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This reminded me of another article in the UK. The 11 year old lost his battle to ride his bike to school in Portsmouth. This time, the CTC (http://www.ctc.org.uk/) tried working with the school to establish that bike riding on roads is safe for kids. See full story here: link
Both schools said that the roads outside were unsafe for bicycling. A professional risk assessment done by the CTC in Portsmouth found that the road was in fact safe.
There is more discussion on these news articles on Bike Commuters: link
I am of the opinion that the type of safety in question is skewed. People consider operating a car safe where the fatality rate is almost twice in cars (0.47 per million hours) as it is for bicycles (0.26 per million hours) per Planet Green.
According to David Hembrow http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2008/09/three-types-of-safety.html
There are three measures of safety, all of which have their place in Dutch bicycle provision:
- Actual safety – How many km you can expect to travel before you’re injured on your bike.
- Subjective safety – Are you near fast moving traffic? Is it easy to make a turn across traffic? Do you have to cycle “fast” in order to keep up?
- Social safety – Is there a mugger around that blind corner? Will I be attacked in the street if I cycle?
The Subjective Safety with riding bicycles on roads is quite low, making overall safety appear unacceptable. The Subjective Safety in driving a car surrounded by metal and airbags, ABS, ESC etc is relatively high.
I am inclined to think this is what the school official are spooked by. What the professional risk assessors have probably assessed is the ‘Actual Safety’. Subjective safety is one of the reasons why parents do not let their kids ride to school alone. Some accompany their kids to school on bikes. Others just drive.
What are we doing to improve Subjective Safety? Should it be considered important when designing roads? How does one measure it?
As a parent, what would make you think it is safe to let your kids to ride their bikes to school?
“Light rail was meant to be fed by people taking the bus, walking or biking,” said Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). “It was not meant to be fed by cars.”
Light rail starting in Seattle this Saturday is generating some bad PR for not having car parking at the stations. Restricted parking zones are set up around the stations. The light rail corridor is envisioned as future residential and commercial growth, making it a prime candidate for car-free living. Moreover, the City of Seattle has had a policy of discouraging park-and-rides, per the news article on Seattle Times (link).
One of the sources of complaint arises from a resident living one mile away from a light rail station. Due to restricted parking, it makes it difficult for that resident to drive to the station and take the train. This is a good example of complementing your commute with a bike (I agree with Car Free Days). An unattractive beater bike bought for under $50 from Craigslist is plenty for the one mile commute to the station. Its cheap parts will keep thieves away while it lies locked all day. I dont know if they allow bicycles on the trains but a folding bike would be appropriate to carry along.
Anyway, carectomy is a great site, and I would like to keep it that way and add some new, good content to it. Is anyone interesting? If so shoot me an email at benjamin.f.t.jones AT gmail DOT com and let me know your interests / writings skills.
Thanks a bunch!
There is one surefire sign that bicycles are hot at the moment. It’s not the coverage urban cycling is getting on tv networks or in mainstream newspapers and fashion magazines.
It’s pornography. Increasing numbers of bicycle related porn films are being spotted on adult websites. You read it here first [but you probably noticed yourself, didn't you?] Once again, the adult film industry is a deciding factor in cultural and technological issues.
The adult film industry almost single-handedly killed of Beta in favour of VHS when they decided to back the latter format for the distribution of their films. Every time you view internet streaming and watch clips in the most popular formats, you can thank the porn industry for choosing them and therefore standardising how we view online content. The industry was a major factor in the rapid development of streaming technology and their choices of format killed off all the other competitors to mpeg and avi.
Bertsch was forced to rely on his bicycle to commute to work, from Minneapolis to Minnetonka, Minnesota. As he wrote in an op-ed piece for the Star Tribune, in the past he had made excuses about why he didn’t bike commute more regularly.
I had made many excuses as to why I wouldn’t commit to this means of transportation consistently: How will I carry my lunch to and from work? What if I sweat too much? What if it rains? And on and on. Plus there is a stretch on Shady Oak Road with no path and a tiny shoulder which is quite dangerous.
Well, being with only one car, I decided to figure out the bike routine, at least temporarily. Carrying my lunch was a minor detail. It’s not that hot in the morning, plus I figured out our office building has a shower that I can use if need be. It rarely rains during the actual commute (but I did use the gas money I’ve saved over the last two weeks to invest in a nice rain jacket for such occasions).
This whole experience has become an incredible gift for me and my wife. She has been inspired to bike to her job, her yoga class, and some light grocery shopping to the co-op and Trader Joe’s. Some days we don’t even bother getting into our one car.
Thanks to the couple’s car “misfortune,” they’re ahead of their plan to pay off their debts, feeling healthy and alive and, as Bertsch says, “I am inspired. Inspired to be more self sufficient. Inspired to live in a smaller community in downtown. Inspired to spend less. Inspired to waste less. Inspired to be more connected.”
