Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for November 2016

How much do streets cost?

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cost-of-street

This graphic appeared in my Twitter stream today posted by Professor Chris Oliver of Anstruther, Scotland. I started following him merely because he happens to come from Forest Gate, but if you are on Twitter he is definitely worth a follow @CyclingSurgeon. The graphic is also Creative Commons.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Transportation

A Graphic File I Couldn’t Resist

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The original comes from The Independent – a uk newspaper

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I got this from the facebook page of Friends of the Olympic Line where I also found

 

Written by Stephen Rees

November 19, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Transportation

Google’s New App Can Digitize Your Old Photos in Seconds — TwistedSifter

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Google’s amazing PhotoScan app turns your phone into a digital scanner. Instead of taking a picture of a picture, the app creates an enhanced digital scan with automatic edge detection, perspective correction and smart rotation. It’s time to dig out that old box of photos!

via Google’s New App Can Digitize Your Old Photos in Seconds — TwistedSifter

And just to show how good it is I was able to capture this image from a block mounted print on the wall next to me.

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And in case you are wondering I got the app from the AppStore for my iPhone6

Written by Stephen Rees

November 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Posted in photography

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Photo Challenge: Magic

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via Photo Challenge: Magic

No, sorry I do not believe in magic. When I go to a magic show, all I want to do is figure out how the illusion is achieved. I did a search on my photostream, and the only references to magic that I found was my own reaction to an early effort at stitching pictures together – which at that time seemed almost magical to me – “hey, you can’t see the join” – but now my iPhone 6 can do that for me!

In 2010 I went on my first cruise, to the Caribbean, and in St Maarten we berthed next to a Disney ship.

Goofy touch up

I guess that’s as close to Magic as I am going to get.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 18, 2016 at 12:31 pm

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Celebrating Roundabouts

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Admiral Blvd approaching roundabout

The stuff that turns up in my inbox rarely delights me. This did. Long time readers will know I want to see more roundabouts here. Not Traffic Circles. If you haven’t been following along here’s a bunch of posts on that theme.

Next Thursday afternoon (Nov. 17) the city of Carmel, Indiana will celebrate the opening of its 100th roundabout, giving the city far and away more of these European-style intersections than any other community in the United States.

Increasingly, cities are yanking their traffic lights in favor of European-style roundabouts.  They’re doing it for reasons that range from cost savings and traffic flow to safety and the environment.  As many as four times the number of cars move through a roundabout in the same time as a traffic light, and yet the number of injury-related accidents goes down by an astonishing 80%.  And because cars are not idling in long lines before launching again, each roundabout typically saves thousands of gallons of gasoline per year.

Championing these and other environmentally friendly developments in Carmel has been Jim Brainard, the city’s long-time Republican Mayor.  Labeled by one publication as a “rogue elephant,” Brainard was one of only four Republicans to sit on a large White House task force for climate change.  It’s a position that puts him at odds with many in his party — including, now most notably, the President-elect and his running mate, who of course is also Governor of his state.  The Mayor argues that concern for the environment has historically been a core Republican value.  And he’s supported strongly by his own constituents — overwhelmingly Republican and generally conservative — who last year elected him to his sixth four-year term.

 

Several years and dozens of roundabouts ago, CNN did a piece on Carmel’s roundabouts that you may find interesting.  Also, just a couple months ago the UK-based Roundabout Appreciation Society  named one of Carmel’s roundabouts “Roundabout of the Year,” including it in its annual calendar.

CNN: http://sms8.omniproductions.net/Carmel1/BrainardAndersonCooper340kbps.wmv

The New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/realestate/commercial/redevelopment-of-carmel-ind-has-a-european-flair.html?_r=0

On Earth: http://www.onearth.org/magazine/rogue-elephant

USA Today (Cover Story):  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/16/small-towns-think-big/1637047/

The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21538779

UPDATE

Here are a couple of modern roundabouts at UBC

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 1.26.03 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-08 at 1.25.44 PM

This one is in Abbotsford and is part of the Highway #1/Highway #10 interchange (232 St at 72 Ave)

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Yale Road and Evans Road in Chilliwack – again just off Highway #1

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Highway #9 at Yale Road not far from Bridal Falls

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and another just over the 49th parallel in Skagit

SR 20 and Miller/Gibralter roads roundabout

WSDoT photo SR2) and Miller/Gibraltar

Same thing but overhead

SR 20 and Miller/Gibralter roads roundabout

 

Written by Stephen Rees

November 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Traffic, Transportation

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How Cities Should Be Designed

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screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-2-27-17-pm

This graphic was posted to Twitter by Professor Chris Oliver.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Photo Challenge: Chaos

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via Photo Challenge: Chaos

Hope Slide

This is the site of the Hope Slide

“The Hope Slide was the largest landslide ever recorded in Canada. It occurred in the morning hours of January 9, 1965 in the Nicolum Valley in the Cascade Mountains near Hope, British Columbia, and killed four people. ”

The present scene shows some of the debris field: I chose this image as the panorama shows the present more tranquil site, with vegetation returning. No-one would have survived if they had tried to photograph this event as the description of it in wikipedia makes clear.  It was chaos of a high order!

