Not one of my favorite photos but it made Flickr’s Explore.
I GREW UP in Los Angeles, the city by the freeway by the sea. And if there’s one thing I’ve known ever since I could sit up in my car seat, it’s that you should expect to run into traffic at any point of the day. Yes, commute hours are the worst, but I’ve run into dead-stop bumper-to-bumper cars on the 405 at 2 a.m.
As a kid, I used to ask my parents why they couldn’t just build more lanes on the freeway. Maybe transform them all into double-decker highways with cars zooming on the upper and lower levels.
Except, as it turns out, that wouldn’t work. Because if there’s anything that traffic engineers have discovered in the last few decades it’s that you can’t build your way out of congestion. It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic.
The concept is called induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more. Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads. These findings imply that the ways we traditionally go about trying to mitigate jams are essentially fruitless, and that we’d all be spending a lot less time in traffic if we could just be a little more rational.
But before we get to the solutions, we have to take a closer look at the problem. In 2009, two economists—Matthew Turner of the University of Toronto and Gilles Duranton of the University of Pennsylvania—decided to compare the amount of new roads and highways built in different U.S. cities between 1980 and 2000, and the total number of miles driven in those cities over the same period.
“We found that there’s this perfect one-to-one relationship,” said Turner.
If a city had increased its road capacity by 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, then the amount of driving in that city went up by 10 percent. If the amount of roads in the same city then went up by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000, the total number of miles driven also went up by 11 percent. It’s like the two figures were moving in perfect lockstep, changing at the same exact rate.
Now, correlation doesn’t mean causation. Maybe traffic engineers in U.S. cities happen to know exactly the right amount of roads to build to satisfy driving demand. But Turner and Duranton think that’s unlikely. The modern interstate network mostly follows the plan originally conceived by the federal government in 1947, and it seems incredibly coincidental that road engineers at the time could have successfully predicted driving demand more than half a century in the future.
A more likely explanation, Turner and Duranton argue, is what they call the fundamental law of road congestion: New roads will create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of traffic staying the same.
Intuitively, I would expect the opposite: that expanding a road network works like replacing a small pipe with a bigger one, allowing the water (or cars) to flow better. Instead, it’s like the larger pipe is drawing more water into itself. The first thing you wonder here is where all these extra drivers are coming from. I mean, are they just popping out of the asphalt as engineers lay down new roads?
The answer has to do with what roads allow people to do: move around. As it turns out, we humans love moving around. And if you expand people’s ability to travel, they will do it more, living farther away from where they work and therefore being forced to drive into town. Making driving easier also means that people take more trips in the car than they otherwise would. Finally, businesses that rely on roads will swoop into cities with many of them, bringing trucking and shipments. The problem is that all these things together erode any extra capacity you’ve built into your street network, meaning traffic levels stay pretty much constant. As long as driving on the roads remains easy and cheap, people have an almost unlimited desire to use them.
You might think that increasing investment in public transit could ease this mess. Many railway and bus projects are sold on this basis, with politicians promising that traffic will decrease once ridership grows. But the data showed that even in cities that expanded public transit, road congestion stayed exactly the same. Add a new subway line and some drivers will switch to transit. But new drivers replace them. It’s the same effect as adding a new lane to the highway: congestion remains constant. (That’s not to say that public transit doesn’t do good, it also allows more people to move around. These projects just shouldn’t be hyped up as traffic decongestants, say Turner and Duranton.)
Interestingly, the effect works in reverse, too. Whenever some city proposes taking lanes away from a road, residents scream that they’re going to create a huge traffic snarl. But the data shows that nothing truly terrible happens. The amount of traffic on the road simply readjusts and overall congestion doesn’t really increase.
Of course the last paragraph is exactly how downtown Saskatoon will survive University Bridge being shut down and Better Bike Lanes. It is also why road diets will work.
I snapped this photo walking by the downtown CIBC tonight while walking home. The photo has a lot going on with the uneaten cake, the pants being down and most of all, someone sleeping in the streets of Saskatoon. It’s a sight that I see more and more of these days despite all of the efforts that are being made.
Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill sent this out last night
Hello City Park, North Park Richmond Heights, Kelsey Woodlawn, Mayfair, and Hudson Bay Park,
Please note the PSA below for the next round of future growth public consultations. Â I am getting the impression that members of the administration have already determined that there will be a new river crossing at 33rd Street. Â They believe that this was supported by the majority of the citizens at the last round of consultations. Â However, the attendance numbers were very low at those meetings and no one has provided me with accurate data on the demographics to get a clear understanding of who attended.
