Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Had an Emission Citation... Don’t be surprised!!




As I was searching for Carbon emissions and climate change in Singapore , I was surprised by one of the ways Singapore Pollution control department (PCD) in Singapore’s Government  used to control and reduce Air Pollution  specially from vehicles including cars and motorcycles .chemical emissions coming out of vehicles effecting the air quality and peoples health are large, most important pollution among them which are monitored: Particle maters (PM2.5), Carbon Monoxide (Co), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).

San Francisco's "Free Muni for Youth" Pilot Program


Youth Supporting the Pilot Program    Source: KQED.org

As of March 1, 2013, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) began a 16-month pilot program to provide free youth passes to children from 5 to 17 years of age who live in San Francisco and come from low to moderate-income households. The push for free youth passes came about for many reasons. One reason is the high cost of living in San Francisco that has been pushing families out of the city.  Second, rising transit costs have made it hard for low-income households to pay fares. Finally, current budget cut to school funding has caused a lack of yellow school buses in the city, forcing kids to have to be driven or take public transit to school. 

The youth activist group called People Organized to win Employment Rights (POWER) and Board of Supervisor David Campos spearheaded the program. The pilot program is said to cost $8.7 million and will be funded by SFMTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the County Transportation Authority. This money will help provide free Muni service to 40,000 low-income youth. 

Unpredictability in Commute Times and Stress


Do you ever get angry at the MAX for being 15 minutes late? Are you really grumpy when it takes you an hour to get from OR-217 to downtown Portland due to congestion?

Quick class poll

Hi class. Please take the brief (four questions) survey about travel to school when you were growing up. Do it before class Monday so we can compare our experiences to national trends. All answers are anonymous.  


Trimet's Fatigue-Fighting Agreement

Most people in this city have ridden the bus at some point or another.  For some people, the bus is their main mode of transportation.  Because of this, it was jarring to find out that until recently some bus drivers were operating on little to no sleep.  Due to TriMet’s long standing hiring freeze, drivers have had the opportunity to snag overtime on a regular basis.  Without regulations to stop them, some drivers were working between 18-22 hours each day.  A recently retired driver admitted that "exhaustion has become part of the culture, but TriMet can't run that place without drivers who are willing to rack up some big overtime".  In addition to the hiring freeze, this is also partially due to a high daily absenteeism rate, which makes extra shifts available for many drivers.
Pertaining to discussion in class earlier. I thought this map would be of some interest. It was a discussion topic on NPR some time back and reading/discussing equity, walkability and obesity earlier reminded me of this.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6249861/McDonalds-map-reveals-McFarthest-Point-in-America.html

Monday, April 29, 2013

Transportation equity in Denver


Blumenberg and Melville's article Beyond Spatial Mismatch identifies Denver as one of example of a "postpedestrian urban form" created as a result of the majority of the city's growth occurring after the widespread adoption of the automobile. Denver, therefore, is not like many Northeastern and Midwestern cities that have major concentrations of low-income families in the inner city, where property values are lower and housing affordable. (Blumenberg and Melville 2004) As the non-profit Mile High Connects explains in their Denver Equity Atlas: "Poverty in Denver is a regional issue". (Mile High Connects 2012)

Para Transit Dilemma in D.C.



Public transit providers are required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide complementary para transit service to people with disabilities who cannot use regular fixed-route services. Para transit is a an alternative mode of transportation, typically provided by minibuses, that will pick people up from their homes and drive them to their destinations. The para transit service is required to be comparable to fixed-route service in cost, accessibility, and operating hours. This creates a serious equity challenge for agencies like WMATA, who are facing increasing costs of up to almost $100 million per year due to growing populations of senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Vehicle Miles Traveled continues to decline, why?


VMTs continue to fall, but why?
It's no secret that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have been on the decline for nearly eight years. Many have guessed that this is primarily due to the recession that hit the county in 2008. But as our economy has started to grow again VMTs have actually continued to decline, why?

Health Impacts of Cycling in Copenhagen


Copenhagen’s focus on encouraging bicycling has not only had an impact on safety and the environment; it also has had a big impact on health. Cycling is good for the body and the mind. It gets people energized for the day and calms them down after work. It also helps exercise the heart and helps people stay in the habit of moving. Cycling also means fewer cars on the road, which leads to a reduction in air and noise pollution.

