Friday, February 5, 2016

Torontohenge 2016

Torontohenge is the name given for the phenomenon that occurs when the sun rises or sets in line with Toronto's major east-west streets downtown, giving photographers a great opportunity to capture the sun as it perches on the horizon between the canyon walls of buildings on either side of the street. 

Photo: By Sevtibidou (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Although Torontohenge technically falls on the dates given below for 2016, great photos can be taken for about a week before the August and October dates and a week after the February and April dates as the sun hovers directly above the street.  Not great for driving, but quite a sight just the same.

The Torontohenge dates for 2016 are:

February 16

Sunset    -   5:48 PM
April 19 Sunrise   -   6:27 AM

August 23   Sunrise   -   6:32 AM

October 25   Sunset    -   6:18 PM

Cheers, Ralph

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sun Glare While Driving – January 2016

The following relate to the dangers of sun glare while driving, and traffic safety in general. They were derived from our twitter feed @SunPosition

Read our weekly news summary “Sun Glare and Driving” at:

Know your vehicle. Not all have automatic headlights. Hazardous to drive at night with only DRLs and no tail lights.

RT Traffic Scotland @trafficscotland:  In low sun glare ? pedestrians & cyclists can be more difficult to see. Be Aware of this & keep your windscreen clean.

Catastrophic Injury Awards Affirmed for Worker in Roadway Accident | New York Injury Cases Blog

A landscaper had parked his truck and trailer on a street and was unloading lawn mowing equipment when he was hit by a car.  He was pinned between the car and trailer and lost one of his legs as a result.  The driver blamed sun glare.

The link below summarizes the decisions of the court and appellate court.

AAA warns drivers about dangers of sun glare | WGME - Portland ME 

AAA is reminding people of the hazards of sun glare after two recent crashes. 

A woman died after a car crashed into a hayride wagon, and a car slammed into the back of a school bus – both caused by sun-blinded drivers.

This time of year is especially bad since the sun sets during the evening commute.  Glare can be made worse with the buildup of snow, salt and sand on the windshield.

Simple remedies include having a good pair of sunglasses (polarized),  using the sun visor, giving yourself more room and slowing down. You can also change your route or leave at a slightly different time to avoid the worst sun glare conditions.

Sun Glare Leads to Multiple Crashes in New Hampshire | NECN

There were 5 separate crashes caused by sun glare just before 9 am one morning.  The first crash involved five vehicles, the second crash involved three vehicles and crashes three, four and five involved two vehicles.

Simi Valley crash that injures pedestrian blamed on sun glare | The VC Star

A pedestrian was hit by a car at about 7:30 am by a driver who blamed sun glare.

Remember that sunlight or windshield moisture on cold mornings can obstruct views. Police recommend drivers use sunglasses and visors to improve visibility.

Rail operator Southeastern blames 'bright sunlight' for delays | @Se_Railway

Train delays were caused by "strong sunlight". Passengers angry.

The angle of the sun made it difficult for drivers to see the side of the trains in their mirrors before leaving stations in south-east London.  This meant they had to get off the train to make sure all passengers were clear.  Safety first.

Rail operator @Se_Railway blames 'bright sunlight' for delays

> Curious whether the @Se_Railway sunlight issue was with CCTV monitors or mirrors... @BBCLondonNews

> RT Southeastern @Se_Railway:  @SunPosition The sun caused glare on the CCTV monitors, the driver had to take extra steps to ensure he was dispatched safely.

> @Se_Railway Certainly reasonable. Forward-facing cameras mounted at rear of train would help, no?

Great tips >

Keep the shades handy - here's how to avoid driving accidents from  winter sun glare

The Mayo County Council suggests the following:

  • “Use polarized sunglasses that can help prevent glare.
  • Delay driving times to occur before or after sunrise or sunset.
  • Don’t use high-gloss products on the dashboard, which can contribute to extra glare.
  • Keep the inside and outside of the windshield clean.
  • Make use of sun visors.
  • If glare is a problem, leave extra space between your car and others in the event of sudden stopping or other road hazards.
  • Drive slowly and be mindful of obstructions.
  • Try taking another route that goes in a different direction than the one from which the sun is shining.
  • Leave extra time so that you don’t feel rushed getting to your destination.
  • Eye exams or surgery can make eyes more sensitive to the sunlight.
  • Avoid driving after these appointments.”

RT Jean Paul Velez @jpvelez78:  For every meter increase in road width, pedestrian fatality risk increases by 6% @Benj_WDC @WRIcities

How to Make Cities Safer by Design | via @WRIcities

Over 1.2 million people die from traffic crashes each year.  By 2030 this will be the world’s fifth-largest cause of death unless road safety is improved. 

Sao Paulo, more than 1,300 people per year.

Delhi, more than 1,500.

While road users have historically been to blame, the responsibility also rests with designers and politicians.