I know that many residents of numerous neighbourhoods in Ward 1 are opposed to a river crossing at this location. Â They are concerned about new traffic patterns developing as well as increased volumes and speeds of traffic throughout the entire 33rd Street corridor as well as in the residential neighbourhoods.
Please spread the word and ensure that an effort is made to attend the meetings listed below.
I personally cannot understand the need for more river crossings in Saskatoon than Calgary, Edmonton, or even Manhattan have. Â With a proper focus on a real transit system to serve the citizens, further development of walkable neighbourhoods, and properly planned infill – another river crossing would not be required.
Here is the PSA
HAVE YOUR SAY IN SASKATOONâ€™S FUTURE! GROWTH PLAN PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT OPEN NOW UNTIL WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 2015, AT WWW.GROWINGFWD.CA
The City of Saskatoon invites residents to participate in the third round of open public engagement for the Growth Plan to Half a Million (Growth Plan).
Input is being sought on the recommended long-term plans for a new transit system with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT); a new river crossing at 33rd Street; BRT lanes on the University Bridge; and, redevelopment along major corridors like 8th Street, 22nd Street, and Preston Avenue.
The public also has an opportunity to provide feedback on the recommended implementation priorities for putting specific features of the Growth Plan in motion over the short- , medium- , and long-term.
Detailed project information and an online survey will be available at www.growingfwd.ca beginning Wednesday, February 25, through Wednesday, March 18, 2015.
In addition to online engagement, there are several public events being hosted for residents to learn more and provide input into the development of the Growth Plan.
Main Events â€“ Growth Plan Focused Discussions
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
TCU Place, 35 22nd Street East
Daytime Session: Noon to 2 p.m.
Evening Session: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Growth Plan Campus Consultation
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Louisâ€™ Loft, 93 Campus Drive
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The input gathered during this round of engagement will help to develop the long-term plans for corridor redevelopment, transit, and core area bridges, as well as set the direction for an implementation plan. We will be back in the fall to share what we heard and confirm the final Growth Plan with the public.
Once complete, the Growth Plan will help to guide future infrastructure investments so residents will have more choices for how they live and move around the city as Saskatoon grows to half a million people over the next 30 to 40 years.
For more information on the Growth Plan or to sign up for project update notifications, please visit www.growingfwd.ca.
Not sure if Councillor Hill agrees but I think a 33rd Street Bridge would kill the 33rd Street Business Improvement District and really hurt Mayfair and Caswell Hill. Â I really agree with Darren Hillâ€™s view on this. Â Public Transportation needs to be the goal.
I havenâ€™t done one of these in a long while but here are the highlights from todayâ€™s City Council meeting.
- Both Pat Lorje and Zach Jeffries brought up the missing reports on the city council website. Â Administration just kind of made up a reply and suggested they donâ€™t have enough space to host all of them. Â They are preparing a report on it and will present that to Council in April. Â So yeah, administration was passive aggressive on the issue.
- Now to be fair to administration, they scan stuff in the most inefficient way possible. Â It is basically JPGs of paper reports converted to PDFs. Â It means that the reports are often not searchable or indexed and are MASSIVE in size. Â I am assuming that administration doesnâ€™t have the space to host normal PDFs but it could be that they are handling these HULK sized PDFs. (â€œPDF Angry! Â PDF SMASH!â€). Â Either way, disk space as an excuse is a weak one.
There you go. Â Short and almost sweet. Â Councillors then retired upstairs where they had an executive meeting that was in-camera (closed door).
Very Strong Economy But Exposure to The Oil Sector Could Hamper GrowthÂ according to our auditors, Standard & Poors update released today.
Saskatoon is centrally located within Saskatchewan. It is the province’s largest Census metropolitan area, and the city estimates its population to be about 254,000 as of June 2014. It exhibited what we consider to be strong growth in the past three years (4% and 2% in 2013 and 2012, respectively), although more moderate growth preceded this. The population is young: 17% are under the age of 14, and its dependent population is about 30%, based on the 2011 Census. Saskatchewan’s GDP per capita averaged US$70,494 in 2011-2013 and the province had been forecasting growth of 2.2% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2015. However, the recent plunge in oil prices and the weak Canadian dollar will likely result in some downward revisions to these projections because the oil sector, which also contributes a significant proportion of provincial revenues through direct royalties, generates almost 20% of the provinces GDP. We estimate that Saskatoon’s GDP per capita would be in line with the province’s, given its stature as Saskatchewan’s largest Census metropolitan area and the subsequent greater economic diversity than other areas of the province.
