Tag Archives: sustainable transportation

Technology Used To Improve Traffic Flow And Road Safety

MARTA project. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

The Research Group in Mathematical Programming, Logistics and Simulation (PROMALS) and the Seat Chair of Innovation and Sustainable Development (Seat-UPC) create technological solutions to improve traffic flow, make driving safer and more comfortable, lower the accident rate and reduce traffic congestion and emissions of contaminant gases.

New advances will see vehicles equipped with sensors and interfaces which gather information on the traffic situation and display it on screen or alert the driver through automated voice announcements. The Seat-UPC Chair is involved in designing and fitting human machine interfaces (HMIs) and running automated tests of the electronic systems used in the MARTA project, which incorporate new technologies such as specialized image recognition applications.

New on-board sensors will be able to monitor the status of mechanical components such as brakes when a vehicle is in motion, while others will provide automatic control of driving speed and the distance maintained from the vehicle in front. Interfaces will enable data to be shared between vehicles, providing updated information on their position and speed every 200 meters. A system of nodes installed in the road network transmits the data to a mobility management center, where they are processed and used to maintain traffic flow by providing real-time information on congestion spots and suggesting optimum routes in the event of an accident.

The PROMALS group, attached to the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at the UPC, is looking at ways of using the data received by the management center. Its researchers are designing simulated traffic scenarios in which to test the new technologies developed under the MARTA project: a recent example is a traffic priority system in which the real-time data are used to determine the ideal intervals between traffic light phases across a given area, which optimizes traffic flow and reduces congestion.

The MARTA project has a budget of over thirty-five million euros and receives funding from the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). The project, scheduled for completion in 2011, is coordinated by the company FICOSA as part of a wider program run by the National Strategic Consortium in Technical Research (CENIT), and brings together experts and researchers from nineteen companies and nineteen scientific centers and national universities.

Source : sciencedaily

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Activists: Car-Free Days Are ‘A Waste’

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Environmental activists on Monday urged the Jakarta Administration to temporarily halt its car-free days on selected city roads, saying a re-evaluation was needed because the event had failed to reduce air pollution and loose regulations have resulted in many violations, including those by senior officials.

“Legally, the car-free days cannot be stopped, but the city administration should halt them temporarily and conduct a review of what went wrong. Honestly, it’s been such a waste,” Selamet Daroyni, the executive director of the Jakarta branch of Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, told a press conference.

Selamet said car-free days, generally on Sundays, had failed to achieve the short-term objective of minimizing air pollution and also had failed to encourage Jakarta residents to be more environmentally friendly and less dependent on cars.

“If we perceive this issue from the three success indicators, I’d say these events did not help much,” Selamet said.

He said the indicators were public participation, air pollution reduction and public obedience, including by government officials and law enforcers.

Ahmad Safrudin, of the Committee for Phasing Out Leaded Gasoline, said car-free days merely relocated traffic flow from one place to another without reducing air pollutants.

He said that a report by the Jakarta Environmental Management Board, or BPLHD, that air pollution has decreased significantly was unreliable.

“Jakarta has five air quality monitoring systems, but only one of them is working, so I doubt the report,” he said.

Ahmad said the inefficiency of car-free days had been proven by many violations, with some of the violators being government officials and policemen.

Responding to criticism, Rina Suryani, the BPLHD head of natural resources monitoring, said they had scientific measurements to prove that car-free days had in fact contributed significantly to air pollution reduction.

“In some parts of Jakarta, the air quality has gotten better because of this program,” she said.

Rina said the board could not enforce sanctions against violators because the 2005 bylaw enabling car-free days had not stipulated any.

Jakarta’s car-free days began in September 2007 and are held on the last Sunday of each month.

This year BPLHD has scheduled 22 road closure events.

Source : http://www.thejakartaglobe.com

Photo : http://bataviase.files.wordpress.com

February 23, 2009, by Dessy Sagita

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History of the bus bike rack

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The first bike racks were installed on a select few of the former Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro Transit) buses in the late 1970s. This bike rack was initially purchased from a company in California and was quite expensive (around $1,000) for the time.

Originally, the racks were only on buses that traveled across the SR-520 Bridge because there are no bike lanes on the bridge.

In 1982, Metro’s machine shop re-designed the rack to facilitate easier removal and replacement when washing the buses. Also, Metro wanted to lower the cost because the biking public was lobbying for more routes that could provide bike service. Metro wanted racks on the outside of buses because managers thought there would be too many problems with bikes inside the coaches. Approximately 300 racks were manufactured in-house by Metro employees.

The commercial bike rack the transit system purchased in the late 1970s was actually a set design, but Metro employees made improvements to suit their needs. In 1982, machinist Bruce Hargin designed and built all the tooling necessary to produce the bike rack in-house and over the course of time did a great deal of the associated machine tasks necessary for production runs. A number of Metro employees during and since those early days have contributed with modifications and ideas. Machinist Dick Huggett, metal constructor Augusto Desimone, machinist Jim King, and machine shop chief Larry Whitney all contributed. When Whitney came to the machine shop in August of 1983, he implemented a change in the mounting method making the rack easier to remove and install. Metro stayed with the last generation rack until it quit building them in 1993.

