Carfree Times
      Issue 12

Fall 1999     
 

Rialto Bridge, Venice, c.1900

News at Carfree.com

Carfree Cities

Negotiations broke down with both publishers mentioned in the last issue of Carfree Times. However, a small publisher is now prepared to bring out the book late this winter. This is fortunate turn of events, as this publisher has been active in the fields of ecology and sustainable development and also has a full-fledged international distribution network. The book will be available to bookstores worldwide, something the earlier publishing deal would not have achieved. When a final agreement is reached, I will put up a notice on the Carfree Cities Status Update page. The book will, of course, also be sold on the Internet.

Author's Tour

J.H. Crawford is planning a round-the-world tour to promote Carfree Cities and the carfree concept, as well as to meet those e-mail friends without whose help the book could never have been finished. The tour will probably begin in March or April and last about three months. If your group would be interested in hosting a talk by J.H. Crawford and exchanging ideas on sustainable urban development, please send mail as soon as possible, while the itinerary is still flexible.

Brussels Workshop

J.H. Crawford presented the carfree concept and its rationale to a receptive audience in Brussels on 27 November 1999. About 20 members of the Brussels group Piétons à Bruxelles attended the afternoon presentation, which was followed by a brisk question-and-answer exchange. Our thanks to Bernard Delloye for organizing the workshop. For more information on the group, see Carfree Times #11.

Postcards

Carfree.com now carries scans of about 250 postcards of street scenes, mostly between 1897 and 1914. Cars are visible in only a very few of the images. These cards show how attractive streets were before they were rearranged for the convenience of drivers and overrun by cars. Visit the postcard home page.

Events

Fourth International Ecocity Conference

4-7 April 2000 Curitiba, Brazil
The ecological cities movement will hold its fourth Ecocity conference in Curitiba, Brazil. This conference offers a unique opportunity to meet with world leaders in the ecocity movement and to study the progress made in Curitiba, which has made great progress towards sustainable development. Researchers, scientists, architects, planners, government workers and decision makers, developers, NGO representatives, students will gather to study building a healthier human habitat.

Earth Day

22 April 2000
People around the world will celebrate the 30th Earth Day.

For more information:
Earth Day

Vélo Mondial 2000

18-22 June 2000, Amsterdam
This is the world's foremost bicycle conference. It aims to promote an understanding of the role of bicycles in a sustainable transport network.

ISEE 2000 Conference:
Business, the Economy & Sustainability

July 2000, Canberra, and on-line
The conference is for those interested in an ecologically-sustainable economy, to be achieved by redesigning commerce. A 12-month preparatory Internet virtual conference now under way includes an electronic mini-conference, pre-conference networking, and e-mail-based workshops and seminars.

More information:
ISEE 2000 Conference

Ninth World Conference on Transport Research

22-27 July 2001, Seoul
The organizers seek to gather managers, policy makers, and academics at a single forum where they can exchange views on the practice and theory of transport research.

For more information:
9th WCTR

Quote of the Quarter

"The environment is much more than a policy position to me; it is a profoundly moral obligation. We only have one Earth. And if we do not keep it healthy and safe, every other gift we leave our children will be meaningless."

World News Notes & Comment

Current events related to urban automobiles during the previous season.

Merchants Survive Carfree Day in Amsterdam

The results are in: there is life after cars. Amsterdam held a "carfree" day on 19 September. There were still plenty of cars around, not all of them parked, but car traffic in the city center was far below normal. However, the merchants, who had stoutly opposed the carfree day and brought suit to block it, admitted in a survey conducted afterwards that their receipts on the day in question declined by only 0.5%. Some 55% of the merchants even said that it would be OK to have carfree days in the future.

Among others polled, 79% who visited the city on that day reported positive experiences. Among residents, the figure drops to 61%. This is a little hard to explain, since the greatest support for the successful referendum (held eight years ago) to reduce car traffic in the inner city was among the inner-city residents.

"Autoloze dag schaadt omzet niet"
NRC Handelsblad
1 December 1999

This is an old story. Merchants typically oppose plans for carfree areas, but they usually change their minds once the cars are gone and wouldn't have them back for anything.

