Artists Bring Peace to the Streets

le-policier-amoureux (digital)

Street art about peace is getting special attention in London these next few weeks. Artists from all over the world are going to explore the idea of ‘peace in our streets’ and what it means to them. It looks like it’ll be a great exhibit.

If you’re in London you should check it out.

The show will be titled Peace from the street up! and will feature work inspired by the theme of ‘peace in our cities’. The artists, some of whom come from conflict-affected regions, will reflect on opportunities for peaceful change in an increasingly urbanised world.

“Urban and street art has a long history of engaging with important social issues and harnessing peaceful social change through creativity and humour. We thought it would be fascinating to invite urban and street artists from around the world to reflect on what peace in their cities could look like.”

The exhibition will be part of Alert’s second Talking Peace Festival, a month-long series of events designed to spark conversations about peace through creativity. Exhibition and auction information, and a full list of participating artists will be available on www.talkingpeacefestival.org.

London Lowered Speed Limits to Save Lives

Cars kill. Or is it like the gun debate – cars don’t kill people drivers kill people? Regardless of fault the results of car use as a primary means of transportation causes health problems and needless death. Cities around the world are taking steps to try and hold back cars (or is it drivers?) from killing people. One sure-fire way that works is to lower the speed limit.

The City of London lowered their local speed limits and found that it made for safer streets. Other cities are finding the same strategy equally effective, yet here in Toronto will we ever see this? Our local councillors and crack-consuming mayor went out of their way to spend $300,000 to ensure cars can move faster at the expense of cyclists. The mayor himself has stated multiple times that the lives of non-drivers are worth less than taxpaying drivers. Torontotist looks into the issue while sharing the success of smarter cities than Toronto.

The move to reduce driving speeds in cities is based on some convincing statistics. Greater London contains roughly 400 zones with 20 mph speed limits, and these are credited with reducing traffic fatalities by 42 per cent. In London, Barcelona, Brussels, and a handful of other European cities, low-speed zones have resulted in significantly increased bike and foot traffic, according to a 2013 study, as people have begun to feel safer on city streets.

The U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in 2011 found that decreasing average driving speeds by just one mile per hour would reduce the accident rate by about 5 per cent. There has even been academic research on the success of lowered-speed zones in the U.K.

Read more.

London Starts Planting Green Walls for Flood Prevention

Earlier this year, Toronto suffered some severe flooding and city planner Jennifer Keesmat composed this great tweet:

One of those programs she is referring to is the tower renewal program which helped energy conservation, local ecologies, and improve housing conditions. Toronto’s mayor ensures these programs don’t get funding.

Here in Toronto where we have a druggy mayor who hates the environment who also sat in an idling SUV during the flooding (idling is illegal in the city). The mayor has gone out of his way to ensure that Toronto treats the local environment worse than it did the year before. I mention this as a contrast to what is happening in England’s biggest city.

In London, they have a mayor who actually knows that climate change is happening and the city is doing something about it. London is no stranger to threat of flooding, indeed the Thames barrier’s lifetime has been reduced due to the increased pace of climate change. With most usable space already consumed, what is the city to do?

London has turned to constructing green walls! The walls absorb water that would otherwise contribute to flooding within the city by soaking up rainwater.

The wall captures rainwater from the roof of the hotel in dedicated storage tanks; the rainwater is then channeled slowly through the wall to nourish plants, simultaneously reducing surface water on the streets below. “The plants themselves will take up rain too, so the rain doesn’t fall on the street below,” says Beamont.

During the design process, Grant picked out native ferns, English ivy, geraniums, strawberry and primroses for the living wall, using the Royal Horticultural Society’s pollinators list as a guide. “My approach is to use native species in natural associations, however sometimes it’s not practicable because of problems with availability or a lack of visual interest or late flowering,” he says. “It’s still necessary to choose plants that are known to thrive in living walls, or are likely to thrive in living walls, and are suited to the aspect and microclimate.”

Read more at Co.Exist.

A Better Truck for Safer Driving

Trucks kill a lot a cyclists and that’s a problem. We’ve looked at ways we can make trucks more efficient, now London Cycling Campaign has found ways to make trucks safer. They have modified the layout of a truck to allow the driver to see more of the road – in particular cyclists.

London Cycling Campaign haulage expert and former lorry driver Charlie Lloyd said:

“Our Safer Urban Lorry design is a challenge to the construction industry to use vehicles that help reduce the terrible number of people on bikes and on foot who are killed by lorries.

“The restricted view from the cab of many of today’s construction lorries means the driver often has little or no idea who or what is in their immediate vicinity, which is totally unacceptable

Read more at London Cycling Campaign.

Busy London Rail Station to be Solar Powered

Blackfriars station has been under some major construction in the past few years and it’s about to reopen to operations next year. While that’s happening construction has begun on installing solar panels making the bridge at the station the largest solar bridge. It’s a novel use of space in a very crowded city.

“Blackfriars Bridge is an ideal location for solar; a new, iconic large roof space, right in the heart of London,” said Solarcentury chief executive Derry Newman in a statement.

“Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape and it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future.”

Other energy saving measures, such as rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting, are also being fitted at Blackfriars, as part of Network Rail’s plans to reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent per passenger kilometre by 2020.

Read the rest of the article.

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