“The slide buried a Chevrolet sedan with two occupants, another car and driver, and a tanker truck and its driver under a torrent of 47 million cubic meters of pulverized rock, mud, and debris 85 metres (279 ft) deep and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) wide, which came down the 2,000-metre (6,600 ft) mountainside. This mass of debris completely displaced the water and mud in Outram Lake below with incredible force, throwing it against the opposite side of the valley, wiping all vegetation and trees down to the bare rock, then splashed back up the original (now bare) slope before settling.”

Written by Stephen Rees

November 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

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We Want Proportional Representation

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Most of this post is going to be a Press Release from Fair Vote Canada. You will know if you have been following me that, like most Canadians, I am dissatisfied with our First Past the Post electoral system. It produces results which fail to reflect the way that we have voted, especially in constituencies where there are several candidates. Clearly  a system that elects someone who most people voted against is a failure. And this is not a new problem, and we have been railing against it for years, yet the politicians who have benefited from this system are not inclined to change it. In the last election Justin Trudeau made a commitment to “Real Change” including “making every vote count”. And now, guess what, he’s trying to find a way to not keep his promises. Just like he has not kept them on respecting First Nations and having an evidence based decision making system.

I know this is another long post, but it is worth reading. It is also worth taking action to remind our Prime Minister that we expect him to keep his promise.

Nov. 3, 2016

Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation

The all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRE) has just finished four months of expert and public consultations. They will make their recommendation to Government by December 1st.

Of the ERRE witnesses with a position on voting systems, 88% recommended Proportional Representation. This reinforces the findings from decades of research from around the world and of 13 previous electoral reform processes in Canada, including two thorough and impartial citizens assemblies.

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When the Government launched the process without a mechanism for collecting empirical data, Fair Vote Canada, a multi-partisan advocacy group, started tracking the process very closely. We are releasing the results of our work to the media because we believe the process needs to be transparent and accountable.

(You can find key a list of results below with links our spreadsheets.)

Despite a strong call for proportional representation across all of the consultative platforms, we believe reforming the electoral system could be in serious trouble based on recent comments from Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Monsef.

President Réal Lavergne expressed Fair Vote Canada’s concerns “We are worried that the Minister and the Prime Minister are saying that we cannot count on the government keeping its promise to make every vote count. Yet experts and Canadians have clearly expressed themselves in favour of proportional representation, which is what it really means to “make every vote count.”.

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election adds “This is not the time for back-tracking. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Democratic Institutions have personally created a sense of hope in Canadians, building on the 2015 Liberal campaign promise of Real Change. Millions of voters believed that the government intended to keep its promises. We believed the political cynicism of the Harper years was behind us, and thousands of us participated in the government’s consultations in good faith.”

Merner says “Now is the time for the government to deliver on its promises.

Highly regarded Conservative strategist and spokesperson for the Every Voter Counts Alliance, Guy Giorno, adds that “committee members must endorse what’s right for Canadians, not what benefits any particular party. Given the weight of the evidence before the committee, the only legitimate option is a recommendation for proportional representation. Let’s also remember that electoral reform was a major issue at the last election, and voters overwhelmingly supported parties promising change.”

The weight of expert testimony in favour of PR was echoed across the country in hundreds of town halls and public dialogues.

Over the next few days the ERRE will negotiate a recommendation for a new electoral system for Canada. The final report is due on December 1.

Fair Vote Canada’s President Réal Lavergne explains that “Once that recommendation has been made, it will be incumbent on the minister to carry it forward and for the government to act on it. Leadership will be required to educate both the public and parliamentarians, and to champion the proposed reform.”

“Based on all the results of the expert and citizen consultations, the committee’s only legitimate option is to recommend in favour of proportional representation.”

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Key indicators from ERRE hearings

88% of expert witnesses who expressed a preference called for proportional representation

4% supported the Alternative Vote (majoritarian ranked ballot systems tend to evolve towards a two-party system, often favour centrist parties and could further entrench the distortions brought about by our existing majoritarian system. )

67% thought a referendum was undesirable or unnecessary.

Detailed analysis can be found here in our Synthesis of witness statements and views.

Open Mic-sessions

From coast to coast, Canadians lined up at the ERRE open-mic sessions asking that the committee keep the promise and deliver PR.

