Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where are Cars Going Globally in the next 15 years?

Automotive landscape 2025: Opportunities and challenges ahead (90 page pdf, Ralf Kalmbach, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhart, Philipp Grosse Kleimann, Dr. Marcus Hoffmann, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, March 2011)

The report reviewed today looks at the major global trends expected –geopolitical and population shifts , environmental trends, technology- and what they imply:“the automotive industry will undergo the greatest transformation it has experienced in its history”. A major aspect is the growth of China, both in population terms and as an automobile manufacturer and consumer. A second major aspect is the degree of connectivity between the internet and the new technology built into future cars.

Key Quotes:

“Five megatrends
  1. Geopolitical change: Asia will continue to grow stronger, regionalism will increase and regulations will support geopolitical interests.. By 2025 China will be the world's second-largest economy in terms of purchasing power. The USA will remain in first place and India will come third.
  2. Changing demographics: More, older, urban.. In 2025 Japan is still expected to have the highest median age, at around 51, followed by Western Europe, at around 46…By 2025 one in six people worldwide will be aged 60 or over. In industrialized countries the ratio will be even more dramatic: no less than one in three people will have reached retirement age.
  3. Sustainability: Environmental awareness on the rise.. Annual CO2 emissions have been rising and are predicted to continue rising over the next decades. An increase of around 30% is forecasted for the period 2007 to 2025… the two biggest sectors causing CO2 emissions: power generation (forecast 38% increase) and transport 29%)
  4. Evolution of mobility: Motorization will increase and low-cost cars will meet the demand for basic transportation, but younger people in metropolitan areas will lose interest in cars.. Total passenger travel with motorized modes is expected to rise from 6,000 km to 9,000 km per person per year.
  5. Changing technology: Electric, electronic, online…gasoline/diesel will remain the most important fuel, with a share of 65-85%. However, even this represents a significant decline from its current level of over 90%...Electricity is expected to grow strongly, from its current niche level up to 3-12% in 2025.
“the High-tech scenario foresees a wide array of car features allowing drivers to stay connected to their networks while driving, use the Internet (cloud-based services) and personalize the MMI.”

“The Budget scenario describes a world in which the purchasing power of customers is strongly reduced due to taxes and inflation combined with low income growth…a high degree of simple, no-frills technology and limited standard equipment levels, enabling a low-cost position”

“The Sustainability scenario describes a world in which consumer behavior is strongly influenced by regulation, legislation and tax…Successful products will be zeroor low-emission vehicles and mobility solutions, allowing intelligent traffic management”

“the automotive sector is becoming glo/cal. The term glo/cal refers to adapting a global framework to local particularities”
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Does Canada’s Largest City Want Congestion Charges?

Torontonians Open to Congestion Charge to Fund Transportation System (8 page pdf, Angus Reid Public Opinion, Nov. 6, 2011)

Also discussed here: Poll shows support for congestion fees (Tess Kalinowski, Toronto Star, Nov. 5, 2011)

The answer to the question posed today seems to be yes, judging from a poll taken recently in Toronto which interestingly also found a dislike for tolls or taxes aimed at drivers. The time to travel to work issue seems to be the main factor affecting a commuter’s decision to take their own vehicle, take transit, cycle or walk. The reduced travel time and improved air pollution levels found in London and Stockholm after several years of congestion pricing appear to be a valid argument in favour of implementing this in other large cities which suffer from congestion, especially those with small congested Central Business Districts, such as Ottawa .

Key Quotes:

“While commuters are overwhelmingly opposed to the tax and toll schemes being floated to fund public transit improvements, the poll showed congestion fees were a measure they might be willing to consider”

“Fifty-five per cent .. said they strongly or moderately support a congestion charge like the one used to curb traffic in central London, England

“More than a toll, this is a way of addressing how to fund (transportation) but it’s a way also of just reducing congestion. I think anyone who comes to Toronto on a regular basis recognizes traffic’s a pretty big problem”

“A 1 per cent sales tax to fund transit was rejected by 67 per cent, and 54 per cent were opposed to highway tolls. Fifty-four per cent said a 10 per cent increase on the gas tax was a bad or very bad idea”

“Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they commute by car, and 38 per cent used transit. Fourteen per cent walked and 6 per cent biked.The average one-way commute among those polled was about 37 minutes”
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative Cooling - Overview (Consumer Energy Center – California Energy Commission)

