Cities

Protesters demonstrate against British eco-towns

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Britain’s Parliament Monday to protest the government’s plan to build 15 eco-towns. The government is proposing communities characterized by sustainable construction, public transportation, green space, and walkability. It hopes to …

Oh lord, won't you clean up my Mercedes-Benz?

Mercedes to offer a petroleum-free lineup by 2015

In the next seven years, Mercedes-Benz wants to eliminate petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. According to AutoblogGreen, "The German giant is working on a variety of technologies that will help provide crude oil free transport such as battery electrics, fuel cells and highly efficient internal combustion engines that can operate on biofuels." The automaker already has two new powertrains in either the concept or trial stages of development. The concept F700, which debuted in Frankfurt in fall 2007, is powered by a DiesOtto engine that combines Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition with spark ignition to get nearly the same efficiency as a diesel engine. According to the EcoGeek post, "The engine can run on biofuels, and we may have a purchasable vehicle by 2010." Last week, Phil Lanning of the Sun (U.K.) gleefully reviewed the F700 on the track in Seville, Spain. Of more interest to auto consumers on the left side of the pond: Mercedes also intends to offer an electric Smart ForTwo. Currently, one hundred of these adorable multi-colored vehicles scampering around London are already electric (and getting free parking -- but not for long!). Yet the official market release will not occur until 2010. Mercedes intends to offer an electric version of another model but has been tight-lipped about which one. Rumors, however, abound.

As gas prices rise, Americans move back to the urbs

For decades, Americans have trickled steadily out of cities into suburbia — and then into exurbia. But with gas prices high and likely to stay there, the wallet-conscious are now poised to trickle back in. …

French capital will implement electric-car-sharing program

Having successfully implemented a bike-sharing program, Paris is revving up plans to provide electric cars that residents can pick up and drop off anywhere in the city. Mayor Bertrand Delanoë announced that 4,000 electric cars …

Making cities less dumb

Select Committee examines the benefits of smarter urban planning

The House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing on Thursday about the opportunities for better urban planning to reduce energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions. “Planning Communities for a Changing Climate” …

Some clarity on the Clarity

Honda fuel-cell vehicle: Not marketable, practical, or environmental

Technology Review asked me to comment about the hype over the new Honda fuel-cell car, which the company optimistically calls "the world's first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle intended for mass production." The key word here is "intended." Here it is: ----- Would you buy a car that costs 10 times as much as a hybrid gasoline-electric, like the Prius? What if I told you it had half the range of the hybrid? What if I told you most cities didn't have a single hydrogen fueling station? Not interested yet? This should be the deal closer: what if I told you it wouldn't have lower greenhouse-gas emissions than the hybrid? Other than the traditional media, which is as distracted by shiny new objects as my 16-month-old daughter, nobody should get terribly excited when a car company rolls out its wildly impractical next-generation hydrogen car. Too many miracles are required for it to be a marketplace winner.

Notable quotable

Houston gets real about rail

“I’ll say it loud and clear: No longer is the city of Houston waffling on rail. With gas headed to $8 a gallon and oil to $200 a barrel, we have to rethink Houston as …

Humans have a hand in Midwest flooding

Photo: Mark Hirsch How much responsibility do humans have for the floods disastrously deluging the Midwest? Of course the rain poured for days, but it fell on plowed-up prairies, drained fields, altered streams, no-longer-wetlands, and …

Dancing to the beat of a different summer

NYC unveils plan to open huge swaths of roadway to pedestrians and bikes — temporarily

On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new event called "Summer Streets." For three Saturdays in August, pedestrians and cyclists will enjoy exclusive access to a contiguous stretch of city thoroughfares running from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. No cars allowed.    

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