Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On-street and Off-street Parking

Challenging cultural expectations towards parking(Stuart Donovan, Reinventing Parking, Dec. 21, 2012)

Also discussed here: Should the Market Alone Determine Parking Supply?(Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities, Oct. 9, 2012)

Today we review a post from a transport engineer in New Zealand about the recent reforms in parking regulations there and in San Francisco and London where the minimum parking requirement for developers for off-street parking has been replaced with a parking on demand approach for onstreet parking that has both reduced building costs and increased the overall amount of parking spaces available. As the article points out, this result is counter-intuitive because most people in large cities believe that there is never enough parking and what there is overpriced. More efficient use of parking has been shown to reduce unnecessary driving and congestion in urban areas with improved air quality as a side benefit. Don't more cities need to look at this?

 parking of and on street  

Key Quotes:

“the topic of parking .. one of those topics you should avoid bringing up in the course of polite conversation, lest you wish to offend your hosts…while many cities tend to have an over-supply of under-priced parking, most inhabitants of those cities believe exactly the opposite”

“the supply of off- and on-street parking will always struggle to keep pace with the rate that cities grow. And of course combining constrained supply with growing demand will lead almost inexorably to higher prices. This relationship is the main reason why larger cities tend to command higher parking prices”

“regulations that required new developments to provide large amounts of off-street parking. …The primary impact of minimum parking requirements was to increase the supply of parking and lower the direct cost of parking for drivers.”

“In 2004, London reformed its parking policy to encourage alternative transportation modes. The city replaced its minimum parking standard, which required developers to create a certain number of parking spaces and has been found to increase driving, with a cap on spaces…parking reform reduced the parking supply roughly 42 percent”

“after 2004.. Central London's "deregulated parking market appears to provide more parking in the densest and transit-richest areas”

 “Until recently San Francisco was the only city that had really forged ahead with major on-street parking reforms.. Auckland has recently followed a similar line to San Francisco.. .. removed time-limits in most places that were covered by pay parking. In these areas prices are now the primary demand management tool: If demand goes up then rates go up, and vice versa."
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Can We Mitigate Climate Change in Short-Term without Nuclear Energy?

Is nuclear power necessary for solving climate change?(Guardian, Dec. 21, 2012)

Also discussed here: Costs of low-carbon generation technologies(161 page pdf, Committee on Climate Change, May 2012)

And here: Global Energy Assessment - Toward a Sustainable Future(118 page pdf, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012)

And here: Kyoto Protocol(Wikipedia)

Today we review a call to look at the best options to replace carbon fuels with a non-carbon energy source in time to have any realistic effect in terms of stabilizing what many see as run-away climate change. This topic has been discussed at the highest levels in recent years, notably at the 18 conferences of the parties (COPs) held since 1997 as part of the Kyoto Protocol under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Despite this, global energy consumption continues to increase at 2% per year along with the carbon emissions that destabilize the atmosphere which has already led to more frequent extreme climatic events. Can we afford to scale back on nuclear? Will the yet unproven Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) prove to be viable? Will solar and wind energy ever be economical? Answers are needed. nuclear energy

 Key Quotes:

 “Even assuming big gains in efficiency, the world will need about twice as much electricity in 2050 as it does today. The problem is that, as of today, most of the world's electricity comes from coal (40%) and gas (20%), with hydroelectric (16%) and nuclear (13%) by far the largest low-carbon sources”

“The main low-carbon options for the coming years and decades, in no particular order, are hydro, wind, nuclear, biofuels, solar power and coal and gas burned in plants that can capture and store the carbon emissions (CCS)”

“Wind and solar are intermittent and cannot provide 'baseload' power (a drawback that can be mitigated to some degree, at a cost, by large connecting power networks or large-scale energy storage)”

Biofuels depend on the availability of plant materials”

CCS is the only low-carbon option other than nuclear that can provide baseload power in regions where hydro or large-scale biofuel materials are not available”

“the cost of nuclear as falling somewhere above 'low cost' options such as onshore wind, mini-hydro and some biofuels, but below 'expensive' options such as offshore wind and CCS. Early stage technologies such as wave are estimated as having still higher costs”

 “Ruling out one of the major low-carbon technology options currently available is bound to add to the difficulty and the risk of what is already looking like a very tough challenge. Balancing the problems of nuclear power against its contribution to climate mitigation (and other energy policy objectives) is an inescapable dilemma”
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Friday, January 25, 2013

How Can Cities Reduce Carbon Emissions from Transportation?

