10 July 2000
Venice, near the Piazza San Marco
News at Carfree.com
Distribution Problems with Carfree Cities Partially SolvedThanks to those who have ordered the book or attempted to - ordering Carfree Cities has been a frustrating experience for many. Unfortunately, Butterworth-Heinemann cataloged the book but never acquired rights to publish it, resulting in a "phantom edition" that made its way into the world's cataloging systems months ahead of cataloging data for the real book, published by International Books. Butterworth-Heinemann advises that they are doing everything possible to remove the phantom edition from cataloging databases. Any inquiries concerning the phantom edition are herewith directed to Butterworth-Heinemann.
The real book is hardcover and costs only US$29.95. If you are offered a paperback edition for US$37.95, you can be sure that it's the phantom edition.
In the USA, the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way to buy the book is to order from D.A. Salzmann - Books of Special Interest, where the book will be in stock for prompt shipment from 21 July 2000 onwards. The price is $29.95 plus $3.00 for surface shipment (plus California sales tax where applicable).
Please advise of any difficulties you have in obtaining the book so that we can correct the problem. We would also appreciate hearing from anyone who comes across any remaining instance of cataloging data for the phantom edition.
Author TourThe author's tour of the USA and Canada is complete except for a speech at the National Building Museum in Washington on 25 July. We had good attendance at presentations in Lubbock (Texas), Los Angeles, Long Beach, Ventura, Berkeley, and Marin County. In Ventura, 50 people attended, including two mayors and numerous city officials.
Things went even better in Canada. More than 100 attended the talk in Victoria, which was preceded by a half-page article in Victoria's daily paper, the Times Colonist. This led to a series of radio interviews all across Canada. We had good events in both Edmonton and Toronto. The stop in Toronto was capped with a live interview on the evening TV news, in which I proposed that the forthcoming redevelopment of the waterfront district, adjacent to downtown, could be carried out as a carfree project.
I'd like to thank the dozens of people who helped to organize the tour stops for their generous expenditure of time on behalf of the carfree ideas. Without their help, there would have been no tour. A complete list of the events is available on the Tour page.
Heavy Traffic on the Carfree ForumA brisk discussion of carfree cities is continuing at the eGroups Carfree_Cities group. About 60 participants are discussing many practical and theoretical points regarding carfree cities. Visit the Forum (without having to join).
Bremen PresentationJ.H. Crawford presented "The Relative Ease of Marketing Carfree Cities" at the Reinventing Mobility: Challenge of the 21st Century conference hosted by the EU's Car Free Cities Initiative in Bremen, 24-27 June 2000. get details about the following events:
ISEE 2000 Conference:
Ninth World Conference on Transport Research
6th International Conference on Urban Transport and the Environment for the 21st Century
ProBike/ProWalk 2000 conference 11th International Conference on Bicycling and Walking
European Carfree Day
Traffic Safety on Three Continents
The annual Railvolution conference
UITP Melbourne 2000 Public Transport Conference Event
Smart Urban Transport - Using Transitways and Busways
XI Panamerican Conference in Traffic and Transportation Engineering
Walking the 21st Century - An International Walking Conference
54th UITP International Congress
Transed 2001: Towards Safety, Independence and Security. 9th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled People
9th World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR)
Conference Hosted by the Carfree Institute
Fourth Conference of the Eastern Asian Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS)
Quotes of the Quarter
"In certain definable and empirical ways, it is necessary for man to live in beauty rather than in ugliness, as it is necessary for him to have food for an aching belly or rest for a weary body."
Psychologist Abraham Maslow
"My hope is that you will be able to find good enough work, so you'll be able to afford a car," when asked by a Los Angeles resident who takes two buses to work how public transportation could be improved.
Presidential Candidate George W. Bush
Oil Slick AwardThe Australian Transport and Regional Development Ministry prepared a national road safety strategy that identifies cycling as less safe than motorized transport and proposes that transport and land use planning should discourage less-safe transport modes. Submissions from cyclists were ignored.
Nominated by the editor on the basis of information
World News Notes & CommentCurrent events related to urban automobiles during the previous season.
