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.

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

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Monitoring Roadside Pollution with Sensors on Bikes

Cyclists will monitor air pollution in Hamilton (CBC News, Mar. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here: Bicycle Air Monitoring Program – Pittsburg (GASP)

Today we review two citizen initiatives in Hamilton and Pittsburg to monitor air pollution levels along roads and bike paths used by cyclists in these cities. The program that began first in Pittsburg with the Group Against Air Pollution and Smog, collects and displays the Particulate Matter on maps of the urban core in real-time. The Bicycling Air Monitoring program in Hamilton just began on June 26 with over 60 cyclists volunteering to use the 20 GPS and air monitors which were funded with only $25 K from contributions from volunteers and a local city Councillor. These data fill gaps in the map of air pollution measured by much more expensive provincial air quality monitors (over $250K each) or by using a specialized mobile van dedicated to roadside monitoring.

pittsburg pollution

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Making Streets Complete for More Mobility

Rethinking Streets – An Evidence-Based Guide to 25 Complete Street Transformations(148 page pdf, Marc Schlossberg, John Rowell, Dave Amos, Kelly Sanford, Sustainable Cities Initiative Oregon, 2013)

Today we review a book that examines street design in 25 varied communities across the USA and how these communities have adapted their streets to a more mobile end result. Each has different needs and, as a result, different design but all are focused on making the streets more effective, as well as more enjoyable for driving, walking, transit and cycling.

street xsection

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Is It Time to Get Serious about Reducing the Impact Of Cars on Society?

Is it time for a real war on cars? (David Suzuki Foundation, Apr. 17, 2014)
Also discussed here: It’s time for a bigger recall of a seriously defective product: The Car (Lloyd Alter, Treehugger, Apr. 3, 2014)
And here: The Growth of Car Culture (Urban Times, Nov. 2012)
Today we review a provocative article calling for a substantive effort to reduce the number of cars on the road and by doing that reduce the impact that cars have on our health and quality of life. Included in a number of suggestions are the collection of the costs to maintain infrastructure needed for cars and the full costs for health costs caused by cars and the costs for building walkable cities and alternative modes of transportation Revenue for these improvements would come from gas taxes and tolls on roads, bridges and freeways. . Signficant advances in GPS technology and computer communications make the collection of these funds much more feasible, effective and more convenient than ever before, reducing the overhead from over 50% to less than 5%.

Time to get serious.

death rates from cars

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The Road to Free Public Transit and Fewer Cars

Editorial: No FPT without SCR (Systematic Car Reductions) (Eric Britton, World Streets, Mar. 20, 2014)

Today we review a short editorial by Eric Britton’s blog from Paris. He reminds us that the transition from a car addicted sprawled city to one with free public transit and much fewer cars has to be approached in a strategic way through enforcement of regulations and plans that allow or encourage speeding and by planning an urban form that encourages cycling and walking and public transit. At least 5 of the 13 specific measures suggested are needed before proceeding to free public transit along with a clear and public declaration of these steps. Cities such as Paris with its Velib bike sharing program, and Stockholm with its sophisticated congestion charging system, demonstrate how change is possible. Bottom line is for voters to support candidates for City Council who support these measures.

English: Paris, France : station Velib (bike h...

English: Paris, France : station Velib (bike hire service) Place de la Bastille Français : Station Vélib (Système de prêt de vélo) Place de la Bastille, Paris France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How are the Germans planning to make their second largest city car-free?

Auf grünen Wegen durch die Stadt(translation from German: “On green routes through the city”, Ministry of Urban Development and Environment, City of Hamburg, Germany)
Also discussed here: Hamburg Sets Out to Become a Car-Free City in 20 Years(Ignasi Jorro, Films for Action, Feb. 12, 2014)

And here: Hamburg’s answer to climate change(Elisabeth Braw, The Guardian,  Oct. 31, 2013)

Today we review reports about plans made in Hamburg to replace many roads in the urban core with parks and greenspace linked with cycling and pedestrian paths. This addresses one of the biggest problems that many cities in the USA and Canada have in their larger cities with multi-lane freeways cutting across their centres and clogged roads leading out of the urban cores- with all of the pollution and health issues that accompanies this. In less than 20 years, Hamburg will become a city where the need to use a car is much less and the enjoyment of the city both for getting from place to place and for leisure activities is enhanced.

german green plan

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Protecting Cyclists on Urban Roads

Inventory of Protected Green Lanes(Green Lane Project)

Also discussed here: Memphis to Add 15 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes(Angie Schmitt , StreetsBlogNetwork, May 23, 2013)

And here: Why Are Some Cities Safer for Cycling?(Pollution Free Cities, Jul. 19, 2011)

And here: Segregated Bike Lanes(Pollution Free Cities, Oct. 12, 2009)

And here: Who owns the road in Montreal?(Pollution Free Cities, Oct. 3, 2009)

Today we review the progress being made in cities in the US and Canada of protection of cyclists on busy city roads through the addition of “protected” or “segregated” bike lanes which often separate cars from bikes by a raised curb. While Canada’s capital probably has the most and longest segregated bike parks (at 541 km, planned to increase to 2,500 km), many US cities are planning to double the number of protected lanes from the current 103 in the next year. The “Green Lane Project” provides a spreadsheet detailing the location and length of these lanes in each city which can be found by following the links above. The hoped for result would be to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by the merging of fast-moving vehicle traffic with cyclists.

seg bike path

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Bicycle Boulevards for Cleaner Air

Cyclist route choice, traffic-related air pollution, and lung function: a scripted exposure study(24 page pdf, Sarah Jarjour, Michael Jerrett, Dane Westerdahl, Audrey Nazelle, Cooper Hanning, Laura Daly, Jonah Lipsitt, John Balmes , Environmental Health, Feb. 7,  2013)

Today we review research on the exposure of cyclists to pollution while commuting on urban streets in Berkeley, California. Comparisons were made between conditions on special cyclist routes along low traffic corridors – bicycle boulevards–  with those on major roadways. Results indicate significantly lower exposure while on roads with low traffic and outside of rush hours.

bike emissions

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

What is Important for Getting People out of their Cars?

USEmobility Survey of Users who have changed their Mobility-Mix (12 page pdf, USEmobility, Nov. 6, 2012)

Also discussed here: Half of travellers are willing to change(Allianz pro Schiene Nov. 6, 2012)

And here:

(4.5 min video, USEmobility, Jan. 2, 2012)

And here: When it comes to choosing their means of transport . . .(World Streets, Nov. 13, 2012)

Today we review a report that surveyed 5 European countries to find out who makes the switch from one mode of travel to another. Surprisingly, the home of European car manufacturers and fast roads, Germany, was at the top in terms of people who have recently changed their choices or are willing to.  This was not driven by such factors as travel comfort, cleanliness and, most of all, reliability or punctuality (not that these are unimportant) but rather by such things as reachability of bus stops, costs and how long a journey takes. Also that sector of the population that is growing fastest in Europe as well as in North America, our seniors, show more flexibility in choosing between their car or public transit to make trips.

