Tag Archives: traffic

Close a 10-mile section of highway – air quality immediately improves by 83%

This weekend scientists were able to measure freeway pollution when a 10-mile section was shut down for construction. The results were surprising. Within minutes of the traffic shut-down, air quality for the region improved by 83%. It also improved by 75% in the surrounding cities and 25% for the 30 miles in every direction.

The findings even shocked the scientists, from UCLA News:

“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Suzanne Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”

But just as quickly as the clean air came it was gone. Within a week of cars returning the pollution levels were back to normal. Still, it gives a peek into a future with electric vehicles and much cleaner air.

Read the full article - ‘Carmaheaven’: Closure of 405 in 2011 improved air quality up to 83 percent

 

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Apple Maps workaround – maps.google.com – get the features of Google Maps

From David Pogue:

You can still use Google’s maps — on the Web. Visit maps.google.com…You won’t get spoken directions, but you’ll get written directions, public transportation details, live traffic reports and, of course, Google’s far superior maps and data.

He also says Google’s Street View will be coming to iOS devices, and for local restaurants there is the app – Google+ Local. And that should make this a complete workaround.

iPhone owners are rooting for Apple Maps to be a winner, but in the meantime we need to get where were going.

Visit Google Maps for more features available in this workaround.

 

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How far are you willing to bike?

Recently, my girlfriend and I decided to go with one car. We both work from home and so it makes sense. We get to split costs and avoid paying for something that costs money just sitting there (not to mention depreciation). But, we also have to share time in the car.

This means we’ve both pioneered new modes of transportation, with biking the clear winner. Where we’ve discovered just what it means when you say “that is too far”.

At first, it was a couple of blocks. Anything beyond that seemed like a waste of time, compared to driving. As we got in the groove that expanded out several miles. We’re up to a 5-mile range now, and pretty surprised at how much fits within that range:

  • Local natural foods market – 2.2 miles
  • Starbucks #1 – 1.5 miles
  • Starbucks #2 - 2.5 miles
  • The Beach (Huntington Beach Pier) – 4 miles
  • Gym – 1.1 miles
  • Blockbuster Video - 2.5 miles
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 1.2 miles

One could nearly survive on all that. But, maybe we’re just lucky. We do live in a pretty dense area with a lot of local businesses. I wonder how your neighborhood works out. Have you measured up any of your local businesses?

As I’m getting more and more into this, I’ve started asking myself, “is driving really quicker?” After all, biking mostly avoids traffic, sometimes has quicker routes, and there are no parking problems. As an answer, I turned to Google Maps to compare the estimated times for driving vs. biking:

  • Local natural foods market – 6 mins driving  // 13 mins biking
  • Starbucks #1 – 5 mins  // 9 mins
  • Starbucks #2 - 7 mins // 15 mins
  • The Beach – 13 mins // 23 mins
  • Gym – 4 mins // 7 mins
  • Blockbuster Video – 7 mins // 15 mins
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 6 mins // 7 mins

That’s pretty amazing and I would consider it a wash. Biking only adds on a few minutes to most locations. With driving, you also have to take into account red lights, traffic, time for parking, and time to walk from the parking lot to the store. Each of which can add a few minutes to the journey.

There is the added benefit of a solid workout, but that can also be a problem. Sometimes I want to bike, but I’m too tired or hungry to do so. Although, I think it has improved my endurance going on a lot of  quick 1-2 mile jaunts. I’ve even looked at expanding my range to 7-10 miles. It was kinda fun looking-up what is within that perimeter: movie theater, more beaches, shopping mall, chocolate store (See’s Candy), Whole Foods, the library, etc.

I guess that’s how far I’m willing to bike…for now. Before we made this shift I never even considered biking to many of these places. Now, it seems ridiculous not to. I guess that how it happens when you’re trying something new, at first it seems out-of-reach and then after some time it becomes completely natural.

 

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YouTube is finally making money – lot’s of it!

Is Google making money off of YouTube? You betcha, Google execs told shareholders today, without offering the slightest bit of detail. Par for the course.

So, in lieu of real numbers from Google, here’s a Wall Street estimate: Google is making a ton of money from YouTube.

More specifically: The video site should generate more than $3.6 billion in gross revenue this year, says Citi’s Mark Mahaney. After distributing some of that to partners, Google probably records net revenue of $2.4 billion, he says.

Why is he even more optimistic now?

Basically, because YouTube’s traffic continues to grow, even though it’s already ginormous — comScore has it posting 20 percent growth, quarter after quarter. And because Google is sticking more ads on more videos

His 2012 revenue estimate “is likely 50% greater than Yahoo!’s Display Advertising total and right-in-line with Netflix’s total subscription revenue.”

Via - All Things D

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Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge – 75th anniversary festivities, history, and solar beacon

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world”.

via Wikipedia

 

…it was a larger than life engineering project undertaken against dangerous odds and it opened 75 years ago on Sunday against vehement protest, at the cost of 11 lives.

One of the most astonishing and admired man-made wonders of the world, gracing millions of postcards, featured in countless films, the bridge was not at first welcomed with open arms.

Ferry operators and environmentalists opposed it, and many engineers doubted such a daring leap over a treacherous Pacific Ocean strait could be built. The military worried a collapsed Golden Gate span could block access to the Bay in war time.

read the full articleReuters

 

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The 75th anniversary celebration will have a fireworks show, bands, artist exhibitions, history tours, and more.