Also discussed here: Snow, ice data center wins cool sustainability award (Elizabeth Lock, Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine, Nov 2011)

And here: NSIDC Green Data Center

And here: Real-Time Monitor- NSIDC Green Data Center

And here: Coolerado

This technology , based on known scientific principles, cuts the need for electrical power used for air conditioning by 90% and has already been demonstrated (and won a national energy award) for the large amount of cooling needed for a large computing data centre in Colorado. It could be the solution for mitigating the part of climate change that comes from heating/cooling homes and buildings- especially in sunny, hot dry areas where cooling of buildings is so needed and where evaporative cooling works best. The other major emitter of greenhouse gases is transportation and the carbon-fuel burning vehicles which has been the focus of this blog.

Key Quotes:

“An evaporative cooler produces effective cooling by combining a natural process - water evaporation - with a simple, reliable air-moving system. Fresh outside air is pulled through moist pads where it is cooled by evaporation and circulated through a house or building by a large blower. As this happens, the temperature of the outside air can be lowered as much as 30 degrees.

“Since water is continually lost through evaporation, a float valve - much like the one that controls the water in a toilet tank - adds water to the sump when the level gets low. Under normal conditions, a swamp cooler can use between 3 to 15 gallons of water a day.”

“Evaporative coolers are now on the market that use photovoltaic panels to create the electricity used to run the blower and the water pump. For hot, desert areas, the combination of evaporative cooling and solar power are a perfect match”

“The Green Data Center project..shows NSIDC's commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, and that there is significant opportunity to improve the efficiency of data centers in the U.S. The heart of the design includes new cooling technology that uses 90 percent less energy than traditional air conditioning, and an extensive rooftop solar array that results in a total energy savings of 70 percent”

“as of 2006, U.S. data centers were estimated to consume 61 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, equivalent to the electricity consumed by 5.8 million average U.S. households. By 2020, the carbon footprint of data centers will exceed the airline industry”
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Sprawl and Health Impacts in Ontario, Canada

Aerial view of central Melbourne. (February 20...Image via Wikipedia

Report on Public Health and Urban Sprawl in Ontario - A review of the pertinent literature (53 page pdf, Riina Bray,Catherine Vakil MD, David Elliott, Environmental Health Committee, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Jan. 2005)

Today we review a report from the environmental health community on the negative impacts that sprawl has on the province of Ontario. The report emphasizes health impacts and air pollution that accompany sprawl driven, literally, by an increase in commuting traffic on municipal roadways.

Key Quotes:

“the pathway from urban sprawl to public health via vehicle emissions and air pollution will be examined, along with reviews of the relationship of sprawl to increased driving”

“Unless the current trends change, the hours of delay experienced by auto drivers is expected to rise by 300% over the next 27 years, with a 42% increase in carbon dioxide emissions per capita”

“The dependence on the private vehicle, and its resulting development patterns, seems to be irreversible and is self perpetuating: as the suburbs expand, their greater political weight increases the demand for more roads and more lanes, resists the financing of public transit infrastructure and accelerates declining ridership”

“The environmental problems that result from uncontrolled urban growth are numerous…include flooding, which results from increased impervious surfaces for roads and parking; increased temperatures from heat islands, which leads to a significant increased risk of mortality in elderly populations; decreases in natural areas and forests, and increased incidences of water pollution and water-borne disease”

“Concentrations of particulates emitted from vehicles are greatest near the roadway, and decrease to background levels at 300m… Levels of particulate (PM2.5) near busy roads can be 30% higher than background levels….CO and NOx follow a similar pattern”

“Local traffic-related air pollution also affects mortality. Finkelstein found that people living close to a major road had an increased risk of mortality, and that the mortality rate advancement period was 2.5 years”

“The effects of short-term exposure to traffic pollution have also recently been highlighted. Traveling in an automobile or bus, or riding a motorcycle or bicycle in polluted streets, is thought to be a triggering factor for myocardial infarction”

“Children living in communities with higher levels of NO2 and other traffic-related pollution, including PM2.5, had lung function growth that was approximately 10% slower than that of children in lower air pollution communities”

“the transportation sector represents one of the largest sources of GHG emissions in Canada, accounting for 24.7% of total emissions in 2000 (179 MTons [Megatons]). On-road transportation was the largest contributor of total emissions in this sector, at 72.7%”
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

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.