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At that time, Metro started looking for a commercial product that was better suited to the task and especially one that did not need to be removed every time the bus was washed. If the racks were not removed, they would be mangled in the wash and also damage the expensive oversize brushes in the washing unit.

Metro ultimately selected Sportworks in Woodinville to build a bike rack to the transit system’s specifications. This helped launch the private company into the bike-rack expert they are today. Sportworks’ bike racks are currently on buses in more than 400 cities.

From that point on everytime Metro ordered new buses a request for a bike rack was included in the bid. Today, all Metro buses are equipped with bike racks.

source : http://transit.metrokc.gov

picture : http://www.fta.dot.gov, http://www.metrokc.gov

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Congestion Charge in London (1)

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photo : AP and telegraph.co.uk

About the Congestion Charge

Vehicles which drive within a clearly defined zone of central London between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday, have to pay an £8 daily Congestion Charge.

Payment of the charge allows you to enter, drive within, and exit the Charging Zone as many times as you wish on that day.

The charge aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve journey times by encouraging people to choose other forms of transport if possible.

Some individuals and vehicles are exempt from payment, or can claim a discount on the charge.

All monies raised from Congestion Charging are spent on London’s transport facilities.

Benefits

More than five years after the Congestion Charge was launched, and over a year after the Western Extension began, traffic levels are still down but congestion has risen back to pre-charging levels.

However, congestion would be significantly worse without the sustained traffic reductions brought about by the charge.

Decreasing levels of road space in both the original charging zone and Western Extension has caused congestion to return to levels experienced before the charge was introduced.

A widespread programme of water and gas main replacement works has greatly reduced the road capacity in both zones, as have various traffic management measures to assist pedestrians and other road users.

One of the biggest current contributory factors within the Western Extension is a major property development at the Scotch House Corner junction in Knightsbridge.

By law, all net revenue raised by the charge has to be invested in improving transport in London.

Since the Congestion Charge scheme started:

  • Traffic entering the original charging zone remains 21 per cent lower than pre-charge levels (70,000 fewer cars a day)
  • Traffic entering the Western Extension has fallen by 14 per cent (30,000 fewer cars a day)
  • There has been a six per cent increase in bus passengers during charging hours
  • There has been a 12 per cent increase in cycle journeys into the Western Extension
  • £137m being raised, in the financial year 2007/08, to invest back into improving transport in London

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photo : http://www.london-congestion-charge.co.uk

Background

Traffic congestion clogs up roads, threatens businesses and damages London’s status as a thriving world city.

When the Mayor took office in 2000:

  • London suffered the worst traffic congestion in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe
  • Drivers in central London spent 50% of their time in queues
  • Every weekday morning, the equivalent of 25 busy motorway lanes of traffic tried to enter central London
  • It was estimated that London lost between £2-4 million every week in terms of lost time caused by congestion

The Mayor’s election manifesto included a pledge to tackle congestion. Following his election the scheme was fine-tuned in order to meet demands from businesses, residents and a large number of other interested groups.

In February 2002 the final form of the scheme was announced, and the charge was introduced in February 2003. In February 2007 the charging zone was extended Westwards.

Congestion Charging is part of a wider, comprehensive transport strategy, which was published in July 2001.

(source : Transport for London website)

Related topic read here.

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28 Reasons to Bike

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1. Increase in local property values.

A May 14, 2002 release reports that a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey of 2000 homebuyers ranked a trail as “the second most important neighborhood amenity for homebuyers.” “Only highway access (44%) ranked higher, and 16 other amenities including parks, shopping, nearby day care, business centers, ball fields and security ranked lower” the release reports. It goes on to say that “Gopal Ahluwalia of NAHB said trail access became a popular amenity within the last five years and possibly before then…. When we do surveys, it ranks up pretty high–in the top five—all the time…. [The number two ranking of trails] was consistent across all regions and demographics of the population” (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2002).

Summarizing fifteen studies, researchers reported in a National Park Services book that “property values are higher adjacent to paths or trails, that homeowners and real estate agents believe that trails have either positive or no adverse effects on property values, that parks and greenbelts may increase property tax revenues, or that developers or builders may benefit from the presence of trails.” (Lindsey, p. 8).

Increase in property values is evident in the model bicycling community of Davis, California. With a population of about 60,000, Davis built an extensive off-road path system beginning several decades ago. Property values increased substantially.

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2. Correlation with Overall Wealth.

Orlando seeks to become a world-class economy by 2020. It is instructive to look at correlations that exist elsewhere between strong, world-class economies and car travel.

Reduced driving actually increases local business development because most economic inputs to driving–vehicle, parts, and fuel–come from outside a region. As Litman observes, “[M]oney saved by reduced driving tends to provide net economic development benefits” (1999, December 1).