Photo via flickr by TAPorto
Depave.org sees their mission as a reclaiming of the Commons. “The biggest common space that we have is covered in asphalt,” says Chris Carlsson, author of Nowtopia. “It’s all of the streets in the city.”
The permanent site will have information on hand to educate the public about the environmental damage caused by asphalt, including increased runoff and pollution, destroyed natural habitat, and its contribution to global warming.
Check out the awesome video coverage from Streetfilms here:
The contest isn’t seeking the next Kazan or Kubric, nor does it require a flair for cinematography. The criteria for winners is simple: show viewers "why we need more and better public transportation," and "your vision of a 21st century transportation system." The winning videos "will be a critical part of an effort to educate city councils, legislatures across the country, and lawmakers in Washington, D.C."
Beyond doing your part to better public transit and the planet, PIRG will award winners cash prizes: a $500 prize for the winner, $150-$250 for runners up, and honorable mentions will receive a one-year membership to U.S. PIRG. Entries are due by July 4, 2008. See the PIRG website for full contest rules, entry criteria, scope out your competition, and submit your video.
Photos via flickr by michael.newman and Scott Kinmartin.
The goal for modern cities, as Newman describes it, is to move beyond “sustainability” to “resiliency.” The model of constant consumption needs to stop and cities need to be constructed in such a manner as to make this possible.
One of Newman’s main targets is a decrease in oil consumption and, not surprisingly, minimizing the use of cars. Building of suburbs should be scrapped in favor of denser urban settings than enable mass transit, walking, and biking.
As Newman told the Oregonian:
Suburbs on the fringe built with all the certainty of the future are now very uncertain because people living there sometimes have to spend 40 percent of their household budget on transport, and 40 percent is not sustainable. If you’re going from $3.50 a gallon gas to $6 a gallon, which is the price of fuel in Europe . . . many of these suburbs will be abandoned. They are not resilient.
Newman also took the US presidential candidates to task. While they have all chimed in that the country needs a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050. however, according to Newman:
None of them actually say, ‘That means less oil.’ It tends to do with this vague goal about power plants and industry and stuff like that.
But less oil? That comes straight home with less cars, less vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in cars. There are no magic-bullet alternatives, like biofuels and so on, so we have to reduce VMT by 50 percent by 2050.
Photo via flickr by Magalie L’Abbé.
Beginning in October of 2008, the daily congestion zone fee for the most polluting vehicles will increase from the current charge of £8 to £25 (US$49), an incentive to keep more drivers of high greenhouse-gas emitting vehicles off the roads.
The Green Car Congress reports:
To be implemented starting 27 October, 2008, the changes are intended to encourage drivers within the charging zone to travel in vehicles that produce lower levels of carbon dioxide and to discourage the use of vehicles with high CO2 emissions.
In a press release, the mayor said, “The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
The Mayor is hopeful that his incentive will reduce emissions and reliance on cars not only London, but cities world-wide:
I believe that this ground-breaking initiative will have an impact throughout the world with other cities following suit as they step up their efforts to halt the slide towards catastrophic climate change. I think this scheme will also start a cultural revolution whereby drivers in every city in Britain start to think about the impact on the environment of their choice of car and how they plan their journeys. We will be closely monitoring this scheme to ensure that goal of reducing traffic congestion in central London remains a central priority.
An estimated 80% of vehicles won’t be affected by the increased congestion fee. Only those vehicles with the highest emissions will be assessed the £25 daily charge. Those that meet higher emissions standards, however, will continue to pay the £8 fee.
Given the plan’s immediate success, it’s clear that pound-pinching Londoners would rather walk, bike, or take transit than pay extra to take the car. Why not subject all vehicles to the £25 charge, while providing adequate transit to all commuters, and see who dares to drive? If more cities made transit (which is already cheap) more convenient (as in NYC), it would only make sense to leave the car at home.
Photo via flickr by Rogue Soul & Trig’s.
Earlier this week, the Roman Catholic Church issued a modern addendum to the original seven deadly sins. The list, published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, includes polluting. In a strange, yet telling confluence of events, Southern Baptist leaders also had an about-face on their position on global warming this week.
Former Shell Chief Goes Against Guzzle
It’s great when anyone makes a stand against gas-guzzling, car-driving business as usual. But when that voice comes from an oil- or auto-industry insider, or a voice of profound influence, there’s cause for celebration. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former head of Shell Oil, is calling for a ban on cars that get less than 35 miles per gallon.
The Street Formerly Known as Prince
As far as the SoHo Alliance is concerned, pedestrians will bring the ruination of their hip New York neighborhood. Today, the New York Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee will entertain plans for a pilot project that would make Prince St., in the heart of SoHo, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare—for a mere few hours on Sundays.
