To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Thursday, November 14, 2013

GASP: Group Against Smog & Pollution


What's the Air Quality?GASP 

EPA School Flag Program

Our School Flag Program takes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air quality flag program into schools in the region. Students check the air quality forecast each morning and raise a flag with a color that corresponds to the forecasted level of air pollution for that day. Students, teachers, and the community can tell at a glance how dirty the air is, and can take action to protect themselves. Take a look at our School Flag Program Map, showing which locations have adopted the program.

Learn more from media reports:

“New flag program to alert community of air quality conditions,” WTAE, May 24, 2013.
“GASP Launches EPA’s School Flag Program,” Breathe Project Blog, May 24, 2013.
Karrie Kressler, our SCA Green Cities Fellow, runs the program, and you can get her behind-the-scenes story from the SCA’s “Follow Me!” blog.

Want the program in your school? We’re serving counties throughout Southwestern PA. Email schoolflag@gasp-pgh.org .

Big-rig fire shuts 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights just before rush hour


By Joseph Serna, November 14, 2013

 Big-rig fire

 A big-rig fire caused the closure of the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights on Thursday afternoon.

A big-rig fire on the eastbound lanes of the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights has shut down the freeway in both directions, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The blaze began just before 3 p.m. and took nearly an hour to extinguish, authorities said. The big rig was carrying compressed hydrogen, but based on live video footage, it did not appear that any of the containers exploded during the fire.

The CHP was initially diverting eastbound traffic off at Hacienda Boulevard, then moved the closure. Eastbound traffic is now being diverted onto the 605 Freeway, officials said. Westbound traffic is being diverted at Azusa Avenue.

Self-driving cars versus transit: will they compete? Take our poll


November 14, 2013

Would you still take transit if you had a self-driving car?

Although I’m normally allergic to panel discussions, I actually attended one last month at the Mobility 21 conference on self-driving cars that rose to the level of mighty interesting.

The gist of the conversation: virtually ever major car company is pursuing self-driving cars, the technology is sound, the cars could reduce accidents (in other words, not like human drivers are all that safe) and lawmakers better start getting super serious as to how to regulate them as a lot of them could be on the road within a decade.

And this–the really interesting part: the big marketing push and the big source of demand will likely come from those who can’t or don’t want to drive (seniors, teens, disabled, etc.) but need the mobility a self-driving car could supply. In fact, one of the panelists even proposed that self-driving cars could save government money by negating the need to supply transit in areas where transit is inefficient.

This is already how Google is framing the self-driving car issue:

Not discussed by the panel is another issue I find interesting: if there is a proliferation of self-driving cars, what does that do to transit?

On the one hand, roads will continue to have only a finite amount of space. Yes, perhaps self-driving cars may squeeze some extra capacity from roads by driving more efficiently — but you can only pack so many cars in so much space, presumably.

On the other hand, cars often enjoy the door-to-door convenience factor not afforded by transit. At present, one of the major draws to transit is that it’s a chance for people to relax and/or get some work done.

What happens if you can get that work done in your own car that is driving itself to work? Would sitting in traffic be more tolerable if you didn’t actually have to be the one tapping the brakes and accelerator? Or would traffic still make you go bonkety-bonkers?

Take the poll and comment please.

State Senate Transportation Hearings 11-13-13

 Posted by Jan SooHoo on Facebook, November 14, 2013

This is the background paper prepared by staff prior to yesterday's State Senate Transportation Committee hearings held by Senator DeSaulnier. There are to be two more hearings held, but the dates have not yet been published. I hope that the hearings, which you can listen to live online, will be archived and made available, but I am still checking on that. In the meantime, the paper covers the major points made by the panel of experts.


Flying out of LAX? New company lets you rent out your car while you're gone


By Ben Bergman, November 13, 2013



 Even though they aren't old enough to rent a car themselves, Kevin Petrovic, 19, (right) and Rujul Zaparde, 18, are trying to shake-up the $11 billion airport rental car market.

What if instead of paying to park your car at the airport, someone paid you to leave it there? That’s the idea behind a new company called FlightCar, that opens its third location at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday.

The catch is that other people might be driving your car while you're away.

The co-founders of FlightCar look like college freshman, and that’s because they would be, if they hadn’t decided to start this company, putting their Ivy League educations on an indefinite hiatus.
19-year-old Kevin Petrovic was accepted at Princeton University and 18-year-old Rujul Zaparde was on his way to Harvard University.