Tamim Raad, a research associate with the Institute for Science and Technology Policy (ISTP) in Perth, Australia, summarizes the relationship between car dependency and the economy in an article titled “Cars and Progress: Our Economy Is Facing Auto-Asphyxiation”:

The notion that more cars equals more wealth is really more myth than reality. In fact, some new research shows that high and increasing levels of car dependence actually harms an economy. In a report to the World Bank, researchers from the Institute for Science and Technology Policy (ISTP) in Perth, Australia showed that there are “diseconomies” associated with car use. Auto dependence can drain an economy of its wealth….

It found that, among cities in the developed world, regional wealth (as measured by per capita gross regional product – or GRP) actually goes down as car use go up. In other words, the more we drive, the poorer we get….

The global comparison is … illuminating. Cities such as Zurich,
Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Tokyo and Paris all have a much higher use of public transport than any American, Canadian or Australian city. Yet they build fewer roads and own fewer cars. They have much higher bike use. They have roughly half the transportation deaths. They spend less on getting to work. They emit a fraction of the CO2.

And, oh yes, they’re richer.

Europe’s 11 principal cities average 390 cars per 1000 people and have an average GRP of US$32,000 per capita. Meanwhile, the USA’s 10 principal cities average 600 cars per 1000 people with a GRP of only $27,000. Tokyo’s average car ownership is a paltry 225 while its GRP soars at $37,000.

More spending on cars does not create wealth. It just transfers money elsewhere. Often that elsewhere is outside your local economy. Last time I checked, my home town didn’t have an oil or car industry. And buying Ford and GM seems isn’t making Detroit, MotorCity USA, any richer. Excessive spending on cars and their infrastructure merely means less money in your pocket and your economy that can be used for productive things.

The car’s contribution to the urban economy is as much evil as it is
unnecessary. We don’t need more car-based planning bleeding our cities of their vitality and wealth. We need cities that not only make more social
and environmental sense, but more economic sense too (Bolding added; 1998).

As shown in the introduction to this paper, passenger trips by bicycle in these wealthy countries illustrate the compatibility of bicycling and a good economy:

Netherlands 28%
Japan 20%
Denmark 18%
Switzerland 15%
(Parker, 1996).

bike-kopenhagen

3. Less Public Money Is Needed To Create a High Quality Transportation System.

An urban freeway costs about 2500 times more per mile than an urban cycleway according to John Button’s How to Be Green, in the Australian Edition published by Random Century Hutchinson Australia Pty Ltd. (Cited in Bicycle activism press release kit). The cost per mile for a 10-foot paved multi-use path is listed as $92,000 in the Fall 2000 issue of The Virginia Cyclist:

10-foot shared use path $92,000 per mile
4-foot bike lane on each side with curb and gutter $270,300 per mile
5-foot bike lane on each side with mountable curb $281,100 per mile
Wide curb lane (2 feet extra on each side) $48,600 per mile
4-foot paved shoulder on each side of the road $69,200 per mile
Share the Road sign $218 each
Bike Lane sign $90 each
Bike Route sign $131 each

In discussions on November 11, 2002 with planners at the 16th National Trails Symposium in Orlando, the cost estimate was $100,000.

4. High-Tech Business Is Attracted by a Perceived Better Quality of Life

It has been demonstrated that well-educated, high-tech professionals will cycle for transportation if bikeways are convenient, comfortable, attractive and safe. Orlando would attract high-tech workers with a cycling transportation system because “Today’s ‘amenity-based’ economy allows young high-tech workers to pick where they live based on the city’s quality of life. Traditionally, employees were transferred to cities by their companies” (Copeland, 2002). The Little Econ Greenway Commuter Cycling Project would be particularly helpful in realizing Mayor Dyer’s plan to attract leaders in the digital arts, who would have ready access by trail to UCF with its digital arts and related academic programs and the culturally rich Rollins and Winter Park area.

5. Improved Personal Finances

The cost of traffic congestion in Orlando has been figured at over $1200 per peak roadway traveler or $575 per person per year, the 11th highest of almost 80 US urban areas (Schrank, 2002). The per household cost is $1495 (Chairman Richard T. Crotty’s Transportation Commission, 2002, p. 79). This is not surprising considering that we are listed as having the eighth highest percentage gain in journey-to-work travel times between 1990 and 2000 (Copeland, 2002) and have been designated by the Sierra Club as the number one “sprawl” city in our size range.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project makes the following point derived from Barabara McCann’s 2000 publication Driven to Spend: The Impact of Sprawl on Household Transportation Expenses:

[H]ouseholds in more automobile dependent communities devote more than 20% of household expenditures to surface transportation ($8,500 annually), while those in communities with more diverse transportation systems spend less than 17% (under $5,5000 annually). Although these may be offset by higher housing costs in urban areas with more balanced transportation, motor vehicle expenditures provide little long-term economic benefit: $10,000 spent on motor vehicles provides just $910 in equity, compared with $4,730 for the same investment in housing (McCann, 2000). This suggests that shifting consumer expenditures from motor vehicles to investments such as housing, education or savings can increase personal wealth (Surface Transportation Policy Department).

