small and medium sized cities to offset these trends.

English: Population density in the People's Re...

English: Population density in the People’s Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Is Exposure to Short-term Roadside Emissions a Greater Health Risk for Children?

Greater nitrogen dioxide concentrations at child versus adult breathing heights close to urban main road kerbside (7 page pf, Hannah S. Kenagy, Chun Lin, Hao Wu & Mathew R. Heal, Air Qual Atmos Health, Sep. 3, 2015)

Roadside emissions have been shown to pose a health threat for people living or travelling close to the roads but the studies have been restricted to measuring the exposure several metres above ground rather than at the same level as the exhaust itself or for people breathing in the pollution at different heights. Today we review research into this question with a focus on how this may pose a greater threat for children either walking or in a stroller/buggie at lower heights than their accompanying adults. Results indicate that NO2 concentration levels are 5 to 15% higher closer to the ground within 1.2 m of the side of the road or curb- with other actors such as windspeed kept constant. This has health implications for children near roads with heavy traffic (above 12,000 vehicles per day which is typical for a 2 lane busy urban road) and might suggest a greater setback for sidewalks for example.

Nitrogen dioxide, a large contributor to the p...

Nitrogen dioxide, a large contributor to the production of smog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Is there a Link between Childhood Leukemia and Roadside Emissions from Traffic?

Residential Proximity to Heavy-Traffic Roads, Benzene Exposure, and Childhood Leukemia—The GEOCAP Study, 2002–2007 (Abstract, Jennifer Houot, Fabienne Marquant, Stéphanie Goujon, Laure Faure, Cécile Honoré, Marie-Hélène Roth, Denis Hémon and Jacqueline Clavel, Am. J. Epidemiol., Sep. 15, 2015)
Also discussed here: Study of leukemias in children living close to heavily used roads. (ScienceDaily, Sep. 17, 2015)
Today we review research conducted in France with 5 years of data to explore the incidence of leukemia for children exposed to roadside emissions. Results indicate that while there is no significant link with nitrogen dioxide, there is a 30% greater frequency of myeloblastic type leukemia for children living within 150 m of heavy traffic when there is also a higher concentration of benzene in the emissions.

BONE MARROW: ACUTE MYELOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA WITH ...

BONE MARROW: ACUTE MYELOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA WITH MATURATION (AML-M2) Bone marrow smear from a patient with acute myeloblastic leukemia with maturation showing several blasts with prominent nucleoli, a promyelocyte, and a myelocyte. Two of the blasts contain prominent Auer rods. (Wright-Giemsa stain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Are Electric Cars Really as Green as Advertised?

Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States (6 page pdf, Christopher W. Tessuma, Jason D. Hillb,1, and Julian D. Marshall, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences(PNAS), Dec. 30, 2014)

Also discusses here: Electric Vehicle Batteries: Clean and Green, or Something Less?(Al Bredenberg, Contributing Writer, Design News, Sep. 7, 2015)

Today we review research into the life cycle costs in terms of GHG emissions and ptrematurte deaths resulting from the use of electric vehicles (EV) compared to conventional vahicles using gas which is a factor not only of the tailpipe emissions on the road but also on the source of the electricity used to charge the batteries and what emissions come from them. Results indicate that EVs using electricity generated from coal (which is true for southeastern USA) produce more than three times the mortalities than from conventional vehicles burning gas – and over 90% of this comes from the battery production. On the other hand, EVs using electricity from wind/solar/water have almost insignificant damages compared to gasoline powered vehicles. EVs using electricity form biofuels such as corn ethanol have impacts about 50% higher than ordinary gasoline powered vehicles. All of this underlines the importance of considering the pollution costs of the manufacture of the Lithium batteries that power many EVs, in addition to the fuel economy on the road.