More, More, More

French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet urged all European cities to ban cars for one day next year, joining a controversial "Downtown Without My Car" experiment carried out by France and other European nations in September. Plans are to repeat the carfree day in September 2000. A French survey showed that the percentage or residents using their cars in the city center had dropped to 5% from 22% and pollution had fallen by 20-30%. An opinion poll showed 83% of city residents of the cities involved wanted the experiment to be repeated. Only 4% believed the carfree day was a gimmick.

From the A SEED Europe Transport Mailing list

More, more, more. People like it. Really!

Clear the Way

"The plan of MMDA Chairman Binay to ban private cars from Metro Manila's streets one day per week is a pleasant surprise because it is the first intelligent announcement from government to be directed at the twin problems of traffic congestion and motor vehicle pollution. For once, the MMDA has seen fit to directly address the real problem - too many private cars. This proliferation of private vehicles, the majority of which carry one or two passengers, is the most inefficient and profligate way to respond to our people's mobility needs. In the jargon of economists and technocrats, it is an irrational behavior and, therefore, should be discouraged."

from a letter to the editor of The Philippine Daily Inquirer
as circulated by the Sustainable Transport Network
14 Mabait St.
Teacher's Village
Diliman, Quezon City
E-mail: heckler@quickweb.com.ph

Beating Plowshares into Bulldozers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Inventory reveals that the pace of suburban development has doubled during the 1990s, to more than 3,000,000 acres (roughly 1,200,000 hectares) a year. Nearly 16,000,000 acres of formerly open space were developed between 1992 and 1997, an amount greater than during the ten-year period 1982-1992.
Bulldozers may be coming soon to a field or forest near you.

Sprawl Report Redux

The Sierra Club's second annual sprawl report, entitled "Solving Sprawl," shows that states and communities across the nation are using innovative programs and tools to handle growth in less damaging ways.

Sprawl Is Not Inevitable, Report Finds
Environmental News Network
The full report is available from the Sierra Club

Just Don't Bother

A recent study has shown that traffic delays resulting from highway construction can be so severe, and the ultimate time savings so small, that it can take years for drivers to actually realize a net savings. In fact, the reconstruction of the Springfield Interchange near Washington is projected never to save the time lost during the eight years construction will last.

"This report shows the drawbacks of using road construction as the only solution to easing congestion," says Roy Kienitz, Executive Director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP). "Our transportation officials should first try fighting congestion in ways that are less expensive, just as effective, and help drivers right now." STPP suggests clearing accidents more quickly, increasing train and bus service, and building communities so people can drive less.

Traffic Congestion Driven by Sprawl:
Analysis finds new roads may just make things worse
Surface Transportation Policy Project

I'll vote for better train service and especially for building walkable communities.

EU Plans Increased Rail Freight Service

The European Commission plans to force European rail freight companies to compete with trucking. Gridlock on the highways is one reason for the initiative. Average rail freight speeds have fallen to just 16 km/hr in Europe. Part of this is due to widely varying and incompatible rail systems in Europe. (The Iberian Peninsula does not even use standard gauge.) Rail's share of the freight market has fallen to just 13%. Balkanization of the rail system is a leading cause of difficulties and will be addressed under the EC plan - as it now stands, practically nothing can cross borders, not even computerized information. The rail companies in different nations (most of which are partially or entirely in state hands) will be forced to work together. About $200 million is being made available to remove bottlenecks in the system.

"Brussels aims to put freight back on track"
Financial Times,
26 November 1999

Climate Changes

Sediments from the subtropical Atlantic Ocean, deposited during the last ice age, reveal that extreme temperature fluctuations occurred during and at the end of the period. "What is new here is clear evidence that the warm Atlantic, like the polar Atlantic, was undergoing very large and very rapid temperature changes during the last glacial period," said Scott Lehman, a research associate at the University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Temperatures in the Sargasso Sea fluctuated repeatedly by up to 5 degrees Celsius during the period 60,000 to 30,000 years ago. The magnitude of the variation is comparable to that between the last ice age and current conditions. "The warming at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, was supported by the disappearance of enormous ice sheets, a one-third increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and changes in the seasonal distribution of the sun's energy," said Lehman. "But the abrupt changes we documented during the last ice age seem to be almost entirely ocean driven."

