CarFree Times
      Issue 9

Winter 1999     
 

Not a Carfree Prison, Amsterdam, 1998
This is actually a carfree residential development on the site of a disused waterworks. Six times as many people wanted to become "inmates" as there was room. I find this kind of architecture simply inexplicable, unless it has only to do with cost, but at least it
is carfree.

Events

Carfree Day in Britain

The ETA National Car Free Day will be held in Britain on 8 June 1999. The campaign aims to convince the government that radical changes to transport policy are not only necessary but would be welcomed by most voters. During the 1998 Car Free Day, 75% of drivers said they would welcome the banning of cars from city centers.

Car Free Cities Conference

The next Car Free Cities conference will be held in Athens on 25 June 1999 as the closing event of the En Route II project (looking at rational use of energy in urban transport). The conference is organized by the European Union. The conference name is a little misleading - itís about reducing urban traffic, not about carfree cities.

For more information, send e-mail to: cfc@eurocities.be

Fourth Conference of the Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies

"Transportation Science and Technology into the Next Millennium" is the name of a conference to be held in Hong Kong starting on 4 December, 1999. Presentations are expected on new modeling approaches, concepts, technology, practices, and trends. Non-motorized transport and freight transport will receive consideration.

For further information, see the conference Web site

Walk a Child to School Week

Sponsored by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk a Child to School Week is slated for 4-8 October 1999. Parents, care-givers, faculty, staff, and children are encouraged to walk to school. Officials are urged to take part. The goals are to:
  • Encourage adults to teach children safe pedestrian behaviors
  • Have adults help children identify and practice safe routes to school
  • Remind everyone of the tremendous health benefits of regular walking

From Mark Fenton, Editor at Large of Walking Magazine,
one of the sponsors of Partnership for a Walkable America.

Bike Summer

Bike Summer will be held in San Francisco in July and August, celebrating bicycling and alternative transport. Bike Summer will include events for people who believe that the automobile is choking our cities, and that there is a better way to get around.

Congress for the New Urbanism VII

Entitled "The Wealth of Cities," the next CNU congress will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, between 3 and 6 June 1999.

Quote of the Quarter

"The death of the Galleria suggests something profound and mysterious. No one can know for certain what killed it. Whatever the forces were, they were big.... Malls were terribly destructive to city life. They sucked people off the street and placed them in this synthetic, cold environment. They left you feeling disconnected from everyday life, an almost disembodied experience.... So if the Sherman Oaks Galleria, one of the national icons of mall life, suddenly collapses and dies like some dinosaur, it leaves you hoping that the whole phenomenon of malls may be crumbling. What's bad for malls is good for any city, and that's especially true in Los Angeles."

Daniel Rosenfeld, former head of real estate operations for the city of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times, 31 January 1999

Feature

World May Be On Edge Of Environmental Revolution

As we approach the new millennium, there are growing signs that the world may be on the edge of an environmental revolution comparable to the political revolution that swept Eastern Europe, reports Lester Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute, in an article in the March/April issue of World Watch. The social revolution in Eastern Europe led to a restructuring of the region's political systems. This global revolution could lead to an environmentally driven restructuring of the global economy.

"Not all environmentalists will agree with me," said author Lester Brown, "but I believe that there are now some clear signs that the world is in the early stages of a major shift in environmental consciousness. What is not clear to me is whether we will cross this threshold in time to avoid the disruption of global economic progress."
....

For many who track environmental trends, such as collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, rising temperatures, and the wholesale loss of plant and animal species, it has been clear for some time that economic progress can be sustained only if the economy is restructured so that its natural support systems can be protected.

For those not already convinced of the need to replace the Western, fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with an economy that would be environmentally sustainable, what is happening as China modernizes offers compelling new evidence. For example, a car in every garage in China, American style, would not only deprive China of scarce cropland, but would also drive China's oil consumption to some 80 million barrels a day, well above the current world production of 67 million barrels per day.
....

