Monday, March 30, 2015

Climate Shock (book) - the "Copenhagen Theory of Change"

Yale economist and Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller posted to The Upshot, "a New York Times website with analysis
and data visualizations about politics, policy and everyday life."   You can read the entire article at this link. Excerpt
below. A public lecture given by "Climate Shock" author Gernot Wagner at London School of Economics is on YouTube.

"[Concerning the issue of global warming], some individuals with a strong moral compass will take action, and some
nations will do so occasionally, but most people and countries will not do so consistently. In a new book, "Climate Shock:
The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet" (PU Press, 2015), Gernot Wagner of the Environmental Defense Fund
and Martin L. Weitzman, a Harvard economist, question that assumption. In a  proposal that they call the Copenhagen
Theory of Change, they say that we should be asking people to volunteer to save our climate by taking many small, individual actions.

"Copenhagen has motivated half of its inhabitants to commute to work by bicycle every day, the Danish government says.
How did that come about? A half-century ago, the city's inhabitants were becoming almost as reliant on cars as people
anywhere else. But after the oil crisis of the 1970s, the authors point out, many Copenhagen residents made a personal
commitment to ride bicycles rather than drive, out of moral principle, even if that was inconvenient for them.

"That happened in American cities, too, but in Copenhagen there was more social support and, perhaps, social pressure to
join in the movement. The sight of so many others riding bikes motivated the city's inhabitants and appears to have improved
the moral atmosphere enough to surmount the free-rider problem."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

event: Earth Hour is tonight 8:30-9:30PM

"This year some 7,000 cities in 27 different time zones will be flicking off their
lights in observation of the ninth annual Earth Hour, in an effort to raise climate 
change awareness and spread the message of energy conservation. The 
campaign was started in Australia by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 
2007 with 2.2 million people taking part, and since then swept across the world 
in what the WWF calls "the world's largest grassroots movement."

Read an article on hereHere's the official video and the Wikipedia page.

In Australia, Earth Hour this year is focusing on farming, with fears that rising 
temperatures could ultimately damage the country's ability to produce food.

Here are Earth Hour announcements from Edward Norton and from the famous-
for-a-day shy wildlife visitor, whose name is either Bob Katz or perhaps Buddy.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

blink and it's gone

A few months ago, we at PBAC were brainstorming ideas for improvements
to off-road bike trails. I suggested it might be possible to submit a grant 
application for solar-powered lighting, to encourage more use of a certain
paved-who-knows-how-long-ago woodsy bike path, especially during winter
months. It was then pointed out to me that this proposal wouldn't get very
far, since wildlife/habitat conservation forces would nix any forest illumination.

A documentary film at PEFF tomorrow (6PM) will explore the very topic of "dark
sky erosion". Brilliant Darkness | Hotaru in the Night explores firefly conservation
efforts in Japan and the US. The film considers the challenges, implications and
significance of night and its crucial role in animal biology and life cycles. The 
screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Emily Driscoll and Karl Fischer.

The library offers other resources for delving into this issue. The 2013 book 
is by Paul Bogard, who can be heard on this All Things Considered radio interview.

From Aeon magazine, an article asking Why does Japanese culture revere insects? 
begins "In Japan, beetles are pets, grasshoppers a delicacy and fireflies are adored".
Hotaru is Japanese for firefly. Japan is said to be "a nation of legendary firefly enthusiasts
where, many centuries ago, noblemen and women enjoyed nighttime firefly-viewing excursions
to the countryside. For the ancient Japanese the firefly was a symbol of both love and war.

Among the library dvd's can be found Grave of the Fireflies - Hotaru No Haka, described
as "an achingly sad anti-war film" - in the words of the late Roger Ebert, "an emotional 
experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation".

Getting back to illumination, it will be interesting to follow developments in infrastructure
as they pertain to bike safety. Here and here are details of innovations in Copenhagen.

Aimed at saving money, cutting the use of fossil fuels and easing mobility, the LED installations 
are part of a growing wireless network of streetlamps and sensors that officials hope will 
help Copenhagen meet its ambitious goal of becoming the world's first carbon-neutral 
capital by 2025. It's all made possible through an array of sensors embedded in the light 
fixtures that collect and feed data into software. The system, still in its early stages, has put 
Copenhagen on the leading edge of a global race to use public outdoor lighting as the backbone 
of a vast sensory network capable of coordinating a raft of functions and services

Here's a short clip touting the benefits of an Intelligent Street Lighting system. More details here.

Aha - the festooning of telephone/utility poles has no end in sight.

