Cities

Anti-bike crusader halts San Francisco’s cycle-friendly plans

With a claim that bike lanes increase pollution, a San Francisco resident has managed to put the brakes on the city’s pro-biking plans. In 2004, San Francisco unveiled a proposal to create more bike lanes and bike parking, aiming to have 10 percent of city trips taken on two wheels by 2010. Enter Rob Anderson, who doesn’t own a car but is no fan of cyclists. “The behavior of the bike people on city streets is always annoying,” he says. “This ‘Get out of my way, I’m not burning fossil fuels.'” Anderson sued the city to make it do an …

Electric-car visionary would overhaul the way we get around

Could the global auto infrastructure be overhauled in a way that’s profitable for business, cheap for drivers, and easy on the planet? Meet Better Place‘s Shai Agassi and his plans for an electric-car future, featured in the latest issue of Wired. In Agassi’s vision, gas stations are replaced with omnipresent recharging spots for electric cars. Vehicles are cheap, perhaps even free; money is made off electricity, and renewable energy is incentivized. Drivers purchase electricity on subscription, paying for unlimited miles, a certain number of miles per month, or pay-as-you-go. No time to recharge? Head to your nearest battery exchange station …

Advocates push for return to 55-mph speed limit

Platform shoes and high-waisted pants came back into fashion — could the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit be the next ’70s trend to reemerge? Advocates point to potential money and fuel savings, noting that fuel efficiency drops significantly above 60 mph. The Drive 55 campaign calculates that taking a daily 30-mile trip at 55 mph instead of 80 mph saves $1,100 per year; Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who has called for a study on the effects of a 60-mph limit, points out that the 55-mph limit reduced oil use by 167,000 barrels per day. But that may not be enough to make …

N.Y. wind rush brings corruption complaints, divides rural communities

Lured by generous state subsidies, the wind industry is having its day in the sun breeze in upstate New York. But the scramble for turbine-friendly land has led to complaints of corruption and caused schisms in rural communities. At least two wind companies are being investigated for shady dealings, and evidence of possible improper influence or conflicts of interest have emerged in at least 12 counties. Some residents decry what they say is a none-too-polite, get-out-of-my-way mentality by Big Wind, and say the turbines spoil views, ruin the quiet, threaten land and wildlife, and cause unnecessary conflict. “Is it worth …

Parking up, driving down

Drop in U.S. driving last eight months exceeds the 1970s’ total decline

June 2008 saw another sharp drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly report on “Traffic Volume Trends.” Americans drove 4.7 percent less, or 12.2 billion miles fewer, in June 2008 than June 2007 — beating the record-setting drop of March. Since last November, Americans have driven 53.2 billion miles less than they did over the same period a year earlier — topping the 1970s’ total decline of 49.3 billion miles … The moving 12-month trend-line is startling and again makes clear $4 a gallon is the first (but not the last) genuine tipping point …

Americans drive less, use less gas, buy fewer cars

Americans are driving less, burning less gasoline, and buying fewer cars, and the feds have the stats to prove it. New numbers show that Americans drove 4.7 percent less in June 2008 than they did in June 2007, shaving off some 12.2 billion miles. For those keeping track at home, that makes a total 53.2 billion fewer miles driven between Nov. 2007 and June 2008 than in that eight-month period a year earlier. As would be expected, gasoline and diesel use have also fallen: In the first three months of 2008, Americans burned 400 million fewer gallons of gas than …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 5

More ideas for a post-oil society

This is the fifth in a series on how we can build an energy future based on our best science and no longer critically dependent upon exhaustible and polluting fossil fuels. Promoting battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles Governments can play a key role in promoting electric vehicles by buying electric vehicles en masse and helping develop battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric fleets and fleet systems. With current technology, battery electric trucks could already function as postal delivery trucks. Beyond the gasoline hybrid, government service vehicles should be mandated to be electric or PHEV/EREVs with few exceptions. As is …

Let's handcuff the property cops

Homeowner associations restrict eco-friendly practices in favor of aesthetics

This post comes to us via the Land Institute’s Prairie Writers Circle. —– Susana Tregobov dries clothes on a line behind her Maryland townhouse, saving energy and money. But now her homeowners association has ordered her to bring in the laundry. The crackdown came after a neighbor complained that the clothesline “makes our community look like Dundalk,” a low-income part of Baltimore. Tregobov and her husband plan to fight for their right to a clothesline, but the odds are against them. Although their state recently passed a law protecting homeowners’ rights to erect solar panels for generating electricity, it is …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 4

Toward the post-oil society

This is the fourth in a series on how we can build an energy future based on our best science and no longer critically dependent upon exhaustible and polluting fossil fuels. The tripartite approach allows our society to cut oil demand and dependence substantially within a decade, much more quickly than a sole reliance on electrification of the autonomous vehicle fleet through sales of battery-electric and plug in hybrid vehicles. Combining these vehicles with the already well-proven and easily scalable technology of vehicles that use trolley poles or a pantograph to draw power from the grid while in motion allows …

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