Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for March 11th, 2008

Vancouver to rebuild Granville Island streetcar route

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CBC

This is a bit puzzling. The City says it will spend money but Translink is unhappy? And where is this “Broadway Avenue” – they cannot mean that an infrequent heritage streetcar on Lamey’s Mill is going to threaten the viability of the bursting at the seams, over crowded B Line?

Can they?

The City of Vancouver will spend $8.5 million to revamp a streetcar line between Granville Island and the future Olympic Village, at Canada Line Skytrain Station at Second Avenue.

City staff hope the line will provide a green and efficient way of getting tourists to Granville Island during the Olympic games, and they hope to work with TransLink, the regional transportation authority, to make that happen.

TransLink staff, however, have already expressed concerns about the proposal, saying it will compete for funding from provincial and federal governments because it will effectively duplicate the bus service already running along nearby Broadway Avenue.

Eventually, the city hopes to extend the service north through Chinatown and Gastown, with one fork turning to run westward all the way out to Stanley Park and the other fork heading south into Yaletown.

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UPDATE Mrach 13 there is a bit more detail in this week’s Straight

Written by Stephen Rees

March 11, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Posted in transit

Harlem’s 125th Street

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Alright, I admit it, it was the picture that caught my eye. Love those streetcars. Note also the complete absence of overhead wires – both for the trams and also no hydro or telephone cables either.

Last year 125th Street was named by the American Planning Association among its list of 10 great streets across America. The judges commented on the street’s ability to “maintain a strong identity through periods of tremendous population growth and infrastructural strain”.

So is it any surprise that this year the City of New York wants to rezone it? The Guardian takes a (rather brief) look at a classic battle developing between developers and locals

Groups set up to fight the rezoning proposals liken the changes looming over the area to ethnic cleansing

Written by Stephen Rees

March 11, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

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Bike Lift

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I do not have this problem when riding a bike in Richmond, but it is obviously a bit of an issue in places like New Westminster or North Vancouver.

I raised the issue on the trans action list, and all this post does is try to bring some of the responses together in one place thanks to Ron Richings, Andrew Feltham and Gérard Masip for the links

The “trampe” is a bike lift in Trondheim Norway. The web site has a lot of information but I think the video below is the best way to see how it works

Written by Stephen Rees

March 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Pollution ‘alters brain function’

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BBC News

An hour sniffing exhaust fumes may not just give you a headache – it could even alter the way the brain functions, Dutch researchers have suggested.

Scientists have known nanoparticles reach the brain when inhaled, but this is the first time they have been shown to affect how we process information.

Researchers sought to replicate the environment experienced by those who work in a garage or by the roadside.

Their findings were published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology.

There’s more of course, but there are big ethical problems with studying human brains and exposes people to toxins. We know that these nanoparticles penetrate deep into the lungs. Indeed it has been suggested that modern diesel engines may be cleaner in terms of the weight of particles they produce, but the particles could be smaller and hemce more numerous, and also more dangerous, as a rsult of some of the engine management techniques used.

It is also the case that although the study showed a “stress reaction” it is not clear what the long term effects might be. I imagine that humans have evolved self preservation mechanisms that warn them of fire when they smell smoke, but we also associate smoke with warmth, comfort, fun and barbecues. People love the smell of woodsmoke, but we also know that it can be very harmful. Likewise tobacco and other smoking materials.

It might also explain the brain dead behaviour of so many road users who appear to be totally oblivious to the risks they run and that they expose others too.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 11, 2008 at 8:42 am

Posted in air pollution

Price on Bikes in Paris

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The new issue of Pricetags hit my in tray this morning. It is solely about the vélolib – the bike rental system that is taking over Paris. If you do not subscribe to Price tags you are missing out on a lovingly produced, free magazine distributed as a pdf file. This is issue #101 and as usual is full of excellent pictures, but also lots of facts and figures and links. And also analysis about what Vancouver needs to think about.

HIGHLY recommended.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 11, 2008 at 7:26 am

Posted in bicycles