Friday, March 20, 2015

news: Planning Board Approves 7-Eleven at former "West Coast Video" site on Nassau

While waiting eagerly for the shop to open, you can enjoy this entertaining sample/excerpt (31-page PDF)
of the 2011 book "Team 7-Eleven: How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World – and Won"
by Geoff Drake with Jim Ochowicz.           Website:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me ... You missed my paean to St. Patrick !

Some of us may know satirist/author Patrick J. "P. J." O'Rourke from his stint as a panelist on NPR's weekend
show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. The geezers among us, or in my own case within us, may associate his name
with the glory years of National Lampoon. O'Rourke is said to be "the most quoted  living man in The Penguin
Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations".

He also appears to be the go-to guy when it comes to hiring somebody to write anti-bicycle satirical rants, for example

Dear Urban Cyclists: Go Play in Traffic Wall Street Journal, April 2011

"From Dublin to Bogotá, bicycles are taking over city streets. What's next, lanes for hopscotch and pogo sticks?"

Bike lanes violate a fundamental principle of democracy. We, the majority who do not ride bicycles, are being forced
to sacrifice our left turns, parking places and chances to squeeze by delivery trucks so that an affluent elite can feel
good about itself for getting wet, cold, tired and run-over. Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize our annoyance.

And an Examination of the Actions Necessary to License, Regulate,or Abolish Entirely This Dreadful Peril on our Roads

"What are we to make of an adult in a suit and tie pedaling his way to work? Are we to assume he still delivers newspapers
for a living? If not, do we want a doctor, lawyer, or business executive who plays with toys? St. Paul, in his First Epistle to
the Corinthians, 13:11, said, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." He did not say, "When I became a man,
I put away childish things and got more elaborate and expensive childish things."

His essay originally appeared in "Car and Driver" magazine (1984) and was included in "Republican Party Reptile" (1987).

Bicycles: the new conservative enemy      Maclean's magazine, July 2013
The rise of bike-sharing programs has created an unlikely new target in the culture wars.

In the 1980s, the conservative humorist P.J. O'Rourke wrote "A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace." He was
joking. In 2013, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "the bike lobby is an all-powerful
enterprise" and the presence of a bike-sharing program in New York was an example of "the totalitarians running the
government of this city." She wasn't joking. Rabinowitz's widely discussed appearance on a Wall Street Journal video,
which was picked up by many news outlets and The Daily Show ("Slow down, lady, they're just bikes!" Jon Stewart
exclaimed), did more than draw attention to complaints about the effectivness of the Citibike program. It made people
aware of just how hostile some conservative commentators are to bikes.

And harkening back to National Lampoon:

Conservatives' new enemy: Bikes    Boston Globe, December 2013
The bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars.

Even before Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became internationally famous for being videotaped smoking crack, he was known as a
City Hall version of Bluto Blutarsky of "Animal House". [...] His boorishness is so conspicuous and well documented that it raises
the question: Who elected this guy? And why? The answer, in large part, comes down to transit. Ford is famously pro-car, and
his strongest support came from suburbs outside downtown Toronto, where voters drive into the city during the day and return
by car in the evening.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

news: pedestrian safety improvements for "Safe Routes to School"

Princeton has been awarded a $300,000 Safe Routes to School federal grant for pedestrian 
upgrades to two Harrison Street traffic signals, at the intersections of Hamilton and Franklin.

Flemington was approved for a $1 million SRTS grant to improve sidewalks on Main Street.

Kudos to Deanna Stockton (assistant town engineer) and Jerry Foster (Greater Mercer TMA).

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bike Lanes, with bonus article on "The Psychology of NO"

The Complete Business Case for Converting Street Parking Into Bike Lanes

San Francisco is moving forward with a plan to add protected bike lanes on Polk Street, one of the busiest
cycling corridors in the city, but the decision didn't come easy. The San Francisco Examiner reports
that the plan endured about 2.5 years of debate. At the center of the dispute was an objection to the loss
of on-street parking spaces by local merchants.

 The psychology of 'no:' Vancouver residents poised to make a decision that will corrode their happiness

Residents of Metro Vancouver are about to participate en masse in a fascinating behavioral experiment. If you care about
 happiness in cities, you should pay attention to the results, because this kind of experiment is being repeated in cities
across the continent. 

In the 2013 election campaign, B.C. Premier Christie Clark pledged Metro Vancouver would not be taxed in new ways
for transportation without getting a chance to vote on it. The region's mayors were given a few months to whip up a
transportation plan and put it to voters. Now it's decision time. This week, residents will begin voting in a plebiscite
on whether to add half a cent to the provincial sales tax to help fund massive transit and road improvements.

To some, this seems to be great news: citizens asked to participate in a decision that will have a huge effect on their
future well-being. The bad news is, according to recent insights in psychology, most people will likely get this decision
dead wrong. The sad truth is, we can be absolutely awful at making decisions that affect our long-term happiness.