The city is the larger of Saskatchewan’s two commercial centers, and the province is the world’s largest producer of potash. In our view, Saskatoon has moderate employment diversity. Agriculture, the public sector, and in particular the resource sector (mining and potash) are all important employers for the city, with the latter fuelling its recent population growth. Saskatoon has experienced a shortage of skilled labor and has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada in the past few years; forecasted to be about 4.1% in 2014 which is flat from 2013 and down from 5.6% in 2012. Its highway, air, and rail transportation link it to markets throughout North America, making it one of Canada’s hub cities. Agriculture is another important employer in the province and Saskatoon provides services and products to this sector. Other prominent private sectors of employment are trade and transport, retail, and food processing. Utilities (namely SaskTel, SaskEnergy, and SaskPower), health care, government, and education (including the University of Saskatchewan) are important public sector employers. We believe the city’s economic fundamentals are very strong, although we expect a downturn in the resource sector would affect its economy through higher unemployment, lower population growth, and lower revenue.
There is this as well
We believe Saskatoon’s land development activities expose it to some development risk. The city’s land development business line invests in infrastructure ahead of development and sells land at competitive market values to developers. Saskatoon has developed and follows a plan for growth and its land development activities help ensure it grows according to its plan. Although the city builds out infrastructure in consultation with developers, there is a risk that planned growth will not materialize, likely as a result of an economic slowdown, and the recovery of its land development costs from developers could be delayed.
I was driving around Exhibition with the boys on Wednesday before the roundtable on the Saskatoon Afternoon Show and we came across this.
It had a large boarded up entrance on the west side of the building so I knew it had to be a rink. Â I didnâ€™t think it was a hockey rink as the Exhibition Arena (which used to serve hot Dr. Pepper) was only a couple of block away yet I had never heard of it before. Â Neither had Wikimapia or Wikipedia.
It looks like from the fence that it is connected to the Seventh Day Adventist warehouse and school right next to it but I wasnâ€™t sure. Â I tweeted about it and Ward 7 Councillor Mairin Loewen offered up that it was indeed a curling rink (I had also found mentioned of the Exhibition Curling Rink in the provincial archives but no exterior photos) and that it had been used by the Adventists for revival services decades ago. Â That was consistent with what some thought it was a church.
Of course the other option is that Councillor Loewen was wrong and that it was a remnant of the camp that the Seventh Day Adventists had on the site years ago before the city had grown out there. Â That being said, the Exhibition Arena was never a curling club (it was hockey and rodeo which is why the places smelled like sweaty teens and cow manure) and there are references to the Exhibition Curling Rink in provincial and city archives.
I was by the building again today and it isnâ€™t in great condition but not horrible shape either. Â The walls are straight and there isnâ€™t any buckling of the roof but it definitely hasnâ€™t seen any signs of life in a long time. Â It would be a great location for a lot of things but I never saw any For Sale signs so itâ€™s not on the market.
If you have any info on the building, let me know in the comments.
I’ve been having some fun at Westgate Books lately. A couple of weeks ago I wandered into the store looking for Saskatoon: A History in Photographs by Jeff O’Brien, Ruth Miller and William P. Delainey.
They didn’t have it but the staff that was helping me went to look in the warehouse. Instead of the book I was looking for, he came up with two books, Saskatoon, the First Half Century by Don Kerr and Saskatoon, Hub City of the West: an Illustrated History by Gail McConnell.
I looked at them and took them both. I also put my name down on a list if Saskatoon: A History in Photographs came in. A couple of days later I got a phone call that told me that my book was in and come to pick it up. Last Friday I went back to get it and it was the wrong book. It was Saskatoon: A Century in Pictures by William Duerkop, John Sarjeant and William Delainey. In hindsight I kind of wondered if there was a bit of miscommunication when I ordered Saskatoon: A Century in Pictures but I looked at this book and I realized I wanted to read it as well. I had a blast all week looking at it. So has Mark.
Since I am talking about books, it looks like Gail McConnell was doing Kickstarter long before Kickstarter was a thing. The last 20 or so pages of her book is dedicated to patrons who helped pay to publish her book. Local Saskatoon businesses sponsored the project and she does a one page profile on each company. Who knew a history book could be so cutting edge.