According to data released this week by the NDP, out of 428 participants who spoke up, 374 (87.38%) called for proportional representation.

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MP town halls

Total number of town halls reporting: 174

The following indicates the level of support observed for proportional representation in MP town halls.

69.5% (121 town halls) – Majority of speakers calling for proportional representation.

8.6%% (15 town halls) – Majority for electoral reform, but no clear majority specifically for proportional representation

5.2%  (9 town halls) – Support divided between majoritarian system and proportional representation

5.7%   (10 town halls) – Majority for the status quo

8.0% (14 town halls) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified

2.9%   (5 town halls) – Majority support for the Alternative Vote

Detailed analysis can be found here in our Synthesis of witness statements and views.

 

Citizen and Community Group Dialogues/Events

Here are basic indicators from the 27 dialogues or town halls hosted by citizens and community groups posted on the ERRE site or for which we have directly obtained the information so far:

Total number of participants: 1,058

88% (22 events) – A majority of speakers calling for proportional representation

8% (2 events ) – A majority for change but no majority for any one option

12% (3 events) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified.

We are aware of at least 15-20 other community dialogues that are not yet posted on the ERRE site.

Detailed analysis can be found here.

 

Minister Monsef’s Townhalls

Minister Monsef organized two types of town hall consultations: ones in her own riding, and others as part of a cross-country tour. Here is an extract from the report submitted to the ERRE on town halls held by Minister Monsef in her Riding of Peterborough:

“It is clear that there is an appetite for thoughtful change to the electoral system. While opinions on the various electoral systems did vary, most participants indicated their support for a more proportional electoral process that still respected the need for local representation and simplicity of the ballot.”

Although Minister Monsef routinely conducted straw polls on issues such as mandatory voting and online voting in town halls on the road, she did not do the same regarding support for proportional representation. FVC volunteers attended these events across the country and shared their opinions. Here are a few quotes from participants:

Toronto: “PR was clearly the main issue for most. With respect to PR, many attendees spoke passionately and eloquently in favour, and if anyone present opposed it, he or she was not bold enough to express that view.”

Vancouver: “It seemed that 90% of the audience… did want some form of PR.”

Edmonton: “ It seemed most people were in support of some sort of proportional representation.”

Yellowknife: “She asked whether the participants liked FPTP to remain, or Ranked system or STV or MMP or Proportional Representation implemented. One voted for FPTP. Many voted for MMP and a few voted for PR.”

Yukon: “Some Yukoners came in support of our current electoral system (First Past the Post); more were on the side of moving towards proportional representation.”

Halifax: “The feedback from the groups certainly favoured PR.”

Montreal: “There was an overwhelming support for PR in the room.”

Thunder Bay: “Of the dozens who rose to spoke, everyone spoke in favour of PR.”

Gatineau: “ Participants spoke to PR at every opportunity they had… However, the format made this difficult… Taking into consideration those interventions that spoke to the issue of PR vs FPTP or AV, the overwhelming majority of interventions – in the order of 70% or more – were in favour of PR.”

Waterloo: From the report of 4 MPs: “Every group discussed the need for our new electoral system to feature some degree of proportionality.”

Charlottetown: “ About 90% of the people there were pro-PR.”

Winnipeg: After noting that three people were for FPTP because they feared losing local representation. The rest of the comments I heard were mostly just preferences for the different PR systems.”

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: “What we said was that we wanted PR  BUT, it had to be a hybrid type that considered the lack of population and massive land mass of not only Labrador but 60 % of Canada, i.e. the North.”

Calgary: “There was overwhelming support for getting rid of the current system, with different groups mentioning STV or MMP as their top choice.”

A concluding note

And, to conclude, this eloquent quote from a Fair Vote Canada volunteer at the Victoria town hall where the Minister said she “can’t promise you that I’ll be advocating for PR because I haven’t heard that from an overwhelming majority across the country.“

Victoria: “The wheels were skidding out of control as we tried to combat the spin we received at last night’s town hall on Electoral Reform. Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions hosted the gathering in Victoria billed as “the last chance” to give your input. But the tone of the meeting was quite acrimonious. They were clearly managing the message while backpedaling from an election commitment about changing the electoral system. Not only did she defend Trudeau’s recent comments about no longer needing this reform because we voted for HIM.”

“After months of hearing expert witness by the proportionally cross-partisan panel, and while MPs held public consultations with thousands of Canadians across the country, are we now to believe there is no appetite for Proportional Representation? Monsef said that she has not yet made up her mind but the implication of her words was troubling. Will the government diminish the committee’s well-researched, democratic report in December by championing their predetermined preference? For many of us who attended last night the so-called consultation felt like a sham.”

Written by Stephen Rees

November 3, 2016 at 12:43 pm