Wringing Out a Few More DropsOn 21 June, OPEC delegates voted to increase production by 3%. However, the real increase will actually amount to only about 1% (since some countries were already producing above their allocation). Oil is trading in the $30/barrel range and gasoline prices are likely to remain high, although still well below historic highs (in real terms).
At press time (10 July 2000), oil prices were down a tad. CNN had just reported yet another planned OPEC production increase, this one of 500,000 barrels day. However, CNN also noted that only a few OPEC nations had any spare capacity at all. The next 12 months will probably reveal whether the soothing pronouncements from the USGS and oil companies regarding the outlook for oil production and prices are correct, or if we stand on the brink of a permanent capacity squeeze.
Pinch at the PumpThe retail price of gasoline in the USA rose by 56% over one year before. There is some debate about the causes of this, but once again we have witnessed the extreme price inelasticity of gasoline - the very low prices of early 1999 changed to very high prices in just one year.
ENN: U.S. retail gasoline price continues climb
The relationship between supply and demand has only changed by a few percent, but prices have changed dramatically, demonstrating yet again the extreme inelasticity of demand, at least in the short term.
For the BirdsClimate change could cut rare Arctic bird populations in half, according to a study released by the Worldwide Fund for Nature. In some parts of the Arctic, temperatures have risen at the rate of 1.5 degrees C. per decade since 1960. Forests will replace tundra, the key breeding grounds for many species.
ENN: Arctic warming signals dire straits for birds
We're slowly realizing that ecosystems are highly interdependent. I doubt that anyone knows precisely what effects a large decline in arctic bird populations would have, but it's safe to assume that the effects would be significant.
And if Greenland's Glaciers Melt?The glaciers that cover Greenland may melt again, as happened during the last interglacial. Researcher Kurt Cuffey at UC Berkeley says, "If nothing is done to stabilize our climate and sea levels rise as much as 6 meters (20 feet), you'll flood the southern half of Florida, the southern half of Louisiana. A 2-degree global warming doesn't sound like much, but you have to realize the consequences can be really quite disastrous."
ENN: Greenland glacier warming feared
Add to the list of inundated lands: much of Bangladesh, The Netherlands, many tropical islands, and so on and on. Many of us live very close to sea level.
Coral Reefs Down for the CountOne research result from the Biosphere project in Arizona is that coral reefs will not tolerate further increases in CO2 levels. If we continue on our present course, we can expect that 40% of coral reef ecosystems will disappear by mid-century.
No one can say with any certainty just what the effects of this would be, except that it would be a disaster.
Kettle's on the BoilThe world's oceans have warmed appreciably during the past 40 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA research suggests that much of the heat from global warming has been stored in the oceans, which holds down atmospheric temperature increases but leads to "potentially huge climate changes in the near future."
ENS: World's Oceans Warming Up
Defrosting the Fridge"The Earth's ice cover is melting in more places and at higher rates than at any time since record keeping began." Reports compiled by the Worldwatch Institute indicate that global ice melting accelerated during the 1990s. Scientists believe that the enhanced melting is one of the first observable signs of human-induced global warming. Glaciers and other ice masses are highly sensitive to temperature changes. Arctic sea ice, which covers an area roughly the size of the USA, shrank by about 6% between 1978 and 1996, an annual average of 34,300 square kilometers, or an area larger than the Netherlands.
Worldwatch News Brief 00-02
Ice reflects a large proportion of incoming sunlight back into space. Other surfaces absorb more heat, leading to yet more warming.
Shanghai Is No Shangri-La"On the outskirts of this booming metropolis, where skyscrapers and industrial parks and freeways march toward the horizon, there is a grand vision of China's future, and it looks a lot like Los Angeles. Some call it prosperity, some call it nightmare. Whatever it is, it involves lots of automobiles." So begins a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
One expected result of the China's entry into the WTO is a rapid increase in private car ownership. While bicycles are still the principal means of wheeled transport in China, rapid increases in car ownership are likely to shift the balance and further exacerbate China's already-serious air pollution.
