What if cities had no sidewalks and everyone walked on the road? Or, for urban recreation, they walked on a few scenic trails? What if the occasional street had a three-foot-wide "walking lane" painted on the asphalt, between the moving cars and the parked ones? Well, for starters, no one would walk much. A hardy few might brave the streets, but most would stop at "walk?! in traffic?!" Fortunately, this car-head vision is fiction for most pedestrians, but it's not far from nonfiction for bicyclists. Regular bikers are those too brave or foolish to be dissuaded by the prospect of playing chicken with two-ton behemoths. Other, less-ardent cyclists stick to bike paths; they ride for exercise, not transportation. Bike lanes, in communities where they exist, are simply painted beside the horsepower lanes. People react reasonably: "bike?! in traffic?!" And they don't. "It's not safe" is what the overwhelming majority say when asked why they bike so little. (As it turns out, it's safer than most assume -- on which, more another day.) So what would cities look like if we provided the infrastructure for safe cycling? What does "bike friendly" actually look like?
Despite record-setting gas prices, U.S. drivers haven't changed their gas-guzzling habits, says AP. Not only are we consuming as much as we always have, new vehicle sales seem to be tilting even more in favor of trucks than cars. But wait, USA Today disagrees. They say that drivers are, in fact, starting to cut back on how much they drive -- a clear sign that higher gas prices are starting to bite. Who's right? Who cares! Either way, the consumer response to massive increases in gas prices over the last five years has been teensy-tiny.
A while back I mentioned a McKinsey Global Institute report showing that efficiency is the fastest, cheapest way to cut global GHG emissions. Now McKinsey’s got a new report out, making a heretical claim: even though homeowners could vastly improve energy efficiency and save tons of money over the long term with current technologies, there won’t be widespread adoption of those technologies without market intervention — i.e., stronger regulations. Whatever will the market fundies think? Speaking of efficiency, Joel Makower’s got a good roundup of recent efficiency news.
From the Energy Blog: A123 Systems today introduced its 32-series NanophosphateTM Lithium Ion cells, specifically designed for Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) use. The 32-series cells are designed with abuse-tolerance in mind. A123 Systems Automotive Class cells take advantage of lessons learned from the mass-production of ANR26650M1 cells, used in DeWalt's and Black & Decker's power tool lines, in order to deliver 10+ year and 150,000 mile projected life requirements in engineered automotive battery packs. The cells have shown minimal power degradation and impedance growth after 300,000 cycles. The battery is able to operate at a temperature range of -20 F to 140 F (-29 C to 60 C). Personally, if I owned a plug-in hybrid that could go thirty miles on a charge, I would fill my tank about twice a year.
The William J. Clinton foundation has arranged billions in financing to help a coalition of sixteen cities cut urban emissions by applying a range of energy efficiency measures to aging buildings. Efficiency measures tends to get lumped in under the heading of conservation, but they really deserve to be their own full-fledged category of solutions to global warming. If conservation is simply doing less of a polluting activity, efficiency is doing the same activity with less energy. Turning off the lights is conservation. Screwing in a compact fluorescent light bulb is efficiency. Efficiency measures deserve their own category because they are among the most important strategies for reducing emissions. Emissions reductions from efficiency projects are immediate (which is good), they are often cheap or even free (which is great), and they don't require individuals to make significant changes to behavior (which is important to quick adoption, no matter how much we might wish otherwise).
Not long ago, our own JMG lamented the fact that online map services don’t include transit-oriented directions. Well, lookee here: HopStop, your city transit guide. OK, it’s only for NYC, but still, sounds pretty cool: HopStop is your city transit guide. We provide door-to-door subway and bus directions and maps for New York City. You can also search for places to eat, drink, sleep and see in the City Guide. With HopStop you can: – Send directions by e-mail or text message to a cell phone directly from the website – Plan a trip with multiple destinations using the Itinerary. …
As climate summit continues, fed-up mayors unveil actual plans They cover 1 percent of the Earth’s surface, but the world’s cities spew 80 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions — and 180 percent of climate-action plans. “Where national governments can’t or won’t lead, cities will,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York City. Yesterday, Miller unveiled an online social-networking carbon calculator called Zerofootprint Toronto that will, he says, “help make my city not only one of the greenest on the planet, but one of the most innovative as well.” He’s not alone: Los Angeles …
Greater Vancouver leads the Northwest in transit ridership, with somewhere between two and three times as many annual bus and train rides per person as Portland and Seattle. So the obvious question: How come? Why does Vancouver do so much better in transit statistics than its southern neighbors?
We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.