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Using Congestion Pricing to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Research on Urban Road Congestion Pricing Strategy Considering Carbon Dioxide Emissions (20 page pdf, Yitian Wang, Zixuan Peng, Keming Wang, Xiaolin Song, Baozhen Yao, and Tao Feng, Sustainability, Aug. 6, 2015)

Today we review research into models of congestion pricing to reduce both traffic congestion and the emissions that are produced by stop and go traffic- something that is not usually considered when planning congestion pricing because of the difficulty in measuring actual road emissions. The fact that road emissions make up 80% of transportation GHG emissions makes this assessment very important when emission reduction, especially in cities, is the goal. Results indicate that achieving both objectives is feasible with emissions falling by 19%, and modal car use falling from 70% to 56% with increased use of public transit.

congestion pricing and ghgs

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The Main Question for Urban Planners to Resolve- Sprawl or Densification?

Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (32 page pdf, Greg Clark, Emily Moir, Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)
Also discussed here: Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (Catherine Anderson , Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)

A compact city tends to be more environmentally sustainable and has generally cleaner air than one that is spread out with emphasis on making it easier for people to drive to the centre of town with emphasis on roads wherever it allows them to drive more quickly. Today we review a research paper that examines the meaning(s) of urban density, explores the many myths about sprawl and intensification and suggests better designed and more sustainable cities for the future. Cities are categorized in terms of the density of their urban core, inner city and suburbs as Low-High-Low (typical of Europe), Low-Low-Low (typical of sprawled cities in USA/Canada/Australia), Low-Low-High (Toronto, Oslo), Medium-High- High (developing world cities). High density cities enjoy a number of advantages over low density ones, including walkability, natural habitats and economic waste disposal but fears of lower livability, traffic congestion and noise/pollution in high density cities need to be mitigated. Oslo and Toronto are seen as large cities where the balance is more nearly found.

Although an important factor, there is a compl...

Although an important factor, there is a complex relationship between urban densities and car use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Avoid, Shift, Improve” – Decarbonizing Quebec’s Transportation Sector

Energy policy 2016-2025 – Decarbonization of Road Transport (73 page pdf, Gouvernement du Québec Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, 2015)
Today we review a background paper prepared by the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, outlining plans to reduce the emission of carbon emissions by the transportation sector in that province, 76% of which comes from road transport. Recognizing that 99% of the province’s energy is produced from renewable energy sources, principally hydro, the main emphasis of the Avoid, Shift, and Improve plan, is on reducing travel in privately owned vehicles, shifting to use of a 95% electrified public transit and improving engine efficiency and increase the use of non carbon biofuels, propane and natural gas. Encouragement to convert to hybrid or totally electric vehicles (18% or 1.2 million by 2020 from under 6,000 today), and make more use of shared cars with an eye toward driverless or autonomous cars in the future that make fewer demands on the road infrastructure.

transit quebec

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How Does Traffic Related Air Pollution Affect Children’s Health?

Blood Pressure and Same-Day Exposure to Air Pollution at School: Associations with Nano-Sized to Coarse PM in Children (6 page pdf, Nicky Pieters, Gudrun Koppen, Martine Van Poppel, Sofie De Prins, Bianca Cox, Evi Dons, Vera Nelen, Luc Int Panis, Michelle Plusquin, Greet Schoeters, and Tim S. Nawrot, Environmental Health Perspectives, Jul. 2015)
Today we review research into the links between short term exposure to particulate matter of various sizes and impacts on blood pressure of school-age children who are particularly vulnerable because their higher breathing rate, as well as their generally greater activity than older people. Results indicate a clear association with Ultra Fine Particulates (diameter 20-30 nm) and higher blood pressure. In addition, repeated exposure to particulates may result in long-term chronically elevated pressures, as well as a chronic increase in arterial stiffness in children due to traffic-related air pollution.

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

English: Southern end of the High Street, Keyn...
English: Southern end of the High Street, Keynsham, on a busy Saturday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When to Apply Maximum Charges to Relieve Congestion?