Under the terms of the WTO agreement, import tariffs on autos will drop from 80-100% to 25%, and foreign automakers will be allowed to set up full-service operations and make car loans. It is the right to make loans that may have the most profound effects, allowing many more Chinese to buy cars.
"WTO Bid Stirs Fears About Environment: Auto boom may add to China's pollution"
The issue is not really the WTO, of course, but whether China is going to try to emulate the USA in car usage. We'd better hope not.
It's Worse Than We ThoughtThe old models used to predict highway emissions have been shown to underestimate total pollution, and the error is especially pronounced at higher speeds. The improved models show that hydrocarbon emissions are 78% higher than previous models show, NOx is 68% higher, and CO is 93% higher. One error of the old models is that they assume free-flow traffic speeds of just 57 MPH, whereas many people drive 75 MPH or more on open roads.
Government hearings have for decades echoed with the claims of highway engineers that increasing road capacity will reduce congestion and therefore pollution. Even if capacity increases reduced congestion, total emissions would still increase due to the higher speeds. Usually, however, when roads are widened, the added capacity is almost fully absorbed in just four years, leading to increased emissions in proportion to the capacity increase.
It's interesting to note that simply reducing highway speeds to 55 MPH (about 90 km/hr) would reduce the total highway emissions by 20%. Traffic calming in neighborhoods is even more effective. Emissions are reduced by between 10% and 48%.
This comes as no real surprise to those who pay attention to air quality as opposed to alleged levels of tailpipe emissions. Air quality hasn't improved significantly despite three decades of efforts to control emissions. Additional vehicle-miles-traveled are a large culprit, of course.
Diesels KillMore than 125,000 Americans may get cancer from breathing diesel fumes from buses, trucks and other diesel engines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to release new restrictions on sulfur in diesel fuel, a necessary first step in cleaning up diesel emissions, which presently contain more than 40 chemicals that are listed by the EPA as toxic air contaminants, known or probable human carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or endocrine disrupters.
The Los Angeles-area South Coast Air Quality Management District recently released a report analyzing the cancer risk in the region from exposure to diesel particulates. The agency concluded that mobile sources are responsible for about 90% of the cancer risk in the area, and that 70% of the total cancer risk is attributable to diesel particulates.
Nobody ever spoke of "nice-smelling diesel exhaust," but now it seems that our noses don't lie - this stuff is bad for you.
CloudyClouds on the lee side of large industrial complexes have a noticeably different formation from those on the windward side. Considerably less rain falls from clouds fouled by smoke, and the effect persists for several hundred kilometers. The effect may be large enough to exert a global impact.
From Science, 10 March 2000
Some of these effects can be seen from space.
Oil on Troubled WatersSome 700 million gallons of oil reach the ocean each year from sources we rarely hear about, including used engine oil poured down drains, runoff from city streets, air pollution particles, and off-shore oil drilling. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill was a "mere" 11 million gallons. Many people still dump used engine oil down sewers; this one source accounts for half of all oil entering the world's waters. Runoff from streets is another huge source: every year a city of 5 million generates enough toxic runoff to equal a major oil tanker spill.
Cross with CareOf the 5 US metropolitan areas most dangerous for pedestrians, 4 are in Florida. Tampa leads the list, according to the Mean Streets 2000 report. As the danger has increased, the number of trips taken on foot has dropped 42% in just 20 years. Americans took less than 6% of their trips on foot in 1997 and 1998, but pedestrian deaths accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities. Walking is most dangerous in newer Southern and Western metropolitan areas that were designed for fast automobile travel.
CNN: Florida cities top study's list of most dangerous areas for pedestrians
This spells even greater damage to the social fabric of our communities. As people are forced off the streets by cars, the glue that holds our societies together is dissolving.
US Pedestrians and Cyclists at Risk"The neglect of pedestrian and bicycling safety in the United States has made these modes dangerous ways of getting around. Pedestrian fatalities are 36 times higher than car occupant fatalities per kilometer traveled, and bicycling fatalities are 11 times higher than car occupant fatalities per kilometer." However, in the Netherlands and Germany, pedestrian fatalities run at a rate 1/10th that of the USA, and cycling fatalities are 1/4 the US rate. The difference is due to a wide range of measures taken to improve the safety of vulnerable street users, all of which are well proven.