The overwhelmingly negative reaction to this proposal—even by New Yorkers, who are largely car-free—only proves how attached people are to their cars. They can’t give them up, even for a few hours a week?
Zero Per Gallon: All Up in Cars’ Grilles
Are you a proud bike rider who revels in your car-free-ness? Zero Per Gallon is for you. The name derives from the costs of refueling a bike and from not paying into the petro-economy. While zero may be a nice round number, strictly speaking a burrito costs a little more than nada. Still, their guesstimation of “53 miles per burrito” smiles favorably on the bicycle. And burritos taste so much better than gasoline.
Green Manifesto: “My Other Car is a Bright Green City”
Lowering vehicle emissions looks good on paper, but is it good enough for the planet? Alex Steffen, editor and CEO of the blog WorldChanging, isn’t satisfied by newfangled, eco-friendly technology. He’s posted an in-progress manifesto that calls for a carbon-free culture shock, and claims that even the most efficient cars can’t survive the test of sustainability.
Scottish Man Pedals ‘Round the World
Mark Beaumont, 25, set the world record for circumnavigating the globe by bike. The Scotsman completed the feat in 195 days, 6 hours – smashing the previous record of 276 days. Beaumont’s start and finish line was in Paris, at the Arc de Triomphe – which also serves as the backdrop for the finish of the Tour de France every year.
California Trains to Go High-Speed?
Argentina has recently announced plans to construct the first true high-speed rail in the Americas. Although most developed countries, particularly in Asia and Europe, rely on high-speed trains to whisk people around, the U.S. is woefully behind the curve. Come this November, that may be longer be the case; California voters will decide whether a high-speed connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco merits passing a $10 billion bond measure.
Audi Driver Bloodthirsty for Bikers—and Reparations
Since when did cars become more precious than human life? For Basque businessman Tomas Delgado, that day came in 2004 when he hit and killed a 17-year-old cyclist—then sued the deceased teen’s family for $30,000 in damages to his vehicle and for the car he rented to replace his totaled Audi A8. Authorities determined that Delgado had been driving at 100mph in a 55mph zone when his car collided with the boy.
The video makes clear that commuting by mass transit is an all-around good deal: it’s better for your body, lighter on your wallet, and a more pleasant experience than sitting in traffic, flipping off the guy who’s cut in front of you, or cursing out some reckless teen driver who’s chewing fat on her cell phone. And, of course, it’s far less polluting to ditch your four wheels for the commuter rail. The documentary also mentions Britain’s plans to reduce car use and increase passenger rail use by 50%. By the looks of the government’s new legislation, the Brits are well on their way.
The Nova Channel’s Commuter Challenge video:
See also: Kris Murrin Stops Traffic in the U.K.
Photos via flickr by gnevets88 & navydevil187
The world’s first solar-powered, electric bus hit the streets of Adelaide, Australia and has been catching rays—and kudos—ever since. (Tindo, an apropo name for the solar bus, is an Aboriginal word for “sun.”)
From the Adelaide City Council:
Manufactured by New Zealand company Designline International, the bus doesn’t have a combustion engine, which makes it a very quiet, zero emissions vehicle…
And in a further ‘green’ development being introduced by the Adelaide City Council, the bus will be recharged using a solar photovoltaic system supplied by BP Solar and installed at the soon-to-be-completed Adelaide Central Bus Station.
This system is the largest grid connected solar photovoltaic system in the State, and means the bus is also carbon neutral.
The bus, which can carry up to 42 passengers, is also air-conditioned. We think that’s pretty hot.
See also: Public Transportation Could Save the World and Hasselt Proves Free Public Transit Works.
Photo via flickr by tromasbronot.
Citing obesity, cancer, and heart disease rates in the sedentary, Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (that’s “Nice” for short) has recommended that city planners and architects design exercise into towns and new buildings.
Mike Kelly, director of Nice’s center for public health excellence, estimates that inactivity costs Britain £8.2 billion per year in related health maladies. He compares the actions necessary to improve public health to changes undergone 150 years ago to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Although the root cause of sedentary peoples’ demise is more hidden than a debilitating illness, the result may be no less insidious or widespread.
Philip Insall, director of Sustrans‘ active travel programme, is a member of the guidance committee. He said that while in Basel, Switzerland, only a quarter of trips in the city were by car "in a UK city of the same size it is probably two-thirds". Nice cited as a good example Leicester, where children are involved in designing streets safe to play in.
The government welcomed Nice’s guidance. "One of the big challenges in tackling climate change is use of the private car and anything which encourages people to walk and cycle more will help," said Joan Ruddock, minister for climate change, biodiversity and waste at Defra.
About.com does a great job of answering part of the question in the must-read article The Great American Streetcar Scandal. It’s a great primer on how General Motors, with the help of corporate giants Standard Oil, Firestone Tire, Mack Truck, and Phillips Petroleum were instrumental in dismantling the nation’s elaborate streetcar system and building up the nation’s highway infrastructure.