A Bathtub Model of Downtown Traffic Congestion ( 8 page pdf, Richard Arnott, ACCESS, University of California, Jun. 10, 2015)
Today we review an analysis of the degree of congestion as a function of the timing of commuting and how applying a congestion charge can alter the flow sufficiently to allow free flowing traffic. This approach is called the bathtub model as it resembles the flow of water through a drain- as the water depth builds up the drainage rate increases up to a critical point when it decreases. In the same way, traffic reaches full congestion and then the flow slows down. Applying higher tolls as the traffic begins to reach the critical point reduces the traffic density and allows the flow to increase again.

bathtub graph

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A Guide to Implement Congestion Charging

Introduction to Congestion Charging: A Guide for Practitioners in Developing Cities  (58 page pdf, Dirk Van Amelsfort and Viktoria Swedish, the Asian Development Bank,  2015)

Today we review a comprehensive guide that describes the various steps necessary to develop and then implement a successful congestion charging system, borrowing on examples of established systems in Stockholm, London and Singapore, among others. Although aimed at developing countries, many of the principles and preparations needed are common to the developed world as well – such as, being prepared with responses to eight objections or concerns often made to any such scheme. The underlying objective has to include elements of fairness of application, as well as environmental and economic benefits with as few exemptions to being charged as possible.

acceptance levels

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How Do Electric Fields under High Voltage Power Lines Compare to Those Near Highways?

Comparison of charged nanoparticle concentrations near busy roads and overhead high-voltage power lines (Abstract, E.R. Jayaratne, X. Ling, L. Morawska, May 28, 2015)

Also discussed here: Roadside air can be more charged than under a high-voltage power line (Science Daily, May 28, 2015)
Today we review research from Brisbane, Australia, comparing the number of charged particles emitted by vehicles near highways to what is found under power lines. Results indicate more than twice as many charged vehicles near roads. The charges alone do not present a health hazard but the fact that the particulates are charged means that they adhere more closely to the lungs when they are breathed in – and this as earlier research has shown presents a number of health impacts which would be increased by the electrical charging.

freeway electric field

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Exposure of New Born Babies to Traffic-Related Air Pollution

Perinatal Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Atopy at 1 Year of Age in a Multi-Center Canadian Birth Cohort Study (32 pge pdf, Hind Sbihi, Ryan W. Allen, Allan Becker, Jeffrey R. Brook, Piush Mandhane, James A. Scott, Malcolm R. Sears, Padmaja Subbarao, Tim K. Takaro, Stuart E. Turvey, and Michael Brauer, Environmental Health Perspectives, Mar. 31, 2015)

Also discussed here: Exposure to air pollution in the first year of life increases risk for allergies (ScienceDaily, May 4, 2015)

Today we review research into the impact of short and longer term exposure to traffic related pollution on one year old babies. Results indicate a greater risk of allergies, especially for those who did not attend daycares with older children who seem to offer protection.

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies ...

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies such as pollen allergy are related to the antibody known as IgE. Like other antibodies, each IgE antibody is specific; one acts against oak pollen, another against ragweed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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If You Live Close to Traffic, Your Brain will Shrink

Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure  (Abstract, Elissa H. Wilker, Sarah R. Preis, Alexa S. Beiser, Philip A. Wolf, Rhoda Au, Itai Kloog, Wenyuan Li, Joel Schwartz, Petros Koutrakis, Charles DeCarli, Sudha Seshadri, Murray A. Mittleman, Strole, American Heart Association, Apr. 23, 20-15)
Also discussed here: Long-term exposure to air pollution may pose risk to brain structure, cognitive functions (ScienceDaily, Apr. 23, 2015)
And here: Air pollution could increase risk of dementia (Laura Donnelly, The Telegraph, Apr. 23, 2015)

And here: Smog may be harming your brain (Health24, Apr. 24, 2015)

Today we review research on heath impacts on the brain from long term exposure to vehicle emissions from nearby traffic. A slight increase in PM 2.5 (by 2 μg/m3) was associated with a decrease in cerebral brain volume equivalent to an extra year of aging. This suggests the air pollution is associated with structural brain aging, even in dementia, and with a 50% greater risk of having a silent stroke which results from a blockage in the blood vessels supplying the brain.. The mechanism that links the brain to air pollution is unclear but the authors suggest that inflammation from fine particles in the lungs is likely important.