John Pucher and Lewis Dijkstra
Notice, though, that it's still safer to drive than to walk or cycle even in the Netherlands and Germany. There's still much more work to be done, even in these havens of relative safety.
Pedestrians to the ForeSanta Rosa, California, is working to assure the safety of pedestrians in the wake of a high schooler struck and killed by a car while walking home. The student had no alternative route home, and there was no sidewalk. Local officials responded to community uproar by adopting a new rule: every school must have safe walking routes. The city retimed its traffic lights to give people more time to cross intersections. Flashing lights were installed to make cross-walks much more prominent. Undercover officers were assigned as decoy pedestrians, to catch reckless drivers.
This is just one example of changing attitudes towards pedestrians. Traffic engineers, citizens, and environmentalists are working to improve the safety of pedestrians. Finally.
Back on Track, at Last!In 1999, some 9 billion trips were made by public transport in the USA, according to figures from the American Public Transportation Association. The last time ridership was that high, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. Even more significant, however, is that ridership is rising at a faster rate than automobile use: 4.5% in 1999, while motor vehicle travel rose 2%.
Tired of waiting in traffic?
More Carrot, Less StickMaryland Governor Parris Glendening signed a first-in-the-USA measure that gives employers a strong incentive to increase the pay of employees who agree to give up a parking space at work. The law also extends tax credits to non-profit organizations that pay employee transit benefits or provide other "pay-me-not-to-drive" incentives. The tax credit is valued at half of whatever an employer pays towards an employee's transit or vanpool commuting costs, up to $30 per employee per month.
Press release forwarded from the alt-transp list.
An even better solution is to charge those who drive for parking, but this measure will do for a start.
Bogotá, Carfree Days, and Sustainable TransportSue Zielinski
Sustainable Transport Monitor
It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that (the Bogotá) team, led by their fiery Mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, is for the first time in a major Third World City laying the base for what is no less than a full scale, 100% coverage, "alternate transportation system" - that is, one that will in a few years hopefully fulfill something like 98% of the movement requirements of its population by arrangements other than people driving around in their own cars. Now we have had a lot of theory and posturing on all this (the "carfree city") for many years - but the team in Bogotá is actually moving actively and with deliberation in that direction … putting in place the various necessary bits and pieces of a full-function alternative transportation system and getting it into service. Just like that.
This past May, the Centre for Sustainable Transportation had the honor of being invited to participate in the "Sustainable Bogotá" conference, and as a board member, I had the great fortune to represent the Centre. Aside from the not altogether positive press you hear about events in Colombia, along with some recent good news about their very successful carfree day, I set off with relatively few expectations or preconceptions.
But what I discovered was profound and inspiring, both because of what they are doing and because of the circumstances in which they are doing it. Bogotá is a growing city of 6.2 million people who deal on a daily basis with the serious repercussions of their combined crime, drug, pollution, and economic crises. Standing for public office can be a challenge in this context, compounded by the fact that no Mayor can serve for more than three years. So to introduce a program that proposes a major city-building effort and positions sustainable transportation as a key to economic viability, environmental integrity, and social justice, is pushing the envelope, to say the least, given that this type of approach is even rare in places with half the problems.
Nevertheless, as Mayor Peñalosa and his dynamic team approach the last few months of their only term, they've not only brought new city pride to the people of Bogotá, they've also set an example for rest of the world. Here is a sampling of their initiatives:
A major urban space program which includes taking away street and other space from private cars, including:
Aggressive Parking Control and Constraint
Improved Public TransportA major overhaul of their public transit system, which until recently has consisted of 30,000 diesel buses of all shapes, sizes, and legal status. Transit improvements include:
Local InvolvementCommunity involvement and sophisticated partnership building through programs such as:
* * *
The moral of the story? If they can do it in Bogotá. . .