Recent work by psychologists has charted a set of predictable cognitive errors that lead us to mistakes like eating too
much junk food, or saving too little for retirement. These quirks lead us to make similarly predictable errors when deciding
where to live, how to live, how to move, and even how to build our cities. By most measures, a "No" result in the plebiscite
will make the average person poorer, sicker, less free, more frustrated and, yes, less happy.

The Vancouver transit vote is likely to prove psychologists correct again. By most measures, a "No" result in the plebiscite
will make the average person poorer, sicker, less free, more frustrated and, yes, less happy in the long run. Yet this is exactly
where the polls show the city is headed.

Read the entire article by Charles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery's website              Princeton U's Daniel Kahneman is cited in the article. His website is here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

42 years ago - "Climb on a Bike and Wheel Into the Future"

From this version and the original. Credit to Sam B for unearthing this gem.

T O W N     T O P I C S     "Outdoor Living" special supplement - Spring, 1973.

MR. BIKE: Henry Arnold poses symbolically before a map of Princeton's
proposed bike-paths. Mr. Arnold, a landscape architect, has become the town's
foremost proponent of the two-wheeler.

Climb on a Bike and Wheel Into the Future

Bike! By riding a bicycle, you take a dramatic individual stand against damaging the
environment, and besides. . . .

Henry Arnold, the dynamic young landscape architect who has become Mr. Bike in
Princeton, doesn't even own a car. (But he admits he cheats a little: his wife owns one.)

When you cycle, he points out, you release your own frustrations, reap the benefits of
physical exercise and enjoy the pleasant feeling of doing something healthy and healthful
to help the environment.

"The most fun is riding in the rain," smiles Mr. Arnold, "and in hot weather, dressed
lightly, you air-condition yourself as you ride. Also, it's so much quicker for short
distances than a car, especially in Princeton, and you are closer to nature."

"In fact," be continues with a sly smile in his eye. "I have listed 16 ways in which
automobiles can damage the environment. Although I'm not against cars: only
against their USE.

The 16?

— Cars reduce the land to islands, cutting them off with roads. This means fewer
plants and animals.

— Cars bring about changes in the ground water because there is erosion during the
     construction of highways,

— Cars mean highways, and highways generate the need for more highways.

— Cars mean noise pollution.

And so on.

Simultaneous Solution

"Cars and the development patterns are linked," he says seriously, "and this is the
frustration because all problems must really be solved together."

Basically, he thinks, we are faced with a social problem requiring  us to change the
ways we live (bikes, not cars). This means, of course, that change won't come quickly.

Mr Arnold is best known, aside from his advocacy of the bicycle, for saying that all
cars should be removed from Nassau Street.  He also has said, loudly and In public,
that the temporary closing of Palmer Square simply isn't radical enough: if you're
going to do it,  DO IT, with a grand and imaginative plan. Spend a million, he said once,
and the benefit would be reaped ten times over.

Abandoning the city and "escaping" into suburbia is very negative, Mr. Arnold
believes, by destroying the quality of the landscape, reducing the number of
species of plants and animals. We are, in his words, "stealing from the future"
and causing effects that may not truly be felt until the next generation.

Nine Years In Vermont

An ex-paratrooper Mr. Arnold holds his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He
has studied under lan McHarg, well known In Princeton for his unorthodox environmental
pronouncements, and spent nine years working in Vermont with landscape architect Dan Kiley.

Work on city parks in Singapore, Nigeria and Chicago: on a master plan for the campus
of the University of Vermont and on proposals for permanent housing In the ski area
of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, are projects which have given Henry Arnold a
broad outlook on the world.

He got involved in bicycles in Princeton, he says, because he's had experience "in getting
things done — you must be a practical visionary, and if you haven't had experience, you
don't know how to bypass the obstacles...."

Practical visionary?

"The bicycle," and the sly smile comes into his eye again, "the bicycle is more a step into the
future than a moon vehicle!".

Monday, March 9, 2015

Re: [pjpbac-public forum listserv] The High Cost of Free Parking

That's cool. Although unlike Los Angeles, Princeton isn't a city. It's either a college town, an edge city,
a bedroom community, an urban oasis, a magnet, or a gedanken experiment - depending on who you ask.

I've started wondering what it would take to bury the utility wires and get rid of all the wooden poles,
as most cities, including LA, have long mandated. Esp in light of recent hurricanes and downed trees.

Turns out this option is usually prohibitively expensive.

Related note, of particular interest to dogs:  whitepaper about recent innovations in fire hydrants.