Brown argues that there is an exciting alternative economic model that promises a better life everywhere without destroying the earth's natural support systems. The new economy will be powered not by fossil fuels, but by various sources of solar energy and hydrogen. Urban transportation systems will be centered not around the car, but around high-tech light rail systems augmented by bicycles and walking. Instead of a throwaway economy, we will have a reuse/recycle economy.

"Twenty years ago when we first outlined this new model at the Institute, it was seen as pie-in-the-sky," said Brown. "Now that view is changing both because it is becoming clear that the old model won't work and also because we can see the broad outline of the environmentally sustainable economic model emerging."

Nowhere is the new model more visible than in the energy sector. While oil and coal use have expanded by just over 1 percent a year since 1990, the use of solar cells has expanded by 16 percent per year and wind power by a prodigious annual rate of 26 percent. Wind power already supplies 8 percent of Denmark's electricity and 15 percent of the electricity for Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany. In Spain's northern state of Navarra, it has gone from 0 to 23 percent in just three years. Worldwide, the wind power potential is several times that of hydropower, which now supplies just over one fifth of the world's electricity.
...

Governments, too, are changing. Denmark has banned the construction of coal-fired power plants. Costa Rica plans to get all its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. In mid-August 1998, after several weeks of near-record flooding in the Yangtze River basin, Premier Zhu Rongji ordered a halt to tree cutting in the upper basin, arguing that trees standing are worth three times as much as those cut.

If we are indeed approaching a social threshold on the environment that could lead to a rapid restructuring of the economy, will it come soon enough? Is it too late to save the Aral Sea? Yes, its fish are gone. Is it too late to save Indonesia's rain forests? Probably. Is it too late to avoid global warming? Apparently. The Earth's average temperature now appears to be rising. Can we ameliorate future temperature rises? Yes. Can we move fast enough to prevent environmental deterioration from disrupting the global economy? Probably. But only if we cross the threshold soon.
....

Brown writes that archeologists have uncovered the sites of earlier civilizations that moved onto economic paths that were environmentally destructive and could not make the needed course corrections either because they did not understand what was happening or could not summon the needed political will.

"We do know what is happening," said Brown. "The question for us is whether our global society can cross the social threshold that will enable us to restructure the global economy before environmental deterioration leads to economic decline."

From a Worldwatch press release, 25 February 1999.
The full text of the article is available from Worldwatch

Itís generally considered poor journalism to quote a press release, but this one was such an excellent summary of our current situation that I decided simply to reproduce most of it.

World News Notes & Comment

A selection of worldwide current-events involving the urban automobile during the previous season.

ARCO: "Age of Oil" Entering Its Last Days

ARCO chief Mike R. Bowlin has said that the world is entering "the last days of the Age of Oil" and urged the energy industry to consider the need to change to alternative transportation fuels, including natural gas. Bowlin made the statement at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates' annual conference. He said that the 21st century will bring dramatic changes to the energy industry, and that natural gas and renewable fuels will play decisive roles in the energy mix of the future. Bowlin said, "Embrace the future and recognize the growing demand for a wide array of fuels, or ignore reality and slowly - but surely - be left behind."

From a posting by Marty Bernard to the Sierra Clubís
CONS-SPST-SPRAWL-TRANS list

The critical point: Bowlin is a really big cheese in the oil industry.

Warmest Year Since Records Were Kept

The average global temperature for 1998 was the highest since extensive record-keeping began in 1860, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced. The United Nations agency said the earth's mean surface temperature would be 0.58 degrees C above the average for the period 1961-90. In 1997, the previous warmest year, the temperature was "only" 0.43 degrees C above average. Global temperatures are now almost 0.7 degrees C above those at the end of the 19th century. 1998 was the 20th consecutive year in which global surface temperatures were above normal. WMO Secretary-General Godwin Obasi said that the international community should fight global warming.