While establishing the indirect costs of congestion requires complex calculations, direct payments out of family budgets are easier to quantify. Transportation is presently the second largest item in the average family budget. Because of our high car ownership and use rates, Americans spend more on transportation than others spend. According to the 1997 Consumer Expenditure Survey, 18.5% (19.4% in the South) of total household expenditures went toward transportation, with 94% of this on automobiles (Litman, 2002, August 2, p. 4).

A good bicycle costs about 2% to 3% as much as a car, needs no fuel, no insurance, minimal maintenance, and uses free or nearly free parking. A well-maintained bicycle may not depreciate at all.

6. Better Physical Health

Despite our prodigious resources, Americans are not as healthy as people in many other countries. Heart disease, addictions, drug dependency and diabetes are among our high-incidence health problems. Urban driving exacerbates these disorders, while bicycling is preventive or therapeutic for all of them. Bicycling develops balance, coordination, and strength. It tones the body, burns calories, improves LDL and HDL readings, and strengthens the bones.

A multitude of agencies, from the World Health Organization to the Centers for Disease Control, report on health problems resulting from a lack of exercise, and on a lack of exercise opportunities as an underlying cause:

· Richard J. Jackson, director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health writes, “We are coming to the conclusion that land use, urban design and the built environment are much larger factors in public health than people have really appreciated” (Montgomery, 2001, p.CO1).

· The World Health Organization cites lack of physical activity as a major risk factor for heart disease, “the leading cause of mortality in the developed world,” and cites benefits of regular physical activity:
1. 50% reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart diseases (i.e. a similar effect to not smoking);
2. 50% reduction in the risk of developing adult diabetes;
3. 50% reduction in the risk of becoming obese;
4. 30% reduction in the risk of developing hypertension;
5. 10/8 mm Hg decline in blood pressure in hypertensive subjects (i.e. a similar effect to that obtained from anti hypertensive drugs).
6. Other effects include reduced osteoporosis, relief of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and the prevention of falls in the elderly (Parker, 2001).
· The British Medical Association in the 1992 Oxford University Press book Cycling Towards Health and Safety calculates the benefit to risk ratio of cycling to be 20:1. They recommend radical changes in transportation policy to make both health and environmental benefits of cycling into realities.

· The 1995 report Pedaling Health–Health Benefits of a Modal Transport Shift advocates bicycling to decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, the risk of heart disease, and obesity. Like the British Medical Association book above, this study concludes that the physical risk of accidents while cycling is greatly outweighed by the health benefits (Roberts, 1995).

· A major study concluded, “Regular walking and cycling are the only realistic way that the population as a whole can get the daily half hour of moderate exercise which is the minimum level needed to keep reasonably fit” (Litman, 2002, November 18, p. 5).

· The Australian Department of Environmental Protection and Bike West Cycling 100 Trial was a twelve-month experiment in which a hundred people volunteered to commute part of the time by bike. At the end of the year, the cyclists had improved physical work capacity and aerobic fitness, had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, and significant improvement in both LDL and HDL readings (Department of Environmental Protection, 1999).

· Assessing effects over a longer span of time, a frequently cited Copenhagen study of over 30,000 people ranging in age from 20 to 93 took place over 14.5 years and found that bike commuting an average of 3 hours per week decreased risk of mortality by about 40% over the control group that did not bike (Andersen, 2000).

· Kevin Heber of Hoosier Rails to Trails Council writes in a November 15, 2002 email that there is a study that shows people participate more in their chosen form of exercise solely because of the availability of a particular trail. A study synopsis is on-line (Indiana University News Release, 2002).
· Georgia Institute of Technology and the US Centers for Disease Control provide a synthesis of the literature on the relationship between physical activity and community design in “How Land Use and Transportation Systems Impact Public Health: A Literature Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Built Form” (Frank, Undated).

Improving health will lessen the impact of the growing health care crisis and decrease the money we spend on prescription drugs.
Central Florida has a good climate and terrain for cycling. Rain, lightning, and heat are seasonable, predictable, and manageable. Florida’s rain can be handled with breathable rain-repellent gear and well-designed commuter executive clothing carriers; cycling in lightning storms can be avoided; and the breeze generated by cycling offers protection from heat, as does a tree canopy. In our four hottest months—June, July, August and September, the temperatures average below those in Davis, California, a town with a 22-28% cycling rate. In May and September combined, Davis is cooler than Orlando by an average of 2.7 degrees, and in July and August, it is hotter by an average of 3.8 degrees (Normal Daily Mean Temperatures). It has been observed that once people get used to cycling, they choose to cycle longer distances and in worse weather.

7. Better Mental and Emotional Health

Depression, violence, stress, and attention deficit disorder are common problems in the US. Exercise and nature are therapeutic for these mental and emotional disorders. Driving stresses; bicycling relaxes. Road rage is set off by car traffic, not bicycles.

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8. Fewer Overweight and Obese Citizens

As reported in Science Magazine, there is an urgent need to push back against the environmental forces that are producing gradual weight gain in the population (Hill, 2003). About 64% of Americans are overweight or obese. In Florida, 18.1% of residents are obese (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion). According to the World Health Organization, the obesity epidemic is among the top ten global health problems, but the medical profession reportedly has neither the knowledge nor the incentive to combat obesity (Kelner, 2003).