While I was getting that book, another staff at Westgate Books went looking for the book in case they missed it and found me another book on the history of electric transit in Saskatoon. I didn’t have the money on me to get it so they put that away for me. I’ll wander by this week and get it. Now I am curious as to what other books I will find in my brief stop at the store.
I know being in the used book business is a hard business to be in but I haven’t had as much fun shopping as I have had in Westgate Books in a very long time. I hope that still counts for something.
Tobogganing is coming under threat as cities across the U.S. and Canada move to restrict – and in some cases outright ban – the activity.
Saskatoon isn’t on the list of cities considering a sledding ban, but the beloved winter pastime remains a dangerous one, say officials.
“Every year we see a lot of these types of injuries,” said MD Ambulance spokesperson Troy Davies, who confirmed that paramedics were called to three sledding incidents this past weekend.
The three most common types of injuries stemming from sledding are typically concussions, dislocated knees and twisted ankles, said Davies.
“With the rate of speed that people can get nowadays it’s become fairly common for us to deal with these types of calls,” he said.
Councillor Mairin Loewen said a sledding ban is unlikely. “This isn’t something that I would entertain,” said Loewen. “There’s typically some risk associated with most winter activities, but this isn’t anything that I’ve heard about.”
Dubuque, Iowa, is set to ban toboggans in nearly all its 50 parks. Other cities, including Des Moines, Iowa; Montville, New Jersey;
Lincoln, Nebraska; and Columbia City, Indiana, are following suit by restricting certain runs or posting signs warning people away.
When I was 8, I was sledding in a private park in the Canyon Meadows neighbourhood in Calgary. Â It was a long and steep hill which has a slight curve in it. Â It was well lit at night by light standards that were on the top of the bowl. Â I was sledding on one of the circular saucers which always made you go down backwards. Â
As I was descending this steep and icy hillâ€¦ backward, I rose up the side of the hill and hit one of the light standards hard and almost straight on with my spine.
I hit the light standard just off centre so I managed to take the full impact but still keep going up over the top of the bowl and back down the other side.
I remember laying on my back and kind of doing a medical version of the song, â€œDo the hokey, pokeyâ€.
â€œPut your left foot inâ€
Okay, that is working
â€œTake your left foot outâ€
So that foot isnâ€™t broken.
â€œShake it all aboutâ€
Now that hurts a bit.
I was fine but had a bruise going from my one butt cheek to my shoulder.
After some adults confirmed that I was only slightly concussed, I was back on the slope. Â Since my neighbourhood didnâ€™t have a private park (or a toboggan hill) anything less than a collapsed lung and I would have fought to stay on that hill.
My point is that Councillor Mairin Loewen is completely right. Â All of us knew there was considerable risk of putting small children on fast devices on a hard service with no safety devices. Â We did it any ways and our parents encouraged it.
It is natures way of deciding who can live on the prairies and who has to move to the west coast.
So I heard Derek Powazek talking on Twitter about having a fresh start on Twitter.Â Someone posted a YouTube video with code on how to unfollow everyone.Â After a couple of days of considering it, I decided to try it and saw me unfollow almost 1100 people.
So as soon as I did that, I decided to go look for interesting people to follow.Â Of course there was some family and friends but I decided to find local people to follow and started to click “follow”.Â It was a lot of fun and some people that I was aware of and enjoyed their tweets and never followed were added to the list.
That took me to about 300 followers and then I looked at who I should be following.Â It was all Alberta names!Â Apparently many of us in Saskatoon keep an idea on what is going on in Calgary and Edmonton.
I added a few national voices to my followers, photographers, and photography sites and I found myself back at about 900 followers.Â I also realized that Saskatoon now has a lot of journalists covering city hall.Â You can blame Dave Hutton for that.
I also followed some MLAs from both sides of the floor.Â My advice for them is to be more like Brad Wall, Cam Broten, Trent Weatherspoon, or Dustin Duncan.Â It’s okay to act more like humans and less like robots folks!
The people I left behind were the spin doctors, NFL pundits, and a lot of American political voices.Â They can be fun to follow but don’t contribute much to my life.
If I unfollowed you and haven’t followed you back, don’t take it personally.Â It will take some time to track down everyone I left behind and I’ll get to you soon.
Hey, itâ€™s Christmas Day this morning.
Like we normally do, we spent Christmas Eve with Lee, Brittany, and Camdyn. Â We often spend Christmas Day with the Reimers but with them in Hawaii and having celebrated with them already, we woke up and opened gifts today at home.Â
Here is what everyone got.