 

brain_2502748b

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How Many Canadians Live Close to Vehicle Emissions from Major Roadways?

Development of a land-use regression model for ultrafine particles in Toronto, Canada (Abstract, Kelly Sabaliauskas , Cheol-Heon Jeong, Xiaohong Yao, Christopher Reali, Tim Sun, Greg J. Evans, Atmospheric Environment, Apr. 2015)

Also discussed here: Traffic emissions may pollute one in three Canadian homes (ScienceDaily, Apr. 21, 2015)
Today we review research into exposure to ultra-fine particles, especially those emitted by old vehicles. One third of all Canadians and half of the population of Toronto are exposed to health risks because they live within 250 m of a major roadway. 21,000 Canadians die prematurely each year because of air pollution and a large part of these deaths result from living too close to major roadways. Policy changes at the provincial and federal levels are needed to target older more polluting cars, as well as at the municipal level, to zoning plans to locate buildings and homes that house those most vulnerable from being close to traffic-related pollution – such as day cares, seniors residences, hospitals and schools.

toronto pm

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What are the Characteristics of Traffic Congestion?

Traffic Scorecard (INRIX)

Also discussed here: The 100 most congested cities in Europe and North America (The Guardian, Jul. 7, 2014)

And here: Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US (INRIX)

And here: Annual Cost of Gridlock in Europe and the US will Increase 50 Percent on Average to $293 Billion by 2030 (INRIX Press Release, Oct. 14, 2014)

And here: Key Findings (INRIX, 2013)

Today we review an analysis of traffic congestion in Europe and US/Canada carried out by INRIX which reveal a number of interesting trends and characteristics as well as a ranking of countries and cities where it is worse. Although many assume Canada and the USA are similar in many respects, in traffic congestion (and often in hockey) Canada is #1 as a country although its two of its biggest cities are #4 (Montreal) and # 10 (Toronto) – which means that its medium sized cities are likely more congested than their American counterparts. Traffic is highest during week-day rush hours but who knew that Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon were the worst? While Belgium’s congestion is the worst in Europe (followed by the UK, Holland and Italy) and North America, Milano, Italy tops the list as the most congested city (followed by Honolulu, London and Los Angeles). And, unchecked, it will get worse. Congestion cost individual drivers, on average, $1, 740 each year and this is predicted to more than double by 2030 to $2,902. Managing the flow of traffic in real-time is helped by the 80% of vehicles that will be able to monitor and manage traffic conditions by onboard GPS technology. This also suggests (to this reviewer at least) that an opportunity exists to apply real-time congestion charging as well to reduce peak flows and associated traffic-related air pollution.

congestion by hour

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Why is Vancouver the Greenest City in the world and How is it Planning to Be Better?

Eleven Reasons to Support Vancouver’s Transportation Tax  (11 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Mar. 19, 2015)

Also discussed here: The case for the mayors’ transit plan — 10 reasons to vote Yes – For one thing, the tax increase of about $200 per household would finance savings of $1,000 (Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, Mar. 31, 2015)

transit ridership

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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How Has Germany Improved Its Air Quality?

Clean Air – Made in Germany (50 page pdf, Federal Environment Agency of Germany, Nov. 2014)

Today we review measures undertaken by the national and municipal governments of Germany over the last decade or two to reduce air pollution particularly in its cities and particularly from transportation although initiatives are also in place to deal with wood combustion and ammonia from emissions from agriculture. Specific measures include Low Emission Zones and application of road pricing, restrictions for parking and lower speed limits of 30 kph on major roads. The result is that air quality in German cities today are as high as in rural areas 20 years ago. Future challenges include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet EU targets and reducing NO2 and PM emissions from diesel powered vehicles.

low emission zones berlin

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Dynamic Road Pricing for Vancouver?