Posted to the BEST list by
Scott B. Nelson, Director, Projects & Technology, Communicopia Internet

Climate Change, Now!

In the first six months of 1998, temperatures in Canada averaged 2.7 degrees C above normal. This increase is as great as the increase predicted to occur globally by 2100. David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada, said that this year's variations are "off the map." The warming is consistent with some climate models that predict greater temperature increases in higher latitudes. Similar increases have also been reported in Alaska, where glaciers are retreating and woodlands are suffering from "drunken forest" syndrome as a result of warming. Warming in Alaska has run at a rate of a degree C per decade since 1970.

Wind Energy Weekly, v.17, #816 (28 September 1998)
American Wind Energy Association, 122 C Street NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20001, USA. Tel +1 202 383-2500
and reports from the BBC

Antarctic Ice Melt: Coming Sooner Than You Think?

Global warming could raise sea levels by as much as 6 meters (20 feet) in the next generation, yet global warming could touch off a mini ice-age. Global warming could soon begin to threaten the massive western Antarctic ice shelf; if it melts, huge volumes of cold water would enter the oceans and disrupt global sea currents known as the global Oceanic Conveyor Belt, causing temperatures in some areas to plunge. (This is also known as the thermo-haline circulation system, as reported in Carfree Times #6.) Antarctic ice, with an average depth of 2200 meters, contains 90 percent of the earth's fresh water; if all of it melted, sea levels would rise by 70 meters. If the ice sheets melt, the functioning of the global conveyer belt could be interrupted, causing a small ice age. In the next century, average global temperatures could rise at four times the rate of the current century, an increase of as much as 3 degrees C. Worse yet, "Once the conditions are set in train to melt, the process cannot be stopped," according to Peter Barrett, an Antarctic scientist. "This is a wake-up call," he said.

From a posting to the BEST list by Scott B. Nelson

Nothing is for sure yet, but it seems awfully likely that our tinkering with the atmosphere is going to cause us much sorrow. The only real questions seem to be: when, how much, and for whom?

Researchers Fear Synergy in Global Warming

The effects of global warming could be multiplied by the warming of Arctic tundra. Researchers at Ohio State University found that raising temperatures by about 2 degrees C caused the tundra to release extra carbon dioxide. The researchers conducted a controlled experiment in Alaska, using snow fences to control the amount of snow falling on different plots of land. Small greenhouses were used to control the temperature. A slight temperature increase caused carbon dioxide emissions to rise by 26 to 38% under normal snowfall. However, when more snow fell on a plot, the carbon dioxide emissions increased by 112 to 326%. Increased snowfall is a likely result of global warming. The arctic contains nearly one-third of the earth's stored soil carbon, which is released when plants and microorganisms in the soil breathe.

From a Reuters story posted to the BEST list

Even Time Thinks It's Time for a Change

The place: greater Atlanta, 1999. This metropolitan area is probably the fastest-spreading human settlement in history. It now sprawls across an area more than 110 miles wide, up from just 65 miles in 1990. Every week, another 500 acres of field and farmland are converted to more sprawl, with its tract houses, roads, strip malls, highway interchanges, industrial "parks," and billboards. Automotive air pollution has become so severe that the federal government has withheld further highway funding until the region meets clean-air standards. Georgia Governor Roy Barnes said, "We can't go on like this." Barnes has proposed a regional transportation authority with the power to block plans for new roads that encourage sprawling development.

"Dumb growth is not confined to Atlanta. Half a century after America loaded the car and fled to the suburbs, these boundless, slapdash places are making people want to flee once more. 'All of a sudden, they're playing leapfrog with a bulldozer,' says Al Gore, who wants to be the anti-sprawl candidate in 2000."

"Before America Turns into One Giant Paved-Over Subdivision,
People Are Fighting Back. Is There Hope?"
Time Magazine, 22 March 1999

Time is as mainstream as you can get. Sprawl is going to be a hot issue in the year-2000 elections. The approaches proposed by the Democrats are not solutions, although they are surely improvements on current practice.