Decarbonizing urban transport in European cities: four cases show possibly high co-benefits(10 page pdf, Felix Creutzig, Rainer Muhlhoff and Julia Romer,Environ. Res. Lett., Dec.19, 2012)

Today we review an analysis of four policy scenarios for four European cities at increasing levels of pressure aimed at reducing carbon emissions from transportation over the next 30 years. The greatest impact comes from a combination of land use policies (such as densification) combined with congestion charges which in one city produced a 40% reduction in GHGs. It is clear as the report summarizes that such strategies need to be tailored to a given city, its population and degree of sprawl. urban carbon emissions

 Key Quotes:

 “assess the current state of urban mobility in the four European cities of Barcelona, Malmo, Sofia and Freiburg..scenarios reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport by up to 80% from 2010 to 2040”

“all four cities can achieve notable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions up to below 0.4t CO2/cap if city infrastructures are adapted for pedestrians, cyclists and efficient public transit”

 “accommodating for car-dependent commuters..can only be achieved by rail-transit oriented development, careful densification, prohibition of green-field development of retailers, and safe infrastructure for cyclists and e-bikes for intermediate distances.”

 “A global 30 km/hr street limit is particularly effective to reduce the health effects of noise along main arteries in inner cities.” “A global 30 km h􀀀1 street limit is particularly effective to reduce the health effects of noise along main arteries in inner cities.”

 “A congestion charge can be implemented in the most progressive scenario. High quality NMT [non-motorized transport] and PT [public transport] infrastructure is precondition for a congestion charge , as they offer viable alternatives for car drivers.”

 “All cities offer significant potential to increase parking fees to decrease inner city cruising and induce some modal shift.”

 “Densification and land-use measures are most effective where population growth is highest,”

 “a combination of policy packages, in addition to EU fuel standards, can reduce GHG emission by around 75% per capita from 2010 to 2040.”

“we combined land-use policies with a congestion charge in the most ambitious scenario. We obtain values of 10–20% reduction in vehicle km travelled in these scenarios, and in the case of Malm¨o around 40%”

“there is not a single optimal policy but rather a mixture of policy packages, which act synergistically”
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Developing an Environmentally Healthy Urban Oasis from a Racetrack

Environment and Heart Disease - Heart and the city(68 page pdf, François Reeves, Hippodrome project conference, Montreal, Dec. 11, 2012)

Also discussed here : Le Projet hippodrome priorisera la santé des résidants(Camille Laurin-Desjardins, Journal Metro, Dec. 11, 2012)

And here : Forum d'experts sur la mise en valeur du secteur de l'hippodrome - L'aménagement urbain : un déterminant de la santé et du bien-être collectif et individuel
[Expert Forum on development sector racecourse - Urban planning: a determinant of health and well-being collectively and individually](Ville de Montreal, Dec. 11, 2012)

 Today we review a conference in Montreal aimed at developing a former racecourse (the “Hippodrome”) in the urban core into an area that promotes the environment and a healthy life for its residents. Above all, this would promote active forms of transportation and lots of trees with a canopy objective of at least 25%. The keynote address by Francois Reeves analyzed the historical link between the growth of heart disease and the industrial era and urban living which gave rise to the very high cardiovascular mortality rates there. He suggests that with a healthier diet and reduction of air pollutants, Montreal could reduce the incidence of cardiac disease by 25 to 75%. urban heart  

Key Quotes :

“"After all, CVD was not common in 1830, so why can't it now become uncommon by 2050? That is the challenge we all face."