Innovative B.C. starts the road-pricing revolution (Andrew Coyne, The Regina Leader-Post Dec. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here: The shocking truth about B.C.’s carbon tax: It works (Ross Beaty, Richard Lipsey and Stewart Elgie, the Globe and Mail, Jul. 09 2014)

Today we review news that Vancouver area Mayors have decided to ask their voters to agree by referendum to two new “taxes” – a sales tax and a comprehensive road-pricing plan – that would be a first for any Canadian city, collect revenue from other than municipal property tax and virtually eliminate traffic congestion. One downside is that implementation would only come in 5 to 8 years – would the next elected civic administrations be up to the challenge? As jurisdictional children, the municipalities would also need to get provincial approval. There is reason to expect a positive response as B.C. is also the first province to have implemented a successful carbon tax on consumer goods 6 years ago, reaffirmed in a recent provincial election, and given citizens the lowest personal income taxes in Canada.

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Are the Life Cycle Pollution Impacts from Electric Cars?

Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States (6 page pdf, Christopher W. Tessum, Jason D. Hill, and Julian D. Marshall, Proceedings f the Ntional Academy of the United States of America (PNAS), Dec. 15, 2014)
Also discussed here: Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives (ScienceDaily, Dec. 15, 2014)
Today we review a paper that compares the amount of pollution (as PM2.5 and ozone) produced in generating power for electric powered vehicles compared with the use of conventional gasoline. Results indicate that the use of biofuels (such as ethanol from corn) increases health impacts from pollution by 80% while using renewable sources such as natural gas, wind, water or solar reduces the impact by 50% (noting that natural gas is a pollutant in terms of climate change). This study underlines the lack of benefits from biofuels in terms of pollution and health.

eletric car power pollution

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Modelling Emissions from Stop-and-Start Traffic Congestion

A congestion sensitive approach to modelling road networks for air quality management (Abstract, James O’Brien; Anil Namdeo; Margaret Bell; Paul Goodman, Int. J. of Environment and Pollution, Dec. 2014)
Also discussed here: Stop-start driving in city centres creates higher pollution levels (Phys Org, Dec. 12, 2014)

And here: New regional traffic model to combat urban road congestion (Phys Org, Jan. 9, 2014)

And here:  Verkeersvoorspellingen met modellen: een voorspelling over modellen (in Dutch language) (3 page pdf, Victor L. Knoop and Serge P. Hoogendoorn, Nationaal verkeerskundecongres, 6 Nov. 2013)

Today we review research into improved modelling of emissions from congested traffic which takes into account instantaneous starts and stops instead of assuming a constant speed of vehicles. The results indicate that previous mobile transportation pollution models may underestimate emissions by as much as 60%.and this has large potential consequences for environmental impact assessments of large transportation projects, as well as for regulating or reducing emissions from currently congested cities.

traffic model

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How Cities Can Get to the Three Zeros (Congestion, Pollution and Accidents)

Implementing Transport Policies and Programmes toward Realizing “Bali Vision Three Zeros – Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution, and Zero Accidents towards Next Generation Transport Systems in Asia  (58 page pdf, Todd Litman, Eighth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (Est) Forum in Asia, United Nations Centre For Regional Development, Nov. 19, 2014)

Today we review a background overview paper prepared by one of the world’s leading advocates for sustainable transportation, Todd Litman, at a United Nations conference aimed at developing best practices in Asia where major shifts to urbanization are taking place. His paper includes many tips and statistics such as better traffic congestion indicators and space requirements for various modes, the advantages of transportation demand management strategies, especially when different ones are combined.

sust transp goals

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