Instead, they decided, along with co-founder Shri Ganeshram - who was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - to try to change the way we rent cars and take on the $11 billion airport car rental industry.

That’s even though they’re too young to rent a car themselves.

“At any moment there’s something like 360,000 cars in long-term parking lots in the top thirty U.S. airports,” said Zaparde. “That’s very inefficient.”

FlightCar will let you park for free and pay you if someone rents your car - up to $20 a day. They pick you up and drop you off in a black sedan and wash your car.

And perhaps most importantly, they offer all of the peace of mind that a $1 million policy can buy.
“Everything is insured up to a million dollars,” said Zaparde.  “We’ll cover liabilities, any collision, theft, and damage. Even if there’s a small scratch on the car it’s fully covered.”

The first location opened in San Francisco in February, followed by Boston in May.

Petrovic said they got the idea from Airbnb, which helps you rent out your home.

“Largely because of Airbnb, it’s really opened the door to the sharing economy and people are more willing to share,” said Petrovic.

Who is brave enough to loan their car to a complete stranger? 

It tends to be those in their late 20’s or early 30’s. But not everyone is young.

Walt French is a 65-year-old San Francisco portfolio manager who’s left his Acura with FlightCar more than 10 times.

“To me, the great value of this is that before I learned about FlightCar, I was paying to park at the airport $15-$18 a day,” said French.

Now, he collects money when he gets home, as he did recently following a weeklong trip to Shanghai.

“I got a check a couple hours ago for $111,” said French.

French is hooked. So is Joe Rosenberg, who now leaves his BMW with FlightCar twice a month when he has to travel for work.

His car has always been returned in good shape.

“I mean there’s obviously little things, like the mirror or the seat is in a different spot,” said
Rosenberg. “But that’s no different than if you valet parked your car somewhere or went to carwash.”
Other customers have shared horror stories on the online review site, Yelp, about finding decomposing fried chicken wings stuffed in the side door pocket… or worse, not getting fully reimbursed when their car was in an accident.

To succeed, FlightCar will have to prove such incidents are rare.

It will also have to show it can stay in regulators’ good graces.

In June, the city of San Francisco sued the company for operating illegally at the airport.
Petrovic says FlightCar isn’t backing down.

“I think anytime you do something really innovative in a market you are going to run up against opposition,” he said.

Petrovic isn’t expecting any regulatory hurdles at LAX, which doesn't have the same rules as San Francisco International.

So far, investors haven't been scared away, even though the company is a long way from profitability.
The teenage founders have raised around $6 million in funding.

Among the investors are Airbnb’s founders, along with Ryan Seacrest and Ashton Kutcher.

Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Diseases


By Joseph Weidman, November 13, 2013

Serious air pollution

Research presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013 annual meeting has linked air pollution with increased heart attacks.1  An increasingly important environmental and health issue, air pollution is an established cause of respiratory diseases, however its connection with cardiovascular diseases is not as well-known. The research, presented by Savina Nodari from Brescia, Italy, measured general air pollution as levels of particulates having diameters of 10 micrometers or less (PM-10).  PM-10 and daily hospitalizations for cardiac events were recorded in Brescia, Italy from 2004 to 2007.  This region of northern Italy has shown higher average daily PM-10 levels than the 50 micrograms/m3 safety threshold set by the European Environmental Agency.

Direct Link Between Pollution and Heart Risk

The study found a significant linear relationship between PM-10 levels and acute cardiovascular events (acute coronary syndrome, atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias, and acute heart failure).  Each 10 microgram/m3 increase in PM-10 was responsible for a 3% increase in cardiovascular event admissions.  
Nodari, a cardiologist, highlighted previous studies showing that, “PM-10 can induce processes that are bad for the heart including inflammation and coagulation”.1  Previously, a 2010 statement from the American Heart Association indicated that PM < 2.5 microns can trigger cardiovascular disease-related morbidity and mortality after just hours to weeks of exposure.2  Furthermore, exposure over a few years increases these risks to a greater extent, while reduction of particulate matter decreases cardiovascular mortality within a few years.