Mapping Parking Demand


King County Metro has recently developed a tool called Right Size Parking. This tool provides maps of Seattle and its surrounding areas with the parking demand for each parcel. It was developed by extensively studying peak residential parking demand in areas around the region. This mapping service will be especially beneficial to planners and developers. Planners will able to use it as a guide for updating parking regulations in the zoning code. Developers will be able to better anticipate the parking needs of future developments. 

NYC's Making Streets Safe for Seniors


NYC, like many big cities globally, has a large and growing senior population. This population is especially vulnerable to the dangers of street traffic. In NYC, seniors make up 12% of the population but as pedestrians account for 36% of all traffic fatalities.  To address this growing problem, in 2008 NYC became the first major US city to establish a safety program specifically focused on making the streets safer for senior pedestrians. Bolstered by initial success, over the past 5 years NYC DOT has been expanding the program to include more streets across the city.

Health Impacts of Transportation in Amsterdam

Over the past 30 years, Amsterdam’s transportation polices have focused on making bicycling and walking safer and more attractive.  Over 40% of trips in Amsterdam are now completed either by walking or cycling. The health benefits of active transportation have been well documented in numerous studies and, unsurprisingly, the Netherlands has one of the highest life expectancies in the world (80.2 years). While many factors affect life expectancy, the high proportion of the population that engages in active transportation on a daily basis is undoubtedly significant.

Transportation, Age, and Equity in Beijing


An equitable transportation system has been defined as one “whose costs are paid by those who benefit and does not disproportionately favor or deny transportation improvements to certain demographic populations.” [4]  However, in rapidly urbanizing areas such as Beijing, new infrastructure land use patterns tends to favor private auto travel at the expense of more affordable and accessible means such as walking, cycling, or public transit.


Transportation Equity on the Urban Periphery


Transportation equity issues take a much different form in much of Latin American than it does in the United States. Mexico City is a strong example of this. Unlike U.S. cities that have experienced significant decline in their centers while the suburbs have flourished, Mexico City’s periphery is a region of impoverished and underserved populations. This periphery has been growing much faster than the rest of the city as people from the city and the countryside drawn to Mexico City for its inherent economic opportunities, but cannot afford to live in the city itself. 

The Health Benefits of Denver's New West Line LRT

Research has shown that uses of public transportation benefit from increased physical activity when compared to private automobile use. In fact, transit users took 30 percent more steps per day and spent 8.3 more minutes walking than drivers, a major step towards curbing obesity (Active Living Research 2009). An interesting design feature of public transit to point out is that bus transit typically has shorter stop spacing than rail transit, so perhaps light rail riders benefit even more by accessing the stations on foot or by bike, particularly to access more frequency rail service.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Equity in Bogotá, Colombia



The City of Bogotá has dealt with many issues of equity and fairness within their transportation systems and even with the revolutionary programs that swept through the city during ex-Mayor Peñalosa’s time in office, the city is still not rid of its equity woes. However, it’s important to compare and contrast the situations before and after the programs were in place.

Transport and Health in Bogotá

The urban environment influences public health. Bogotá is a good example of how the changes in urban environment positively impact physical activities of inhabitants in the city. Here are policies and environmental changes which promote physical activities in Bogotá. First, there is the Ciclovia program. Ciclovia is a program where cars are prohibited using some blocks of streets from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays, and those streets are only allowed for recreational activities including walking and bicycling. Second is the Cicloruta transportation system. The Ciclorutas project installed a 300km length of bicycle path. Also, bicycle paths connect to TransMilenio stations in order to facilitate access to bus stations. It turned out to reduce dependency of automobiles by substituting it with other alternative modes including bicycling, walking and public transit. Third, there is the Transmilenio System. It is designed to reduce the use of automobile which causes traffic congestion and emissions. It provided exclusive right-of-way to buses in the road network in order to increase the mobility of buses. The Transmilenio system also triggers an increase in physical activities in a sense that passengers walk more to access the bus station. Fourth, there is the city park. Bogotá increased green areas, and designed several activities in parks. There were other strategies, as well. The following educational programs increased physical activities of inhabitants in Bogotá: recovery of public space, car-free day, and limited use of automobiles (Pico y Placa). Interestingly, these programs are not designed for public health; rather, it was intended for reducing automobile use. As a result, these programs concomitantly made Bogotá a good environment for active and healthy lifestyles.


