Cities

Curbside treecycling

High-end use for urban trees saves landfill space

A company in North Carolina is making some good things from urban trees which have to be cut down for one reason or another: high-end lumber from what was once considered good only for firewood or mulch. They process 15,000 to 20,000 board feet a year of local urban lumber from private land for use in homes, sheds, barns, farms, or woodworking projects. It's estimated that 2 million board feet of lumber is wasted annually in the local landfills in the Charlotte metro area due to storms, land clearing, maintenance, or disease. I'm sure much the same can be said for other cities. Anyone doing good things with unwanted wood in your neighborhood?

Fashion before function

The automotive equivalent of high heels

Was looking for an electric vehicle and this came up. Seriously -- six batteries? And a suicide trunk? Part of me kind of wants it.

State Farm pulls bike-bashing ad

Remember that stupid ad from State Farm, where the natty professional laments that gas prices have gotten so high he’s been forced — gasp — to ride a bike to work? Oh, the humiliation. Well, …

WTF?

They’re submerging subway cars to make artificial reefs?! Nobody tells me anything.

Machiavelli meets the Big Apple

Ten reasons NYC’s congestion pricing plan went belly up

Photo: Tom Twigg Albany strikes again: congestion pricing -- the smartest urban-transportation idea since the subway -- has been buried by the professional morticians of the New York State legislature, led by Chief Ghoul Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. As previously reported, the pricing plan, proposed a year ago by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and subsequently improved by a 17-member state-mandated commission, would have charged an $8 entry fee on cars driven into Manhattan's central business district (CBD) during 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. on weekdays. Benefits included an annual $500 million revenue stream for mass transit (sufficient to bond at least $5 billion in capital improvements), a solid if unspectacular drop in traffic gridlock and pollution, and, perhaps most significantly, a first step toward knocking the automobile off its privileged perch atop the New York street pyramid. Not to mention establishing the principle that safeguarding "the commons" -- our air, water and public space -- requires that we exact from ourselves a commensurate price for uses that damage or deplete it. Congestion pricing was backed by an unusually broad coalition of labor, business, enviros (the full spectrum from EJ to Big Green) and civic associations. Yet neither this broad-spectrum support nor the plan's extraordinary vetting over the past 12 months deterred legislators from both parties from citing "unanswered questions" and assailing bogus inequities. Calling today "a sad day for New Yorkers and New York City" and noting federal support for congestion pricing, Mayor Bloomberg blasted the legislature, stating that, "Even Washington, which most Americans agree is completely dysfunctional, is more willing to try new approaches to longstanding problems than our elected officials in the State Assembly." With so much going for it, what killed the plan? There will be time later for sober postmortems, but for now, here's my shoot-from-the-hip Top 10 list of what felled congestion pricing in NYC:

New York City’s congestion pricing plan …

… is dead.

Manhattan congestion-pricing plan kicks the bucket

Hopes had run high that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious congestion-pricing plan for the Big Apple would move forward, but the measure has died a quiet death. Democratic members of the State Assembly, determining …

‘State Farm can get you back behind the wheel’

Witness the humiliation as this distinguished professional is forced to … my God, I can barely say it … ride a bike to work. Do something, State Farm! Anything! "You know that place where you’re …

The sweet smell of victory

Seattle gets five more blocks of bike lanes

In this post, I talked about Seattle's efforts to improve bicycle safety. I mentioned that the busiest part of a key road was not striped, thanks to pressure from a local real estate baron who didn't want business disrupted. This created a dangerous gauntlet to run as bikers left the bike lane to start their long, hard slog uphill. I'm happy to report that the city has since reconsidered, and it has made a world of difference for safety. Which gives me the opportunity to tell the story of how I got hit by a car.

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