Melting glaciers send fresh water into the Earth's oceans, and scientists believe this cycle triggers abrupt and long-lasting cooling events, including ice ages, by interfering with the conveyor belt of sea water carrying heat from the tropics to temperate regions. "Numerical modeling studies show that similar changes can be triggered by warming associated with human emissions as well," said Lehman.

Study hints at extreme climate change
CNN's Environmental News Network

It now appears that climate mechanisms are less stable than many would like to believe.

Just Do It

"According to climate modellers using one of the world's fastest supercomputers at the UK's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, a continued unmitigated increase in world emissions of CO2 - the most important greenhouse gas - will lead by the 2080s to a three degrees Centigrade increase in global temperatures and a 40 centimetre increase in sea levels."
I'm biased, I admit it. A 40 centimeter rise in sea level would probably put my doorstep under water from time to time.

Defrosting the Fridge

Arctic sea ice is disappearing rapidly, and human activity is the cause. There is a 98% chance that the melting is due at least partially due to anthropogenic climate change. Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a rate of 37,000 square kilometers a year.
The change in the amount of the sea's surface covered by ice is itself likely to cause further climate change.

Canada: Passenger Trucks Take It on the Chin

"Additional taxes on cars that consume a large amount of gasoline would threaten the sale of profitable sport utility vehicles. The Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz SUVs can yield profits of as much as US$15,000 each. This fall, Ford will introduce its three-tonne Excursion SUV which gets about 12 miles to the gallon."
The last time Ford came up with the "world's biggest" SUV, the Greens nicknamed it the "Valdez." Wonder what they'll come up with for this behemoth.

E-commerce to the Rescue?

In the USA, energy intensity (the amount of energy consumed per unit of economic output) fell 4% in 1997 and a further 4% in 1998. By 2007, consumer and business e-commerce could eliminate the need for about 5% of total US office space. That translates to a savings of about 53 billion KWH/year of electricity and 67 trillion BTUs of natural gas.
In Carfree Times #10, we reported the "decoupling" of economic growth and energy consumption. The Internet may be the main cause.

Gasp!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that nine of ten large metropolitan regions that have routinely violated federal air quality standards still lack an acceptable plan to improve air quality. If you live in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Hartford, Houston, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C., your air has been deemed unfit to breathe. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 gave these areas until 1999 to develop plans for improving air quality. Each of the nine areas must now update transportation and air quality plans to protect public health and the environment. Areas that fail to meet federal requirements by May 2000 could lose funding for highway projects and face federally-mandated cleanup programs.
You may recall that Washington is the capital of the USA. Maybe government officials are also getting tired of breathing filthy air.

Groping for Gas

Henry Groppe of the Houston consulting firm Groppe, Long and Littell predicted in October 1998 that oil would reach $20 per barrel by mid-1999 and $26 by year-end. At the time, most analysts forecast that the price of oil would hover around $12 oil for several years. Recently, the price of oil indeed reached about $26. It appears that the capacity-demand balance is tighter than many had believed.

Declines in the production of natural gas in the USA may also become a serious concern. According to Groppe, only the deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico and tight-gas reservoirs in the Rocky Mountains hold much hope for an increase in production. He said, however, "We donít think those are adequate to offset the declines in our biggest sources of production. In fact, the principal growing supply for the U.S. the last 13 years has been imports from Canada. And without those we would have had a severe gas shortage long ago."

Canada is now producing at capacity, and Groppe thinks the country will be unable to continue its past growth rate. In fact, its reserve-life index has declined from about 28 years to 10 years during the past 12 years, during which period Canada only replaced production with additions to reserves during a single year.

This is a serious concern indeed. Some scenarios for a change to a sustainable energy system had assumed that gas reserves would be sufficient to provide a bridge to sustainable sources as oil wells ran dry.