Key Quotes:

“we quantified the potential health and monetary benefits of replacing short (≤ 4 km one-way) car trips with travel by bicycle (50% of trips)”

“28% of all car trips are ≤ 1.6 km..a distance that a typical European would walk …Another 41% of all trips are ≤ 3.2 km, a distance that many Europeans would be as likely to bicycle as to walk”

“A large fraction of emissions -- 25% of VOC and 19% of primary PM2.5 – are emitted in just the first few minutes of automobile operation, often known as cold start..Simulated changes in transportation and reductions in cold start frequency would decrease total NOx emissions by 5 -12% and total VOC emissions by 10 - 25%”

“eliminating short car trips and completing 50% of them by bicycle would result in mortality declines of approximately 1,100 deaths/year.. including 425 fewer deaths from improved air quality and 687 fewer deaths from increased physical activity”

“the combined benefit from improved air quality and physical fitness for the region would exceed $7 billion/year, which is equivalent to about 2.5% of the total cost of health care”

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Action on Health Impacts of Climate Change

Reduction of flood and associated extreme weat...Image via Wikipedia

Adapting to health impacts of climate change: a study of UNFCCC Annex I parties (10 page pdf, A C Lesnikowski, J D Ford, L Berrang-Ford, J A Paterson, M Barrera2 and S J Heymann, Environmental Research Letters, Oct. 31, 2011)

The focus today is on how Annex 1 states (members of the OECD and former USSR) are preparing for impacts expected from climate change, viewed as “one of the main challenges facing public health this century”. The majority have taken no action to adapt to health vulnerabilities. Flooding, general extremes, and air quality were recognized as the main threats and extreme cold as the least. Overlooked by many is the vulnerability of their elderly- whose numbers will double over the next few decades at the same time as periods of extreme heat and high pollution increase as a result of climate change.

Key Quotes:

“WHO estimates placed excess annual mortality as a result of climatic change at 141 000 by 2004, 85% of which were child deaths”

“It is groups vulnerable to negative health outcomes today who are most likely to be affected by future climate change….the elderly, children, individuals with pre-existing or chronic conditions, people living in poverty, women, and indigenous groups”

“Annex I nations have a combined population of approximately 1.7 billion people, or 25% of the global population.. These include 28 of the 30 member states of the OECD and several Economies in Transition that are not part of the OECD (Eastern European nations, including the Russian Federation).”

“The countries reporting the highest number of initiatives—the United Kingdom, Australia, Finland, and Canada—included over 100 actions. Countries with the lowest number of initiatives (fewer than 25) included Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Slovenia….Fewer than half of the 38 Annex I countries were found to be responding to any one health vulnerability with adaptation-level action”

“Flooding was the most widely recognized vulnerability, with 34 countries making statements recognizing increased risk in a changing climate”

“The least widely recognized health vulnerability was extreme cold—recognized by only Greece, Canada, and Lithuania”

“Concern for vulnerable populations was most frequently tied to extreme heat and air quality”

“Only five countries discussed special accommodations for the elderly in public awareness and outreach programs, despite well recognized vulnerabilities of this group during extreme weather events
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is there a Link between Climate Warming and Hospital Infections?

Seasonal and Temperature-Associated Increases in Gram-Negative Bacterial Bloodstream Infections among Hospitalized Patients ( 6 Page pdf, Michael R. Eber1, Michelle Shardell, Marin L. Schweizer, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Eli N., Perencevich, PLoS ONE, Sep. 26, 2011)

Also discussed here: Warm Weather Increases Hospital Infections, And What That Might Mean For Climate Change (Maryn McKenna, Wired, Oct. 29, 2011)

Today’s review summarizes analysis of the incidence of bloodstream infections in hospitals with higher outside air temperatures. The results indicate a rise in infections by 12 to 51% comparing winter to summer and an increase of 3-10% with every 10 degree F (5 deg C) rise in temperature. The implication for an additional health impacts of climate change is clear - unless year-round precautions are taken by hospitals during hot spells and, in general, as climate warming progresses, we will see more infections. It is worth noting that the spread of insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus is also a growing threat in countries such as Canada where winter cold has lessened and allowed insects and birds to carry the disease further north. Also, the convergence of more urbanization, greater use of emission producing vehicles and the large role these vehicles play in causing climate change points to the other major factor and potential solution in reducing these health threats in cities.