(Resources) 

Parra, D., Gomez, L., Pratt, M., Sarmiento, O., Mosquera, J., Triche, E.: Policy and Built Environment Changes in   Bogotá and their Importance in Health Promotion. Indoor and Built Environ. 16, 344-348 (2007)

Physical activity, health and transport in Bogotá: the cost of the bus rapid transit system, http://www.activelivingresearch.org/node/12874



Health Impact Assessments and their Influence on London’s Transportation Policy


Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been informing transportation policy in London since the early nineties, when several reports were published, establishing a direct link between health and transportation. These reports offered HIAs as a tool to mitigate the adverse health impacts and maximize the health benefits of transportation policies. HIAs have played a major role in aiding London’s recent cycling revolution and raising awareness for the need to reduce auto-dependency. They have also been used as a tool to address inequities existing in the current transportation system and public health programs that seem to ignore older population, children and depraved population.

The United States Struggle for Alternative Transportation: Land Use Implications


Most of us are aware that the dominance of the automobile in the United States during a time of rapid development and expansion within this country has greatly shaped the United States' landscape. The dominance of suburbs and single-family homes are nothing new to us, and can even be found in many

The Connection Between Children Who Walk or Bike to School and Concentration


New York's first Bike-to-School-Day Celebration in 2010, credit: Elizabeth Press

Nationally only 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, which is significantly lower than the nearly 70 percent about 30 years ago. However, although the figures in New York City have declined, they have fared better than most cities across the U.S.  For instance, 9 out of 10 Bronx children walk to school.  Yet, sedentary lifestyles featuring video games and television have replaced physical activity for some children. 



     CYCLING IN SINGPORE....NOT SO EASY!
 

Singapore has always been perceived as a modern country when it comes to transportation. We have seen various bold decisions taken by the government of Singapore to make the public transportation efficient. Today Singapore runs technologically advanced and efficient public transportation. Majority of Singaporeans are satisfied with their public transportation and people w

Encouraging Health in Los Angeles—100,000 People at a Time

CicLAvia Draws Thousands to Ride, Walk, Roll and Play [4]
             
            Los Angeles officials are making strides toward encouraging public health throughout the city with the 6th annual CicLAvia event that occurred on April 21, 2013. The event, drawing inspiration from Bogota, Colombia's popular “Ciclovia”, similarly opens the streets for people to safely walk, skate, play and ride a bike on open streets for 15 miles. The streets of Los Angeles are essentially transformed into a five-hour moving block party that over 100,000 residents participated in. And the number of participants continues to grow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

CRC and Evolving Transportation Funding


Over the past week or so there have been a number of articles written about Portland's own CRC project from an outside perspective. DC Streetsblog in particular has taken an interest with the recent press the CRC has received. Secretary LaHood's final appearance before the House and President Obama listed the CRC as one of the potential projects for New Starts funding. Regardless of your stance on the CRC, this is a prime example of a conflict between more traditional transportation planning and the evolving realities of funding today.

Accessibility Study



LA is the most accessible city?





The Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota is conducting a national study on accessibility (pdf) for the top 51 metropolitan areas. They are looking beyond congestion to focus on accessibility, which they define as the “number of destinations reachable within a given travel time for individual transportation modes”.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Freight and Bicycle Plans


Last week I attended the American Planners Association (APA) national convention in Chicago.
When we think of transportation planning, we often think of the movement of cars, or the planning for transit such as buses, light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail and other forms of public transportation. However, a couple of the sessions at the conference, along with a couple of mobile workshops, focused on the planning for freight transportation.
Anyone who has been involved in the planning of any major transportation project will tell you, it is extremely difficult to get consensus among the many stakeholders, from the people who ride the system, neighbors affected by the system, business owners along the system, and so on. Dealing with freight transportation adds additional dimensions, as you have trucks and freight trains, both of which are operated by private operators, and even bigger concerns of neighbors who will be affected by any changes in freight routes.
Here in Oregon we have our own freight plan:
But what happens when multimodal transportation needs between different elements clash? 