 

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Solar Beacon

Solar Beacon is an art installation on top of the Golden Gate Towers that reflects the Sun’s light throughout the Bay Area, calling attention to the man-made structure’s 75th anniversary using the brightest natural light available. Observers of Solar Beacon will see two points of light, one on each tower top, that are bright as the Sun, but much smaller in size.

Through an online interface, the public can schedule a time-based performance, during which the observed spots of light will appear to turn on and off. Because the reflected light is projected in a narrow beam a half degree across, the performance only appears to a region around the observer (e.g. 12m at 2 km), but it can be seen by anyone in the Bay Area who has a direct view of the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge tower.

Simulation of the Solar Beacon.

 

Why the name?

The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.  The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide with currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots.  It is generally accepted that the strait was named “Chrysopylae”, or Golden Gate, by John C. Fremont, Captain, topographical Engineers of the U.S. Army circa 1846.  It reminded him of a harbor in Istanbul named Chrysoceras or Golden Horn.

How long did it take to build?

Just over four years.  Construction commenced on January 5, 1933 and the Bridge was open to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937.

When did the Golden Gate Bridge open?

May 27, 1937. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964, and had the tallest suspension towers until 1998.

via GoldenGateBridge.org

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How a college campus in the middle of Los Angeles is lowering traffic

The rest of Los Angeles may seem as congested as ever, but traffic at UCLA is the lightest it’s ever been since the university began measuring more than 20 years ago.

The 2011 commuting report marks the eighth consecutive year that UCLA’s vehicle count dropped. With an average of 102,000 trips daily, the number of vehicle trips into and out of UCLA in 2011 was more than 3 percent lower than in 2010 and almost 20 percent lower than the campus’s peak in 2003.

“Vehicle counts are lower now than they were in 1990, when the cordon count first began,” according to UCLA Transportation’s newly released State of the Commute annual report.

UCLA Transportation offers incentives to encourage UCLA’s approximately 41,000 students and 26,000 employees to use alternative transportation, including a 50 percent subsidy for transit passes, discounted parking for carpoolers and a partially subsidized vanpool. The department also offers a variety of other benefits through the Bruin Commuter Club, which is open to all alternative-mode commuters, from bikers and walkers to bus-riders and carpoolers.

UCLA is approaching its goal of convincing half of its employees to switch to alternative transit, and only 52.9 percent currently drive to work alone, compared with nearly 72 percent of Los Angeles County drivers. Only 25 percent of students drive alone.

UCLA’s 50 percent goal is part of the campus’s Climate Action Plan.

via UCLA Newsroom

 

 

//Photo - UCLA on Facebook

Cadillac releases sophisticated array of semi-autonomous sensors for self-driving cars

Google isn’t the only company working on a self-driving car. Cadillac today announced that it is actively road testing a semi-autonomous system called Super Cruise that can control a vehicle’s steering, braking and lane-centering capabilities. Super Cruise, according to Cadillac, is designed to help make freeway driving easier on the driver when either stuck in traffic or during long hauls down the interstate.

The system works by combining on-board radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS data to give your car the ability to read lane markings and detect curves in the roadway.

via Laptop Magazine

 

For certain luxury cars, we are already half-way (or more) there. From the Cadillac news release:

Many of the building block technologies for Super Cruise are already available on the all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS luxury sedans, as part of the available Driver Assist Package:

  • Rear Automatic Braking
  • Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Brake Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Safety Alert Seat
  • Automatic Collision Preparation
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting
  • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
  • Head Up Display

The key to delivering semi-autonomous capability will be the integration of lane-centering technology that relies on forward-looking cameras to detect lane markings and GPS map data to detect curves and other road characteristics, said John Capp, General Motors director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation.

 

 

Pretty crazy to think about all the technology needed to self drive a car. That’s 12 sensors/alerts/displays with more needed to fully automate the simplest of driving tasks. Makes our brains seem pretty sophisticated.

Google Maps adds real-time traffic to driving directions

Google Maps now includes the ability to see the estimated time of your trip, based on real-time traffic conditions. The data will show up when you search for directions, and Google Maps will show how long several different routes will take with no traffic, as well as the estimated amount of time it will take based on the current traffic.

“In areas where the information is available, this new and improved feature evaluates current traffic conditions and is constantly being refreshed to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date estimate possible,” Szabolcs Payrits, software engineer for Google Maps.

Users might remember that Google Maps used to show estimates of trip times based on traffic. But that information was based on historic traffic data, and didn’t always reflect real-time traffic conditions.

via PC Mag (more details and link to official Google Maps article)

 

California traffic fatalities down 37% – lowest level since 1944

The California Office of Traffic Safety celebrated their fifth year of consecutive declines in traffic related fatalities.

In 2010, the number of fatalities in the Golden State dropped to 2,715.  That is nearly a 12 percent drop from 3,081 traffic deaths in 2009.  And since the peak in 2005, with 4,333 deaths, California’s numbers have declined by more than 37 percent.

The number of traffic fatalities in California have not been this low since 1944, when only one-tenth the number of vehicles were on the road, driving only one-sixteenth the number of miles California drivers traveled in 2010.

via The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

 

A very, very big deal considering that driving is one of the top killers in the U.S.:

  • Heart disease: 599,413
  • Cancer: 567,628
  • Automobiles: 359,000
  • Chronic Respiratory: 137,353
  • Stroke: 128,842

 

Statistics from 2009 reports by the CDC and U.S. Census.

Another report claims that the drop could be due to new cellphone bans, “deaths blamed on drivers using hand-held cellphones were down 47 percent.” via Huffington Post