Key Quotes:

“An 8-year study of infection data from 132 hospitals finds that as outside temperatures rise, in-hospital infections with some of the most problematic pathogens rise also”

“From winter to summer, Gram-negative bacteria, the most problematic hospital pathogens, rose anywhere from slightly to dramatically. E. coli infections rose 12.2 percent; Pseudomonas infections rose 28.1 percent; Klebsiella infections rose 28.6 percent; and Acinetobacter infections rose 51.8 percent”

“for every 10-degree Fahrenheit rise in mean temperature, there was a rise in infections with those same Gram-negatives…it most likely represents the influence of the environment outside the hospital”

“If global climate change raises ambient temperatures, it could increase the likelihood of deadly hospital infections as well”

“If average temperatures are rising (independent of cause), then we would expect to see more Gram-negative infections in the future….This could mean more difficult-to-treat infections, and also higher likelihood of outbreaks when temperatures are warm.”

“we reported substantial increases in the frequencies of bloodstream infections due to clinically important Gram-negative organisms in summer months. These increases, as well as variations in infection frequencies within seasons, appear to be associated with elevated monthly outdoor temperatures”
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Assessment of Local Air Pollution Impacts on Health

Methodological considerations in developing local-scale health impact assessments: balancing national, regional, and local data (12 page pdf, Bryan J. Hubbell & Neal Fann & Jonathan I. Levy, Air Qual Atmos Health, Mar. 31, 2009)

Today’s review article compares the factors that need to be considered when carrying out a local or urban scale health impact assessment compared to a national one- as well as the differences to be expected in adding up local scale assessment where possible for a national total.

Key Quotes:

“This paper investigates the data and analytical challenges to estimating the incidence of health effects associated with changes in air pollution concentrations at the local scale, focusing on ozone and fine particulate matter”

“local-scale assessments require more geographically resolved air quality data, concentration–response (C-R) functions, and baseline incidence rates than are often used”

“most epidemiological studies relate health outcomes to central-site monitored concentrations rather than personal exposure, factors that affect the relationship between personal exposure and ambient concentrations can potentially affect the C-R function. Some of these exposure-related factors include air conditioning prevalence and utilization, availability and effectiveness of air quality alerts, and amounts of time spent outdoors or in traffic

“Careful comparisons of those exposure or susceptibility factors that might change the relationship between ambient pollutant concentrations and health outcomes should be conducted prior to selecting C-R functions for a particular location”

“For pollutants such as directly emitted PM2.5, we would expect a high degree of variability in the geographic distribution of air quality changes across urban areas.. finer-scale air quality data will clearly take on added importance for a local-scale HIA in which it may be of interest to align inputs such as the baseline incidence rates and populations with the spatial air quality gradient.”
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Friday, November 18, 2011

How Freeways Came About from Cities Designed for Cars

Planning for Cars in Cities - Planners, Engineers, and Freeways in the 20th Century (18 page pdf, Jeffrey R. Brown, Eric A. Morris, and Brian D. Taylor, Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 75, No. 2, Spring 2009)

Also discussed here: Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Freeways (Eric A. Morris, Freakonomics, Feb. 24, 2009)

Today’s review article describes the development of major roads in cities, how and why they evolved from the original concepts for urban planning 100 years ago with examples from Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, through the introduction of the national interstate highway system and ending with the state of roads in most cities today- which seem deem as “traffic sewers” but others call urban freeways.

Key Quotes:

“[100 years ago] Suburbanization was seen at the time not as a problem, but as a strategy for allowing people in congested cities to escape to areas where they could enjoy higher quality housing, healthier lifestyles, and parks and open space”

“They advocated hierarchical road networks that would concentrate through traffic on major boulevards and arterials rather than uniform street grids that would distribute traffic through residential neighborhoods”

“Automobiles consumed a large amount of street space and, even more importantly, they traveled at speeds considerably higher than the other types of traffic with which they shared the road. These factors caused large traffic tie-ups, particularly in dense downtown areas”

“Among the traffic control measures he [William Phelps Eno] invented or popularized are the stop sign, the pedestrian island, the traffic circle, and the taxi stand.”

“The freeway borrowed two important design characteristics from earlier rural and suburban parkways: limited access and grade separate”

“Gas taxes were in many ways superior to the property tax as a form of finance for road construction and maintenance; they placed the tax burden directly on the users of the system, they were comparatively simple to collect, and fuel consumption proved surprisingly robust during the lean years of the Depression.”