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

Why does Germany have More Sustainable Transportation?

Sustainable Transport that Works:Lessons from Germany(34 page pdf, Ralph Buehler, John Pucher, World Transport Policy & Practice, Apr. 2009)

Also discussed here: Demand for Public Transport in Germany and the USA: An Analysis of Rider Characteristics(27 page pdf, Ralph Buehler and John Pucher, Transport Reviews, Sept. 2012)

And here: Making Urban Transport Sustainable: Lessons from Europe and North America( Keynote speaker, Dr. Ralph Buehler, Carleton University, Oct. 18, 2012)

And here: City considers cuts to Bronson Ave. speed limit after fatal crash (Ottawa Sun, Nov. 2, 2012)

And here: Who owns the road in Montreal?(Pollution Free Cities, Feb. 11,2011)

Today we review a paper authored by Prof Buehler and John Pucher who have also published a book very recently about safer cycling in cities. The paper compares the degree of sustainable transportation in Germany to the USA and other countries and notes that “The USA is perhaps the best known example of unsustainable transport” for a number of reasons, ranging from much greater support for public  transit as well as progressive land use and taxation policies in Germany that result in much less use of cars for commuting  (5 times greater use of transit),  as well as 2-3 times fewer traffic casualties and 80% fewer cycling casualties. Virtually all German cities have car-free zones and few have motorways that penetrate into the city core (unlike 99% of the large urban areas in the USA and Canada).

It is somewhat telling that shortly after an evening presentation on sustainable transportation by Prof Buehler at Carleton University in Ottawa, a student cycling home was killed by a car on a 6 lane roadway that links the airport with the city core and lacks a safe bike lane (noting that a segregated bike lane is being piloted downtown and Ottawa currently has over 541 km of bike lanes including 258 km off road and is planning for 2,500 km, more than any other Canadian city).

There are many lessons to learn here.

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

Evaporating Traffic

Disappearing traffic? The story so far(10 page pdf, S. Cairns, S. Atkins and P.Goodwin, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Municipal Engineer 151, March 2002)

Also discussed here: Traffic Evaporation(One Street Blog, Resources for Increasing Cycling)

And here: Reclaiming city streets for people – Chaos or quality of life?(52 page pdf, European Commission,

And here: Braess’s paradox(Wikipedia)

In past reviews, we have looked at how congestion pricing reduces both congestion and improves air quality in the urban core. Today we  examine another approach, widely used in Europe over the last 20-30 years, which combines the removal of road capacity and adding pedestrian areas to the space freed up. The results from 70 case studies in European cities and New York City point to the many improvements and reduced congestion with examples from the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium and other countries. Vehicle emissions in downtown areas decreased by 15-30% one year after road removals.

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

Why Not Slow Down?

Speed Kills: The Complex Links Between Transport, Lack of Time and Urban Health (12 page pdf, Paul Joseph Tranter, Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, Feb. 24,2010)

Also discussed here: Addicted to speed? Slow down, save time and be wealthy (gehlblog-making cities for people, Jul. 17, 2012)

Today we review an article by an Australian, Prof. Tanter, who examines all the extra costs involved in driving cars quickly – and the savings that could be achieved by switching to “slower” models of travel – even though, as he points out, one saves time (and money) by using them.

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

Is it Time to look after Needs of Pedestrians, Cyclists and Transit Users?

America’s love affair with the motor car is running on empty (David Burwell, the Guardian, Jun. 12, 2012)

The question posed in the title of this post seems to be the one to ask as more and more people in Europe and North America chose other forms of transportation than the car.While one is tempted (with reason) to link the lowered demand for car travel to increasing fuel (and oil) costs, the increase in the number of commuting cyclists and the demand for Light Rail is seen in many cities which, for too long, have catered to the needs of drivers and suburban sprawl. Policy makers continue to count on fuel taxes for road and highway building when this has to be a diminishing resource and need.

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

Active Transportation Choices and Health in Toronto

Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto (109 page pdf, Toronto Public Health, April 2012)

Today, we look at a report on Toronto that examines how walking and cycling as active transportation modes benefit health and how much more improvement could be achieved if both forms were optimized. Estimated benefits are over 129 fewer deaths/year and $475 M/year which could be doubled by choosing active transportation modes to only match the active transportation statistics in Vancouver which has both fewer collisions and deaths and higher modal statistics than Toronto. Many options could be pursued from the range of best practices presented, such as Traffic Demand Management to reduce traffic speed and collisions that make walking and cycling a safer choice.

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

How Expensive are Roads Built only for Cars?

Combating the Myth That Complete Streets Are Too Expensive (Tanya Snyder, World Streets DC, Dec. 8, 2011)

Today, we look at reasons to build streets for uses other than driving (such as cycling and walking) and find that this is not only economical but also adds to the overall quality of life for cities that take this approach. Making roads more narrow for driving also reduces costs.

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


The Health Benefits of Cycling’s Impact on Air Quality

Air Quality and Exercise-Related Health Benefits from Reduced Car Travel in the Midwestern United States (39 page pdf, Maggie L. Grabow, Scott N. Spak, Tracey Holloway,Brian Stone Jr., Adam C. Mednick, Jonathan A. Patz, Environmental Health Perspectives, Nov. 2, 2011)

We all know that cycling is good for one’s fitness, as well as providing an emission-free mode of transportation which benefits the ambient air environment. Today, we review research that quantified the benefits of substituting cycling for trips by motor vehicle of less than 8 km using the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP). Results indicate 1,100 fewer deaths and $7 billion of savings or 2.5% of the total costs for health care in the U.S  mid-west

per year per 12 x 12 km2 gridbox.

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

Health Risks with Cycling near Traffic

Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Acute Changes in Heart Rate Variability and Respiratory Function in Urban Cyclists (6 page pdf, Scott Weichenthal, Ryan Kulka, Aimee Dubeau, Christina Martin, Daniel Wang, Robert Dales, Environ Health Perspect, Oct. 2011)

Today’s review article looks at the health risks for cyclists exposed to high and low levels of traffic along the routes they take each day during the summer of 2010 in Ottawa, a city famous for its extensive network of bike paths and lanes. Conclusion is that cycling near traffic presents higher health risk for heart disease but not respiratory disease.

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

Why do People Drive to Work?

Description: F Train, Manhattan-bound, 17 May ...

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How and why do people commute by car? A mixed-methods investigation ( Abstract, A Goodman, J Panter, C Guell, D Ogilvie, J Epidemiol Community Health, Sep. 14, 2011)

Today’s review is interesting because it looks at why people chose to drive a car to work. The results indicate that the decision is strongly influenced by the availability of free parking at the work place. Without that, the choice turns to walking and cycling as the alternative or as an additional part of the commute by car. Free parking then becomes a driving factor (sorry) for the health of employees who commute by car and thus becomes an added cost for the company providing the parking.