A new WRI report, Cities Safer by Design, shows how basic design principles can save lives on urban streets.

Warning to drivers about dangers of low winter sun |

Low winter sun can cause temporary blindness and is believed to be the cause of a number of fatalities every year, e.g. pedestrians killed while walking dog, cycling, etc.

Even though juries sometimes find the cause to be accidental, such tragic deaths can be prevented if drivers, pedestrians and cyclists realised how lethal the sun can be at this time of year, especially with snow and ice on the roads.

Watch for ice on roads as temps "plunge like a Mexican tour bus".

Sun glare is a hazard for all drivers, at times leading to serious car crashes | @HoffmannLawFirm

Sun glare can contribute to crashes in any number of ways as explained in this article (see link below). 

  • “A driver is unable to see a traffic light or stop sign and collides with another motor vehicle in the intersection. At high speeds, these accidents can be fatal.
  • A driver is unable to see the lane position or the road itself and may drift from the lane. This could cause a side sweep accident or a head-on collision.
  • Sun glare can make it difficult for a driver to see other cars on the road, leading to blind spot accidents.
  • Sun glare affects a driver’s ability to see the tail lights of the vehicle in front, leading to a rear-end collision when the lead vehicle comes to a stop or slows down.
  • A driver fails to notice oncoming traffic and makes a left turn.
  • A driver fails to see pedestrians or bicyclists at an intersection.”

In addition, the worst sun glare conditions occur during the busiest times – during the morning and evening commutes.

RT Tracy Wallace @TracyYHFS:  Watertown, MA Sun glare covers the 16 wheeler backing into a lot in front of me.

Embedded image permalink

What 16-wheeler?!?

image via

RT Christine Dempsey @ChristineDempse:  Sun glare was a factor in a fatal crash involving a van and a parked tanker truck in Bristol, police said.

Sun glare + no helmet >

Report released into cyclist's death | Vernon Morning Star via @BlackPressMedia

A Coroner ruled the death of a cyclist, not wearing a helmet and struck by a sun-blind driver, as accidental.

The crash occured shortly before 6:30 a.m.  Sun glare and the lack of a helmet were both contributory factors.

Due to sun glare >

34-year-old Northampton woman injured in pedestrian crash in post office parking lot

Early morning sun can cause problems even at low speeds.

Warning to drivers as 'sun glare' linked to five deaths over two years  (via @thejournal_ie)

Sun glare “may have been a contributory factor in five road fatalities and nine serious injuries between 2014 and 2015”.  Low sun can be especially problematic when combined with dirty windshields or wet roads.  And low sun typically coincides with commuting times.

Great safety initiative by @Team_FRM and @Chris_Buescher >

RT @JerryBonkowski:  Buescher, Front Row Motorsports renew railroad safety initiative

Sun partly to blame for crash in McCracken County | KFVS News

Sun glare was a contributory factor as vehicle rolls off shoulder and flips.

Sun Glare a factor in Clare road traffic incidents | via @theclareherald

The Road Safety Authority is reminding drivers of the dangers of sun glare which can result in tempoary blindness.

“The appeal comes as provisional crash reports indicate that drivers being temporarily blinded by ‘sun glare’ may have been a contributory factor in five fatalities and nine serious injuries between 2014 and 2015.”

And at this time of year wet or snow-covered roads can add to the glare.

Cheers, Ralph

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – January 2016

The following relate to urban development and urban design in general, and to specific projects with sun/shade issues in particular. They were derived from our twitter feed @SunPosition

Check out our weekly news summary “Sun, Shadow & Urban Development” at

What are your thoughts about shadowing from proposed buildings?
Take our survey -

New York City's Skyline Evolves With Tall, Skinny Towers | via @planetizen

Aerial View of Cityscape

image via pexels

Concerns are surfacing about the number of towers taller than 1000’ that have been built, or are proposed, south of Central Park around 56th and 57th streets.

New technologies and wealthy buyers are driving the trend for the super-talls while opponents believe that out of date zoning bylaws are beeing exploited (e.g. transfer of air rights) and that the new towers will cause subway over-crowding and shadowing on public spaces.

No shadow study provided >

Downtown west end residents fight proposed apartment tower | Calgary Herald

West end Calgary residents are appealing the approval of a 12-storey apartment building that they say will block views of the river.  They are baffled by the building design which has windows only along the narrow end walls, and they are concerned that no shadow study was submitted even though one was required by the Centre City Plan guidelines.

Can a Skyscraper Constitute Sprawl? | CityLab

There are currently over 260 towers taller than 20 storeys in the works in London.  But how many is too many?  Two architects are now sparring over a proposal by one of them for a 735’ tower over Paddington Station.

While shadowing is a concern, the many tall and slender towers have been described as a collection of porcuine spikes, lipstick holders, candlesticks, etc.