Rates of obesity among US children show a pattern of alarming increase, as the table below documents.

AGE 1963-70 71-74 76-80 88-94 99-00
6-11 years 4% 4% 7% 11% 15%
12-19 years 5% 6% 5% 11% 15%

(National Center for Health Statistics, 2000).

Being overweight negatively impacts health in many ways. Its correlation with one disease, diabetes, is reported in a January 2003 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):

In a study published in the January 1, 2003, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), CDC reported that obesity climbed from 19.8 percent of American adults to 20.9 percent of American adults between 2000 and 2001, and diagnosed diabetes (including gestational diabetes) increased from 7.3 percent to 7.9 percent during the same one-year period. The increases were evident regardless of sex, age, race and educational status.
“Obesity and diabetes are among our top public health problems in the United States today,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “The good news is that diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be prevented with modest lifestyle changes. As we enter a new year, it is a great opportunity for all Americans to be active and healthy.”
Currently, more than 44 million Americans are considered obese by body mass index, reflecting an increase of 74 percent since 1991. During the same time frame, diabetes increased by 61 percent, reflecting the strong correlation between obesity and development of diabetes. Today an estimated 17 million people have diabetes in the United States. (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, 2003).
The “epidemic” of weight problems and associated diseases such as diabetes and some cancers, can be brought under control with cycling. This will improve productivity as well as self-image and the way others around the globe view us.

9. More Free Time

Most Americans suffer from not having enough free time. Of all national work forces, Americans put in the highest number of hours of work per year. Combining commute time with exercise frees up time for other pursuits.

10. More Beauty

Riding a bicycle under flowering shade trees along a quiet path edged with native vegetation contrasts starkly with our present F-rated, built up roads and the proposed widened I-4 with 35 foot high noise barriers along portions of the outside lanes, barriers setting off express lanes, and light rail with overhead lines in the middle.

11. Greater Mobility

We live in America’s number one medium-sized sprawl city as designated by the Sierra Club; not surprisingly, the auto no longer gives us the mobility it promises. Clogged roads often mean averaging the speed of horse-drawn carriages without the sense of mobility and safety they afford. In contrast, bicycles on paths can maintain a steady speed, permeate areas cars cannot, and be readily parked on arrival near a destination, affording greater mobility.

12. Inclusion of Senior Citizens

The physical danger, emotional stress and liability that come with driving in the metropolitan Orlando area keep many senior citizens off the road who are able and eager to run errands, go to work, visit friends, and exercise on bike trails. An email from the bike/pedestrian/elderly mobility coordinator for Phoenix, an area of three million people, described their recent “Senior Trail Day” as “an amazing success.” Eight cities hosted it, and the coordinator wrote, “This is an untapped target audience” (DeCindis, 2002). With off-road cycling paths, seniors here will be enthusiastic and grateful cyclists, just as they are in Europe. They should be included in transportation options through safe and appealing cycling opportunities.

13. More Equitable Living for Low Income Earners

Bike paths are more equitable than roads. Transportation costs nationally for households earning less than $20,000 are 25% of their income (Litman, 2002, August 2). Cycling is an excellent alternative to car ownership with its attendant purchase, depreciation, maintenance, and residential and sometimes off-site parking costs. It is also more healthful and often faster than public transit.

14. Increased Sense of Community

People in cars are isolated from each other, but people on bicycles readily strike up conversations with neighbors or other commuters. This fosters a sense of community in both neighborhoods and workplaces. Litman cites several studies that show this is true in neighborhoods (2002, August 2, pp. 16-17).

15. Individual Opportunities for Safer Travel

The most telling statistics are those on large numbers of people using off-road facilities. See the data in section 2 under Off-Road Paths vs On-Road Lanes.

An aware and careful cyclist riding in Orlando on trails and European style paths can avoid the threats in traffic posed daily by drivers. Statistics, however, show that accident risks for cycling, measured on the basis of trips, distance, or hours, exceed those for driving in the US and elsewhere. (However the health benefits of cycling on the average outweigh the risks, according to the British Medical Association, 20 to 1.) High crash and casualty rates for cyclists and pedestrians in the US result, in part, because most cyclists use on-road lanes or sidewalks, neither of which are optimal places to cycle, and because people with particular risk factors tend to use these modes, including children, the homeless, people with disabilities, alcoholics whose drivers’ licenses have been revoked, and elderly people. A skilled and responsible adult who shifts from driving to non-motorized travel is likely to experience less additional risk than these average values suggest (Litman, 2002 November 18, p. 13).

Road travel in Orlando is not safe. The Orlando area death rate has been reported as 17.2 or 18.8 traffic deaths per 100,000 population for 2000, either way the highest rate in the nation (Road, 2001 reported 17.2; Naples, 2001 reported 18.8). In the Netherlands in 1998 with bicycling at 28% of all trips and no helmet use, the rate was 7.5 traffic deaths per 100,000 population, down from their peak road death rate of 24.7 deaths per 100,000 in 1972. (Parker, 2001). About 3000 people die in traffic accidents each year on Florida’s roads. Litman points out that traffic accidents “continue to be the greatest single cause of deaths and disabilities for people in the prime of life” (2002).