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

The Pain of Commuting

IBM 2011 Global Commuter Pain Survey (9 page pdf, IBM, Sep. 8, 2011)

In many cities, vehicle emissions is a major contributer to urban air pollution and the choices commuters make in their choice of transportation mode has a major impact on the resulting air quality. Today we review the 4th annual world survey of commuting “pain” by IBM and this reveals differences in the pain as a result of the mode chosen for commuting and the degree of technology used to speed up traffic.

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

The Health Benefits of Cycling

Lender bikes in Stockholm

Image via Wikipedia

The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study ( 8 page pdf, David Rojas-Rueda, Audrey de Nazelle, Marko Tainio, Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen, British Medical Journal (BMJ), Aug. 4, 2011)
Today’s focus is on a biking initiative in Barcelona which attracted 11% of the population and the impact the shift to bikes from cars had on health as well as the reductions in carbon dioxide. Results indicate a modest benefit (4% less used cars). The analysis of pro and con factors that affect cyclist’s health is worth reviewing- such as the high correlation with the duration of the bike trip and the number of days spent cycling.

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

Why More and Safer Bike Paths Make Sense

The Bicycle Dividend (Nancy Folbre, Economix, New York Times, Jul. 4, 2011)
We return to a focus today to the benefits of cycling, on the one hand, compared to the high costs to society of driving cars.

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

Why Are Some Cities Safer for Cycling?

Evidence on Why Bike-Friendly Cities Are Safer for All Road Users (12 page pdf, Wesley E. Marshall, Norman W. Garrick, Environmental Practice, March 2011)

Today’s review article – safety for cyclists- is quite timely for this blogger who lives in the first city in Canada’s largest province to get segregated bike lanes (opened July 10), prompted mainly out of  a concern for cyclists’ safety when they have to travel in close proximity to vehicles. The article assesses factors from 24 cities in California, U.S. that seem to be linked to low accident and low fatality rates- ranging from safety in numbers (of cyclists) to street density to street design. The safest city (Davis) had a fatal crash rate which was 1/7th of the average for the country. Making a city safe for cyclists will also encourage more motorists to leave their polluting machines at home, of course, so that the safety aspect also affects the broader health interests of the public at large.

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

Why Pedestrians are a Priority in Europe – and not so much in North America

Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Alternatives(Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times, Jun. 27, 2011)

The focus of today’s review is a discussion about changes taking place in many European cities that put the convenience of pedestrians higher than that of drivers. The result is that much fewer households see a need for – or even own – a private vehicle, relying on walking, cycling and public transit for their mobility needs. In an environmental context, it also explains why and how European cities will see air pollution levels and greenhouse gas emission targets reached much sooner – or face significant fines for breaching those levels.

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

Analysing Transportation Options in New York City

Meet the BTA (35 page pdf slideshow, Jul. 22, 2009)


Today’s review is of a sophisticated spreadsheet developed by Charles Komanoff to model the impact of various congestion pricing schemes in New York City with time varying rates on such outputs as revenue gains and losses (as shown below), impact on traffic volumes, vehicle emissions, speeds and many other variables. In carrying out the calculations in iterative fashion, many policy results may be assessed. The technique shows promise to be exported for use in other cities if the basic input data are provided. Note that the spreadsheet file referenced will execute only in post 2007 versions of Excel.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports about this post, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Does Cycling in Bad Air Outweigh the Benefits of Exercise?

US Navy 061020-N-4856G-018 Special Operations ...

Image via Wikipedia

Cycling: Health Benefits and Risks (1 page pdf, Panis LI, Environ Health Perspect, March 1, 2011)
A new look at and discussion about cycling and its positive benefits, such as fitness and Life Expectancy (LE), and negative factors, such as injury from accidents and impacts from air pollution, is the focus of today’s review.

For Key Quotes and relevant internet links, visit the new platform for Pollution Free Cities HERE

Road Diet- putting a curb on roads

A person rides a bicycle in a diamond lane in ...
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Road Diets Fixing the Big Roads (15 page pdf, Walkable Communities, Inc. March 1999)

Also discussed here: Applying the Road Diet for Livable Communities (20 slides, ITE, 2005)

And here Summary Report: Evaluation of Lane Reduction “Road Diet” Measures and Their Effects on Crashes and Injuries(6 page pdf, Highway Safety Information System, US Dept of Transportation)

And here: Road diet (Wikipedia)

And here:  The Benefits of a “Road Diet” (StreetsBlog, May 3, 2007)

One well recognized axiom of road design is that the wider they become the more traffic and congestion can be expected. The counter to this is to improve traffic flow not by widening the roads but by reducing their width and lanes- a concept called “Road Diet”. Results show fewer fatalities form crashes and one might expect lower emissions as a result of less congesiton and the idling that accompanies stalled traffic. The replacement of vehicle lanes with cycling lanes also contributes to a less polluting city and safer riding for cyclists. Pedestrians too are safer not having as wide a street to cross as before, with a safe median as a refuge in the middle of the road. Is the four lane road an antiquated design whose time has come and gone?

Key Quotes:

““Road dieting” is a new term applied to “skinnying up” patients (streets) into leaner, more productive members of society. The ideal roadway patient is often a four-lane road carrying 12-18,000 auto trips per day”

“Pedestrians have rugged times finding gaps across four lanes. Crash rates and severity of conflicts with autos result in almost certain death (83% of pedestrians hit at 40 mph die)”

“Researchers have found that road diets can be expected to reduce crashes by 6% to 29%”

“The change can increase value of existing properties. In some cases costs of reconstructing roadways are repaid in as little as one year through increased sales tax or property tax revenue”

Best places to start:

  • “Moderate volumes (8-15,000 ADT)
  • Roads with safety issues
  • Transit corridors
  • Popular or essential bicycle routes/links
  • Commercial reinvestment areas
  • Economic enterprise zones
  • Historic streets
  • Scenic roads
  • Entertainment districts
  • Main streets”

“In Toronto, we have removed traffic lanes on approximately 18 km (12 miles) of downtown streets (eight different streets) to provide bike lanes. These routes represent about two thirds of our existing bike lanes”

“We have a project in Ottawa where a bridge is being reconstructed. The original cross-section included two HOV (buses only) lanes and four car lanes (2 in each direction). The new cross-section includes two HOV buses only) in the outside lanes, then two car lanes and two bicycle lanes (one in each direction). A median was also added. In essence, two car lanes were given over to bicycle lanes and a median”


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London’s Cycle Superhighways

Barclays Cycle Superhighways: Frequently asked questions (22 page pdf, Transport for London, 2010)

Also discussed here: London’s Bicycle Superhighway Opens Today! (Inhabitat, July 19, 2010)

One key way of reducing vehicle emissions comes from shifting the choice for commuting from cars to bikes. This has been encouraged in cities such as Paris, New York, Montreal, Ottawa and other cities with making hundreds of bikes available through bike sharing programs with names such as Bixi, Velib etc as highlighted in Velib Public Bicycles in Paris (Pollution Free Cities, July 23, 2009)

However that often comes with a risk to cyclists’ safety, particularly in cities with heavy traffic, unless segregated bike lanes are in place along the preferred routes commuting and there are safe ways of crossing intersections as described in

Segregated Bike Lanes (Pollution Free Cities, Oct. 12, 2009)

Coming just before the Olympic Games in 2012, London England recently began to implement a “Cycle Superhighway” which addresses some of these concerns. The guide noted from London Transport describes most of the details.

