A Tale of Road Pricing in Three Cities

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What can London, Stockholm and Singapore teach New York City and other places considering  congestion pricing? The New York Times explores how these fees have been implemented and how they have resulted in less traffic, reduced congestion, and  less air pollution.  “Each city does congestion pricing in its own way. Singapore sets varying fees based on the road and time of day, and adjusts them in response to traffic conditions, with fees going up when there is congestion, and down when there is not. Stockholm also sets varying fees for a congestion zone covering the central city area, with the highest fees at the busiest times of day. But its system is less flexible than Singapore’s since those fees do not regularly fluctuate with traffic and any changes require the approval of Sweden’s Parliament.

“In contrast, London charges a simple flat-rate of $16 per day no matter how…

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Autonomous Shuttle Vehicles First on Public Streets in Britain

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What do you do when you are the active transportation manager for one of the largest industrial parks in Great Britain? Milton Park  houses 7,500 workers and 250 businesses on a 250 acre site. It is located near Milton Oxfordshire and is known for leading work on science and technology. If you are Veronica Reynolds the “Behavioural Change Advisor” at Vectos, you build connected bikeways and walkways, and secure funding for  autonomous vehicle shuttles to move people around the industrial park.

The United Kingdom’s first trial of autonomous vehicles on public roads will be implemented here to reduce car usage in this industrial park by fifty per cent.Funded by Innovate UK, 2.5 million pounds has been awarded to trial self driving vehicles between the private roads within the industrial park and the public roads linking the site to the nearby bus and train network. Even though the industrial park is…

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The U.S. 10 Year Census Count Tries to Find Every Dwelling, Especially in Cities

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In cities where there is a shortage of housing and people are living in unorthodox dwellings, how do you carry out a census count? The New York Times reports on  the challenges of ensuring that every person is accounted for in the census, which is used as the base for planning and funding cities. Federal resources are tied to the census which is done every ten years, with the next in 2020. In New York City planning department staff have already spent fifteen months reviewing addresses, finding 439,000 that the federal Census Bureau had missed, representing 13 per cent of the housing stock. These units were in illegal basement, attic, and garages, “revealed by extra door bells and mailboxes.”

Disasters and construction need to be factored in, especially with Houston’s displacement of people with Hurricane Harvey and the thousands of new built units and addresses that will be constructed…

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Snow on City Maintained Public Walkways ~Asking for a Friend

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Urbanist, designer and artist Frank Ducote took these photos of the Vancouver pedestrian pathways along the sea wall during the weekend. These pathways are the responsibility of the City of Vancouver to be accessible and safe.  While the bikeways were cleared and lauded on social media, the walkways for pedestrians? Not so much. And surprisingly when Frank Ducote posted this photo on his facebook page, seven former City of Vancouver staffers responded about the lack of cleared, safe walkable sidewalks. Walkers are the most vulnerable users and they include the elderly, disabled and children. On a brilliant snowy Vancouver weekend, they want to get out and use the city too.

One former City staff walked along Seaforth Park and onto Burrard Bridge, noting that the “sidewalk was slippery with lots of pedestrians, cleared bike paths but with no cyclists. Crazy”. Well, perhaps not crazy to support both walking and…

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Mansion Estates or Class A Agricultural Land in the City of Richmond?

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This story illustrates the problem of expectations when existing regulations are not enough to achieve a higher purpose, like protecting farmland. In Richmond B.C. the City Council has not been proactive in protecting some of the most arable farmland in Canada from becoming private foreign-owned estates, with mansion sized housing and subsequent property assessments so high that the land will never be owned by farmers again.  There was an outcry in the City of Richmond over the size of  the houses being placed on farmland and being taken out of farming and turned into private estates.  In May 2017 Council moved that house size would be capped to 10,763 square feet on lots that were larger than half an acre. The Provincial regulations for the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)  says that houses on these larger lots  should be no larger than 5,382 square feet, half of the size.

Price Tags…

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“Wristwatching” and Amazon

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amazonNational Public Radio reports on what could be the next generation of work gloves. Amazon has been granted two patents for  “wristbands that could track the exact location of warehouse workers’ hands — and give workers tactile feedback to help guide them to a specific shelf.”  Similar to the vibrating wristbands telling pedestrians when a car is coming into a crosswalk as discussed in this Price Tags Vancouver post this technology uses “haptic feedback” to let workers know where the right location of an item is.

This idea, if implemented in the future, would improve the process for our fulfillment associates,” the company says. “By moving equipment to associates’ wrists, we could free up their hands from scanners and their eyes from computer screens. Using guidance signals, “The system, by monitoring precise hand movements, could identify whether the worker picks up an item from the bin instructed, or…

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Googletown, the Next Silicon Valley?

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City Council in San Jose California is voting on giving Google “exclusive negotiating rights for parcels of city-owned land next to the Diridon train station, part of a plan to transform 250 acres of downtown San Jose into a transport hub connected to office towers and apartments.”  

Price Tags Vancouver originally wrote about this concept last year where the City of San Jose has been working with Google to create the new Silicon Valley which is vastly different from the original.  Version 2.0 will be  compact, walkable and accessible by public transportation, a stark departure from the suburban sprawl that has brought the cradle of American technological innovation to the brink of a gridlocked meltdown” as reported in the New York Times.

Housing and affordability have been major problems in the San Francisco area where like Vancouver, middle class workers cannot find affordable accommodation. The  Diridon station plan will…

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