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Slow your city

Like they do it in Italy

From Der Spiegel: It's not easy to be punctual for a meeting with Stefano Cimicchi. Parking places are hard to come by in Orvieto, even if cars are still legal. Cars in the city center stick out like a sore thumb among strolling pedestrians, who move to the sides of the streets with studied slowness. After a couple of twisty laps though the narrow medieval alleyways of the old town center, you might find a parking place on the edge of the small Umbrian town -- and pay handsomely for the privilege of parking. Cimicchi was mayor of Orvieto from …

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Velib' liberates Paris

A Parisian tries out the city’s new rent-a-bike program

The following is a guest essay from my sister, Margie Rynn, who has lived in Paris for seven years. ----- It took me awhile to be willing to try Velib', the new rent-a-bike program now available all over the streets of Paris. I love the idea: anyone can pick up a bike at any metro station or anywhere there's a "borne" (stand) of bikes, ride around for half an hour, and then leave it at any Velib' stand. That first half hour is free, and not only that, the bikes themselves are extremely cool, a sort of futuristic über-bike that …

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I had a dream

Seattle in 2020

The year was 2020 and Seattle had become the bicycle capital of the world. Visitors lined the streets to learn how we did it. Thanks to global warming, clothing had gone out of style, but thanks to genetic engineering we could alter our skin pigmentation to be any color we wanted. Racism had become a thing of the past and mustaches were popular again.

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A greener economy from the grassroots

New book details successes; join a chat with Paul Hawken

At work today I received a review copy of Building the Green Economy: Success Stories From the Grassroots, which just hit the presses and looks interesting. It's a diverse roundup of grassroots efforts aimed at stewardship and urban renewal toward a cleaner economy and greener, more just communities. Green economy superstar Van Jones is interviewed, of course, but I didn't notice a nod to Paul Hawken right off the bat, whose pioneering books on the topic of greening the economy laid the groundwork for the idea, and whose new book, Blessed Unrest, details the incredible, ever-widening scope of the global …

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Corps may buy out coastal Miss. towns, encourage residents to move inland

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking support from three coastal Mississippi counties for a proposal to buy out 17,000 homes and encourage residents to move inland. The Corps generally reserves buyouts for areas prone to river flooding; the new proposal is an indication that the U.S. may be seriously considering the risk of sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and stronger hurricanes. Intentions of safety aside, resistance to the voluntary project is high. "The whole concept of trying to remove people and properties from the coast is very, very challenging," says Susan Rees of the Corps. "The desire to live by …

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Putting your inner political superego on hold

A utopian realist agenda

Recently Nordhaus and Shellenberger (N&S) posted on Gristmill, wrote in The New Republic, and published a book, all with the aim of offering a better alternative to the mainstream environmental agenda. In my estimation, they made three important points: Americans would respond to a positive vision of the future; global warming can only be solved if, in addition to regulatory policies, we embark on a program of public investment; and the public is quite open to the idea of public investment. Unfortunately, they didn't do much with that great start. I think I know why: the central thrust of the …

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Russian roulette

Expect bicycle deaths in Seattle to climb

Not good. I happened upon this accident scene a few days ago. Apparently, a right turning truck hit a young bicyclist, killing him instantly. He had been in Seattle for only a few weeks and was the same age as my daughter, who rides a bike on a distant college campus. The sight truly unsettled me and made my bike trip through the heart of downtown more nerve racking than usual. I want to use this tragedy to send a message to our amiable yet bumbling local politicians who have pledged to do their share to fight global warming. Your …

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Folds-mobile

Business travel, Bike Friday, and the Spokane airport

Confession: I have long coveted a Bike Friday. What cyclist wouldn't? A folding bike that fits in a suitcase -- and the suitcase becomes a bike trailer! Pedal to the airport or train station, take your luggage out of your trailer, fold your bike into the trailer, check your luggage (including your bike), and at trip's end, reverse the process. Ingenious! So I danced a jig when a founder of the Eugene, Ore.-based company offered to let me try the new Tikit model this summer, to use on my public speaking trips around the Northwest. The question that interested me …

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Not just a pretty face

Brad Pitt pledges millions for sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans

Brad turns out to be as serious (on climate) as he is good looking. He came to the first CGI as an observer, not a speaker. But today he announced a major commitment: Brad Pitt expanded his commitment to New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward today by announcing plans for a new community of homes in the area hardest-hit by the worst natural disaster in American history. He is partnering with Steve Bing in creating the 150 affordable and sustainable homes, which are the first effort of Pitt's "Make it Right" project. Pitt announced his plan at today's meeting of the …

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British prime minister aims to build even more eco-towns

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to build 10 "eco-towns," doubling his original vision of five. We like a man with ambition!

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