Broad Evidence-Based Support

The results of this study are supported by findings of a 2012 meta-analysis published inJAMA. This analysis of 34 clinical studies found that the relative risk of myocardial infarction was significantly increased with short-term exposure (up to 7 days) of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, PM-10, and PM-2.5.3  The authors of this study suggested that air pollution may increase systemic inflammation, dysregulation of autonomic cardiac function, and blood viscosity.  They underscored that elevated blood viscosity can increase clotting risk, accelerate advancement of atherosclerosis, and destabilize atherosclerotic plaques.
Air pollution,4 like whole blood viscosity and vulnerable low wall shear stress,5,6 is linked to intima-medial thickness progression, a marker of atherosclerosis development.
These studies join a plethora of scientific research that examine the impact of environmental factors on human health.  A Belgium study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2013 investigated various environmental triggers for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in about 16,000 individuals.  Air pollution measurements included PM-10, PM-2.5, and black smoke, all of which were positively correlated to AMI when looked at individually.7  
A multivariate analysis found these results did not reach significance, however, environmental temperature had a significant negative correlation with AMI, showing a 7% increase in odds ratio for every 10°C temperature decrease.  The meta-analysis concluded that temperature, when compared to other environmental factors, may have the most profound effect on triggering AMI.
One of the study’s researchers, Belgian cardiologist Marc Claeys, suggested increased blood viscosity as a potential mechanism for cold temperatures triggering AMI.  Interestingly, thicker blood may also mechanistically explain the increased cardiovascular risks tied to air pollution in many other studies.

Is Blood Viscosity a Possible Mechanism Mediating the Cardiovascular Risk of Pollution?

Short exposures to high levels of PM-10 have been shown to increase systemic inflammatory markers which are directly related to endothelial dysfunction, an early initiator of atherosclerotic plaque development.8  A cross-sectional analysis of 3,256 men and women aged 25-64 years validated this hypothesis during a 1985 air pollution episode throughout western and central Europe.  After adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and other environmental factors, plasma viscosity was significantly elevated during the air pollution episode.
Plasma viscosity, a major determinant of whole blood viscosity, has been positively associated with myocardial infarction, stroke, and stroke severity in other studies.9 Additionally, heart rate elevation in response to air pollution was shown to be significantly higher in those with higher blood viscosity.9  This suggests a physiologic adaptation to a hypoxic state where thick blood is unable to efficiently deliver oxygen to cells.
A small 2013 study of traffic-related air pollution, which is a recognized trigger for acute cardiovascular events, helps to elucidate these findings.  The study demonstrated hemoconcentration and thrombocytosis, both contributors to elevated blood viscosity, as a result of short-term diesel exhaust exposure.  Other inflammatory mediators did not show significant increases.10
Separately, a study of 330 individuals showed that occupational benzene exposure, a product of petroleum, increased relative blood viscosity by 94% when compared with healthy controls, despite significant hemolysis.11  These results were likely due to increased inflammatory markers and oxidative stress.
With rapid industrialization in developing nations and cardiovascular diseases already remain the number one cause of mortality worldwide,  any improvement in air pollution regulations and new technologies to reduce air pollution can result in substantial health economic benefits.  Air pollution may be particularly detrimental to those with elevated baseline blood viscosity.
Polluted air has the potential to elevate blood viscosity and increase cardiovascular risk by inducing an inflammatory, oxidative, and stressed physiologic state.  Specifically, changes in red blood cell morphology, plasma proteins, and red blood cell concentration may all contribute to pollution-induced hyperviscosity.

More than 7 in 10 say public transportation is reliable


November 14, 2013

More than seven in 10 (71%) Americans already see public transportation as more reliable than unreliable, according to a new America THINKS survey from HNTB Corp. The research also finds most Americans see public transit as a money saver and, for many, a requirement when relocating.

In fact, nearly one-half (48%) of Americans say they would require an area to have good public transportation before they would consider moving there. More than two in 5 (46%) Americans say a different area having a good public transportation system would make them more likely to move there. There is an age differential, with those 18 to 39 years old more likely to share this sentiment than those 40 and older (51% versus 43%, respectively).

The availability of good public transportation would have a positive influence on 90% of Americans if they were selecting a different area to live in.

“According to the American Public Transportation Association, for every $1 cities invest in public transportation, they generate $4 in economic returns. Healthy cities make funding transit a priority because systems like bus rapid transit or light rail can generate loads of positive economic outcomes with just a single investment,” said Liz Rao, HNTB chair public transit services.

