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Infrastructure

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Bipedal? Curious? Americans give walking and biking a try

Come on, give it a shot. You'll be glad you did. (Photo by Sean Dreilinger.)

As if you needed further proof that the oil-soaked transportation bill now making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives is out of touch with reality, look no further than the just-released 2012 Benchmarking Report from the nonprofit Alliance for Biking and Walking. The report, which culls its numbers from over a dozen government sources and city and state surveys, is chock-full of evidence of the benefits of biking and walking -- and the importance of funding infrastructure to encourage more people-powered transportation.

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Why the 21st century will see migration back to the Rust Belt

In the 20th century there was a mass migration to the Sun Belt, because everyone thought that living in a warm climate and having a big house would make them happy, even though actually it made us diabetic and addicted to oxycontin.

But now that climate change means the Sun Belt is becoming the Drought Belt, you might want to go north, says NRDC's Kaid Benfield -- unless you like living in a desert slum made out of crumbling McMansions and ruled over by teen superpredators whose street-legal assault rifles sport Ron Paul stickers, that is.

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The McMansion trend has peaked

Americans' ideal home size declined to 2,100 square feet from a peak of 2,300, according to real estate research firm Trulia. (The full account of this trend was laid out by Kaid Benfield at Atlantic Cities, and it's worth checking out.)

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Young people expect the future to look like Thunderdome

This image has been floating around the internets (I can't determine its original source) in a way that suggests it resonates with a lot of us.

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Florida missed out on $41 million a year by turning down high-speed rail

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2 billion in federal money to build a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, one of his arguments was that it would be a burden on the state. But documents obtained by the Tampa Tribune indicate that independent consultants found the system would be turning a profit of $35 to $41 million a year by its 10th year of operation.

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Why buildings haven’t gotten more efficient in 20 years

Photo by Trey Campbell.

Everything single part of a building, from the windows the the air conditioning and heating system, has become significantly more energy efficient over the past 20 years. And yet buildings, as a whole, are using more or less the same amount of energy they always have. What gives?

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Boehner’s last stand: House leader wants to kill transit funding

Rep. John Boehner thinks trains and buses are bogus, apparently.

It was apparently not enough to obliterate funding for bike lanes and walking paths and kids trying to get to school. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants to keep our tax dollars from paying for public transit as well.

Earlier this week, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) unveiled a draft transportation bill that would cut all designated funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, the Safe Routes to School program, and grants that have encouraged “complete streets” projects. Still, it looked like the more egregious provisions would be stripped away as the legislation -- titled “The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act” -- ran through the lawmaking process. And at least the bill maintained the country’s longstanding, if weak, commitment to public transportation.

Then, Wednesday night, Boehner and the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee proposed killing a longstanding rule that sets aside a portion of the gas tax to fund trains and buses and other public transportation systems.

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Austin gets a super swank zero-energy suburb

How do you build a (nearly) net-zero-energy suburb in 2008, at the nadir of the economic crash, when no bank in the country is convinced you'll be able to sell your more energy-efficient but pricier homes?

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A bill of goods: With their latest transportation bill, GOP sides with the suburbs

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their version of a national transportation bill this week. This is the legislation that doles out billions of dollars annually to highways, train lines, and -- at least in the past -- to bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and a program called Safe Routes to School that helps kids get to home room each morning without being flattened by a passing car.

The last few would seem like a populist no-brainers, but if House Republicans have their way, even Safe Routes to School will get no more love from Washington.

I mean, really. Is nothing sacred?

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Maine to create car-free town with ‘really narrow streets’

The Shambles of York. (Photo by Bev Sykes.)

Residents of the yet-to-be-built town of Piscataquis Village, Maine, will keep cars from overrunning their town by making their streets too narrow to shove any but the cutest vehicles down them, reports Market Urbanism.