Cycling and walking in Orlando also is not safe. Repeatedly, we have been the most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians (Surface Transportation Policy Project). Orlando was ranked by Mean Streets as the most dangerous city in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians with a danger index rating of 95; the next three most dangerous cities had indexes of 87, 78, and 65 (Florida sustainable, 1998). In 2001, of the 107 bicycle fatalities in Florida, 7 were in Orange County.

Two of the eight most dangerous intersections in Florida are in Orlando according to State Farm (State Farm).

In the future, transportation it is predicted will become even more dangerous. According to the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents, which in 1990 were the ninth leading “cause of death and disease,” will climb by 2020 to the third leading cause.

16. Less Congested Roads

Every person who opts to travel on a bicycle instead of taking a three thousand pound vehicle to go somewhere is–as the bicyclists’ T-shirts say–“One Less Car.” Bicyclists improve not only their own quality of life, but also the quality of life for those behind the wheel.

By one estimate “reducing the number of cars by 10% during peak hour will increase average car speed by approximately 10km/hr, which will reduce travel times by about 25%” (Guide, 1988). This is important because traffic congestion is the number one quality-of-life complaint of Americans.

17. Safer, Quieter Neighborhoods

Some once-quiet two-lane neighborhood roads are plagued with motorists trying to circumvent congestion. This has led to controversial new “traffic calming” techniques. It would be beneficial to get rid of some of the auto traffic altogether.

18. More Resources for Public Use

Per mile, a 12-foot wide bike path costs about 5% as much as a 12-foot wide road to construct. A bike weighs just one one-hundredth what a typical car weighs–27 in comparison to 2700 pounds, and when moving takes up just 3.3% to 5% as much space as a moving car and five percent of the parking space. As a result, the construction and maintenance of bicycle paths and parking places is–commuter mile for commuter mile–vastly less expensive. (These figures are derived in part from Cycling in the City, CROW–the Dutch Centre for Research and Contract Standardization in Civil and Traffic Engineering, Netherlands, 1993 and Lester Brown, Eco-Economy, W.W. Norton and Company, 2001, p.199).

Another way of stating the savings appears in the Dutch Bicycle Master Plan:

Infrastructure for bicycle travel costs an average of two to three cents per kilometer cycled. Each kilometer covered by a passenger in urban public transport costs around forty cents subsidy on average, just to cover shortages on operation costs. Moreover, investments in facilities for bicycle traffic appear to be able to pay for themselves in the long run (Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works & Water Management, p. 64).

A cost-benefit analysis of cycling and walking paths in three Norweigen cities shows a benefit of at least four to five times the cost (Saelensminde, 2002).

Resources that would normally go into the construction of roads and parking spaces, lots and garages and their maintenance can be put into other areas that can improve life for all of us, such as education, landscaping, sports facilities, preservation of nature, and the arts and culture.

19. Enhanced and More Credible Metropolitan Image

By avoiding traffic traps that other cities have fallen into, residents of the Orlando metropolitan area will regard themselves and others will regard them with increased respect and admiration. Orlando with Disney–like Copenhagen with Tivoli–evokes an image of imagination and relaxing play. The image is reinforced by the presence of bicycles on citywide pathways.

20. Better Air Quality

The death toll from air pollution is substantial. The Earth Policy Institute Eco-Economy Update 2002-13 cites a World Health Organization study published in The Lancet that shows air pollution fatalities internationally now exceed traffic fatalities by 3 to 1. In the United States, about 70,000 people a year die from air pollution, equaling the deaths from breast cancer and prostate cancer combined and exceeding by about 75% the roads deaths of just over 40,000. Air pollution “probably causes a similar order of magnitude of premature deaths as traffic crashes” (Litman, 2002, November 18, p. 5). Earth Policy suggests “the need to broadly redefine notions of safety to include the goal of decreasing air pollution” (Fischlowitz-Roberts, 2002).

Exercise increases the damage to lungs as the small particulates making up sodium dioxide and other harmful mixes are able to penetrate deeper into the respiratory tract as a greater volume of pollutants are inhaled deeply (World Resource Institute).

In urban areas, according to the EPA about 40% of the hazardous air pollutants come from mobile sources (Environmental Protection Agency, 1999). Elsewhere, 80% has been cited.

Unfortunately, based on ozone concentrations, the Orlando area has received an F rating again this year on air quality from the American Lung Association, along with 58% of the counties in the US. There is no safe level for ozone (Fischlowitz-Roberts, 2002).

Our overall 5.5 most recent rating is well over the 3.3 required for a D. Despite our strategic location on a peninsula, our air is sub-par.

Specific toxins have also been getting attention lately. Here is disturbing information on two of them.

In the most recent data available from EPA, Florida ranked fourth nationwide for emissions of benzene, “with an exposure nine times the cancer benchmark concentration.” Two of the three Florida counties with the highest risk are Orange and Seminole. Cars, trucks, and non-road engines released 81% of total benzene emissions (Florida residents, 2002).