More about Bogotá, carfree days, and sustainable transport
Taken from a report prepared in May 2000 and
An Open Letter from Colin CampbellI think it is absurd to press OPEC to increase production. If they could and would, it would simply mean that the imminent inevitable peak of global production would be higher and the subsequent decline steeper. There is not an infinitely large pool of oil in OPEC or anywhere else waiting to be tapped. More to-day means less tomorrow. And conversely less to-day leaves more for tomorrow.
It seems to me that the United States is in a critical position as by far the world's largest importer. Surely a sensible policy would be to reduce demand so that prices would fall at least briefly, making the peak a little lower and the subsequent decline a little less steep. There is very little time left to make the unavoidable adjustment to falling world production. Would it not be better to curb demand now, and use the cheaper oil- based energy so released to fuel the difficult conversion to whatever methods can be devised to cope with growing long-term shortage and eventually chronic rises in price? It would buy a little breathing space: not much, but some.
Since US gasoline is taxed less than in most other countries, it would be so simple to curb demand. If it did so, the USA could begin to recover control of the depletion of the world's oil supply, currently entrusted to five countries around the Persian Gulf, two of which are vilified, embargoed and treated as enemies of the United States.
Is it not extraordinary that aviation fuel and ships bunkers are free of tax altogether?
The US government appears to treat the current high price of oil as if it were some temporary phenomenon that could be solved by a brief increase in production from Norway, Mexico, Venezuela or anywhere. Has it perhaps been misled by their own agency, the US Geological Survey, that has come out with preposterous claims for new discovery and "reserve growth", itself encouraged by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, who somehow seem to see themselves threatened by the inevitable depletion of oil. They should be the last to deny depletion, seeing it every day in their working lives. The new discovery, as proposed by the USGS, is already 100 billion barrels behind forecast on an annual average basis.
Has the US government not learnt anything from its own experience? Discovery in the Lower 48 peaked in 1930 and production about 40 years later. This is fact and history not theory or supposition. It is also fact and history being repeated around the world. The North Sea, the largest new province found in 50 years, which itself is at peak, as confirmed by the respective government authorities, can't supply the world for even three years. After 50 years of search, the chance of finding anywhere nearly as big, is negligible : surely any simpleton can see that.
US policy may be bad, but Europe's is even worse (save perhaps the Germans). Europe hasn't even reached the denial phase.
This situation is almost beyond belief.
Let us wish each other good luck, we'll certainly need it.
Colin J. Campbell is a noted oil geologist and author of "The End of Cheap Oil" (Scientific American, March 1998) and The Coming Oil Crisis (1997).
Letters to the EditorDear Editor,
I own a car. One car. My wife and I are the only couple with kids we know with only one car. We log about 8,000 miles a year. I ride my bike to and from work every day. I shop by bike. And every time I turn over the ignition of my steel behemoth, I get a sense of angst and despair. I think of all the people I have known who have lost their lives in cars. Every year in the United States some 41,000 people die.
I don't think I will ever be able to accept that kind of slaughter in a country that prides itself on being civilized. That's almost a Vietnam every year. I am a teacher and I am horrified at the reckless and aggressive way that the young people I teach drive. I want out! I don't even want to own one car. I know we have managed to save money and live more easily because we have only had one car and no car payments. With no cars, even better.
Hot New LinksPlease suggest some. Be bold: it's OK to suggest your own site.
The New Colonist explores environmental and lifestyle issues for dedicated city lovers, urban activists, and refugees from sprawl development.
The David Suzuki Foundation, one of Canada's leading environmental organizations, focuses on global warming and climate change issues.
The Online TDM Encyclopedia is now available. It offers a comprehensive resource for transportation demand management planning and analysis.
MassBike is the leading bicycle advocacy group in Massachussetts.
Urban District Planning Without Cars (from Bremen).
Urban Quality Indicators Newsletter provides information on efforts in North America to measure the quality, health, and sustainability of communities.
Pew Center for Civic Journalism is an incubator for civic journalism that works to re-engage people in public life.
B.E.S.T. helps solve pollution, climate change, traffic congestion, and urban sprawl problems.
Coming soon: The Carfree Institute
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