NYC Carbon Emissions Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation






New York City emitted 24 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2010.  This is a very large amount, but on a per-capita basis New York's 6.5 tons of CO2 equivalent per capita is the smallest of all large American cities.  Transportation accounts for a total of 21% of NYC's citywide CO2 emissions - 18% on the roads, 3% from transit.


From Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Beijing: Black Days and a Bleak Forecast

Beijing has never been lauded for its clear blue skies or fresh air.   But this past winter, the mega-city earned international infamy as its air pollution levels maxed out the scale intended to measure it.  On January 12, 2013, Beijing's Air Quality Index (AQI) exceed 750 on a scale that originally only went up to 500 - the EPA had to revise the system in light of the regularity of new extreme levels of pollution.  

Can Denver become a low-carbon city?


Compared to cities across the globe, Denver ranks as one of the highest per capita contributors of carbon emissions. (Kennedy et al 2009) Denver also ranks high within the United States, as total GHG emissions in Denver are 21.5 metric tons per capita, 25% higher than the national average of 17.2. Denver's per capita GHG emissions are double that of New York City, and 65% greater than Los Angeles. (Kennedy et al 2009) Coal-based electricity and a relatively cold climate, which requires more heating, drive the majority of Denver's emissions, but transportation is still responsible for 30% of total output. (City of Denver 2005) 

Beijing has notorious air quality issues, but what exactly is it?



 There has been a lot of talk and innovation in ways to move ourselves around a city while polluting less, but we must keep in mind that won't solve all of our air quality problems.

Non-tranportation

To achieve the air quality improvements that were experienced during the 2008 Olympic games, Beijing had to shut down 150 heavily polluting chemical engineering and cement factories, in addition to reducing government vehicle use by 70%. In other places, the wind can be relied upon to disperse the pollution instead of allowing it to build up, but Beijing is near a mountain range that traps it’s pollution, plus pollution from neighboring regions during certain times of the year.

The road from the mountains down into Beijing in the winter:

Image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-A4Q6u7xwO1E/TuIuIzAWqsI/AAAAAAAABUA/62UzYjhPRN4/s1600/UtahValleySmog26Jan07.jpg

PM 2.5

Not all of the air pollution is man-made. Beijing is hit with a yellow haze of sand that blows in from storms around Inner Mongolia, up to a couple hundred miles away. (There are also manmade sources of PM 2.5 such as diesel combustion, and smoke of all kinds) The finest dust gets carried the farthest, and it is the tiniest particles that cause the greatest harm to lungs. PM 2.5 stands for “particulate matter, 2.5 micrometers” which penetrates deep into the cilia in lungs where they irritate the tissue, and are not easily coughed up or removed. Exposure to PM 2.5 leads to high plaque deposits in arteries, causing vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis.  While no one can prevent the introduction of dust from storms, it can be mitigated slightly by street sweeping and washing. As the dust settles onto the road and cars drive over it, it can get ground even finer, and re-suspended.

Ozone

Ozone is another product of combustion that Beijing is “importing” from the surrounding region – 35-60% comes from Hebei and Shandong Provinces and the Tianjin Municipality. Beijing cannot control that, but has taken steps to eliminate it’s contribution to the ozone problem by limiting personal driving by capping the cars that can be registered, and allowing them to only be driven every-other-day, and switching bus fleets to electric and natural gas buses.


London Fog



Historically, London has wrestled with poor air quality from point source polluters like homes and factories most often relying on coal to either heat or operate their facilities. As these emitters have evolved, updated and cleaned up their processes the source of pollutants has become more democratic, shifting away from single source to the many hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the roads each day instead.  The impact being that the problem continues but from a new source, says Joan Walley MP chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, ‘It’s a scandal that the same number of people are dying of air pollution in London now as back in the 1950’s.’

London Haze. Source: The Guardian

Tribal Traffic Safety


According to the National Center for Statistics & Analysis, there was a decrease of 2.2% of fatal crashes in the United States between 1975 and 2002. For the same timeframe, fatal crashes went up by 52.5% on tribal lands.  