The Relationship Between
Highway Expansion and Congestion

The Surface Transportation Policy Project recently released an analysis of road expansion as a congestion relief measure. Data for 70 metro areas gathered during a 15 year period was analyzed. The conclusion: metropolitan areas that invest in road capacity expansion fared no better in easing road congestion than areas that did not. Areas that exhibited greater growth in lane capacity spent roughly $22 billion more on road construction than those that didn't, yet ended up with slightly higher congestion costs per person, wasted fuel, and travel delay. Building roads to relieve congestion costs thousands of dollars per family per year. Nashville, Tennessee spent $3,243 per family per year, to little avail.

"An Analysis of the Relationship Between Highway Expansion and Congestion in Metropolitan Areas"
November 1998, Surface Transportation Policy Project
1100 17th Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
Tel +1 202 466 2636 or their Web site

It's just money down a rat hole.

Maybe Those Malls Don't Really Work After All

Los Angeles architect Jon Jerde recently pointed out that his "casbah-like" renovation project in the "burned-out downtown" of San Diego, Horton Plaza, drew 35 million visitors in its first year. He says that a big mall in an ideal location can only be expected to draw about 9 million visitors a year.

Interview by Allison Silver in the LA Times
20 December 1998

People really do like genuine urban environments.

Road Rage

Road rage in the Riverside-San Bernardino area leads to a roadway death rate higher than any other major US metropolitan region in the nation, according to a report by the Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP). The rate of speeding, tailgating and red-light jumping is double the rate in Los Angeles and Orange counties. "We've always dealt with aggressive driving by telling drivers to calm down, but this study shows that aggressive driving may have more to do with where you live than how you feel," said Gloria Ohland, Southern California director of STPP. The group advocates better public transit and co-location of jobs, housing and shopping.

Riverside County Supervisor Tom Mullen explained why he believes that so many of his constituents drive so aggressively. "Your family is 40 miles away, and you're driving one or two hours to get home after putting in 8 to 12 hours on the job, and you're tired and hungry, and you're worried about getting your kids to soccer or keeping the appointment with your child's teacher, or you just want to spend some quality time with your family. You're stuck in traffic," he said.

The ten large US metropolitan areas that note the most fatalities from aggressive driving are in the Sun Belt region, where development is "typically marked by many sprawling subdivisions and office parks that can only be reached by high-speed arterials, which are more dangerous for drivers as well as more frustrating for residents," according to the report.

"Inland Empire Leads in Fatal Road Rage"
LA Times
, 9 March 1999

The commuter rail lines in the area have experienced an 85% increase in ridership in the five years since service began. People aren't dumb - they know a better solution when they see one.

Carfree Sundays in the Netherlands

According to opinion polls, 60% of the Dutch want one or more carfree Sundays every year. Next September will see the first carfree Sunday since the 1973 oil crisis. For more information, contact klaas.breunissen@wxs.nl.

"First Car-Free Sunday Nationwide in 26 Years"
Car Busters, Early Spring 1999

I can't wait - finally all that traffic just outside my door will disappear, at least for a day.

Turning the Corner on Density

Australian Peter Newman recently launched his new book, Sustainability and Cities, which claims that a global process to reclaim cities from sprawl and car dependence has already begun. Based on an analysis of 42 cities around the world, Newman found that, after a century of decline, densities in all but two of the metropolitan areas he studied are increasing or have stopped decreasing. Newman said, "The return to the city and the rise of non-auto-based city planning is universal, not just because it is good economics and better for the environment, but because young people no longer have the same desire to leave the city for suburban environments," He attributes the trend towards "smart growth" to a shift in transportation priorities towards transit, the change to an information-based economy and the widespread desire for more livable communities.

Posted to the CONS-SPST-SPRAWL-TRANS list by Dan Burden

Kids' Health and Bad Air

"Most children who live in large cities in the developing world breathe air that is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day."