Two-Tower Development Proposed at Don Mills and Lawrence | via @urban_toronto

Cadillac Fairview is proposing to add a two-tower residential development to the Shops of Don Mills complex which opened in 2009.  The Hariri Pontarini-designed project is located at 169 The Donway West and consists of  34 and 39 storey towers which would become the tallest in the area.

Stockholm May Start Paying People to Bike, Using Car Fees | CityLab

Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology is suggesting that some of the money earned through the congestion charge be directed back to cyclists as credits towards bike repairs or upgrades to studded tires for winter riding.

Shadow studies, just a push of a button??? >

Los Altos Downtown Buildings Committee Report Nixed by PTC

The volunteer committee was thanked for all their hard work - and then their report was essentially rejected.  Among other things, the Planning Commission felt that views and shade should not be a consideration downtown. The members noted that although shadow studies can be done at the push of a button (this I would like to see), shadowing restrictions can lead to unattractive  “wedding cake” buildings.

400-Foot Tower Proposed For Folsom & Spear Receives First Green Light | Hoodline

A request to increase the permitted height from 300’ to 400’ was approved by the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure despite concerns from many Rincon Hill residents about shadowing on Rincon Park.  The application goes to the San Francisco Planning Commission in March.

Experts predict GTA may see 105,000 home sales in 2016, the most ever in a year | via @buzzbuzzhome

The Toronto Real Estate Board is predicting either the best-ever year or the second best-ever year for 2016.

Stumbled upon a shadow study by others that was incorrect.  Helped City Planning get it fixed.

A different kind of shadow study - for a civil trial. Just finished a photo analysis to determine what time it was taken. Love this stuff.

Vancouver Ranks As 3rd Most-Unaffordable Place To Live In The World | The Huffington Post BC

The average Vancouver home costs nearly 11 times more than the average household income.  5.1 and over are considered "severely unaffordable" .

Ryerson University wins facade engineering award | Construction Canada

Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre in Toronto won the Society of Façade Engineering’s Façade of the Year for 2015 award in the new building category.

Vancouver needs to 'grow up' with taller towers: developer | Business Vancouver

A developer thinks the City of Vancouver should allow towers taller than 1000’ in certain areas and that housing needs are stymied by the fear of shadowing.

Will the Tallest Building in NJ Cast Too Big a Shadow Over Other Guv Hopefuls? | via @PolitickerNJ

Ground has been broken on the tallest building in New Jersey across the river from Manhattan - a 79-storey residential tower 900 feet tall.

Just finished a Shadow Study for a proposed highrise in Hawaii.   Site visit required?
Cheers, Ralph

Miscellaneous “Sun & Shadow” Items – January 2016

The following are miscellaneous sun, shade, solar and solar energy facts and comments. They were derived from our twitter feed @SunPosition

Our monthly sunrise/sunset tables have been updated.

Story and video about the unique solar billboard in Oakland that we designed for SunChips -

In early 2008, we were retained by BBDO (Toronto) to design a solar-powered billboard (actually a shadow-animated billboard) for a Frito-Lay SunChips ad campaign by Juniper Park.  The time-lapse video below shows the Sunchips Solar Billboard which was installed in Oakland California on Earth Day 2008 to mark the opening of the solar-powered SunChips plant in nearby Modesto…

View time-lapse video here.

image via

The sun rises earlier beginning Jan 4th in Toronto. 7:51am

The sun began rising earlier again yesterday Jan 3 in Ottawa. 7:43am

Toronto gains 51 minutes of daylight this month. Ottawa gains 55.

RT @premtiyy01:  Great white sharks exploit the Sun’s low position during dawn and dusk to blind their prey with the Sun's glare.

> @premtiyy01 Same strategy as WWI fighter pilots who kept sun behind them when attacking opponents. Learned from great white shark?

Open drapes and blinds on sunny days. South-facing windows provide free heat. Close when sun sets.

Who knew! Differential sun/shade on booster rockets led to space shuttle Challenger disaster.  Hard to believe it was 30 yrs ago today >

Remembering the space shuttle Challenger disaster | Global News

Free stock photo of flight, sky, earth, space

image via pexels

Where were you on January 28, 1986?

On that day 30 years ago, the temperature was unusually chilly (-1 C) at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch of the space shuttle Challenger — originally scheduled for January 22 — had been moved five times. Spectators across the country and around the world were eagerly anticipating this unique launch: along with six astronauts — Gregory Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith and El Onizuka — would be Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space.

On the business side of things, there was some concern as to how the shuttle might perform in such unusually frigid weather. Engineers discussed how the solid rocket boosters (SRB) might perform. Concerns were raised, but in the end, a green light for the launch was given…

An investigation into the cause determined that the fault lay in the O-ring of the right SRB. Cold temperatures had caused a gap in the seal allowing gases to escape, resulting in the failure in the external tank (the large orange tank) and subsequent explosion. The space shuttle broke up due to high aerodynamic forces…

Cheers, Ralph