“In the 37 largest urban areas in the United States, freeways account for a mere 3% of roadway miles, yet carry 40% of daily vehicle miles of travel”
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Traffic Accidents and Optimum Congestion Charges

Traffic Congestion and Accidents(26 page pdf, Andrea Schrage, University of Regensburg Working Papers in Business, Economics and Management Information Systems, Nov.9, 2006)

Congestion Pricing Equilibrium
The report reviewed today looks at the calculation of optimum congestion charging with the cost of accidents included in that calculation. To do that the author considered the timing of the accident (earlier or later during the daily rush hour) and how an accident could be factored into the modelling needed to estimate an optimum pricing.

Key Quotes:

“Congestion arises from high levels of travel demand or demand that is strongly concentrated during short peak periods, the latter resulting in pronounced rush hours

“By temporarily reducing the amount of road space effectively available, accidents can be triggers of traffic congestion suffered by any given amount of subsequent traffic …some 25-30% of delays are estimated to be the consequence of traffic accidents

“An accident typically blocks one road lane for 45-90 minutes, causing time losses of 1200- 5000 vehicle-hours. Price this delay at the average value of travel time, say e15 per vehicle-hour, to calculate the congestion costs of an accident.. external costs of accident-induced congestion amount to e0.005- 0.023 per vehicle kilometer “

“If no toll is charged, traffic flow will constantly adjust such as to equalize the expected private cost of driving at different times, including the expected travel delays from possible accidents, but ignoring externalities”

“the optimal static marginal cost of congestion tends to be lower early during the rush hour than at later times. This is because a higher traffic flow causes not only congestion at the time of usage but also higher expected congestion later on”

“it is important to distinguish between congestion as a pure traffic flow problem and additional congestion that results from traffic accidents.. an efficient road toll also charges the additional congestion costs caused by an accident to the drivers responsible for that accident (or rather the expected value of that cost to every driver)”
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Estimating Health Impacts on Major Streets Using Oxidative Potential of Particulates

Contrasts in Oxidative Potential and Other PM Characteristics Collected Near Major Streets and Background Locations (32 page pdf, Hanna Boogaard, Nicole A.H. Janssen, Paul H. Fischer, Gerard P.A. Kos, Ernie P. Weijers, Flemming R. Cassee, Saskia C. van der Zee, Jeroen J. de Hartog, Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek, Environ Health Perspect, Oct. 20, 2011)

Today’s review article looks at how particulates near heavy traffic on major streets generates hydroxyl radicals and how this in turn may be a better measure of health impacts than simply monitoring PM 2.5 or PM 10. The results indicate the oxidative potential near heavy traffic was 4 to 6 times greater than in suburban locations.

Key Quotes:

“Measuring the oxidative potential of airborne particulate matter (PM) may provide a more health-based exposure measure by integrating various biologically relevant properties of PM into a single predictor of biological activity…Oxidative potential was measured as the ability to generate hydroxyl radicals in the presence of hydrogen peroxide”

“High levels of oxidative stress lead to inflammatory response via activation of various transcription factors and stimulation of cytokine production”

“The eight street locations had a traffic intensity varying between approximately 10 000 and 19 000 motor vehicles passing every 24 hours”

“The highest oxidative potential contrasts were found for two streets that were classified as street canyons ..narrow streets with adjoining high buildings on both sides”

“We reported high correlations between the oxidative potential of PM10 and the concentration of the transition metals Ba, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn and ‘soot’ in the PM10 fraction”

““The oxidative potential of PM near major urban roads was highly elevated compared to urban and suburban background locations.. 3.6 times higher than that of simultaneously measured PM10 from urban background locations, and 6.5 times higher than PM10 from suburban locations”
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Urban Heat Islands, White Roofs and Climate Change

Urban heat island profileImage via Wikipedia
Effects of Urban Surfaces and White Roofs on Global and Regional Climate (Abstract, Mark Z. Jacobson, John E. Ten Hoeve, Journal of Climate, Sep. 12, 2011)

From the meteorological modelling community comes an article today examines the significance of urban heat islands as a factor in climate change- turns out that it is not. It also tests the hypothesis that painting roofs white would reduce the amount of warming of the atmosphere and thereby delay climate change. The model shows that the converse is true because there would be less heating at the surface resulting in less convection and less cloud which globally would allow more sunlight to warm the atmosphere.