Key Quotes:

“Barclays Cycle Superhighways will provide safe, fast direct and continuous routes into central London from the outer boroughs”


  • Improve cycling conditions for people who already commute by bike
  • Encourage those who don’t to take to pedal power and keep fit
  • Help cut congestion
  • Relieve overcrowding on public transport
  • Reduce emissions”

“Painted a bold, bright blue, the cycle highways are 1.5 meters wide and they provide a safer space and more efficient routes for cyclists to travel.”

“London’s new bicycle superhighway network has 12 planned routes in all..The first route, labeled CS7, starts in Colliers Wood, a London suburb, and travels 8.5 miles to the city center along a busy commuter route, while the second one runs from Barking, in east London, to Tower Gateway.”

“TfL has a target of five percent of all trips in London to be undertaken by bicycle by 2025 which presents a 400 percent increase in cycling compared to figures in 2000”

“will be highly visible …cycle lanes will be at least 1.5 m wide and will continue through junctions. Advanced stop boxes will be provided at signals to help get ahead of the traffic”


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Sharing Transportation and Mobility

Eric Britton
Image via Wikipedia

Sharing: Strategy for a Small Planet (World Streets, Sept. 27, 2010)

Also discussed here: World Share/Transport Forum: Kaohsiung 2010 – The Third Way of Getting Around in Cities (Kaohsiung. 16 – 19 September 2010)

The article in focus today is the introductory speech by well known mobility expert and commentator, Eric Britton, to the recent first international Share/Transport Conference in Kaohsiung, China. He points to the growth of mobility in general as well as the damaging impacts of motorized transport and to the mind-boggling estimate of the total world-wide trips made by people each year – five trillion! Most importantly, he highlights the direction that this is taking us toward: sharing,  and away from: individual use of vehicles.

Key Quotes:

“Americans (or French or  or . . . ) love their cars and that they are too individualistic to share”

“twenty percent..relative importance of the transport or mobility sector in this greater whole..the sector’s  share of GHG emissions, fossil fuel consumption.  overall resource take, investment requirements.”

“the amount of activity in our sector is expanding at sharply growing rates.  The number of cars. The number of kilometers driven. Lost time in traffic. Increasing costs. Health impacts”

“the number of major trips that are made by individual citizens each year – think of a work trip, medical visit, trip to find and carry water and firewood, soccer mom’s taking the kids to their next organized sport session, and the like. There are more than five trillion of these taking place each year”

“Share/transport..low-carbon, high-impact, available-now mobility options .. between the long dominant poles of “private transport” (albeit on public roads) and “mass transport” (scheduled, fixed-route, usually deficit-financed public services) at the two extremes.”

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Designing a High Quality Street

Paved with gold – The real value of good street design (35 page pdf, CABE, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 2007)

The report being reviewed today examined the key factors that make for high quality streets which in turn make for sustainable urban areas that promote walking and cycling, as well as 5% higher retail values for homes on those streets.

Key Quotes:

“What makes a high-quality street?

  • dropped kerbs
  • tactile paving and colour contrast
  • smooth, clean, well-drained surfaces
  • high-quality materials
  • high standards of maintenance
  • pavements wide enough to accommodate all users
  • no pinch points
  • potential obstructions placed out of the way
  • enough crossing points, in the right places
  • traffic levels not excessive
  • good lighting
  • sense of security
  • no graffiti or litter
  • no signs of anti-social behaviour
  • signage, landmarks and good sightlines
  • public spaces along the street
  • a street that is a pleasant place to be”

“The survey showed that, on average,

  • pedestrians were willing to pay more for better streets.
  • Local residents were willing to pay more council tax,
  • public transport users would accept higher fares and
  • people living in rented homes were happy to pay increased rents to improve the quality of their high streets”
  • Better streets result in higher market prices.
  • High property prices can have a downside, potentially restricting local access to home ownership and reducing retail diversity.
  • The benefits of quality street design are clear and local authorities are already taking the initiative in realising the latent value in their high streets.
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Designing Streets for People not just for Cars

Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice(72 page pdf, Volume 16. Number 1, May 2010)

Also discussed here: World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 16, No. 2(World /Streets, Aug. 31, 2010)

And here: Manual for Streets(146 page pdf, UK Dept. of Transport, 2010)

And here: Byward Market Pedestrian Area(Pollution Free Cities, Oct.2, 2009)

As the annual celebration of World Car Free Day approaches on September 22, the focus of today’s blog turns to the latest edition of the Journal of World Transport and Policy. It examines the design of streets for walking and cycling as well as for driving cars, echoed in the “Manual for Streets” published by the British Department of Transport 3 years ago. A short list of key recommendations to bring about a more people friendly street world is highlighted – many of these could be applied elsewhere. In Canada’s capital city, for example, a pedestrian area is being planned in the heart of the city’s bustling, but car congested, farmers market (which is shown in the drawing below)

Key Quotes:

Roads are essentially highways whose main function is accommodating the movement of motor traffic. Streets are typically lined with buildings and public spaces, and while movement is still a key function, there are several others”

“High levels of walking and cycling in this study are no longer vague aspirations and poorly supported policy objectives. They actually happen because changes in the physical environment make them happen.”

“Recommendations sent to UK Minister of Transport:

  • Cancel the complete road building programme and motorway widening programme
  • Cancel the complete high speed rail programme.
  • Implement .. emission charging and implement strict noise and air quality regulations around airports to protect local residents from health damaging environments.
  • Implement system-wide reform in all UK urban areas.. – 20% of all trips in all urban areas will be by bicycle by 2020.
  • De-commission 50% of car parking spaces in urban areas and reallocate the released land for high quality, car free, affordable housing.
  • Implement a serious road user hierarchy.. delivers absolute consideration for pedestrians and cyclists and puts car users at the bottom of the list
  • Introduce land value taxation to produce funds for new public transport infrastructure
  • Require a year on year increase in accessibility by foot, bike and public transport to all health, education, employment and recreational facilities..deliver a modal split in urban areas of one third of trips walk/cycle, one third public transport and one third by car
  • Set high standards of public transport provision for rural public transport ..the car is not the default option for rural areas”

“[Manual for Streets]focuses on lightly-trafficked residential streets, but many of its key principles may be applicable to other types of street, for example high streets and lightly-trafficked lanes in rural areas..does not set out new policy or introduce new additional burdens on local authorities, highway authorities or developers. Rather it presents guidance on how to do things differently within the existing policy, technical and legal framework”

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Smarter Choices for Less Car Use

The Effects of Smarter Choice Programmes in the Sustainable Travel Towns: Summary Report (55 page pdf, Transport for Quality of Life Ltd, Feb, 2010)

The study reviewed today has some very interesting statistics on the results of a “Smarter Choice” program implemented in three UK towns to reduce car use. The greatest reductions came from fewer long distance leisure trips.