Environmental and Societal Benefits of Public Transportation



In honor of Earth Day today, I found an article about the environmental and societal benefits of public transportation. There are a great deal of reasons why public transportation is important to people and the environment. Most obviously, it helps reduce the amount of cars on the road which alleviates traffic congestion and positively impacts air quality and noise according to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Cleaning the Air by Removing Dirty Trucks



The Port of Los Angeles is the largest and busiest port in the United States. [1] Ships, trains and trucks form an amalgamation of freight movers and with it comes concentrated amounts of harmful emissions creating what has been “dubbed the ‘Diesel Death Zone’ because it’s one of the largest sources of air pollution in Southern California.”



New Delhi's BRT Woes


The New Delhi BRT has been courting controversy in India since its inception in 2008. As yet another public interest litigation was filed a few days ago to scrap the BRT, I decided to take a look at the myriad controversies surrounding the BRT in New Delhi and introduce the Wall Street Journal’s take on why it might still be a good idea to have faith in a BRT system.

The first BRT line

Washington D.C. Tackles Carbon Emissions
Rising sea levels, flooding, increased urban heat effect, changes in weather patterns, and reliability of energy supply are just a few of the challenges that Washington D.C. (the District) may face in the near future. With this recognition comes the awareness that cities play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the potential impacts of climate change through actions taken to reduce emissions from government operations and from the community as a whole. The District’s GHG inventory represents a critical first step towards the development of a Climate Action Plan.  In 2007 DC Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. This agreement is an initiative by the U.S. Council of Mayors to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol at a local level.

Do Not Remove the NB I-5 HOV Lane, Please!

This article is from September of last year, but it appears to be a timeless discussion regarding the northbound (NB) I-5 HOV lane in North Portland. It is no surprise why the HOV lane was implemented along this corridor in the first place: a demand control strategy to get more people to share rides or take transit. Let's look back a few years: the HOV lane was implemented along the NB I-5 in North Portland and another southbound (SB) HOV lane was implemented in Clark County, WA, just north of the Interstate Bridge. In 2005, the SB lane was removed, but the NB lane continues through North Portland.

Singapore Air Quality..


Today Singapore has one of the best air quality in south-east Asia, comparable with Europe and United States. Considering the urbanization that Singapore has gone through over the years, it is admirable that Singapore enjoys one of the best air quality in the world. Singapore has high humidity, higher temperatures almost all year long, and monsoon weather. Haze is one of the dominant problems in Singapore; however vehicular emissions are not the reason behind haze, so we will keep haze out of discussion for this blog. Today we will mainly discuss vehicular air pollution in Singapore and control technologies implemented to deal with this problem.

Air quality Bogotá

                                                   (source of a photo: New York times website) 

Bogotá, Colombia was a city with a severe pollution and air quality problem. Many measuring devices were put up around the city to measure particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide levels and all three frequently exceeded the standards set in place by the Departamento Técnico Administrativo del Medio Ambiente). The most concerning air pollutant in Bogotá is particulate matter including PM10 and PM2.5. Bogotá has given much efforts to reach the international standard of PM10. Estimated annual PM2.5 is higher than US-EPA annual standard.

Not only were these levels severe for any major city, Bogotá is also at an exceptionally high altitude, which can affect the accuracy of particulate matter measurements and comparisons, making it difficult to construct country, region, and worldwide standards. There was a recent publication called “Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (PM) at high altitude cities,” which calculated correction factors for high altitude cities in Latin America for measuring particulate matter.

According to “Challenges in Bogota Air Quality: Policies and Technology,” there have been some solid findings in regards to the effects of Bogotá’s poor air quality. High emission rates and steady meteorological condition due to the location at high elevation significantly affect on the health of children and elderly people. By June 2006, air pollution had been attributed to 80 children’s (younger than 5) deaths in Bogotá and it was determined that there was an 8% increase in the number of hospital visits for respiratory illness in children less than 14 years old when the PM10 concentration increased by 10 ug/m³ in the city.

The emission inventory developed for the city's air quality model in 2002 showed that industrial sources produced 64% of the total particular matter emissions, and moving sources emitted the remaining 36%. Point sources can produce emission without emission control devices, and most of them do not have any programs for reducing and preventing polluted emissions. Buses of TransMilenio use diesel fuel because of economical productivity and high altitude although it uses more efficient engines compared to old buses which means the new buses produce less pollutants. The concentration of PM10 dropped 54% when the strike of a public transportation was happened. Situations got worse with the use of diesel as a dominant fuel of high duty vehicles. It is researched that diesel vehicles produce more than 50% of total PM10.