Florida had the fourth highest emissions of formaldehyde in the nation. Residents were exposed to formaldehyde emissions “at levels 10 times the cancer benchmark concentration.” Two of the three counties with the highest risk in Florida were Orange and Osceola, with Osceola ranking 9th in concentrations for all counties in the continental US. Cars, trucks, and non-road engines released 53% of all formaldehyde emissions (Florida residents, 2002).

Motor vehicle air pollution emissions are highest when a car is first started. It is estimated that “90% of the emissions in a 7-mile trip are generated in the first mile, before the engine warms up (Gardner, 1998). As a consequence, emissions can be reduced by 2 % to 4% by just a 1% switch from car to bike trips (Litman, 2002 November 18, p. 13).

21. Visually More Appealing Metropolitan Area

Observations suggest that when parking exceeds 9% of land area, people find the result unpleasant (Alexander, 1977, pp. 120-125). More bikes mean fewer cars out on any given day and therefore fewer parking garages, parking lots, and parking spaces filled with cars. There are places where bicycling has increased to the point that parking garage space has been converted to retail space.

22. Cleaner Surface and Ground Water

Cars pollute our lakes and groundwater; bicycles don’t.

23. Quieter City

According to a report from OECD, “Transport is by far the major source of noise, ahead of building or industry, with road traffic the chief offender” (Litman, 2002, August 2, p. 14). Noise stresses people, decreasing both their ability to think and to feel well. The idea that sound barriers on I-4 will protect people from noise overlooks their amplifying effect for people in cars or light rail on I-4.

24. Slowed Pace of Global Warming

More autos on the road mean more carbon emissions that are driving global warming. Assuming no dramatic drop in temperature for December 2002, the three warmest years on record have come in the last five years (Brown, 2002). More bicycles increase the time we have to prepare for major climatic changes so as to avoid refugee and food crises.

25. More Sustainable Lifestyle

After Our Common Future–the 1987 authoritative United Nations report on sustainability–was completed, it became evident that establishing sustainable lifestyles would be the foremost challenge of the twenty first century. We are using our resources faster than they can be replenished, creating a huge ecological debt that our children will be saddled with in the future. Right now, ecological demand exceeds supply by at least 20%; there is just one earth available but we are using 1.2 earths. As recently as 1971, we were using less than .7 of an earth (Wackernagel, 2002, 9269).

Lester Brown in Eco-Economy (2001) shows how we are overusing our fisheries, soil, pasturelands and forests, and polluting the earth at the same time. He writes, “Perhaps the biggest single challenge we face is shifting from a carbon-based to a hydrogen-based energy economy, basically moving from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy” (Brown, 2001, p. 275). Of course, fossil fuels for cars make up a big part of our carbon economy. For comparison, the Ecological Footprint of a person traveling about three miles twice each workday for autos is 1530 square meters, but for bicycles it is only about 122 square meters, which is less than one-tenth the load. (For buses, the footprint is 303 square meters) (Wackernagel,1996, p.105).

Solutions to the ecological problems we’ve created are found around the world:

Formidable though the effort to build a sustainable economy appears to be, almost all the component goals have been achieved by at least one country. China, for example, has reduced its fertility rate to below two children per woman and is thus headed for population stability within a few decades. Denmark has banned the construction of coal-fired power plants. Israel has pioneered new technologies to raise water productivity. South Korea has covered its hills and mountains with trees. Costa Rica has a national energy plan to shift entirely to renewable sources to meet its future energy needs. Germany is leading the way in a major tax-shifting exercise to reduce income taxes and to offset this with an increase in energy taxes. Iceland is planning the world’s first hydrogen-based economy. The United States has cut soil erosion by nearly 40% since 1982. The Dutch are showing the world how to build urban transport systems that give the bicycle a central role in increasing urban mobility and improving the quality of urban life. And Finland has banned the use of non-refillable beverage containers. The challenge now is for each country to put all the pieces of an eco-economy together (Bolding added; Brown, 2001, pp. 256-257).

Paths will help not only by reducing the need for the vast infrastructure needed to support automobile travel and by reducing emissions, but also by saving on the manufacture and disposal of autos. The Environment and Forecasting Institute in Heidelburg, Germany lists the following environmental costs of one car:

Extracting raw material:
26.5 tons of waste
922 million cubic meters of polluted air

Transporting raw material:
12 liters of crude oil in the ocean for each car
425 million cubic meters of polluted air

Producing the car:
1.5 tons of waste
75 million cubic meters of polluted air

Driving the car:
18.4 kilos of abrasive waste
1000 cubic meters of polluted air

Disposing of the car:
102 cubic meters of polluted air

This shows that maintenance and disposal of a car creates 60% and auto emissions create 40% of the polluted air generated for a car’s lifetime (“Bicycle activism press release kit,” 1997).