Key Quotes:

Key Features of Smarter Choice Program:

  • “development of a strong brand identity;
  • a  large-scale personal travel planning programme;
  • travel awareness campaigns;
  • cycling and walking promotion;
  • public transport information and marketing;
  • school travel planning;
  • workplace travel planning”

“the biggest reduction in car distance travelled (hence traffic) was from medium-length and longer trips.. the biggest reduction in car driver distance came from changes to leisure trips, then shopping and work-related business”

“The biggest falls in car driver mode share among groups either at a point of change in their lives <job change, beginning university etc> or on a reduced income..a smaller per head reduction in car trips by those in full-time work, though this still constituted 40% of the total reduction”

Car driver trips per resident of the three towns taken together fell by 9% between 2004 and 2008, whilst car driver distance per resident fell by 5%~7%”

“travel behaviour change in the towns involved a combination of mode shift (with unchanged destination); switch of destination and mode (e.g. replacing a medium-length car trip with a shorter journey by foot, bike or bus); and trip evaporation (not making a trip at all).”

“Any measures that reduce traffic congestion have the potential to enable traffic to move faster, and therefore can induce more traffic, which will reduce the benefits”

“reductions in car driver mileage by existing residents provided the capacity to absorb population growth..and employment growth without increasing congestion”

“on major roads, where through traffic (or trips by non-residents) may have represented as much as half, or more, of total traffic volume.. 5%~7% reduction in mileage as a car driver by residents would result in an observable reduction in car traffic of only 2.5-3.5%”

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What’s Safer and Healthier- Cycling or Driving?

NEW YORK - AUGUST 25:  Cyclists ride in the bi...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Do The Health Benefits Of Cycling Outweigh The Risks? (40 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect, 30 June 2010)

The article reviewed today attempts to assess the overall health risks and benefits of cycling in Holland – a rare type of comprehensive analysis that is needed for other forms of transportation – an example being the truism that public transit is always more benefitcial than commuting by private vehicle while not taking into account the 7 to 10 times greater pollution from a typical transit bus while carrying fewer than half a dozen passengers as reported on in this post.

While the Dutch study suggests that cycling is less risky overall, it notes that there is safety in numbers of cyclists (which Holland enjoys) and that relatively low cost improvements to road infrastructure such as separate or segregated bike lanes could significantly lower risks from accidents and from proximity to roadside emissions from traffic. Another interesting finding is that cyclists over 70 face dramatically higher health risks from air pollution and injury from traffic accidents

Key Quotes:

“Approximately 50% of all car trips are shorter than 7.5 km, which is short enough to make travel by bicycle a feasible alternative”

“Driving or cycling in traffic may result in air pollution exposures that are substantially higher than overall urban background concentrations.. increased physical activity results in higher minute ventilation in cyclists than car drivers, with estimates..2.3 times.. and 2.1 times..higher than that of car drivers”

“The actual risk may be smaller because cyclists could more easily choose a low traffic route… position on the road is likely important as well, as it determines distance to motorized traffic emissions. Urban planning may also contribute by separating cycle lanes from heavily trafficked roads “

“there are about 5.5 times more traffic deaths per km travelled by bicycle than by car for all ages, and that cycling is riskier than travel by car for all age groups except young adults”

“in different European countries traffic deaths of cyclists is inversely related to the amount of cycling..suggesting a safety in numbers effect.“

“The estimated gain in life expectancy per person from an increase in physical activity ranged from 3 to 14 months ..The estimated life expectancy lost due to air pollution (0.8 – 40 days) and traffic accidents (5 – 9 days) were much smaller.”

“the ratio of benefits and risks was highest for the 65+ year olds. For air pollution, subjects with pre-existing cardio-respiratory disease and for physical activity sedentary people may be more susceptible, subgroups .. both the risks and benefits may be higher than in the population average analysis.”

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Dollar Health Benefits from Cycling

A European city bike, an example of a bicycle ...
Image via Wikipedia

Velo City Conference – Day 3 (Sustainable Cities, June 24, 2010)

Copenhagen is getting ready (90 second video on cycling in Copenhagen)

The article reviewed today is unusual because, in addition to advocating health benefits for the cyclist, these benefits are expressed in dollar terms which could then be taken into account when looking at the economic benefits to air quality for the community at large, as a result of more bicycles and fewer pollution-emitting vehicles on the road. No one who has seen Copenhagen can doubt the benefits of wide spread cycling on the urban environment.

Key Quotes:

Three conclusions drawn by blogger, Sarah Armitage, while attending the Velo-city Global 2010 Conference in Copenhagen


  1. “From an economic standpoint, the greatest benefit derived from public investment in cycling – whether in the form of bicycle infrastructure, promotional or educational materials, or other investments – comes from improvements in public health…Using the city of Portland as a model, he concluded that a $138 million investment in biking would create health care savings of $473 million over 50 years
  2. Investments in cycling are more complicated in practice than a cost-benefit analysis would suggest because both the costs and the benefits are distributed across different pocketbooks at different times. .. the national government reaps the largest rewards in the form of lower health care costs, reductions in air pollution, and other benefits
  3. Difficulties arise when statisticians or analysts have a particular agenda to promote.. how can you discuss jobs created in the biking industry unless you honestly consider jobs lost in the auto industry?.. In the end, I suspect that the harm to the auto industry from investment in cycling would actually be offset by the innumerable other benefits of bikes, the health care savings in particular”
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BP Spill Strikes Home

How to React to the BP Oil Spill (Ride Solutions, June 17,2010)

Also discussed here: boycotting BP? (The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo, June 16, 2010)

and here:  Boycott BP! Because it\’s so much better to give your money to Exxon. (Newsweek, June 7, 2010)

As today’s article states, while many express anger at BP for its “spill” (which is a curious minimalist word for the worst environmental disaster in the history of the USA) or even advocate a boycott of BP, few seem to take the personal action needed to affect the fundamental cause of the spill- and this to stop or reduce one’s own driving and, as a result, the need to drill for or import oil- and, incidentally, play a part in making cities less polluted and mitigate global climate change. (apologies for the longest sentence used on this blog ever, but we do need to connect the dots!). Secondly, shop, think and act locally- encourage urban agriculture and local farmers markets.