Better Living Through Enzyme Chemistry

Scientists have created a synthetic enzyme that produces hydrogen fuel. This breakthrough could move the world closer to a sustainable hydrogen-based economy. Previous methods of generating hydrogen, such as electrolysis and catalytic conversion of hydrocarbons, have consumed considerably more energy than the hydrogen yielded when burned and were expensive to boot.

Synthetic enzyme produces hydrogen cheaply
Environmental News Network

This was a vital step on the road to sustainable energy.

Gas Lines Redux?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that world oil inventories are being drawn down so rapidly that consumers in the West may face shortages this winter. The effectiveness of OPEC supply curbs has resulted in a rapid draw-down of stocks, and the Iraqi decision to suspend exports in protest over a United Nations sanctions resolution exacerbates the situation.

"Without Iraqi output in December we run the danger of seeing some spot outages to consumers in the supply of heating oil or gasoline this winter," said David Knapp, the head of the oil markets division at the IEA. Robert Priddle, executive director of the IEA, projected a five million-barrel-a-day shortfall in global oil supplies during December 1999. He went on to say that, if Y2K problems disrupted deliveries at year-end, the agency was prepared to order OECD governments to tap their strategic reserves. Those close to OPEC say that big producers like Saudi Arabia do not wish to increase inflationary pressures in the West and want to limit the increase in prices. According to the IEA, oil supply from outside OPEC is increasing far more slowly than demand.

IEA says OPEC bites deep into world oil stocks
Environmental News Network
(Sorry, you'll have to be a member of ENN to view this article.)

Apparently, the USA could be especially hard hit.

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

"In the 1950s, oil producers discovered about fifty barrels of oil for every barrel invested in drilling and pumping. Today, the figure is only about five for one. Sometime around 2005, that figure will become one for one. In other words, even if the price of oil reaches $500 a barrel, it wouldn't make energy sense to look for new oil in the United States after 2005 because it would consume more energy than it would recover."

"So You Want To Build Another Road? Consider This"
NoVA Sprawl Weekly

Many economists think that oil supplies will increase as prices rise. A better understanding of thermodynamics would serve them well.

Nixon Would Roll Over in His Grave

Almost half of likely voters in Republican primaries consider themselves environmentalists, and 93% said that protecting the environment was important in their voting decision. John Zogby, an independent pollster who conducted the survey, said, "Republican candidates would be wise to note that there has been a significant shift of the party's likely primary voters away from the far right and more toward the center."
Lately, the Republicans have been looking more like the party of Abraham Lincoln and a little less like the party of Richard Nixon.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

A survey of more than 1,000 registered voters was conducted in September 1998 for the Sustainable Energy Coalition. Of the respondents, 76% said that "a candidate's position on the environmental and global warming" would make "a real difference" or at least "some difference" in how they vote. Furthermore, 57% believed that climate change was already contributing to changes in their local weather and 55% said "we should act now to reduce its impact on us." More than 90% also favored increased use of renewable energy, energy-efficient technologies, and natural gas "for dealing with the pollution that cause climate change."

"Public Opinion"
Sustainable Energy Coalition
315 Circle Avenue, #2
Takoma Park, MD 20912
E-mail: kbossong@cais.com

The public is ahead of the politicians on this one.

Take a Bow, Bill

U.S. President Clinton has unveiled new rules intended to improve air quality by cutting tailpipe emissions and reducing sulfur in gasoline. "These measures will assure every American cleaner air well into the 21st century. It will prevent thousands of premature deaths and protect millions of our children from respiratory disease. It will be the most dramatic improvement in air quality since the catalytic converter was first introduced a quarter century ago," Clinton said.

Car makers will finally be required to build SUVs and other "passenger trucks" to the same standards as passenger cars. Currently, half the new vehicles sold in the United States are SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans, which produce three to five times more pollution than cars.

The new rules would also lower sulfur emissions by 90 percent over a five-year phase in period, beginning in 2004. The reduction is expected to improve the effectiveness of catalytic converters.