26. Recognition for Leadership in Sound Environmental Policy

The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) of February 2002 measured the performance of 142 countries. The US was ranked 51 (revised to 45) and cited as underperforming in controlling greenhouse gas emissions and in reducing waste (Environmental Sustainability Index). By controlling carbon emissions through bicycle use, Orlando can become a leader in our country as the US strives to improve its deplorable record in this area.

27. Readiness for Other Environmental Initiatives

Successfully establishing a 20% level of all trips by bicycle empowers us to tackle other challenges such as more responsibly managing our water supply.

28. Enhanced Quality of Life for Women

In settings where cycling infrastructure does not emphasize on-road cycling that appeals mainly to 20-45 year old daring, dynamic men, it is seen that women outnumber men in choosing cycling. (Lehner-Lierz, 2003, pp.126-137) When significant numbers of women cycle, this enhances the health of the society.

For references, click here.

Source : http://www.environment.ucf.edu

Photos : other sources (NN).

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Air Pollution, Global Warming Costing California Billions Each Year

Global warming may impose high tolls on the state’s $2.5-trillion real estate assets, with extreme weather, sea level rise and frequent wildfires likely to cost it between $300 million and $3.9 billion a year, depending on warming rates and greenhouse gas emission efforts, warns a ”California Climate Risk and Response” report by University of California, Berkeley researchers Fredrich Kahrl and David Roland-Holst, while ”The Benefits of Meeting Federal Clean Air Standards in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley Air Basins” study by a California State University, Fullerton team under Institute for Economics and Environment Studies (IEES) Co-Director Jane V. Hall shows air pollution in those two regions already costs the state about $28 billion each year due mostly to premature deaths.

”Our report makes it clear the most expensive thing we can do about climate change is nothing,” Berkeley Professor Roland-Holst told Los Angeles Times writer Margot Roosevelt. ”If we make the right investments, we can avert much of the damage in any scenario.”

Fullerton Professor Hall was equally explicit in her interview with Times writer Louis Sahagun.

”We are going to pay for it one way or the other. Either we pay to fix the problem or we pay in loss of life and poor health,” she pointed out. ”This study adds another piece to the puzzle as the public and policymakers try to understand where do we go from here.”

Released as the California Resources Agency’s six task forces — on biodiversity and habitat; infrastructure; oceans and coastal resources; public health; water; and forestry and agriculture — complete work on elements of its comprehensive Climate Adaptation Strategy to be published next month, and as the California Air Resources Board gets ready for its December 11 vote on rules that would force filter installation or engine upgrades in more than a million heavy-duty diesel trucks, the Berkeley and Fullerton research documents offer officials quantitative bases for their steps.

The Berkeley climate change report ”assesses the real, comprehensive statewide impacts for the first time,” said California Resources Agency Deputy Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Anthony Brunello.

The Fullerton findings will ”be useful to all of us,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols. ”Our board members hear on a regular basis from constituents who are concerned about the costs of regulations, and seldom hear from people concerned about their health because they are collectively and individually not as well organized.”

Coalition for Clean Air community engagement director Nidia Bautista called the Fullerton data ”staggering, and a reminder that health is too often the trade-off when it comes to cleaning the air.”

And East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice spokesman Angelo Logan added, ”At a time when government is handing out economic stimulus packages, we could use an economic relief package to help us deal with environmental impacts on our health, families and pocketbooks.”

Source : http://www.smartgrowth.org/news/article.asp?art=6897&state=5&res=1440

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APTA Recommendations on Federal Public Transportation Authorizing Law

Post SAFETEA-LU – Transportation for the Future

Approved by the American Public Transportation Association Board of Directors

STATEMENT OF NATIONAL PURPOSE
A Vision for Public Transportation

“In 2050 America’s energy efficient, multi-modal, environmentally sustainable transportation system powers the greatest nation on earth.”

APTA TransitVision 2050

APTA’s vision is that America will lead the world in supporting and sustaining a pre-eminent transportation system. To that end, the federal government must continue to play its key investment role in our nation’s transportation infrastructure – as it has done when needed since the early days of the nation.

APTA’s TransitVision 2050 initiative foresees current trends leading to an extensive multimodal transportation system.  Over time, integration of transportation policy with energy and environmental policy has caused transportation decisions to become more focused on outcomes such as sustainability, quality of life, and long-term economic health and competitiveness.

On the national level, public transportation supports America’s goals and policies, including spurring economic activity, enhancing competitiveness in the global marketplace, reducing dependence on foreign oil, reducing climate-changing greenhouse gases, and providing critical responses in emergencies.  On an individual level, public transportation saves money, reduces the carbon footprint of households, and provides people with choices, freedom, and opportunities.

Authorization of federal surface transportation programs should be directed by two overarching issues, the federal role and purpose in transportation and a vision that can direct transportation policy for the coming decades.   For its part, public transportation needs to be viewed and understood based on its contribution to meeting these stated national goals. For the federal purpose we need look no further than our Constitution.  Among its fundamental duties the federal government is directed to promote both commerce and the common good of its residents.  These same two purposes are the core functions of our surface transportation system.

To view complete recommendation download here –> post_safetea_lu

(Source : apta.com)

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