On Monday, March 9, 2015 12:55 PM, Jerry Foster <> wrote:

Just thought people would enjoy this quote from the nation's pre-eminent authority on parking, economist and (now retired) former dean of UCLA's Urban Planning Dept, Donald Shoup:
"I truly believe that when men and women think about parking, their mental capacity reverts to the reptilian cortex of the brain," he says. "How to get food, ritual display, territorial dominance—all these things are part of parking, and we've assigned it to the most primitive part of the brain that makes snap fight-or-flight decisions. Our mental capacities just bottom out when we talk about parking."
From an excellent interview in the Los Angeles Times:

PEFF '15

Princeton Enviromental Film Festival 2015 Schedule of Films and Events

Free admission to all screenings, and they will be held at the Princeton Public Library,
65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey.

TUESDAY MARCH 24  4:00 p.m.             The Walking Revolution

Produced by Every Body Walk, Rigler Creative
2013  |  30 min.

Cities were once designed on a human scale. As more and more people took to the roads, the suburbs quickly became the new frontier. After 75 years of planning that produces a sedentary lifestyle, a radical redesign of our cities and open space has begun. Parks and paths are making a comeback to create truly walkable communities through partnerships between residents, businesses, developers, municipalities, urban planners and health care providers.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Sam Bunting, Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, featuring: Kathy Smith, Program Officer at 'Partners for Health' and Board Chair, America Walks; Janet Heroux, Physical Activity Specialist, New Jersey Department of Health; Jim Constantine, Principal, Looney Ricks Kiss; and Jerry Foster, Safe Routes To Schools Coordinator, Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fair and balanced, much like riding a bicycle

Here's the front-page article in about Hamilton/parking in today's Town Topics.
     Advocates of Cycling Weigh Councils Decision to Table Bike Ordinance

Your daily "stump the chump" brain teaser:  The weight of the average motor vehicle
in the USA is approximately 4,000 lbs and probably falling. If the weight of the average
bicycle+rider is 180 lbs (guess) and probably rising, how do you spell "momentum" ?

Unrelated comic relief + news - Hamilton (Ohio) has award-winning tap water.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Morphing the Boneshaker

This 68-second movie by Danish animator Thallis Vestergaard traces the history of
the bicycle from its invention in the eighteenth century up to the present day.

Produced by Visual Artwork, a studio based in Denmark, Evolution of the Bicycle
is a brief look at the different variations the two-wheeler has gone through in its
200-year history. It highlights how the design of the bike changed through the
innovations and whims of different inventors.

obituary/news - To Live and Die in LA, on Two Wheels

Alex Baum, a Los Angeles bicycling advocate who over decades successfully pushed for bike paths,
bike lanes, and a greater consciousness of bikes as legitimate transportation in a sprawling city built
around cars, has died. He was 92.       [ Read the LA Times article here ]

Baum was a former member of the French resistance who was imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp and
immigrated to the United States after the war. By trade he was a caterer, but he was more well-known
for his involvement in sports organizations, including the committee that organized the 1984 Los Angeles

For more than 30 years, Baum was head of the city's Bicycle Advisory Committee -- a  group he organized
under former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley to work with city transportation officials on cycling issues.

"He was a voice for cyclists at a time when cyclists had no voice in L.A.," said Michelle Mowery, the city
transportation's department's senior bicycle coordinator. "He used to call us the poor stepchild of transportation."

Without Baum's lobbying, the city's 56 miles of bike paths and 369 miles of bike lanes would probably not
exist, she said. Current plans, which Baum was instrumental in developing, call for 1,680 miles of bike paths,
bike lanes and bike-friendly streets.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

creatively designed public bicycle pumps in Trenton

Great idea - I wonder what they actually look like. Does anybody out there know ?

"SAGE Coalition and Trenton Bicycle Modification Association: Pressure Points 
will support the creation of creatively designed bicycle air pumps to be placed 
throughout the city. Public art and public health are symbiotic. The public air 
pumps will assist in the functionality of a healthy and accessible form of 
transportation already utilized by many Trenton residents and tourists. These 
pumps will be created by local artists and placed near common areas such 
as parks and major transit locations."

"One of the things I like best about visiting the U.S is the public water fountains. 
It's a simple thing, but it means that you can drink free (and in New York, delicious) 
water whenever you like. They're even in the airports, which means that you can 
take an empty bottle through the security theater checkpoint and fill up in the 
departure lounge. So civilized. 

But what about my poor bike? What if its little tires get "thirsty" for air? Sure, I should 
have my pump, but what if it was confiscated at that same TSA checkpoint because I 
accidentally called it by its Spanish name, bomba, and the TSA drones freaked out? 
In this elaborate and highly unlikely scenario I could — hopefully — turn to 
the Public Bicycle Pump, made by U.K company Cyclehoop."