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The E.U. wants gas-powered cars gone from its cities by 2050

Can he look forward to a future with no gas-powered cars?Photo: Alison OddyThe European Union has just announced an ambitious transportation goal: the elimination of gas-powered cars in its cities by 2050. It's part of a plan that aims to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources: A new European transport plan [PDF] aims to increase mobility and further integrate the EU's transport networks -- while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the bloc's dependence on imported oil. Measures to encourage major infrastructure investments, change the way freight moves and people travel would boost economic competitiveness and create jobs. The …

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How we roll

Pedaling away from the health care crisis

This is the third column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling. In the United States, we have the most expensive health care system in the world. We collectively invest more than 15 percent of our GDP -- that's around $2 trillion, or $5,700 per person -- into health care every year. The tragedy of these enormous numbers is that they fail to stem the tide of our increasing ill health. "Most of the money we're spending on health care is going to treat preventable chronic diseases," Michael Pollan told Grist in 2009. Our poor diet, he added, …

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Giving beards a bad name

Minn. state Rep. Mike Beard prepares to devastate Twin Cities transit, economy, residents

Rep. Mike Beard.Minnesota state Rep. Mike Beard (R) is famous among people who enjoy laughing at stupid things politicians say. A sampling: You may recall his argument against high-speed rail: "We already have highways." His argument that coal mining hasn't done any damage to the earth: "When we were done, we put it all back together again." Perhaps best of all, his argument that God's beneficence effectively renders moot any and all resource and environmental issues: "God is not capricious. ... We are not going to run out of anything." Beard got a BA in Bible Missions at the Bethany …

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and neither are biofuels

Batteries are not the future of green cars, says smartest guy in room

Elon Musk is a dizzyingly accomplished badass as well as a quirky workaholic, which makes him kind of like Nikola Tesla minus the full-contact pigeon fancying. And hey, that's exactly what he named his electric automobile company, Tesla Motors. Musk, who has built Tesla's entire business on the advanced, computer-controlled battery technology his engineers developed for the Tesla Roadster sports car, thinks that batteries are kaput in the long run. In their place, he's betting on a technology called ultracapacitors. Capacitors are totally different than batteries -- rather than being buckets of wet chemicals, they're solid state devices already ubiquitous …

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it’s haldol for your range anxiety

Plug-in Prius not worth it, economically

Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports did the math on whether or not it's worth it to buy the forthcoming plug-in version of the Toyota Prius, and the math is ugly: The Prius has a small battery that holds only enough charge to take the vehicle 14 miles, but that battery charges relatively quickly -- four hours on standard house current. Electricity costs about 11 cents per kwh and the battery holds 3.8 of them. All told, this leads to only a marginal cost savings per mile: Prius Plug-In (100 miles): $6.12 Standard Prius (estimate, 100 mi): $6.98 Difference per …

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Free wheels

How women rode the bicycle into the future [SLIDESHOW]

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel." -- Susan B. Anthony, 1896How important was the bicycle in changing the role of women in the world? Consider these words from Munsey's Magazine in 1896: To men, the bicycle in the beginning was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was a steed upon …

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War! What is it good for?

The latest battle in the nonexistent ‘War on Cars’

Photo: IdiolectorSomewhere along the road, the phrase "War on X" became part of standard lazy American political rhetoric (see also: "Whatever-gate"). There are two primary ways the phrase gets used. First, the "this is a serious problem and we're doing everything we can to stop it" usage, usually government-sponsored. It made a strong debut with LBJ's War on Poverty and lives on in the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. The second usage is less common, and often shows up in right-wing contexts. It's the "those bad people are trying to take away our beautiful freedoms" trope. Examples …

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U.S. vehicles’ fuel economy to suck pretty much forever

This projection, based on fuel efficiency standards that are currently on the books, shows that -- absent radical legislative action, or everyone in the U.S. suddenly coming over all French -- American cars' fuel economy is primed to suck out loud for the foreseeable future. Anyone complaining about overly stringent regulations can therefore bite it forever.

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Urban family values

The sane person’s guide to bringing kids on public transit

Kids on the bus can be fun for everyone. Really.Photo: Roar PettersonRiding public transportation, as I've said before, is good for kids. And the presence of children on transit can enrich the experience for all riders. (Settle down, people! I said can.) So it's unfortunate that the reality of taking little ones on buses and trains often proves so challenging -- both for the folks bringing them and for those along for the ride. Parents complain about the hassle. There's the rushing and waiting in all kinds of weather. There's the occasional exposure to PG-13 language and behavior. And then …

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trips up homes down

Wanna green your ride? Ditch the Prius, hop on a train

Chart: EPA Here's one to piss off the yuppies: Driving your hybrid car from your Energy Star home to the food co-op is not as green as hopping on the subway from your apartment. A new EPA study says that moving from a car-oriented to a transit-oriented community has the biggest impact on your energy usage -- more than green buildings or green cars. Of course, doing something is better than nothing. Not everyone can move to multi-family building in a transit-oriented city, which the study found is the greenest way to go (besides, of course, moving to a multi-family …