 « Plantez des arbres pour réduire les mortalités cardiovasculaires »
[plant trees to reduce cardiovascular deaths]

« vivre en milieu vert diminue de moitié l’écart de mortalité cardiovasculaire entre les riches et les pauvres en milieu urbain »
[living in a green environment reduces cardiovascular mortality by half between the rich and poor in an urban area]

Objectives :
  • Ouvrir le site sur son environnement afin de créer des liens entre l'hippodrome et les quartiers voisins; [develop the site from an environmental point of view to create links between the racecourse and surrounding neighbourhoods]
  • Élargir le territoire de réflexion pour établir des synergies; [expand the outlook to establish synergies]
  • Prévoir la mixité des usages et des clientèles notamment en répondant aux besoins des citoyens à chacun des cycles de la vie. Dans cet esprit, créer un quartier réservé exclusivement aux familles pourrait aller à l'encontre de cet objectif ; [provide a mix of uses and clients in each cycle of life; create a district reserved exclusively for families to go to achieve this objective]
  • Favoriser le transport actif et collectif et maintenir la voiture en périphérie du site ; [promote active modes of transportation and keep cars on the outskirts of the site]
  • Revoir l'aménagement de l'entrée du site depuis l'autoroute Décarie ;[review the development of the site entrance from Decarie Expressway]
  • Prévoir un couvert végétal suffisamment important pour améliorer la qualité de l'air et ainsi favoriser la santé des futurs résidents.[provide a large enough canopy to improve air quality and promote the health of future residents]
“If a City eliminates  
Food nano-agressors
  • Trans Fat
  • Excess of Salt
  • Fructose-Glucose
  • Phosphoric Acid
Air nano-agressors
  • CO
  • SO2, NO2
  • FP, UFP
  • VOC
And promotes a green and active milieu, this City may expect a 25-75 % reduction of cardiac disease”
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Monday, January 21, 2013

How Does Outside Air Pollution Affect Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor Air Pollution (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

Also discussed here: WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: selected pollutants(484 page pdf, World Health Organization, 2010) 

And here: Amendment No. 38 to the Regional Plan (2006)(Official Plan for the Halton Planning Area, Regional Municipality of Halton, Dec. 16, 2009) 

Today we review a call for action to the London Assembly (or city council) to improve the level of air quality found indoors where people live and breathe most of the time. While many believe that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is caused by moulds and volatile gases emitted by furniture and curtains, there is recent evidence that outdoor pollutants such as particulate matter emitted by vehicles can be responsible for up to half the pollution found indoors. Part of the solution is to install very fine filters. Another solution, being pursued in Canada, is to require developers to build homes for the vulnerable populations of children and the elderly at least 30 m away from major roads or 150 m from highways (or provide air quality evidence that it is safe)- as municipal authorities in Halton Region have done recently.  

Key Quotes: 

 “The most common forms of indoor air pollution include: fine combustion particles from traffic and power stations (PM2.5); volcanic dust; bio-aerosols and pathogens like pollen, bacteria, viruses and fungal spores; environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); asbestos; and silica dust. Molecular pollutants such as gases and vapours include: carbon monoxide; oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulphur; ozone; radon; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).” 

“Without filters, up to 50% (and much more in some cases) of air pollution found indoors comes from outside” “Indoor concentrations of some pollutants can be much higher than outdoor (e.g. 10 or 20 times higher in the case of formaldehyde)” 

 “European citizens spend on average over 90% of their time indoors so 75% or more of the health impact of AAQ can therefore occur indoors.” 

 “To achieve high IAQ in cities with ambient air exceeding EU limit values by 50% requires a two stage particle filter with a gas filter to achieve average reductions of 80%, 90% or 95% in particles of 0.4 microns in diameter (which compares with the thickness of a human hair of about 70 microns).” 