Here is the hope of cleaner air in Bogotá. Dust, soot, and smoke from diesel vehicles had been reduced by 28% from 2008 to 2011 in order to meet the international standard. Public started being concerning on poor air quality and the health impact of a polluted air. Academia and news media are urging a national government to improve diesel quality. The Secretary of the Environment established measures such as inspection and maintenance programs for vehicles, substitute fuel use, on-road identification of vehicles producing much emissions, educational programs for drivers, and restricted use of vehicles during peak hours.

(Sources)

*Paper

1. Bravo, Alvarez H, Echeverria R. Sosa, Alvarez P. Sanchez, and S Krupa. "Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (pm) at High Altitude Cities." Environmental Pollution. 173 (2013): 255-256. Print.

2. Zarate, E, Belalcazar L. Carlos, A Clappier, V Manzi, and den B. H. Van. "Air Quality Modelling Over Bogota, Colombia: Combined Techniques to Estimate and Evaluate Emission Inventories." Atmospheric Environment. 41.29 (2007): 6302-6318. Print.

*Websites
1. David Beltran, Luis Carlos Belalcazar, Nestor Rojas; http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/conference/ei20/session9/dbeltran.pdf

The Brown Cloud in Denver



Back in the 1970’s, Denver started to become known for its poor air quality so they began implementing new measures in order to reduce pollution.
                                                    CAP AND TRADE : AN OVERVIEW
Cap and trade is an interesting concept about controlling emissions in the environment. Emissions could be any environmental pollutant, however carbon dioxide was able to get more attention, as being a key in climate change and also being emitted in the environment in largest amounts. This blog is about a brief introduction to carbon cap and trade and its impact on the environment.
“Cap” refers to limits on carbon emissions in the environment from the industries.  It is rightly referred as “right to pollute”. Each year government sets limits to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the environment measured in billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. Credits or allowances are assigned to the polluting companies as one credit per ton of carbon dioxide. Other greenhouse gases, such as methane or nitrous oxide, are included in the cap.  Allowances for these gases are calculated in CO2 equivalents.  For example, methane has 25 times the heat trapping potential of CO2, so 1/25 of a ton of methane emissions is equivalent to 1 ton of CO2. This is the “cap” or limit for carbon emission for that company. Each year cap on carbon gets to successively lower limits.
                              
Here is an interesting word “trade”. Once credits are allocated to the companies and the caps are set for carbon dioxide emissions, a company could use up all the credits that are assigned for carbon pollution, or stay under the cap and sell the unused credits to other polluters companies that have exceeded their emission credits. This approach helps as different industries have variable scope in controlling emissions.
In the past, cap and trade policy had been implemented for curbing sulfur dioxide, which was pouring out through the coal fired power plants. Sulfur dioxide has serious health impacts. Under Clean Air Act 1990, EPA implemented cap and trade and results were encouraging. By 2006, the program had reduced power sector SO2 emissions to 40 percent below 1990 emission levels, at just one-fourth of projected costs. In 2010, the annual health benefits from the program are predicted to total more than $119 billion, not including the value of reduced acid content in lakes and streams.
Although implemented successfully to curtail sulfur dioxide emissions, the US policy-makers seem cautious to implement similar policies for green-house gas emissions. In Europe however this policy has been implemented since 2005 under Emission trading Scheme (ETS). EU ETS achieved the target of reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere, however it has always been a wobbly ride. In the time frame of 2005-2009 of EU ETS carbon emission have reduced by 15% as compared to 9% in US during same time frame, where the carbon cap is absent. Presently EU ETS is running in its third phase and the cap has reduced by 21%. However ETS in EU began with some policy error which need to be corrected recently. ETS allotted too many allowances in the initial phase, as a result price of carbon collapsed (~€20/ton to ~€5/ton), as a result ETS has to curb the allowances in the second and third phase.  Recently European Commission designed a plan to take 900 m tons of carbon allowance off the market and reintroduce them later hoping demand would get better. This plan has been rejected by European Parliament, nevertheless back-loading as this entire issue is termed as is not over yet and will be discussed in the future.
In a small time frame Cap and Trade has become popular worldwide as countries like Australia, South Korea, and several Chinese provinces are planning to implement it. In the US cap and trade is implemented regionally by states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Except for California, States mentioned above are part of Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) and have noticed a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (from 188 million tons of carbon-dioxide in 2005 to 91 million tons in 2012). Emitting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is not a local episode, however it has strong global consequences. Hence it is important for developing and developed countries all over the world to come together and participate to create a policy that will benefit not only the environment but also our coming generations.
 