Americans see a range of benefits from more convenient local public transportation options, including less congested roads (50%), a better quality of life for locals (31%), attracting more businesses to open in the area (26%) and increasing property value (18%).

In addition to light rail, commuter rail and traditional bus services, bus rapid transit is a rapidly growing public transit option, offering a lower-cost, more easily implemented alternative to a rail-based commuter transit system, yet still including many popular features of rail-based public transportation, such as routes that are clearly laid out and run on a frequent and reliable schedule.

Like rail, investment in BRT has shown it can spur economic redevelopment. According to a recent study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, which looked at many transit corridors across the country, more than $5 billion in redevelopment has occurred along Cleveland’s Euclid corridor, and along Boston’s Silver Line BRT, the private sector has invested more than $1 billion.

In fact, Rao said, “because of BRT’s low threshold, funding often can be cobbled together from multiple sources, including metropolitan planning organizations, municipal or county transportation funds, or even state highway maintenance budgets.” Many cities across the country are studying and/or implementing BRT systems, including Atlanta and Miami.

About the survey

HNTB’s America THINKS transit survey polled a random nationwide sample of 1,127 Americans Sept. 5 through Sept. 12, 2013. It was conducted by Kelton, which used an e-mail invitation and online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 2.9 percent.

Opinion: Better public transit is as good as Gold


 I Will Ride.org

Posted by GoldLine

The following Opinion originally appeared in the Thursday, November 13, 2013 print edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Pasadena Star-News.

Opinion: Better public transit is as good as Gold
By Mike Gatto

Los Angeles County has the most congested freeways in the nation.  Despite the years of congestion, we lack a mass-transit system to effectively serve our communities, especially in the San Gabriel Valley.  Workers lament lost productivity, and families long for more time together at home.  We need a transportation system that will reduce the time we spend sitting in gridlock.

Ten years ago the Metro Gold Line from Los Angeles to Pasadena opened for service.  A controversial project at the time, the Gold Line has proven to be an efficient and worthwhile public investment.

Even better, it was completed on-time and under-budget, and now serves more than 40,000 individuals in the San Gabriel Valley each day, who complete more than a million rides each month.
Unfortunately, the system is incomplete.  More than half a million residents of the Foothills communities still have no reasonable means of utilizing Metro Rail or any affordable or efficient public-transit option.

The original Gold Line proposal called for construction of the project in two stages.  Phase 1, a 13.7-mile line from Los Angeles to Pasadena, would be constructed first.  Later, Phase 2 would extend the line an additional 20 miles to Claremont.

Since then, Phase 2 has been divided into two parts.  Construction of Phase 2A, which will extend service to Azusa, is currently underway.  But Phase 2B, which would extend service to Claremont and Montclair, continues to face significant political and financial hurdles, and is in danger of being tabled.  Meanwhile, formal plans to extend the line to Ontario are not even down on paper yet.

While the current effort to extend the line to Azusa is a step in the right direction, this extension
 will bring the rail service to less than a third of the more than 550,000 people who live in the region.

Cities like San Dimas, which has more than 30,000 residents, will continue to be out of reach.  And Ontario, which is home to more than 150,000 people and the region’s largest airport, will still be more than 20 miles from the nearest Gold Line or other commuter rail service.

Recently, Rep. Judy Chu announced her support for plans to expand the Gold Line to Claremont and Ontario International Airport, saying “This will truly not be regional system until you get it going all the way to the Ontario Airport.”  I agree.

Public transit is about more than just commute times.  It is about connecting a region in a sensible and efficient way.  It is about reducing air pollution by taking cars off the road.

It is hard for any of us who take pride in our region, to accept that the second-most densely populated metropolitan area in the nation struggles under an incomplete, disconnected transportation and transit system.  Residents of other metropolitan areas around the country use well-conceived public transit systems to connect to their airports, shopping centers and business centers.

The San Gabriel Valley deserves effective and efficient transportation options, including a light-rail system, and flexible carpool lanes that are available to single occupancy vehicles during nontraditional commute hours.  (Another issue I am working on.)  We cannot continue to construct transit in a haphazard and patchwork fashion.  It’s time for community organizations and government officials at all levels to come together and get on-board to complete the Gold Line extension through the San Gabriel Valley to provide us with a transit system that truly connects.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

LADOT Announces TAP Card Design Contest


By Damien Newton, November 14, 2013

 The original LADOT TAP cards.