  • “to investigate IAQ with a particular focus on health and energy savings. The investigation should consider buildings with existing mechanical ventilation and others where standalone or ducted air filtration may be needed”
  • “"Specifically, an air quality study based on guidelines under Section 143(2.1) is required for such development proposals within 30m of a Major Arterial or Provincial Highway, or 150m of a Provincial Freeway, as defined by Map 3 of this Plan.”
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Vehicle Emissions and Water Quality

Understanding Atmospheric Deposition in Tampa Bay(3 page pdf, Bay Region Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (BRACE))

Also discussed here: From the Tailpipe to Tampa Bay: Air Pollution Research Reveals Impact of Cars(Bradenton Times, Dec. 17, 2012)

Vehicle emissions not only cause harmful health impacts for people near them but they also affect the quality of the water near urban areas by adding nitrogen dioxides to the water off the coast which promotes algae growth, starving the fish of oxygen. Today we review a report from Tampa on the amount of nitrogen oxides reaching the water from the atmosphere, mainly from vehicle emissions that pollute Tampa Bay. Many of the same strategies for improving urban air quality on land apply here as well for water quality: more low emission vehicles, more monitoring of dry deposition and reestablish atmospheric monitoring stations. As EPA notes: “driving a car is a typical citizen’s most polluting daily activity.” tampa mapno2 and tampa  

Key Quotes:

“Atmospheric nitrogen comes from emissions from both natural and anthropogenic (human-derived) sources. Natural sources include fecal matter from wild animals, forest fires, lightning, oceans, soils, and vegetation. In a densely populated watershed such as Tampa Bay’s, natural sources make up a relatively small component of all atmospheric deposition. Human-derived sources include emissions from fertilizer production and use, human and farm animal waste, and fossil fuel combustion.”

 “too much nitrogen can cause excessive algae growth that can block sunlight necessary for seagrass growth. It can also deplete dissolved oxygen levels, leading to fish kills.”

 “Direct Atmospheric Deposition occurs when air pollutants such as NOx and NH3 fall directly onto Tampa Bay, interacting with the bay’s water surface.....Indirect Atmospheric Deposition occurs when air emissions fall first onto the land or watershed surface and then enter the bay with stormwater.”

 “cars, trucks, and other mobile vehicles deposit four times more nitrogen oxide, or NOx, in Tampa Bay than power plants…mobile sources have a disproportionately large impact, because emissions from cars, trucks and boats are generated closer to the ground, and more of their emissions wind up in the bay”

 "In 2002….57% of all nitrogen entering Tampa Bay came from atmospheric sources. Of that, 17% was direct deposition to the bay; 40% returned indirectly to the bay via stormwater runoff from the watershed. In 2002, nitrogen coming from the air made up 1,973 tons of the 3,485 total tons of nitrogen entering the bay.”

  • "Encourage use of low-emission personal vehicles and public transportation. US EPA cites that driving a car is a typical citizen’s most polluting daily activity.
  • Support partner actions..related to air quality improvements.
  • Re-establish atmospheric deposition monitoring stations within the Tampa Bay watershed to track changes in emissions.
  • Develop better monitoring and measurements of direct dry deposition.”
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Do Tobacco Smoke and Air Pollution Affect Asthma in Young Children?

Wreaths of tobacco smoke.
Wreaths of tobacco smoke. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Air pollution, fetal and infant tobacco smoke exposure, and wheezing in preschool children: a population-based prospective birth cohort(23 page pdf, Agnes MM Sonnenschein-van der Voort ,Yvonne de Kluizenaar, Vincent WV Jaddoe, Carmelo Gabriele Hein Raat, Henriëtte A Moll, Albert Hofman, Frank H Pierik, Henk ME Miedema, Johan C de Jongste, Liesbeth Duijts, Environmental Health, Dec. 11, 2012) 

The key conclusion drawn by the study under review today is that early exposure to tobacco smoke makes the lungs of children more vulnerable to air pollution. Also short term exposure to air pollutants alone could affect development of respiratory while long term exposure has greater impact when combined with tobacco smoke  

Key Quotes: 

 “Higher exposure levels to air pollutants have been associated with increased risks of asthma exacerbations in adults and children aged older than 5 years” 

“We examined the associations of exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with the risk of wheezing in preschool children, and assessed whether these associations were modified by tobacco smoke exposure.” 

“Our results suggest that short term exposure to air pollutants might be important for developing respiratory symptoms, whereas long term exposure to air pollutants might be important in the presence of tobacco smoke exposure.”

 “Our study suggests that long term exposure to higher levels of traffic-related air pollutants PM10 and NO2 are associated with increased risks of wheezing in the first 3 years of life among children who are exposed to tobacco smoke during fetal and infant life.”
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