Change The City, Not Your Fashion

vision zero

Toronto runs ad campaigns that blame victims for being hit by car drivers, the campaign is so bizarre because it says it comes to pedestrian fashion choice. You’d think the city would learn that blaming victims because of what they wear is a bad idea (see Slut Walk for a previous example of this). To be clear, drivers are at fault in the vast majority of collisions.

Blaming the victims never works because they aren’t the people causing problems. So what Toronto should do is change the actual layout of the city. The Vision Zero Initiative is all about ways cities can modify policy and infrastructure to ensure that pedestrian deaths equal zero every year. And it works. The graph above is from Stockholm’s success and now other cities are using Vision Zero to reduce the number of people needlessly murdered by car drivers.

[S]everal studies have proven that so-called high-visibility clothing does not, in fact, help drivers pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. A 2014 study by the University of Bath tested the impact on a wide range of cyclist outfits—including one that said POLICE—on driver behavior for 5,690 passing vehicles.

In fact, the only thing that is proven to make pedestrians safer is better street design.

Read more.

Paris Revitalizes the Seine for People

Paris is continuing it’s transition to be more people-focused. The city has a great plan to gut its highways in the city along the Seine and replace them with bike lanes, pedestrian walks, and cultural spaces. It’s bound to make a city known for its romantic appeal even more lovely.

From next month, a stretch of more than 1km (0.6 miles) on the right bank near the Hôtel de Ville will see the first narrowing of the road to make way for pedestrian corridors, riverside walkways, bars and cafes. Then in the spring the final promised masterpiece of pedestrianisation will be unveiled: a 2.5km car-free zone on the left bank, between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont de l’Alma, with a riverside park, pedestrian promenades, floating botanic gardens, flower-market barges, sports courts, restaurants and even perhaps an archipelago of artificial islands.

Delanoë promised his new scheme would “give Parisians back their river”, “profoundly change” the city and provide “an opportunity for happiness” for residents. But the mayor, who will not stand for re-election in 2014, also has an eye on his legacy, seeking to be remembered as the man who finally ended Parisian reverence to the car. He has expanded cycle routes and introduced the city’s famous short-term bike-hire and car-hire schemes.

Read more at The Guardian.

Public Bikes and Public Spaces

Back in July, Toronto announced that it would attempt to bring the Bixi bike sharing programme to the city. A big condition was that Bixi would need to have 1000 people purchase the $95 annual subscription to the service before the imposed deadline of November first. Well here we are on October 19th, and Bixi has reached the 1000 member mark, in large part due to an investment from AutoShare.

The car-sharing company AutoShare announced Monday night that it bought 100 of the $95 annual subscriptions, pushing the total over 1,000. The announcement was made to room full of BIXI subscribers gathered for a party at the Steam Whistle Brewery. “There was a big cheer, that’s for sure,” said AutoShare president Kevin McLaughlin, who called the purchase an investment in BIXI. “The bigger picture is bringing a better transportation system to Toronto,” he said.

Read more at The Toronto Star, or at Bixi Toronto.

In other good Toronto news, the University of Toronto is experimenting with the creation of new, pedestrian only spaces. The idea is undergoing a real-time evaluation by closing down little-used roads and setting up tables, chairs, and fake grass. Although one area wasn’t very successful (Devonshire between Bloor and Hoskin), the other is flourishing. Willcocks Street between St. George and Huron is being heavily used by students, faculty, and random passers-by as a place to meet, work, and enjoy free Wi-Fi. Evaluation of the concept will continue until the winter, when a decision will be made whether or not to turn the temporary set-up into something more permanent.

More information can be found at

World’s Largest Solar Powered Foot Bridge

Check out this groovy solar-powered foot bridge:

solar bridge

Read about it at Energy Matters or see more pictures at Ecofiend.

One of the other unique features of the bridge is how it is lit and powered. The bridge employs a sophisticated LED lighting scheme that can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects, which will become a feature of Brisbane’s annual Riverfire celebrations.

75 per cent of the power required to run the LED lighting in the fully lit mode is generated by solar energy, but in most lighting configurations, 100 per cent of the power will be provided by solar with any surplus electricity returned to the main grid. The 84 solar panels used on the bridge will have an average daily output of 100kWh and an average yearly output of 38MWh

Public Works Minister Robert Schwarten said the bridge’s grid connect solar power system will see savings of around 37.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Times Square Goes Car-Free

New York City is famous for grid lock and horrendous traffic – but that’s the past. New York is really trying to green itself and become friendlier to sustainable forms of transportation. They are even going so far as to make times square car-free.

Vehicles are being barred between 42nd and 47th streets at Times Square and 33rd and 35th Streets at Herald Square.
City officials say the move will reduce pollution and pedestrian accidents and ease traffic flow in the area known as “crossroads of the world”.

“It’s good for traffic, it’s good for businesses and we think it is going to be great deal of fun,” city transport commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan said last week.

The symbolism of the financial heart of the American empire discouraging the use of the automobile will hopefully be noticed.

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