As reported in Carfree Times #6, air quality has not actually improved substantially in the USA despite the catalytic converter, although the situation is probably better than it would have been without it. The oil industry is battling the changes tooth and nail. National Petrochemical and Refiners Association president Urvan Sternfels warned that the proposal for "swift and severe reductions in gasoline sulfur comes dangerously close to playing a game of Russian roulette with America's gasoline supply." The car makers aren't too pleased, either, but Ford's new P2000 LSR hybrid-electric car already meets the new emission standards, and gets 60 miles per gallon to boot.

Feature Article

Larger Responsibilities for Motorists

Simon Baddeley
Birmingham, England

Special to Carfree Times

The liberty offered by cars is increasingly conditional. Their value always involved a fine balance between choice and dependency, and now the mobility cars provide is more and more being linked to the mobility they remove. There is growing despondency among those who would like to use their cars less that alternatives won't work unless people volunteer their custom to other ways of getting around. Thus, deprivations long imposed on people without cars apply with increasing force to those with them. Space outside cars is felt to be hazardous. Anyone with a choice in the matter is reluctant to enter it except to traverse a few paces from car to home or car park to shopping center. New technology may reduce vehicle pollution, but it cannot recover the enormous interaction space occupied by speeding traffic. Before that lost social space can become available for use by pedestrians, a legal and moral space has to be reclaimed.

Future accounts of the way civil space was reclaimed from road traffic will note how governments at the Millennium mustered the political will to define a new type of crime. In Britain this involves not just the Minister for Transport but the agency concerned with implementing criminal legislation. Home Office Minister Jack Straw's new "Crime and Disorder" Bill targets traffic behavior which "local people perceive to be unsafe". This phrase marks a pivotal moment in changing entrenched British government attitudes to road traffic - long seen as a positive influence on local economies.

Straw's draft guidance on Statutory Crime and Disorder Partnerships upgrades traffic behavior as a dimension of community safety and urban regeneration. A wedge of new economic logic is being driven between the car and its long connection with local wealth production. From now on, every time people in public meetings complain about crime blighting their lives they can include dangerous driving as something which infringes their civil liberties but, perhaps more significantly, actually damages the local economy.

The mesh in a legislative net is being strengthened to include not only existing felonies but to define another class of miscreance - driving behavior perceived by local people as threatening their safety. Reckless driving, though long considered criminal or semi-criminal, has never before been so formally factored into the definition of quality of life, legitimized as an important influence on the local economy and a focus of public censure. This "new" crime will be officially on a par with more conventional street crime, as an act, which like the British crime of causing GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm), robbery and rape deprives people of access to roads, sidewalks and public space in general. In meetings and opinion surveys, the brunt of people's frustration against the colonization of their interaction space by motorists need no longer be borne by beleaguered transport engineers begging for money for speed bumps. Speed in a car has now become a true crime and no longer the price to be paid for a thriving economy.

A multiplicity of agencies is being required by the government to exercise "joined-up" thinking about what makes city life attractive and civilized. As a result official bodies pressed by a network of voluntary campaigning groups and charities are responding in a concerted way to concerns which for years have been marginalized and caricatured as eccentric grumbles about the benefits of car travel. These changes are decried by some interests as assaults on common sense, but common sense will alter, as it always does when an accumulation of private realizations becomes weighty enough to achieve political expression.

A new common sense is redefining accountability for road casualties. Until now, if a child runs into the street in front of a car and is injured or killed the general and intuitive view is still that the child is at fault. Only if they were exceeding the speed limit will the Courts fault the driver, though even here there could still be a presumption that the child shared liability for its own death or injury.

What must come to pass is that drivers should drive as though there were always the possibility that a child might run out in front of them. They must treat their car as thought it were a loaded gun with all the attendant liabilities. Indeed, as cyclists and walkers we spend our lives on the roads having to think of cars this way. All drivers must now do the same.

Courts will still refer to "accidents". The first small act of morality a society needs to make, and professional institutions must adopt, is to stop referring to "accidents". We need to speak instead of something that cannot, like an "accident", be attributed to fate but which starts by presuming the liability of the person in charge of a massive, fast-moving object.

