Over the past couple of weeks, I have had A LOT of friends and family reach out to me personally, asking about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Could it be all of the news of Bitcoin or other factors recently? Those who previously scoffed at the idea are now curious. Crypto and blockchain are becoming mainstream.
While I’m very excited this is happening, there is also a lot of risks right now with new, uneducated people entering the ecosystem. For example to those unaware, there are now 3 types of Bitcoin! The intent of this article is not to reinvent educational content from others wiser than I, but to act as a brief December 2017 guidepost to the ecosystem as I see it right now. It’s an exciting world, but enter at your own risk!
I’ve taken a few days to reflect upon my experiences at the recent ITE/CITE 2017 conference in Toronto. While I’ve been to several CITE conferences in the past, this is the first time I’ve attended the international edition of the ITE. As always, it was a great opportunity to catch up with old colleagues and make new connections with other transportation professionals from around the world.
I wanted to share a few of my takeaways and impressions from this year’s conference while it’s fresh in my mind. Please keep in mind that my impressions may not necessarily coincide with my opinions on subject matter. Continue reading
Recently, I had the opportunity to have a call with an old acquaintance of mine, serial entrepreneur Dan Martell. Aside from personal pleasantries, he made me critically think about ideas for my industry… and ask questions internally… and… that’s a good thing! Big picture thinking is something many of us need to improve on.
When I walk or ride my bike to work each day, I don’t typically think about this action’s relationship to my health. To me, it is an enjoyable part of my day and a utilitarian activity I need to perform in order to get from A to B. In my blissful ignorance, I don’t always consider how choosing active transportation is impacting my health, nor how my surrounding environment entices me to choose active transportation as my means of travel.
Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer as an independent panelist at the AGM of a major Ontario political party on the subject of Active Transportation and Health alongside their transportation critic and a registered nurse. It also allowed me to interact with the public to hear their questions and concerns regarding the topic. Both the preparation and the experience had the effect of making me further consider my role as a transportation engineer. Continue reading
In recent years, much ado has been given to the concept of proportional representation (PR) as it relates to governments and political parties, more specifically here in Canada at the federal and provincial levels. Canada currently has a “first-past-the-post” electoral system in which the candidate with the greatest number of votes in a geographical riding is elected. The purported problem with this type of system is that there can be a discrepancy between the popular vote and the number of party members elected. On the other hand, PR is a means to remedy this issue and better align popular vote with the number of party members elected (e.g. if 30% popular vote cast for a party, 30% of elected members will come from that party). This inherently assumes political parties are a good thing.
One of my own personal contentions with the current political system is party politics. In fact, party politics appear to dominate democratic systems worldwide. But have you ever asked yourself whether this is a good idea and why this is the status quo? While there are legitimate philosophical discussions about the necessity and form of government in any context, today I’m more focused on “band aid” solutions within our current system. Let’s treat this as an intellectual exercise, open for discussion. Admittedly, I’ll be working here with generalities and blanket statements, so please take them with a grain of salt. Continue reading
Transportation modelling software is a handy tool with respect to transportation planning. Admittedly, any practitioner needs to be careful that models are applied properly, based on good data and reasonable assumptions. As the old adage goes – garbage in, garbage out – if one fails to apply models properly. Are models perfect? Of course not, but they are still beneficial to the planning process.
Over the past several decades, transportation models have evolved tremendously from pen-and-paper plots and computer mainframe processing to microsimulation models with car-following algorithms on multiple processor computers. So to have the uses for transportation models evolved over time. Continue reading
Have you ever simply seen some new information and passed it along without giving it a second thought? I’ve been guilty – whether through work, your personal life, or social media. I’d wager that most of us are similar and don’t take the time to consider new information in our minds through our own “mental anti-virus” program before propagating it back into the world.
Why do we do this? Much of the time, we are busy people or simply just lazy. We don’t wish to spend the time to consider whether every piece of information we come across is true or not. Typically, this is not a big deal, since the vast majority of the information that passes us by each day is simply a potential input to our minds without necessarily outputting it back to others. While in many cases this is a huge time saver, it can also be the root cause of propagating bad information. Continue reading
When I lived in Calgary, Alberta, I fell in love with Stephen Avenue in the downtown. This dedicated pedestrian street was a great place for a walk at lunchtime – the people, the sights, the sounds – it was always one of my favourite places to be, especially during summertime and Stampede.
In 2009, I moved to London, Ontario and I looked for pedestrian spaces (similar to Stephen Avenue in Calgary) to spend time, but alas, none appeared to exist. Walking around downtown here, you quickly realize that there are several nice pedestrian spaces – such as around the Covent Garden Market, the Forks of the Thames, Victoria Park, and even Richmond Row, however these spaces aren’t always connected in an easy, walkable way. We need better spaces in London to entice people to spend more time in the core, primarily along Dundas Street. Continue reading
When I was a teen, I visited the City of Saskatoon’s traffic operations centre. Admittedly, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I recall a centralized control board visualizing the status of most of the traffic signals in the city. I also recall some complaint about “fault” conditions and “communication issues” with this centralized system. While impressive at the time, transportation technology has come a long way since the mid-1990s.
For the past decade, I have worked as a transportation engineer and conducted both planning and operational analyses. One of the biggest challenges to performing this type of work is acquiring relevant and sufficient field data – household activity surveys, vehicle turning movement counts, travel time surveys, etc. can become costly endeavours in many circumstances. Continue reading
When my wife and I moved to London, Ontario in 2009 from Calgary, Alberta, we decided to give inner city living a try. The result? We haven’t been happier! A smaller, established city such as ours has a lot of amenities and potential going for it. While there is always room for improvement, I wanted to share some of my favourite things about our inner city living decision.
I also acknowledge that everyone’s life circumstances are different, requiring different needs – not one shoe fits all. I merely wish to share some of our positive experiences and advocate that inner city living is a great opportunity that one should consider when deciding where to live in any city. Continue reading