Devra Lee Davis, an epidemiologist, as quoted by
Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent for Reuters
as posted to the BEST list

When I was in Bangkok and Jakarta, it seemed more like a carton an hour.

Leaded Kids

Health experts are urging developing countries to combat lead pollution and end the damage it does to kids. Lead has left millions of kids in developing countries with permanent brain damage. "The problem is very serious," according to Herbert L. Needleman, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. "Blood lead levels are terribly high in India, Bangladesh... China has a serious problem and so does Russia." The World Health Organization estimates that 15 to 18 million children in developing countries suffer permanent brain damage because of lead poisoning. Automobile fuels, paints, cooking utensils and drinking water systems are the main sources of environmental lead.

From a posting to the BEST list by Scott B. Nelson

If you thought leaded fuels had disappeared, think again.

Truck and Bus Emission Reductions in the EU

The European Union will require large cuts in emissions from diesel- and gas-powered buses and trucks by 2005. Limits will be imposed on five pollutants: CO, CH4, NOx, VOC, and particulates, requiring cuts to half current levels in just six years. In calling for the cuts, Austrian Environment Minister Martin Bartenstein said that the motor vehicle industry is responsible for the emission of more than half of total particulates and 40% of all NOx. The changes will increase the cost of new trucks by between 1 and 4%. The new law requires the approval of the European Parliament before taking effect and is part of a program to cut air pollution by improving vehicles and fuels.

From a posting to the BEST list by Scott B. Nelson

This is another example of the difficulties we face. The cuts will mostly affect diesel-powered vehicles, which make more efficient use of energy than gasoline-powered vehicles. In many respects, diesel exhaust is cleaner than exhaust from gasoline engines, but NOx and particulates have been an intractable problem for years. It is not out of the question that vehicle manufacturers will convert some diesel models to gasoline power in order to minimize the cost of reducing emissions. Such a change would result in a modest increase in fuel consumption because of the lower efficiency of gasoline engines. I wonder if any of these changes will help reduce the stink of diesel exhaust.

Hypercars Are No Longer Hype

Several years ago, Rocky Mountain Institute claimed that "hypercars" achieving a fuel economy of 200 MPG and more were technically feasible. The hypercar is now becoming a reality. Toyota is leading the charge, with its Prius (now on sale in Japan) winning the Car-of-the-Year hybrid. It gets 66 MPG in the city. The most surprising event was Toyota's prediction that hybrids will gain a one-third world market share by 2005.
Keep your eye on the ball. Even if cars become quicker, safer, cheaper, quieter, more efficient, and less polluting, they still impose enormous burdens on the city, its inhabitants, and the global ecosystem.

Those Bloody SUVs, Redux

Research shows that high-riding SUVs are four times more likely to tip over in collisions than passenger cars. An American Automobile Association study shows that in collisions between SUVs and cars, car occupants are 10 times more likely to die. Legally defined as trucks, these behemoths belch three to five times as much smog-causing pollution as cars. After years of inaction, the Environmental Protection Agency is finally proposing to clamp down on emissions from these fuel hogs.

Posted to the CONS-SPST-SPRAWL-TRANS list by Jim Clarke
based on a Baltimore Sun article, 16 March 1999

Legalized Slaughter

Right Of Way, a New York City pedestrian and cycling organization, found that the police issued moving violation citations in only 154 of the 947 collisions fatal to a pedestrian or bicyclist during the period 1994-1997. "Only seven drivers who killed were ticketed for violations that specifically endanger pedestrians and cyclists, such as violating right-of-way in a crosswalk, unsafe backing, unsafe opening of a car door, and driving on a sidewalk." Careful analysis of accident reports found that drivers were at least partially responsible for most of the deaths, notwithstanding the small number of citations issued.

Charles Komanoff and members of Right of Way
"Killed by Automobile: Death in the Streets in New York City 1994-1997."
The report is available for $7.50 from Right Of Way
305 Broadway, Room 402, New York, NY 10007.