When Metro released special TAP cards for the opening of the Expo Line, I was intrigued. Why, I wondered, doesn’t Metro do more interesting things with TAP design all of the time? Why the insistence on selling these boring blue cards?

Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen some other unique TAP designs, the CicLAvia Tap Card and the LADOT Transit cards both released earlier this spring come to mind. But most of us are still using the boring blue-gray cards. Yes, I said “us.” My CicLAvia TAP card is lost somewhere in my house with my press credentials.

But while Metro isn’t trying to do anything to liven up our wallets, LADOT is trying again.
LADOT announced earlier this week a collaboration with Downtown Los Angeles’ Gallery Row Organization to sponsor an artist competition to design the next wave of LADOT TAP smart cards.This design competition is the first of its kind in any major metropolitan area in the world that has a regional smart card system for its public transportation network.

The theme for card designs is Downtown Los Angeles.The deadline for entries is December 18, 2013.Entry forms, official competition rules and instructions on how to submit your design are all available at the competition webpage.
Two winning designs will be chosen, and each artist will be awarded a prize of $500 cash and a $500 gift certificate to Raw Materials Art Supplies, an art and architectural supply store in Downtown Los Angeles.Winners will be selected in mid-January 2014 by a five-person jury panel: Nic Cha Kim (Gallery Row Organization), Qathryn Brehm (Downtown LA Art Walk), Nathan Cartwright (The Hive Gallery), and two representatives from LADOT.

Also, as a special award, one of the winning designs will  appear in my wallet.

Bike Helmet Vending Machines Coming To Boston


By Daniel Lovering, November 13, 2013

bike helmet vending machine

BOSTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has unveiled a vending machine that dispenses bicycle helmets for users of the city's bike sharing service, a street kiosk he said was the first of its kind in the country.

Menino said the so-called HelmetHub machine, attached to one of the city's Hubway bike rental stations at the intersection of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, will allow users to rent and return helmets, adding a measure of safety to the service.

"Our goal is to make Hubway a great and safe way to get around town," he said in a statement released on Tuesday evening.

The machines were designed by HelmetHub, a company founded by MIT engineering graduates that won a contract from the city in May, the statement said.

The company plans to test the first machine and gather data during the remainder of the year before introducing HelmetHub machines more widely in 2014.

The machine dispenses helmets for a rental fee of $2, if they are returned within 24 hours, or for purchase at $20. Returned helmets will be removed from the machine to be inspected and sanitized, the statement said.

Boston's bike sharing service was launched in July 2011, and users took its 600 bicycles on more than 100,000 rides in the first 10 weeks, according to the service's website. By the end of November, it had more than 3,600 annual members.

The service is similar in concept to other bike sharing programs launched in Paris, London and New York City, which kicked off a massive bike sharing program earlier this year.

House reschedules self-driving car hearing


By Keith Laing, November 13, 2013

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has rescheduled a hearing on self-driving cars that was cancelled last month in the midst of the federal government shutdown.

The panel will a hearing on “how autonomous vehicles will shape the future of surface transportation" next Tuesday, officials with the panel announced on Wednesday.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) called self-driving cars "the future of transportation" after conducting a test drive earlier this fall.

 "This technology has significant potential to make transportation safer and more efficient," Shuster said in a statement released after his test drive. 

"We have to figure out how to embrace technology, in the way we build our infrastructure, comply with existing and future laws, and ensure the safety of the public," he continued.

Additionally, former House Speaker and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) predicted in a new book that was released this week that self-driving cars will soon become popular in the United States.

Gingrich referred to autonomous cars as "the greatest breakthrough in automobiles since the internal combustion engine."

Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Audi and Volvo have all demonstrated prototype self-driving cars of some capacity, although none seems to have matched Google's performance," the former Speaker wrote. "One thing is certain: now that [Google Vice President Sebastian] Thrun and his fellow pioneers have created the technology, Americans are going to want it — from whatever manufacturer can provide."

Watch This Video and You May Never Drive the Same Way Again


By Sarah Goodyear, November 14, 2013

New York City prides itself on being the best walking city in the nation. But lately, it's been a terrible place for pedestrians.

In less than two weeks, six people walking on city sidewalks were killed by drivers who lost control of their vehicles, including a student at my son's school. Still more have died when struck in crosswalks by drivers who failed to yield. Many of the victims have been children or older people.