He wasnâ€™t really expecting anything like that so he was pretty blown away. Â Mark had amazing parent teacher interviews and then stopped working so his first report card was brutal. Â He then has worked really hard since then but deep down I think he was expecting a lump of coal. Â Since he is grounded from all television and media until his marks improve, he will appreciate this reprieve. Â I am hoping this helps him the new year. Â If not, at least he can use it to play Angry Birds Transformers. Â
Wendy gave him aÂ VIA RailÂ shoulder bag with a drafting book inside. Â Itâ€™s a murse!
TheÂ dogs got him the same kind ofÂ photography glovesÂ that Wendy also got.
Maggi and Hutch gave him and OliverÂ PlayStation All-Stars Battle RoyaleÂ so you can imagine them beating each other up playing that. Â
I also gave him aÂ andÂ a brand newÂ Pentax 35mm f2.4 lensÂ which shocked him all over again because that is how I roll. Â He had been saving up for the lens for a bit and was pretty shocked that we got it for him.
As for Oliver, Wendy gave himÂ a giant X-Wing fighter. Â It is huge and he was thrilled. Â Attack runs on the Death Star have already commenced.Â
I gave him a toyÂ AH-64 Apache attack helicopterÂ Â
Mark got him aÂ Lego Star Wars Snow Speeder. Â I just realized I now how to help him assemble this thing. Â It comes with two lego characters. Â Luke Skywalker and that guy that was crushed by the AT-AT. Â So yeah, thatâ€™s great. Â
Wendy and I also gave him a Nikon S31 waterproof digital camera. Â It was an old one of mine that I didnâ€™t use once in 2014. Â Maggi and Hutch got him a Calgary Flames camera case that is styled like a mini backpack to carry his camera in.
Wendy also gave him a giant 200 piece art set. Â Heâ€™ll love it.
He asked Santa Claus for some grown up binoculars and old St. Nick came through for him and got him a pairÂ and a tactical flashlight. Santa also surprised him with a remote controlled Ford F-250 truck.
You can imagine how excited he is about all of that. Â You can also imagine how many times all of us have been blinded by his flashlight this morning.
It is her first real prime lens (her other ones are toy lenses) and she is pretty excited about it.
Oliver gave herÂ a new knife setÂ which she has wanted for a while. Â He also gave her a J.A. Henckelsâ€™ Chef Knife that she has been wanting all winter. Â So yeah, we have turned Wendy from a mild mannered person into a well armed killing machine.
Mark gave her a pair of Sennheisser HD 201 headphones.
Mark also gave her a bamboo cutting board and four piece cheese knife set (I had no idea cheese knives were a thing until now). Â Both of these will be used for a large charcuterie board tomorrow afternoon for lunch.
Mark also gave her a pair of Thinsulate photography gloves so she can get outside and use her camera more this winter.
Santa Claus gave WendyÂ a new LED tactical flashlight. Â She wasnâ€™t thrilled that it was bright pink or that it was called the â€œMaidenâ€ but she does love that it is powerful enough to blind Oliver and Mark if shown in their eyes. Â I just told her that Santa was trolling her. Â Santa also got her theÂ same pair of binoculars that he gave Oliver.
I was spoiled for Christmas.Â
Thanks to everyone, I really appreciate the gifts.
Today we will take some cameras out for a walk and then I will be home debating with Oliver whether or not an AH-64 attack helicopter has a chance against a X-Wing fighter.
I hope your Christmas has been as enjoyable as ours wherever you are reading this from.
Wendy gets a free ticket for a carload of people to take in the BHP Billiton Enchanted Forest through Safeway. Â After weeks of wanting to go but not feeling good enough to go, we finally went last night.
The line was only a couple of minutes long but for some reason a brawl broke out in the backseat over a milkshake.Â Wendy was punching Mark while Oliver was drinking as fast as he could. I canâ€™t take any ofÂ them anywhere. Once we got inside, we turned to 97.3 and began the slow drive through the Forestry Farm.
It was going well until the car in front of us hit the car in front of him. Â Yes folks there was an accident at the Enchanted Forest. Â It didnâ€™t really impact us. Â They exchanged info and carried on. Â The boys thought it was hilarious and performed a variety of monologues about it from the back seat.
The kids didnâ€™t really have a favourite display. Â Thatâ€™s not a bad thing, they just enjoyed all of it.Â Santa’s Reindeer, the Rider’s Grey Cup titles, andÂ snowmenÂ were all mentioned lots.Â That being said, I loved the massive lit up evergreens.
The little car collision in front of it, that just made it even better.