Key Quotes:

“The urban heat island effect is caused mostly by replacing soil and vegetation with paved roads, sidewalks and buildings. Paving prevents evaporation of water from the soil and plant leaves. Since evaporation is a cooling process, reducing evaporation warms cities”

"Between 2 and 4 percent of the gross global warming since the Industrial Revolution may be due to urban heat islands.. compare this with the greenhouse gas contribution to gross warming of about 79 percent and the black carbon contribution of about 18 percent."

“if all the roofs in urban areas were painted white, it would increase, not decrease, global warming…A worldwide conversion to white roofs, accounting for their albedo effect only, was calculated to cool population-weighted temperatures by ~0.02 K but to warm the Earth overall by ~0.07 K…largely because they reduced cloudiness slightly by increasing the stability of the air, thereby reducing the vertical transport of moisture and energy to clouds”

"Cooling your house with white roofs at the expense of warming the planet is not a very desirable trade-off,"
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Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Cure Congestion: more roads, more public transit, or congestion pricing?

The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities ( Abstract, Gilles Duranton and Matthew A. Turner, American Economic Review, Oct. 2011)

Also discussed here: The Only Hope for Reducing Traffic ( Eric Jaffe, the Atlantic Cities, Oct. 19, 2011)

Yet another paper is reviewed today from an economic viewpoint, concluding that congestion pricing is the only way to reduce congestion. Not even more public transit offers relief. Where pricing has been used, the results in terms of revenue, pollution reduction and less congestion are so evident that public acceptance is clear.

Key Quotes:

“This Law states that on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity"

"There is such an enormous latent demand for road space, they believe, that whenever a driver shifts onto public transportation, another one quickly grabs the open lane"

"As soon as you manage to create space on the road, by whatever means, people are going to use that space. Except when people have to pay for it, of course."

“London's pricing program has created a number of benefits: car use is down, carbon emissions are down, delays are down, even taxi fares are down .. the bus system has grown at exceptional rates, with its expansion largely paid for by the congestion pricing revenue”

“The more recent program in Stockholm has been an equal or even greater success…transit ridership is up, traffic is down some 18 percent, and in some cases rush-hour delays have been cut in half”

“people tend to be against it before they see it at work..They think it's going to cost them more money, which directly it will, but they're all very unclear about the benefits; i.e. traffic is way more fluid, way faster, and pollution is going down."
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Danish Plans for Road Pricing and Congestion Charging

Congestion Charging in The Greater Copenhagen Area (18 page pdf, The Municipal Forum, June 2008)

Also discussed here: Green Urban Mobility - transport plans for the Copenhagen capital region (12 page pdf, The Municipal Forum, 2007)

And here: Copenhagen congestion charge looks likely with change in government (Road Pricing, Oct. 17, 2011)

Copenhagen appears to be on the road to implement congestion charges (or road pricing beyond the city) after the publication of a report (reviewed below) by their Municipal Forum which attempts to build on the successes of London and Stockholm. An interesting aspect is the amount of consideration given to uses of the revenue generated with specific examples to benefit cyclists, public transit and traffic management.

Key Quotes:

“Current legislation will not permit the introduction of congestion charging in Denmark. Parliament must first pass a law creating the general framework within which congestion charging can be introduced”

“Traffic within the charging zone in these cities[Stockholm, London and Oslo] has fallen by 15 – 20%. In Stockholm, time spent queuing in traffic has fallen by up to 50% in those parts of the city covered by the congestion zone, while traffic on the entry roads into the city has fallen by about 30%”

“A study by Tetraplan consultants shows that a congestion charge can reduce road traffic by 23 %, air pollution by 5 to 10 % and CO2 emissions by 10 to 15 %”

“Congestion charging will create revenue to be invested in measures to ensure mobility, ease of getting to one’s destination in traffic and a good environment in the Greater Copenhagen Area”

“Another benefit road pricing has over a congestion charge is that it could replace the current tax and registration system, which punishes car ownership, not car use, and makes it cheaper to buy new, fuel-efficient cars”

“Proposals For Key Projects:
  • a light railway along Ring-road 3 or expansion of the S-train…
  • for cyclists: commuter routes and Park and Ride places for cyclists
  • a network of Park and Ride facilities..
  • ITS (Intelligent traffic systems)….
  • More public transport and better termini.
  • projects to encourage mobility… walking buses for school .. Expansion of small and large roads”
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why are City Politicians Nervous when Congestion Charging Comes Up?

