Project Description, History and Methodology
Thesis: "What impact does increasing vehicle traffic on Columbus Avenue have on the people who are walking, bicycling , but most importantly on people eating along Columbus Avenue in outdoor/indoor restaurants and parklets?"
Project Methodology: After studying the history of the street and how air pollution is measured along with learning about the possible human impacts from air pollution, we decided to proceed as follows; acquire measuring devices that would enable the measurement of CO, NO2, CO2, 2.5 and 10 micron particles, relative humidity, temperature, wind direction and wind speed. We also acquired a decibel meter to measure sound levels. We acquired the equipment from donations.
First Measurements: We took our first measurements on a sunny weekend late in the afternoon. We started by using the CO, NOx and particulate monitors. The particulate monitor was a calibrated professional monitor with on board memory and a serial port for downloading the continuous per second data collection. It soon became clear that having a read-out of street data would not be helpful if there was no observation as to what was causing large spikes in pollution levels--especially particulate levels. We decided to focus on particulate levels and to start identifying locations along the street that seemed to have consistently high particulate levels and also identifying which kinds of vehicles caused spikes in the particulates. We later moved inside of restaurants and measured particulate levels inside while simultaneously measuring the particulate level at the streets edge. Based on what we learned we proceeded on our long-term monitoring of the street. We also began to film our project.
1. History of Columbus- found that the street had been widened around WWII taking about 8 feet of sidewalk for car use leaving approximately 8-10 feet of sidewalk. This sidewalk contains 3 foot tables leaving a small walkway for increasingly large numbers of pedestrians.
2.Reviewed San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority (SFMTA aka "Muni) 2010 Columbus Ave street plan for data on pedestrian use and traffic patterns.
3. Reviewed EPA air pollution information and studies.
4. Took hundreds of measurements along Columbus from Vallejo to Lombard Streets. Air measurements of gas (CO, CO2 and NO2) were not conclusive but the particulate measurements seemed meaningful.
5. Continued with real time particulate measurements along Columbus with measurements taken in different times, weather conditions and traffic levels.
6. Began identifying major pollution sources . Started to monitor and measure those sources under varying conditions.
7. Suggested by Zelda's Environmental Science teacher to prepare and submit a film for the Clear the Air Film Festival.
Having found out late about the film festival, we wrote and produced the film in just a few weeks and then submitted the film to the festival by the submittal date. Film won first place at the film festival on March 5, 2016. Due to the success of the film the producers of the Green Film Festival invited the team to a special workshop to learn more about filmmaking. Group subsequently made a short film "Climate Change" which was selected for screening at the San Francisco Green Film Festival
8. Began study to determine particulate dispersion pattern. Measured surrounding blocks off of Columbus and also took detailed wind direction and wind speed measurements along Columbus-especially in the main eating area between Vallejo and Green.
9. Began simultaneous measurements of street edge particulate emissions with indoor restaurant particulate levels to see if street particulate levels may affect indoor levels. The group is looking at how naturally ventilated and mechanically ventilated restaurants respond to increasing exterior particulate levels.
10. Group begins developing a longer film on their project which will include their initial work but also their more recent work on pollution dispersal, health effects of particulate pollution on human's and also on the relationship between Columbus pollution levels and pollution levels in adjacent restaurants.
11. Group 's film "Columbus Discovers Air Pollution has been invited by the San Francisco Urban Film Festival for screening at their November 2016 festival at SPUR in downtown San Francisco. The group will participate in a panel discussion immediately after the screening. The panel will consist of Street Air team members and members of the City of San Francisco Planning Department. The discussion will center around Street Air's recommended design changes for parklets and other eating spaces along Columbus along with other recommendations the group plans to make.
12. Group will write a white paper on their project and the results of their study. The paper will also include policy changes that haven taken place with local governments as a result of this project.
Goals of StreetAir
- To do research on planning and environmental issues that lead to policy changes.
- To monitor and determine how street side particle emissions may affect nearby restaurant employees.
- To make a more comprehensive and technically advanced film of our Columbus Ave study.
- To do more investigations of the movement and dispersal of the particles within the street corridor.
- To write a paper documenting our project.