The pain caused by these deaths is immeasurable. And they are completely preventable.

On Tuesday night, in Queens, advocates for safer streets held a rally called "Three Children Too Many." It memorialized three young victims of traffic violence, who died in the Jackson Heights neighborhood over the past year. At the rally, the parents of Allison Liao, a three-year-old killed by a driver who failed to yield in a crosswalk in Flushing, Queens, gave voice to their grief. The driver got two traffic tickets but, as is often the case with such deaths, faced no criminal charges.


The Liao family articulated a very powerful message about what's at stake every time a person starts up a car and drives it on a city street. It's worth watching all four minutes of the Streetfilms video showing their speech, but here's an excerpt of what Amy Tam, Allison's mother, had to say:
Allie was behaving exactly the way you would want your own three-year-old to when crossing the street. In the crosswalk, with the green light, hand-in-hand with Grandma. This driver, instead of yielding to a toddler and her grandma, made a conscious decision to muscle his way through the crosswalk in his SUV. This action changed our lives and killed our beloved daughter ... Allie paid the death penalty for crossing the street. This is for you, Allie. It is unbelievable that the driver's penalty is two tickets and our daughter is gone.
Then Allison's father, Hsi-Pei Liao, took the mike:
Our message to all drivers is simple. Please, before you get behind the wheel, realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive every day, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel. We urge drivers to pay attention to the road and to slow down. Yield to pedestrians. They have the right of way, and it's the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel. The average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle and is made up of fragile flesh and bones.

New Yorkers are always in a hurry. But we challenge drivers to pause and ask, is it worth it? Is it worth running over a child because you are running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text a date and time of their child’s funeral?
Pedestrian deaths have actually declined somewhat in New York City over the last several years, as more space on the streets has been given over to walkers. Traffic-calming measures have also been implemented in many of the city's neighborhoods. According to figures from the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, in 2009, 155 pedestrians were killed by drivers. In 2012, it was 136.
But the recent spate of deaths shows much remains to be done. If the rest of this year plays out the same way the first nine months have, 147 New Yorkers will lose their lives while walking. Many of these incidents, such as the one that killed Olga Rivera on an East Harlem sidewalk earlier this week, are the result of speed, driver inattention, or failure to yield.

As the gut-wrenching pleas of the Tam and Liao families makes plain, this toll is unnecessary.
Long ago, the leaders of New York decided to make reducing homicides a priority. They succeeded spectacularly, bringing the number of murders to historic lows through a variety of tactics, including aggressive policing of "quality of life" crimes. And yet the famously can-do police commissioner, Ray Kelly, said recently that stopping traffic violence is "much more complex than you might think," and that in a city the size of New York, "you’re going to have a lot of traffic and you’re going to have accidents."

Those answers aren't acceptable to the parents of Allison Liao or the loved ones of the dozens of others who have died on New York's streets and sidewalks this year. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has said that he wants to implement a "Vision Zero" approach to traffic deaths, with an aim to bring the number of fatalities down to nothing. The rally this week in Queens is proof that New Yorkers are ready to hold him to his word.

A Super-Tall Tricycle Is Making Its Way Around Vietnam


By John Metcalfe, November 14, 2013

A Super-Tall Tricycle Is Making Its Way Around Vietnam
Whenever I see somebody on a tricycle – whether it be a toddler gunning it on a Big Wheel or a leather-clad beardo cruising the highway on a Harley trike – my first instinct is to laugh.

But there's no giggling going on here with this super-tall tricycle that is teetering around Hanoi, because my mind is furiously working out the logistical challenges. First of all: Hanging electric wires. It's basically a pedal-powered Old Sparky waiting to go off. Next, how big are the legs of the guy propelling it? With the weight you can fit on seven platforms, they must look like anacondas straggling a pair of broomsticks. Also, will birds hit you in the face?

Perhaps it's best this strange contraption isn't intended as a commuter vehicle, but more of a roving space for the arts or business. The Swiss architecture firm that designs it, Bureau A, thinks it will make a great "seven-story mobile performance space and street kitchen," according to Dezeen, or maybe even an "ephemeral house," "mini-concert hall," or "poetry podium." Whatever disguise it takes, it will be connected with local cafe Ta đi Ôtô, so you know where to head if you want to practice your uneven-bars skills.