GM first replaced trolleys with free-roaming buses, eliminating the need for tracks embedded in the street and clearing the way for cars. As dramatized in a 1996 PBS docudrama, Taken for a Ride, Alfred P. Sloan, GM’s president at the time, said, “We’ve got 90 percent of the market out there that we can…turn into automobile users. If we can eliminate the rail alternatives, we will create a new market for our cars.” And they did just that, with the help of GM subsidiaries Yellow Coach and Greyhound Bus. Sloan predicted that the jolting rides of buses would soon lead people to not want them and to buy GM’s cars instead.
Sounds a lot like GM’s behind the scenes work to bury the electric car – a tale revealed to great effect by the recent documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?
But Public Transportation ridership is on the upswing. Fed up with traffic, pollution, and hassle, public transportation use in the U.S. has risen 21% since 1995 according to the Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow.
The goal in San Francisco is to decrease traffic congestion and the accompanying pollution. The solution: to charge a fluctuating market rate to keep metered space occupancy rates at 85%. That way, spaces are available for would-be parkers, which decreases the amount of circling for spots. This will do much to keep cars moving in and out of dense urban areas, generate significant additional revenues for the city, and encourage people to quit driving so damned much.
One of the keys to decreasing car usage, and the myriad of associated problems that automobiles bring us (pollution, global warming, health issues, expense, war to name a few) is to stop subsidizing the car. Relatively inexpensive gas (even at $3+ per gallon) and endless roads are clearly factors that make driving and car ownership more appealing; cheap parking is another.
Downtown parking spots are located on some prime real estate, and the meter rates don’t reflect the true worth of the space. Park(ing) Day brings attention to this inequity as groups temporarily reclaim parking spots and turn them into urban green space.
As we discussed in our Paradise Paved article, these spots carry hidden costs, which eventually filter back to consumers and taxpayers. So, why not just put the tariff up front on those who feel the need to drive into cities? Charge more for prime locations, and less to those willing to park away from city centers and walk into town, or to get on public transit.
In San Francisco, the prices on the electronic meters could easily be adjusted to match demand. A similar system is currently in place in Redwood City, CA where solar-powered meters are in operation. The result has been the desired turnover rate of parking spots, and increased revenue for the city.
"If the price is set high, people won’t stay long; if it’s too low, people will never leave," Shoup said.
Via San Francisco Chronicle
The CLIF Bar Development Cyclocross team is doing things a little bit differently, and hopes to set a trend in the process. In addition to doing their best to win races and have a successful season, they’re greening up their act.
New for 2007, the team is utilizing a waste vegetable oil powered school bus to transport all of their bikes and gear between races and to shuttle the team around whenever possible. Because most of the racers are in school and the events spread all over the U.S., the kids still need to fly to many of the races. However, the new team bus is a step in the right direction as it requires minimal gasoline, forgoes the need to ship gear, and serves as the team’s own "mass transit" at races.
The CLIF Bar team competes in cyclocross – a fall and winter cycling discipline most akin to steeplechase. Courses combine road, dirt, grass, sand, mud, and barriers which force competitors to run with their bikes. Part of the Boulder, Colorado-based team’s mission is to groom some of the nation’s top boys and young men (aged 13 to 22) into the next generation of professional cyclists. But Team Manager Ben Turner also hopes to educate his racers to become thoughtful, responsible, environmentally-aware role models for their peers and their communities.
Although riding a bike has a well-deserved reputation as an environmental pursuit (it’s the most efficient form of transportation we have), bike racing is a very different story. The bikes and components are built for speed over durability, and the materials used are resource intesive (aluminum, carbon, titanium, etc.). Cycling teams typically are continually flying and driving all over the country, and are constantly consuming in the process.
Turner set out to change this model, and to show the cycling world how to lessen its environmental impact.
Typically bike racing is like: consume-consume-consume, use up resources, throw shit away, and really give no regard at all to the environmental impact of being at a race… a team contributes an obscene amount of resource consumption and waste production.
The team also spearheads a zero waste initiative with Eco-Cycle to utilize composting and recycling at events, and to keep as much material as possible out of landfills. They eat local, organic foods when they travel, use public transport or carpool when the bus is impractical, purchase carbon offsets through Native Energy, and push their already environmentally-minded sponsors (CLIF Bar, Pedros, Stonyfield, Patagonia, et al) to get greener.
(Disclaimer: The writer has volunteered as an environmental consultant with the CLIF team).
It doesn’t come as news to most of us that bikes are the most efficient form of transportation ever devised. Most of the bike use in the United States is for fitness or just pleasure cruising. About as utilitarian as we tend to get is bike commuting or running occasional errands.