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This title can be interpreted as a good thing that the girls stopped the cars – what activists! But unfortunately, the cars were still idling.

I am not for driving and would encourage people to walk, skateboard, skate, ride or take public transit. But since currently people do drive we should try and let them do so as efficiently as possible. Now it may be that in doing so, we encourage driving. Well there are ways to discourage driving without actually adding more harm to the environment – taxing drivers or gas is one way to discourage driving and if the money is used towards environmental solutions, then even better!

That aside… one way to let people drive efficiently is synchronized lights. Hamilton has synchronized lights which greatly reduces idling. Once again, perhaps the ease of driving through Hamilton encourages drivers to do so and so more people drive. But as mentioned, there are other ways to discourage driving. For the people that must drive, synchronized lights help – please see the synchronized lights post.

They have just put in a new light at a new supermarket and have added a cross button. There is another down the way at the Tim Hortons. Now, on occasion, a pedestrian presses the button to cross the road rather than wait for the light to change naturally. So on average, they get to cross a minute earlier.

But what happens is that this puts the lights out of sync. I have been caught oh, about 1/20 times. And each time, I look around and see 20 cars around me waiting for this person to cross the road. And there are 20 cars on the other side waiting. And once I go, the next light is out of sync so the 20 cars with me have to wait there too. And the ten cars going the other way have to wait at their next light.

So that is 20 + 20 + 20 + 20 = 80 cars idling for 1 minute so that a person can cross the road.

CAVEATS

If you have a light that does not change until a person wants to cross then this is good design if the light changes to be in sync with the others. If you do not have synchronized lights then perhaps it does not matter as much. If it is a crosswalk in between lights then that is sort of okay. Over or under passes for pedestrians might be better.

Madeline, my daughter, came up with a solution. She suggests that there should be a finished button on the other side of the crosswalk that turns the light back to green. A good idea but it could cause problems if someone uses it while another is on the path. But it could activate and warning hand and give a certain number of seconds to finish the crossing. It was cute and astute. It reminded me of my earliest invention that I proudly told my dad. If your shirt comes untucked, why don’t you tuck it into your underpants like me!

In conclusion, there are other ways to discourage driving other than cause cars to idle. As such, pedestrian walk buttons should not be placed on synchronized lights. Please pass this message along to your city planners for consideration.

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In this mash of Zen Mix mixes, we see examples of Car Curling and environmentally friendly driving game where you try not to use your brakes. So as you approach a group of stopped cars, you stop accelerating and glide towards them seeing if you can glide to a stop just behind them.

Every time you use your brakes you are wasting gas. It takes energy to move your car – think about pushing your car – and each time you use your brakes to stop your car – that much energy is just being thrown away. Well actually, it is being used to wear down your breaks…

In rush hour traffic, avoiding brakes can help smoothen out the flow – regulate it so the fluid flow (cars are like a fluid) becomes more consistent and speeds up. Trucks do this and it helps get the traffic back on stream. I have driven 100 Kilometers through rush hour traffic to Toronto and not used my brakes once! It is a fun, environmentally friendly game.

Car Curling… with Inventor Dan Zen on a Zen Vlog Car Vlog

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Welcome to another episode of Car Vlog… I’ve got a bunch of these backvlogged so I thought I better get posting. Here is a mash dealing with synchronized lights.

I really pay attention to driving. I almost became a civil engineer because I like the concept of city planning. Ideally without cars but if we have them we may as well not make them sit around idling.

Hamilton is a great city to drive in because it has synchronized lights. I can go from one side to the other through maybe 50 lights or so at 50 or 60 km/hr in about 15-20 minutes non stop!

When I go to and from work (in rush hour) I go through about 10-20 lights past McMaster University without stopping and it takes 5 minutes. I then go through 10 or so lights in Oakville to get from the 407 down Trafalgar to Sheridan College where I teach. Here the lights are not synchronized and it takes me 10-15 minutes – often waiting at one light twice!

Of course it is not just me… it is all the students, the business workers, the home owners, etc. All waiting with our engines idling.

I talked to some city planners about this off the record. They said that they do not synchronize the lights in some areas so these areas do not become thoroughfares. Well… I think it is a little late for that and thoroughfares for whom? I mean, only the people who need to go down the road for some reason go on the road and they are going to do it regardless. So why make them stop at half the lights!

In a slightly related matter, one aspect of synchronized lights going through the downtown core of your city is that your city will seem less busy and more like something to just pass through. You are not stopped to see stores and connect to your community. So Toronto seems much more busy as herds of cars stop and go. But Hamilton, seems almost not a city at times because cars just flow right through.

Anyway, these four short mixes make up a mash about the issue. The first one is past McMaster, the next past Sheridan and then past McMaster again and Sheridan again. I apologize for the attitude in my voice more so in the second set. Sometimes this really bothers me. I’ve been planning on taking the issue to the Sheridan members to see if the city can be lobbied for change.

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This vlog sheds light on how much volume there is in our world. It does this by imagining the world is filled with apples and then we calculate how many years it will take for everyone in the world to eat the earth.

Take a Tapoll here to see if you can predict the results before you watch the vlog:

http://www.tapoll.com/poll/id/628766020

Have fun!

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If all the people in the world were to stand front to back and side by side, this vlog entry tells you how much space we would take up! Our population was taken as 6.5 Billion.

Also, as an experiment, I have posted two different size videos with different data rates (kbps). Please let me know in the comments if the higher data rate doesn’t work for you – and if you can even see any quality difference. That is major a benefit of Zen Mix in that I find it is more difficult to detect low quality video when superimposed on a high quality picture.

World (100 kbps / 0.8 M)
World (400 kbps / 2.0 M)

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