I cannot comprehend why the police are so lax in their handling of these cases.

Speed Does Kill

Chances of a pedestrian surviving a collision:

Vehicle SpeedPedestrian Survival Chance
40 MPH10%
30 MPH60%
20 MPH95%
A speed of 40 MPH is about 65 km/hr.

M.Durkin and T.Pheby
"York: Aiming To Be the UK's First Traffic Calmed City"
in Traffic Management and Road Safety,
PTRC Education and Research Services Ltd.
London, England, 1992, pp. 73-90
as cited in a posting by Warren Nielsen to the CONS-SPST-SPRAWL-TRANS list

The driver's survival chance is, of course, nearly 100%. Let's also remember that many of those who survive are maimed. I was recently nearly run down by an SUV driver in a New York City crosswalk while crossing with the light. He was talking on a cell phone, and doubtless too busy to look out for a lowly pedestrian. My chances would have been about 50/50 if I hadn't gotten out of his way. I slammed the side of his vehicle, but he didn't even slow down.

European Pedestrian Bill of Rights

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the protection of pedestrians. Some highlights of the resolution:
  • The pedestrian has the right to live in a healthy environment and freely to enjoy the amenities offered by public areas under conditions that adequately safeguard his physical and psychological well-being.
  • The pedestrian has the right to live in urban or village centers tailored to the needs of human beings and not to the needs of the motor car....
  • Children, the elderly and the disabled have the right to expect towns to be places of easy social contact and not places that aggravate their inherent weakness.
  • The pedestrian has the right to urban areas which are intended exclusively for his use, are as extensive as possible and are not mere "pedestrian precincts" but in harmony with the overall organization of the town.

As posted to the BEST list by Ken Wuschke
The European Charter of Pedestrians' Rights adopted in 1988
(European Session Document A 2-0154/88) HTML version

Demand your rights.

Energy Consumption Tax

Germany is beginning to shift taxation away from income and towards energy consumption. The change is expected to alter consumption patterns and help protect the environment. On 1 April 1999, fuel and energy will become more expensive in Germany. The additional tax revenue will be used to finance a lowering of social security premiums.
This isn't the only possible approach, of course, but it may work quite well. The initial tax rate is quite low, but could be increased over the years.

Young Environmentalists "Get Out Spoke'n"

Teen-age environmental advocates have launched a campaign to make America more bike-friendly. "Biking is fun, biking is healthy and biking is good for the environment," said Anrit Chaudhuri, 13. Earth Force is a nonprofit organization that promotes bicycling and helps teens to solve local environmental problems. Their motto: "Get Out-Spoke'n." The group is asking for more bike racks, more bike routes, better bike safety education, and solutions to environmental problems. "We feel passionately about our environment and we want to make an impact on our world,'' said Emily Baran, 17.

As posted to the CONS-SPST-SPRAWL-TRANS list

Many members of this generation are going to find that their life work is cleaning up after earlier environmental disasters. We wish them strength and good luck. They're going to need it.

Sim[Carfree]City?

Maxis, publisher of the long-popular SimCity, released a new version of the game, SimCity 3000, that more realistically models transport. We provided a quick tour of the carfree city concept for SimCity players at the Maxis site.

Resources

Victoria Transport Policy Institute Reports Available

A variety of transport-related reports, previously available only in printed form at significant cost, are now available for free download. Some examples of the available reports:
  • Automobile Dependency and Economic Development
  • A Critical Evaluation of Electric Vehicle Benefits
  • Defining and Quantifying Public Transit Benefits
  • Generated Traffic; Implications for Transport Planning
  • Guide to Calculating TDM Benefits
  • Land Use Impact Costs of Transportation
  • Transportation Cost Analysis for Sustainability

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Contact Information

J.H. Crawford
Tel. +31 20 638 5115
E-mail Send e-mail
URL http://www.carfree.com/

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