Biking

Critical List: Bike to work today; Amazon deforestation rate rose this year

It's Bike to Work day. Now all you bike commuters know how secretaries feel on Administrative Professionals Day: “One DAY? I’ve been doing this day in and day out all year!” The rate of Amazon deforestation has been declining in recent years; this year, it climbed again. The Brazilian government is — rightly — freaking out. The head of Tokyo Electric Power, the company responsible for handling the Fukushima meltdown, resigned today. Rumor has it that BP CEO Tony Hayward has already invited him to join the new, quickly growing Ex-Heads of Disastrous Energy Companies club. (Motto: “We Just Want …

Biking

Never too old to bike to work [VIDEO]

So, Friday is Bike to Work Day. And if you are one of those people who comes up with endless excuses about why you can’t get your ass onto a bicycle and use it to go somewhere, you need to meet Lucette Gilbert, the latest star in Streetfilms‘ series on New Yorkers who ride. Gilbert admits to being in her “high 70s,” and she has been biking since she was a 7-year-old in France. She and her friends didn’t have phones, so if they wanted to talk, they hopped on their bikes and went and found each other. Is it …

Cities

Win-win situation: Using competition to change behavior

Ready, set … change!Photo: Jon MarshallA couple of weeks back, I went to a conference at the Garrison Institute, located in a former monastery in the Hudson River Valley of New York. The presenters included municipal officials from around the country, many of them somewhat weary veterans of battles to motivate citizens to recycle, or make energy-efficient retrofits to their homes, or change their incandescent light bulbs for  CFLs. There was no real consensus on what works, or whether anything works in every case. But one mantra kept being put forward by the conference’s organizers: Attitudes follow behavior. Behavior does …

Project Aura bike lighting system puts wheel reflectors to shame

Project Aura is the brainchild of two Carnegie Mellon students, who challenged themselves to make a bike lighting system that would make night riding more secure. Currently, most bike lights focus on the front and back of the bike, and are all but invisible from the side; with Project Aura's wheel-mounted LEDs, bikes are unmissable from the side and more visible overall. You still need a headlight — these distributed LEDs don't look like they generate enough light for you to see the road, and it's not like you want to be hit from the front or rear any more …

LAPD takes electric bikes for a spin

The Los Angeles Police Department bicycle coordination unit is running a pilot program that put officers on electric bikes. They're pretty schmancy bikes, too. They can go up to 20 mph, top speed for typical cyclist. The manufacturer donated the bikes to the police department, but they retail for $3,499. The program began because LAPD officers couldn't keep up with road bikes on the mountain bikes they already own. The electric bikes may not be quite as intimidating as those horses police departments trot out sometimes, but they do give officers an edge over misbehaving cyclists who only have their …

Hey NYC! Lay off cyclists, already!

The New York City Department of Transportation has released a new ad campaign telling cyclists, "Don't Be A Jerk." Apparently the DOT staff hasn't left their office for a while, because if it's jerks they're looking for on the streets of New York, there's no need to single out cyclists. The DOT claims that the ad campaign "humorously highlights the essential dos and don’ts of safe, responsible biking," but it feels more like an apology to the anti-bike lane crowd that's hijacked the city's transportation policy lately. In the ads, celebrities like Mario Batali and Paulina Porizkova ride the wrong …

Transportation secretary: ‘Hipster? I hardly know ‘er’

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is a bike fan, and he doesn't care if that makes him look like a hipster, because he doesn't know what the word means. In an interview with the Huffington Post, LaHood made some perfectly reasonable, and indeed heartening, statements about the importance of bike lanes: And as head of the Department of Transportation, LaHood noted his “concern” over the “way that bikers are treated when they are on streets.” “I’m concerned that people that are driving cars have a level of respect for bikers, and that’s the reason that we have these bike lanes,” …

Critical List: Biofuels kinda suck, biomass kinda sucks, Toys ‘R’ Us embraces solar

The Fish and Wildlife Service has promised to evaluate the endangered status of 251 species in the next six years, if only so those pesky enviros will be quiet for a bit. The country's largest rooftop solar-energy field will be installed in New Jersey, at a Toys "R" Us distribution center. No word on when the Barbie Dream House will go green, though. Three senators released a bill that would cut subsidies to oil companies. Don't pat yourself on the back for flying on a plane that uses biofuels: If the fuel comes from palm oil grown on land converted …

The bike economy is booming

We don't want to underestimate Americans' ability to buy things they don't use, but bike sales were up 9 percent this quarter. There was an even bigger jump — 29 percent — in sales of road bikes, implying that people are using their new vehicles to commute. Gas-powered scooter sales went up even more — those are still gas-powered, duh, but a hell of a lot more environmentally friendly than a car. Is this because of $4-a-gallon gas? It's too early to tell, but it seems reasonable. Then again, it could be because of increased bike-friendliness. The federal government has …

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