2.       http://www.climatepedia.org/Carbon-Markets-Emissions-Trading
5.       http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/09/cap-and-trade-is-still-alive-in-new-england-is-it-working/
 

Controlling Air Pollution in New York City


A drawback of a large city is air pollution, however New York City has implemented a myriad of measures to mitigate air pollution.  PlaNYC has set the goal “to achieve the cleanest air quality of any big U.S. city by 2030.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for updating and enforcing the Air Pollution Control Code, which “preserves, protects, and improves the air resources of the city.” 

Metro's Regional Travel Options Program

On April 10, Metro announced the recipients of their 2013 Regional Travel Options (RTO) grant program. This program funds projects that "increase opportunities for residents to use transit, carpool, ride their bicycle, or walk" (1). Metro funded projects this year at a rate of 56%, selecting 14 of the 25 total applicants. A total of $2.1 million was distributed amongst these 14 projects. These funds champion projects that span from 2013 to 2015, require a $50,000 minimum grant, and have financial support through a cash or in-kind match. 

Mexico City's Plan Verde




Mexico City’s Plan Verde (Green Plan), launched in 2007, got one of the largest and most polluted cities in the world to lower their greenhouse gas emission by 6.28 tons between 2008 and 2011. The capital city received massive acclaim when they proposed to lower their greenhouse gases by 7 million metric tons by 2012. Nearly to their goal in 2011, the city continues to introduce measure to lower GHG emission, reduce traffic and preserve water.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amsterdam Smart City

Amsterdam Smart City
            Amsterdam is a European leader in being ‘green’.  The city is ranked fifth overall on the European Green City Index, with a score of 83.03 out of 100.  It has been listed as a ‘Smart City’, and was named the 2013 World Smart Capital, but there is still room for improvement.  Amsterdam ranks low on reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, so the city has set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025 based on their 1990 levels.

Milwaukie Transportation System Plan


            The City of Milwaukie utilizes a Transportation System Plan (TSP) which identifies and prioritizes improvements within the various transportation types:  Pedestrian, Bicycle, Public Transit, Street Networks, Neighborhood Traffic Management, and Downtown Parking.  In 2007, the city did a complete overhaul of their TSP, but to remain consistent with Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan, the plan is due for an update. 

Considering the Gondola (not the Venetian boat)


In a time when every public entity is trying to spend less and still provide adequate transportation options to its constituents, I found myself looking to the sky.  Intra-urban planes would be a bit overkill, and mimicking Sao Paulo’s 420 helipads (in the city!) is just too inequitable.  What I’m looking at is the gondola or aerial tram or Cable Propelled Transit (CPT).  It is fast becoming one of the most popular, least-used forms of urban mass transit in the world. There are only four cities in the world, according to The Gondola Project (arguably the global leader in CPT proselytization), that have truly integrated their CPT into their whole transit system: Caracas, Venezuela; Constantine, Algeria; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Medellin, Colombia.  Otherwise, most cities have short, single, experimental or tourist-based lines like Portland’s aerial tram or the Rostok/ Munich lift that was disassembled in Rostok to follow a garden exhibition traveling to Munich.  However, more and more of these experiments are planting themselves all over the map, like the London Thames Cable Car; the urban gondola in Ordu, Turkey; or the Teléferico de Gaia in Portugal.  Why is this form of transit becoming popular?

Copenhagen’s Carbon Emission Battle


Realizing that 70% of the world’s carbon emissions and two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption happens within cities around the world, Copenhagen has decided to become a leader in carbon emission reduction.