Key Quotes:

“If you don’t give your money to BP, who are you going to give it to? Exxon, who dumped a bunch of oil on Alaska during the Valdez oil spill and still hasn’t finished paying for all the damages?”

“40% of the US’s oil imports come from Nigeria, where more oil is spilled by the likes of Shell and ExxonMobil every year than has been spilled at BP’s Deepwater Horizon”

Oil Primer- where it comes from, where it goes

Drive less:.. The more you can stay off the road, or replace oil-powered trips with human-powered ones, the more real impact you have on reducing our dependence on oil.”

“According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.”

Go Local: .. The  energy required to get goods from one side of the country to another is incredible and a significant component of the country’s transportation fuel consumption…Bicycling to the local farmer’s market and filling your basket with fruits and veggies is a double-punch to BP’s gut; neither you nor the food you’re buying took much oil to get to the market.”

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Is Access to Transportation a Basic Human Right?

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Accessibility (Streetsblog, June 11, 2010)

Also discussed here: Mobility as a Basic Human Right (Streetsblog, Oct. 23, 2009)

And here: Driving is a Privilege; Accessibility is a Right (A Place of Sense, June 11. 2010)

The demand for transportation leads one to ask if mobility is a basic human right while focussed in many minds on one form of mobility- the privately owned car and the road infrastructure needed to support that. The article under review today shifts that focus to accessibility for other forms of mobility such as transit and walking and the kind of planning needed to encourage these forms.

Key Quotes:

“The real holy grail in the quest for access is to co-locate all the needs of daily life in a walkable range. If there were more requirements for mixed use for residential developments, people would have access to pharmacies, grocery stores, medical offices, etc.”

“the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title III, clearly defines universal accessibility as a right.  Architectural barriers to access are not permitted in open establishments, transportation, or public places.”

“access to affordable public transportation, as well as safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, is a fundamental social equity issue”

“In a completely auto-dependent situation, what percentatage of the population can even drive or should drive? 60%? 75%. Children, elderly and disabled are forced to be either be home bound or chauffered around by healthy driving age family members. Those on the margins are forced to start earlier or continue longer than is probably safe for other road users.“

“If we lived in a world with more perfect competition, where the costs of auto infrastructure were actually paid by drivers (and they aren’t- highways are subsidized to the tune of 50%, local roads upwards of 90%, and parking by unknowable amounts from non-user-fee funds), and where the car wasn’t given a free hand up by favourable government intervention, I suspect we’d see a much more diverse transit system.”

“Why are so many of our towns and cities designed in such a way that you need a car to cross a street safely”

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What Does a Car Really Cost?

How much is that car really costing? You? The rest of us? (World Streets, May 24, 2010)

Also discussed here: Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis Techniques, Estimates and Implications (500 page pdf in sections, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Jan.2,  2009)

And here: Transportation Cost Analysis Spreadsheet (Excel spreadsheet, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Jan.2, 2009)

And here: External Costs of Transport in the U.S. (34 page pdf, Forthcoming in Handbook of Transport Economics, ed. by A. de Palma, R. Lindsey, E. Quinet, and R. Vickerman, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. 2010)

When asked how much their car costs, many drivers think first of the cost to operate it( fuel mainly), or maybe also the cost of owning it which includes depreciation, insurance, licensing etc. Few consider what it costs to the city in terms of infrastructure (road maintenance and building)or the costs to public health because of worsened air quality, as a result of traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, the focus of this blog. To turn the question around, what would be saved for each car taken off the road and replaced by another modal option. The article reviewed today looks at these issues. Among some myth-breaking insights is the higher costs of driving at rush hour vs. off peak or the relative insignificant savings of electric cars or the 70% higher costs of urban (peak) driving vs. rural driving.

The City of Ottawa recently looked at what each mode costs the city in terms of services provided- in terms of service per passenger trip in this report: Costs For Different Transportation Modes (City of Ottawa Transportation Committee, Feb. 1, 2010)

“The total public (government and societal) cost per passenger trip, including construction, maintenance, land value, enforcement, unaccounted accidents, air, noise and water pollution are: Car driver: $2.50, Transit user: $1.76, Cyclist: $0.24, Pedestrian: $0.10”.

Translating these costs to a cost per mile (or km) was not attempted in the report but would likely lower the difference between modes as shown in the review article because car commuters typically travel 5 times farther than cyclists (25 km trip vs. 5 km say)who in turn would typically travel as much more than pedestrians (5 km trip vs. 1 km).

Using these “typical” figures results in a cost of about 10 cents per km for all three modes. Again though, the City included only the external costs to the city and did not include operating or ownership costs nor the impact on the environment.

Key Quotes:

“lists the 23 categories of transport costs considered in my analysis. Some costs, such as parking and accidents, are divided into internal costs, which are borne directly by users, and external costs, borne by other people.”

public transit travel costs are much lower than automobile costs under urban-peak conditions, and under favorable conditions walking and cycling can have very low costs”

“what it costs to drive they typically mention vehicle operating expenses, which average approximately 16¢ per mile for a typical automobile. Some may include vehicle ownership costs, which average about 27¢ per mile… Total estimated costs range from about $0.94 per vehicle mile for rural driving to $1.64 for urban-peak driving.”

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Automobile Dependence and the Future of Roads

Newman at rest
Image via Wikipedia

The future for roads in 2050 – Australian perspectives on sustainable transportation (World Streets, Apr. 23, 2010)

Also discussed here: RESILIENT CITIES – Responding to the Crash, Peak Oil and Climate Change (151 page pdf slideshow, Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

And here: Sustainable Urban Transport – Responding to the crash…. (35 page pdf slideshow, Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

From the father of “automobile dependence”,  Prof. Peter Newman, comes a look at what lies ahead for roads – in Australia at least, but many of his observations appear valid in similar countries such as the US and Canada. From an urban air quality viewpoint, roads and the vehicles that use them represent one of biggest if not the greatest source of pollution – as discussed in more detail in this recent post Vehicle Emissions and Climate Impacts.

Urban sprawl and pressures to accommodate it have resulted in cities whose downtowns are choked with emissions, particularly on the multi-lane roads that converge on the urban centre(s). The long-term solution seems to lie in redesigned cities that discourage car use through offering more attractive alternatives including rapid transit, cycling and walking with job locations closer to residential areas.

Key Quotes:

“we will have roads with about 50% fewer cars on them in 2050 compared to today.”

“a structural shift as public transport use has accelerated rapidly and younger people are driving the market for more urban locations where they need cars less.”

“reclaiming road space for more urban uses..with a light rail, removing cars altogether from most of the city centre road system and in sub centres.