I see a day when what has previously been considered the responsibility of the victim has become utterly the responsibility of the driver, as surely as a robber who is "carrying" is considered liable for gun shot injuries or deaths, however much they plead these were "unintended". We will come to see the phrase "they ran into the road without warning ... there was nothing I could do" regarded as no more a justification for injuring that person than the observation "with a short skirt and low top and all that make up she was asking for it" is an excuse for a sex assault.

Simon Baddeley
As well as being an academic and consultant whose work focuses on local government, Simon Baddeley is a commuting cyclist and the founding member of two community groups concerned with campaigning to increase understanding of the role played by public parks and allotments (city gardens) in urban regeneration. He lives with his family in Handsworth, Birmingham - a multi-racial area with considerable problems of poverty and deprivation 2 miles from the city centre.

Send e-mail to: Simon Baddeley

Paul Manning QPM, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police,* Chairman of the Police Traffic Committee circulated a memo to all Chief Constables dated July 1998 titled "Crime & Disorder Bill - the implications for Road Policing & Road Safety" drawing attention to Draft guidance on "Statutory Crime & Disorder Partnerships" issued by the Home Office. Quote: Paul Manning "This advice has far reaching implications for road policing in terms of dealing with 'crime' and 'disorder' occurring on the road"

The local police passed a copy of the memo to Simon Baddeley and
other local community groups in the inner-city area of Birmingham.

*The Metropolitan Police, often called "The Met,"
are in charge of policing London but are also viewed as
the country's senior police force - certainly in England.

See also "UK Considers Larger Responsibilities for Motorists"
about Simon Baddeley's campaigning. That article appeared in
Ernst Poulsen's Bicycle News Agency

Legislation has recently been proposed in the Netherlands that would hold motorists solely responsible for all injuries they cause except when the pedestrian or cyclist is guilty of gross irresponsibility. Merely by proposing the legislation, the government has put motorists on notice that the balance of responsibility is shifting.

Hot Links

Please suggest some. Be bold: it's OK to suggest your own site.

Encyclopedia Britannica is now on line and is a simply fabulous research tool. The Web implementation is nothing short of brilliant.

Geography at About.com - a geography mega-site with weekly articles, quizzes and an e-mail newsletter, annotated links to hundreds of sites, a chat room, and online forum devoted to geography.

ISTP's carfree housing page has had a major update and features seven case studies of carfree housing projects, including Amsterdam, Cologne, Edinburgh, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Vienna.

A to B is a bi-monthly magazine to guide you through the maze of alternative transport, specialising in public transport-friendly folding bikes, gradient-busting electric machines and bike trailers.

Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program at the US Department of Transportation provides information on TEA-21.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute website is reorganized, expanded, and moved to its own domain. The Institute is an independent research organization working to develop innovative solutions to transportation problems.

New Costs of Sprawl report from the Sierra Club.

"A mouse, and other naturalists, reclaim Paris streets," Christian Science Monitor, 23 September 1999. An article on the recent carfree day in Paris.

Railway Technology: The Website for the Railway Industry. Provide profiles of current high speed rail, heavy and light rail systems, and metro projects, including specifications and images. A railway equipment catalog is also included, as is a rail industry calendar and information on government departments and associations active in the railway industry.

Urban Watch looks at urban problems in the high density built environment of Hong Kong.

City Streets provides information about pedestrian safety in New York City and advocates for safer conditions.

Guidelines for Municipalities in the Design of Quality Urban Places invites people to submit images of urban places that they really enjoy. The catalogue is still small, but over time it may grow.

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions is devoted to sustainable development.

Neighborhood Communities is a neighborhood resource center.

MetroPlanet takes you on a ride on the world's subway, underground, metro, tunnelbana, U-Bahn and other urban mass transit systems.

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Carfree Times is published on Carfree.com at the end of each season. To receive e-mail notices of new issues, please visit the subscription page or send e-mail with the word "Subscribe" in the subject line. We do not share our mailing list.

Contact Information

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

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