The city has set an ambitious goal to be completely carbon neutral by 2025. To achieve this goal, large investments in wind farms and more energy efficient heating systems are being made city-wide. The aspect of carbon emission reduction, however, that the city has made its largest strides and continues to improve on is its transportation sector. In addition to the goal to have 50% of the city’s commuter’s travel by bicycle by 2015, massive investments in public transit infrastructure are being made for those who don’t have an interest in cycling as a means for commuting. The new “city circle line” expansion of Copenhagen’s subway line, the Metro, will put 85% of Copenhagen residents within 650 yards of a Metro stop by 2018 when it is completed.

What makes the ambitious carbon neutral goal even more challenging is the expected population growth of 100,000 by 2025 within the city. However the $442 million Climate Plan that encompasses the Metro and cycling infrastructure expansions will work hard to combat the negative carbon impacts of population growth. The majority of the funds will focus on energy reduction and clean energy production rather than transportation, since Copenhagen has much more room for improvement in those other sectors. This will include investing in biogas, bioethanol, renewable sourced electricity, and hydrogen power for heavy trucks and freight to run on. A goal to have 40% of heavy trucks run on carbon-free energy has been set for 2025 as well. Bus fleets within the city are also being converted to run on biogas.

What is striking about Copenhagen’s plans to target climate change and carbon emissions is the lack of consumer-oriented regulations that will be put in place. While most governments quickly look to policy implementation to regulate behavior to reduce emissions, Copenhagen is taking the approach of investing in cleaner and more environmentally-friendly energy and transportation, hoping that consumers will choose these cleaner options if they are provided. This approach may be more affective in Copenhagen than it would be in most US cities due to the Danish government’s influence on the energy sector (since most energy production is government owned and run instead of done privately like in the US) and a fundamental difference in cultural views and values in terms of the environment by average citizens in Copenhagen.

Lessons in Local Transportation Finance




Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the American Planning Association Conference in Chicago. IL. I made it to nearly 10 sessions regarding transportation systems in our country and their future in American cities. Out of all the planners, engineers, think tanks and city workers that I saw present, no one was as real and poignant as Stephanie Pollack, Associate Director of the Dukakis Center of Urban and Regional Planning at Northeastern University. I heard Ms. Pollack speak at a session titled "The New Role of Local Transportation Funding," where I expected a few consultants and policy directors to tell us about the importance of sales taxes, property taxes, TIFs and special assessment fees. Out of the four presenters, three did exactly that. Ms. Pollack took a different approach. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Carsharing in Mexico City

As cities look to combat congestion and increase capacity without actually increasing capacity, carsharing and carpooling have become popular options and in Mexico City, it's finally catching on.

Street Seats, and Why You Won't Find Them Downtown

Last summer the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) launched a successful pilot project to convert on-street parking spaces in the city’s most densely populated urban centers (including Downtown, the Pearl District, and Lloyd Center) to temporary spaces that could be used for dining and recreational activities. The program, known as Street Seats, allows business owners to pay a permit fee to cover the cost of the parking space and in return, the business would be allotted the extra space to serve diners curbside during Portland’s ideal summer weather [3].

Many saw the program as a win for residents, business, and PBOT alike. The Street Seats pilot program saw immediate success with three Street Seats areas in front of popular dining destinations. After the pilot program ended, a survey conducted by PBOT concluded that 90% of Portland businesses saw Street Seats as “good for business…and had a positive impact on street vitality" [2].

Figure 1: Mississippi Pizza's Street Seats Project (Source: City of Portland)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Road Safety and Driving Age

I've wanted to get my driver's license since I was at least five years old. My favorite toys were Matchbox cars, and I didn't go a day without creating miniature cities on my bedroom floor  My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. I was born in Missouri, and from there we lived in places as diverse as Washington State and Guam. When I was 13, we moved to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, located near a small town called Minot (pop. 40,888 in 2010). I was very excited when I found out the driving age in North Dakota was 14. Permits could be obtained on a person's 14th birthday, and licenses could be administered six months later. I did get my permit when I was 14, but before I could get my license my dad retired from the military and we moved to Oregon. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Full Costs of Transportation: A Case for Picking and Choosing

While reading the chapter called, “The Full Costs of Transportation" in Sustainable Transportation[1], there were several problematic concepts that were difficult to support. For the sake of writing space, I’ll narrow it down to two key areas within the article. These two areas were land loss and military security/involvement.