“sub-centres will be built across the polycentric city. Cycling and walking will be the preferred choice for all local trips as parking will be so expensive and car access into all centres across the city will be much less attractive for cars”

“will have a much more extensive electric rail system and all cars will be plug-in electric”

“Cities adapt to the one-hour travel time budget no matter what infrastructure is provided.“

“in Australian cities each new block on the fringe of redevelopment:

  • Is subsidised by $85,000 in infrastructure.
  • Costs $250,000 extra in transport costs over 50 years.
  • Produces 4.4 tonnes/yr more in greenhouse gases, and health savings“
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Car Free Schools – only in Canada, you say?

Milton school forces to students to walk (Spacing Toronto, Mar. 25, 2010)

Also discussed here: A One of a Kind Walking, Biking School Opens in Canada
(School Transportation News, Jan. 12, 2010)

Associated reference: Children & Cities: Planning to Grow Together (24 page pdf, Vanier Institute of the Family,  Oct. 2009)
Today’s article is not a  peer reviewed journal article about the health threat of vehicle emissions but is about a news story from Halton Region, west of Toronto. Milton is among a few communities to measure roadside emissions (using the same monitor as DEFRA in the UK  for its Local Air Quality Management, the Austrian manufactured AirPointer). It also has a school, P.L. Robertson elementary school, with a full out ban on parents driving their kids. The daily shuttle of cars to and from schools not only presented significant safety hazards but also unnecessary pollution which many children had to endure- as they do at most Canadian and American schools, even those where idling is banned.

Key Quotes:

The program comes on the heels of a pilot run last year at eight other schools to encourage more physical activity for the students and to alleviate hundreds of parents converging on schools in their personal vehicles.”

“Costing the board $125,000, the ban on driving is a one year pilot with hopes of expanding to other schools in the community in the coming years.”

“the school quickly reached a 100% compliance rate.. some students who qualify for buses have opted to walk instead, so as to join their friends”

“about 98 percent of the school’s 700 students bike, walk, skateboard or ride scooters to and from school..even during the snowy or rainy winter, the program saw up to 90 percent of the students continue their pedestrian ways”

“are plans to expand it to 18 to 20 additional schools within the next year”

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Benchmarks for Walking and Cycling

Bicycling and Walking In the United States: 2 0 1 0 Benchmarking Report (196 pages pdf, Alliance for Biking & Walking, 2010)

This report from the U.S. examines measurable indicators of walking and cycling, as well as comparison with other countries. Benchmark reports of this type have also been done in Canada in this report: Benchmarking Toronto’s Bicycle Environment: Comparing Toronto to other World Cities (2 page pdf, Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation, Apr. 25, 2008) and in this “ Online Benchmarking Tool” from the European Union which looks at various measures for 41 cities.

Over 1/3 of the population is either too young (under 16) or too old (over 65) to drive and this fraction will grow as society ages. Current and past urban design, aimed almost exclusively at driver comfort and convenience, ignores the needs of the young and old as well as the health impacts of congestion and pollution that accompany this. Benchmarks are a start to reverse this unsustainable trend.

Key Quotes:

“found the U.S. to have the second lowest bicycle share of trips when compared to several European countries, Canada, and Australia. Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark with 27% and 18% of trips by bicycle, respectively, are setting the benchmark for what is possible.”

“countries and cities that invest the most in bicycling and walking have higher bicycling and walking mode share, and are safer places to bicycle and walk.. [in the US]bicyclists and pedestrians make up over 13% of traffic fatalities and receive just 1.2% of federal transportation dollars”

“Over one-third of the U.S. population is under age 16 (cannot legally drive) or over age 65. Streets designed just to move cars are leaving behind the most vulnerable road users,”

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Exposure of Commuters to Air Pollution

Commuters’ Exposure to Particulate Matter Air Pollution is Affected by Mode of Transport, Fuel Type and Route (35 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect, 25 February 2010)

Key Quotes:

The aim of the study was to quantify differences in exposure to air pollutants in traffic compared to simultaneously measured urban background concentrations, and to examine the differences in air pollution exposure associated with commuting by car, bus and bicycle.

a significant portion (up to 30%) of air pollutants in (school) buses is due to self-pollution..Open windows during driving, idling of the bus and opening of bus doors lead to higher in-bus exposures

On average, the minute ventilation of cyclists was 2.1 times higher than that of car passengers and 2.0 times higher than that of bus passengers…Inhaled doses of all air pollutants were highest in cyclists

Exposures were higher in diesel buses than in electric buses, and higher along high-traffic bicycle routes compared to low-traffic bicycle routes

Cyclists on the high-traffic route were exposed to 40% higher levels of PNC and 35% higher levels of soot compared to the low-traffic route.

City planners should create bicycle lanes with less (preferably: no) contact with motorised traffic.

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Mobility Management and VMT Reduction Options

Are Vehicle Travel Reduction Targets Justified? (31 page pdf, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Dec. 16, 2009)

– VMT critics assume that  roadway expansion or more fuel efficient vehicles  will reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality

– others point to the need to manage the growth of traffic volume which is directly correlated with VMT and the amount of emissions. This report assesses options to manage mobility (which includes walking, cycling, public transit) by how they reduce congestion as well as a number of other economic and environmental variables

Key Quotes:

“Mobility management (also called transportation demand management [TDM] and vehicle miles of travel [VMT] reductions) refers to policies and programs that change travel activity to increase transport system efficiency”

‘VMT reduction critics tend to assume that automobile travel is the only important factor affecting accessibility, so better accessibility requires more vehicle travel.”

“a major portion of transport funding is dedicated to roads and parking facilities and cannot be used for other modes even when they are more cost effective”

“trends that are changing travel demands, including aging population, rising future fuel prices relative to incomes, vehicle ownership saturation, increased urbanization, increasing traffic congestion, rising road expansion costs, and increased health and environmental concerns, all of which reduce the value of additional VMT and increase the value of alternative modes”

“a World Bank study found that beyond an optimal level (about 7,500 kilometers annual motor vehicle travel per capita..) vehicle travel marginal costs outweigh marginal benefits ”

“a ton of emission reductions provided by mobility management provides many times the total benefits as the same amount of emissions reduced by more efficient and alternative fuel vehicles .. while increased vehicle fuel efficiency makes driving cheaper, which stimulates more vehicle traffic that exacerbates problems such as congestion, parking costs, accidents and sprawl ”

“Mobility Management Strategies

  • Congestion pricing
  • Cost-recovery road tolls
  • Distance-based registration fees
  • Cost-recovery parking fees
  • Fuel tax increases
  • TDM marketing (information and encouragement campaigns)
  • No-drive days”
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Health Benefits of GHG Emission Reductions-Transit, Cycling, Walking

Public health benefi ts of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport

Additional discussion here:

More Foot Power, Less Car Pollution Best for Health (US News)

Key Quotes:

“health effects of alternative urban land transport scenarios for two settings—London, UK, and Delhi, India.”

“developed separate models that linked transport scenarios with physical activity, air pollution, and risk of road traffic injury.”