The political calculus of congestion pricing: credible commitments, hostages and opportunities for implementation (33 page pdf, David A. King, Transport Futures Mobility Pricing Conference, Feb, 2011)

Also discussed here: For Whom the Road Tolls - The Politics Of Congestion Pricing (6 page pdf, David King, Michael Manville, and Donald Shoup, Access, Fall 2007)

The reason why congestion charging is seen as political suicide is the focus for today’s post based on a survey of municipal politicians and urban planners in Los Angeles. Among the reasons for objections is a feeling of mistrust between the municipality and state on sharing revenue as well as the feeling that congestion on city streets comes mainly from freeways that cross cities and not from conditions on the streets themselves, and notably the lack of confidence on where congestion charging revenue would be spent. That confidence can be built by emulating London’s example of improving public transit before implementing tolls.

Key Quotes:

“Congestion pricing is a policy that features immediate pain (i.e. tolls) and future gains (reduced congestion) which is also uncertain – Any policy that has immediate costs and future benefits in politically difficult”

“Local opposition to pricing can block any efforts to implement a project, but the revenue can be used to generate support only if the potential benefits from the revenue are assured and seen as fair”

“Returning congestion tolls revenues to cities creates political champions that will actively support tolling”

“Equity concerns are real. Some people will be lose mobility as the cost of auto travel increases. No one has ever done much about remediating inequity, however”

“Invest prior to implementation in areas that generate support – London used tolls to improve transit (new buses)”
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Neighbourhood-Scale Air Pollution Exposure, Walkability and Heart Disease

Health Impacts of the Built Environment: Within-urban Variability in Physical Inactivity, Air Pollution, and Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality (34 page pdf, Steve Hankey, Julian D. Marshall, Michael Brauer, Environ Health Perspect, Oct. 17, 2011)

Today we review some research into the link between physical inactivity, air pollution and health impact at the inter-urban scale. The results indicate that while inactivity has the greatest single health impact, this impact can be increased in densely inner city neighbourhoods with higherer levels of PM pollution.

Key Quotes:

“the World Health Organization cited physical inactivity (4th) and exposure to outdoor urban air pollution (14th) among the top 15 risk factors for the Global Burden of Disease

“Population density has been shown to be a predictor of per capita automobile travel and trip length, both of which are predictors of bicycling and walking”

NOx and PM2.5 concentrations were highest near the city center and major roadways,whereas O3 concentrations were higher in the outer-lying areas…..Average per capita physical activity was 50% higher in high- than in low-walkability Neighborhoods”

“Because of spatial patterns associated with each pollutant, urban residents were often highly exposed to at least one but not all pollutants (e.g., high exposure to O3 in low-walkability neighborhoods or high exposure to PM2.5 in high-walkability neighborhoods)”

“estimated mortality due to increased PM2.5 and NOx were greater in high- than in low-walkability neighborhoods, whereas estimated IHD mortality due to increased O3 was greater in low- than in high-walkability neighborhoods”

“population health benefits from increased physical activity in high-walkability neighborhoods may be offset by adverse effects of air pollution exposure”
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Exposure of Schoolchildren to Traffic-Related Air Pollution

Heavy vehicle traffic is related to wheeze among schoolchildren: a population-based study in an area with low traffic flows (31 page pdf, Martin Andersson, Lars Modig, Linnea Hedman, Bertil Forsberg and Eva Ronmark, Environmental Health, Oct. 13, 2011)

Today the focus is on a study of the health threat posed by emissions from traffic within 200 m of schoolchildren in a cold climate. The results indicate that these emissions pose a threat even when the traffic is not heavy and this implies an even greater link between traffic and pollution generally.

Key Quotes:

“The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of exposure to vehicle traffic outside the home on asthma, wheeze and allergic sensitization among 7-8 years old children in Northern Sweden”

“This study showed that already at low levels of exposure, vehicle traffic is related to an increased risk of wheeze among children”

“We found significant associations between vehicle traffic flows and wheeze and asthma among schoolchildren. The effect was most pronounced for heavy traffic and a dose-response relationship was indicated regarding wheeze.”

“The results indicate that vehicle traffic emissions may pose a threat to public health also in large areas of the world where background pollution and traffic intensity are low and an even larger threat to respiratory health in highly trafficked communities where the risk may be underestimated.”
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