“Lower-emission motor vehicles would reduce the health burden from urban outdoor air pollution, but a reduction in the distance travelled by motor vehicles could have a greater effect.”

“Since traffic-related air pollution is unevenly distributed within cities, reduction in the amount of traffic is likely to have large health benefits in some areas….as a result of the London congestion charge, health benefits were estimated to be the largest in the most deprived areas of London.”

“Policy makers should divert investment from roads for motorists towards provision of infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists”

“Properly enforced reductions in speed limits or zones can reduce injuries.”

“An increase in the safety, convenience, and comfort of walking and cycling, and a reduction in the attractiveness of private motor vehicle use (speed, convenience, and cost) are essential to achieve the modal shifts envisaged here.”

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Getting More Bicyclists on the Road

How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road (Scientific American  – Oct 2009)


Key Quotes:

“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’—just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,”

‘In the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women”

“In the U.S., men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2:1”

“risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding”

“In the U.S., most cycling facilities consist of on-street bike lanes, which require riding in vehicle-clogged traffic”

Additional Reference:

Cycling and Walking for all New Yorkers:Path to Improved Public Health

(Fit City Conference, NYC, June 2009)

“Extensive, traffic-protected cycling facilities encourage more women to cycle in northern Europe ” (Slide 13)

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World Health Day 2010 – 1000 cities – 1000 lives

World Health Day 2010 – 1000 cities – 1000 lives (2 page brochure pdf)

“On Sunday, April 11th 2010, cities around the world are called on to close their streets to traffic and promote a physical or mental health activity. The global goal is 1000 cities.”

WHO Videos

World Health Day web site


Tips to Cities about Cycling

A well attended meeting was held recently in Ottawa to hear, Suzanne Lareau,  the head of  Vélo Québec, a well organized advocate for cycling in Montreal for over 40 years. One of the most signficant developments in that city is the free bike scheme, Bixi- Montreal, which offers close to 4,000 bikes from a network of lots in the urban core.  A smaller pilot using Bixis (which are made in Canada to withstand the rigours of Canadian winters) was launched earlier this year in the National Capital Area described at this site  IT’S FULL SPEED AHEAD FOR BIKE SHARE TRIAL RUN (National Capital Commission)

The key benefit of more commuters using bicycles can be measured in the cleaner air resulting from  fewer emissions and less traffic on the roads, as noted in this earlier posting about Paris where a 40%  reduction in traffic in the urban core is expected Velib Public Bicycles in Paris


The meeting was organized by Cycling Vision Ottawa which has started a petition to have the City of Ottawa create more bike lanes.

A summary of the main points of the presentation were extracted from the West Side Action Blog which posted a more detailed report here:

Words of Wisdom from Velo Quebec in Ottawa (West Side Action)

Key Quotes:

“1. Recreational paths are fine and have a valuable purpose, but should not be confused with the importance of having a network of routes usable for day to day activities,”

“2. The network of routes or links need not be lengthy”

“3. Chevrons seem to be important.”

“4. There were more painted features. Cycling boxes are a painted square on the lane ahead of the vehicle stop line…”

“5. Signage: the only Montreal cycling route sign shown was a 3D silouette of a cyclist mounted atop a pole”

“6. Bi-directional paths”

“7. Bike route types”

“8. ..different types of infrastructure choices for different clientelles and functions.”

“9. Average cycle commute: According to her data, the average Montrealler commutes 8km to work..”

“10. Timing: like most cities, cycling infrastructure improvements in Montreal are tied to other road-reconstruction improvements,”

“11. Winter cycling is now a focus of her group’s activities.”

“12. It used to be illegal to lock a bike to a parking meter post. Now, parking meters are being equiped with simple 1′ diameter horizontal ring”

“13. Helmets”

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Health benefits of increased cycling infrastructure

Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bycycling: An International Review (54 page pdf)


“Most studies of individual interventions found positive, though variable, effects on bicycling.   Case studies show large increases in bicycling results when interventions are implemented as a coordinated package of mutually reinforcing measures.”

– has extensive (18 pages) list of references

– includes impact of indirect initiatives such as car free zones and trip reduction programs, as well as dedicated or segregated bike paths

Segregated Bike Lanes

StreetFilms.org-The Case for Separated Bike Lanes in NYC ( 8 minYou Tube )

– excellent look at the benefits of giving cyclists some protection when cyclists, pedestrians  and motorists share the road

– keeping cyclists safe with segregated lanes and making bikes widely available at low cost – the Bixis in Montreal or the Velibs in Paris – are the two basic conditions that allow for the growth of bicycle commuting instead of the continual increase in vehicular  traffic in the downtowns of many cities- and the hazardous air pollution that comes with this.

Paris aims to reduce traffic by 40% by encouraging cycling. Amsterdam and Copenhagen are already there.

Who owns the road in Montreal?

Who owns the road in Montreal? (Montreal Gazette)


Key quotes:

“With 560 kilometres of designated bike lanes built or under construction on the island, Montreal is ahead of the pack among North American cities”

Note- Ottawa currently (2008) has 541 km of bike paths, including 258 km off-road paths and is planning on over 2,500 km, so the “pack” is way behind

Ref: Ottawa Cycling Plan

“A 2003 U.S. study said cyclists’ risk of being killed is 12 times that of car occupants, while pedestrians were 23 times more likely to be killed.

“On the island of Montreal each year, nearly 1,000 pedestrians and 1,000 cyclists are involved in traffic accidents to which an ambulance is dispatched”

Traffic – which causes 42 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Montreal – has other adverse effects on Montrealers’ health. Air pollution causes 1,540 premature deaths per year in the city, says Norman King, an epidemiologist at the public-health department.”

Traffic causes 85 per cent of NO2 emissions in Montreal, which are a good marker for other types of vehicle pollution,”

“In 2006, 70.4 per cent of Montreal-area residents commuted by car, 21.4 per cent used public transit, 5.7 per cent walked and just 1.6 per cent cycled”

“Five years ago, Belgium inaugurated the Code de la rue, which gives priority to the most vulnerable travellers: pedestrians and cyclists. It includes urban-design changes and traffic rules such as giving cyclists the right to go the wrong way on one-way streets. Crosswalks across intersections are designed as an extension of the sidewalk, signalling that pedestrians and cyclists have priority. Other measures include a 30-kilometre-per-hour speed limit and physical barriers to slow car traffic.”

Twenty is plenty

Twenty is plenty

Key Quotes:

“A pedestrian hit by a car at 40 mph has a 95% chance of being killed, at 30 mph this becomes 50% and at 20 mph it becomes 5%.”

“Most child pedestrian road deaths would be averted if people drove at 20mph in side streets. As few places are more than a mile from a main road, few journeys involve more than two miles on side roads (a mile at each end). The difference between driving two miles at 20mph and at 40mph is 3 minutes.”

A good reason to implement 30 or 40 kph speed limits on residential streets

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