Yosemite Valley, c.1987
Major reductions are expected in the number of cars allowed
into this beautiful valley. Although no signs of human habitation
are visible in the photograph, thousands of visitors drive in daily.
See "Move 'em Out" below.
Carfree CitiesCarfree Cities is now under final review by two publishers. One is a leading academic publisher that has already made an offer for the book and the other is a major US university press that is considering bringing out the North American edition of the book. Several translations are also in prospect. The English editions are expected this coming winter.
In the last issue of Carfree Times, I published a request for photographs, and the response has run far ahead of my expectations. I've updated the photo wish list, so if you might have photographs to contribute, please have a look at what's still needed. And my thanks to all those who have responded to this request. Your contributions will considerably improve the book. And special thanks to Richard Risemberg, editor of The Living Room, and his son Jack. They contributed dozens of vital photographs of Los Angeles.
Pedestrians in Brussels27 November 1999, Brussels
In cooperation with Bernard Delloye and the group that publishes the French- language newsletter, Piétons à Bruxelles, I will be presenting the carfree city ideas during a one-day English-language workshop in Brussels. If you are interested in participating, please send e-mal to me or Bernard Delloye at Bernard_Delloye@lexnet.be.
Each issue of Piétons à Bruxelles runs 4 to 6 pages and costs 20 Belgian Francs. The group meets at 18:00 on the last Wednesday of every month at 301 avenue Molière, 1050 Brussels.
E-mail for more information:
SKSB Mediterranean Conference16-17 December 1999, Bari, Italy
Organized by the National Research Council jointly with the Polytechnic of Bari, the objective of the conference is to share information on sustainable initiatives and practices in urban and rural areas throughout the Mediterranean Basin.
See the SKSB website for details
Vélo Mondial 200018-22 June 2000, Amsterdam
This is the world's foremost bicycle conference. It aims to promote an understanding of the role that bicycles can play in a sustainable transport network.
For more information:
ISEE 2000 Conference:
July 2000, Canberra, and on-line
World News Notes & CommentCurrent events related to urban automobiles during the previous season.
Carfree in the NetherlandsSunday, 19 September 1999 was the first carfree day in Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities since the 1973 oil crisis. In all, 21 Dutch cities held carfree days. Amsterdam closed 35 kilometers of streets to almost all motorized traffic (for some inexplicable reason, taxis and motorbikes were still allowed to terrorize the streets). Dozens of events were held throughout the carfree area at the heart of the city. A few streets were closed to all traffic, and children once again were able to play in these streets. The next carfree day is scheduled for 24 September 2000. In a recent poll, three-quarters of Amsterdam residents supported a once-a-month carfree Sunday, and there is now talk of holding 10 carfree days every year.
Personal observations & Dutch TV
Thanks to the foundation Milieudefensie (Dutch) for making space available to display the maquette for a carfree district.
Carfree in FranceParis held a carfree day on 22 September 1999. A group of cabinet ministers(!) arrived for their weekly meeting on bicycles. Paris was joined by 66 other French towns to celebrate the second annual carfree day. The Ministry of the Environment "hopes to mark the slow but steady reconquest of the city by its inhabitants." Some Parisians were skeptical: "One day without pollution isn't going to change anything," said one resident. But a day without pollution does serve to remind people that Paris smells great, when there aren't too many cars around. The day also stimulates innovation, including last year the use of electric delivery vehicles in some cities. In downtown Paris, the differences were notable: it was possible to hold a conversation on the street without shouting. Tests made last year showed that sound levels in carfree areas fell by more than 50%, as did CO emissions.
"A mouse, and other naturalists, reclaim Paris streets,"
The Christian Science Monitor is noted for the excellence of its international coverage and was kind enough to provide a link to Carfree Times from the article cited here.
Start a Carfree Day of Your OwnThe Commons in Paris offers a forum for those interested in establishing carfree days in their own cities. The forum is a free, informal, international undertaking on the Web. The Commons is involved with many initiative to help improve the quality of life in general and in especially in cities. The site is a "shared repository of information, experience and counsel for people and groups who feel that the idea of organizing a civic day without cars might be not only a pleasant event in itself, but also an instructive one at a time when many places are looking for ways out of the cities/cars impasse," says founder Eric Britton.
For more information, see:
Go on, just do it.
Stop!"Worldwide, some 300,000 children die each year in road traffic crashes, a further 300,000 children drown, and some 100,000 die in fires. Many millions of children are seriously injured and hundreds of thousands sustain permanent disabilities. The public health response to this human tragedy is pitiable and raises important questions for child health professionals. Why, for example, is the death of a child following abuse taken as clear evidence of the failure of our collective efforts to protect children, whereas a child pedestrian death represents only the failure of an individual child to stop, look, and listen when crossing the road? And why did medical research 'declare war' on cancer and ignore injury, when as many children die from injury as from all forms of cancer combined?"
Ian Roberts & Carolyn Diguiseppi
Why indeed? And isn't it time to teach kids how to swim?
Don't Forget BlissOn 13 September 1899, Dr. Henry Bliss was struck and killed by an electric taxi in New York City, the first North American killed by a car. At the time, the event was important enough to make the front page of the New York Times. Now that it has become an almost daily event for a New York pedestrian to be killed by a car, hardly anybody even notices. In the century since Bliss was killed, 30 million more have died on the world's roads.
There have been a number of memorials to Bliss, who was simply one of the first of millions to die. The automobile is the leading cause of death among children: a suburban child is more likely to be killed by a car than an inner city child is to be killed by a firearm. So much for the erstwhile safety of the suburbs.
Outta My Way"Pedestrians are getting short shrift in India too. In Chennai, a city of 6 million inhabitants, the traffic engineers are doing the most puzzling of things: getting rid of pavements [sidewalks] to facilitate more road space for vehicle users. Media criticism seems to achieve nothing, as the wave of globalisation bringing car-borne mobility to the more affluent among Indians has made them insensitive to the most basic of concerns. They even tend to ignore the fact that the moment they step out of their car, they become a pedestrian. Their only worry: we need more space because there are more cars, so do away with the pavements. The most popular of the city's roads - Mount Road, later renamed Anna Salai - has no pavements at all, on several stretches, forcing people to compete with vehicles."
Posted to the Sustran list by
An excerpt from the text of Carfree Cities: "We must never underestimate the importance of the simple fact that most of the decisions about transport are made by people who drive to work. When I worked as a public transit manager, I drove to work because the bus service was so bad. So did most of my colleagues."
Relief for Bangkok Is out of SightUnderground, that is. Giant tunnel boring machines have been at work under the city since the beginning of this year. Working some 20 meters below the surface, the machines can bore and line 10 meters of tunnel every day, bringing the opening of Bangkok's first metro line closer with every passing day. When it opens several years hence, the line is expected to serve 400,000 commuters a day.
This is a huge and desperately needed improvement for Bangkok.
Investing in Faster TrainsThe Dutch Labor Party recently proposed to increase the speed of Dutch intercity trains from their current maximum of 140 km/hr to 240 km/hr, slashing travel times and making the train once again competitive with driving in terms of door-to-door travel times. The required investment is estimated at about $7 billion and includes the complete re-electrification of the system at 25,000 volts.
"PvdA: laat intercity's 240 km/uur rijden"
Unfortunately, the credibility of Dutch Railways is at an all-time low, and I very much doubt that this proposal will be adopted any time soon.
Where's That Bus?An initiative by Ken Schmier of Emeryville, California, is helping local residents to figure out when the next bus is going to come. The system uses real-time tracking to give an up-to-the-minute forecast of when the next bus will actually arrive. The information can be delivered via Internet or displays at bus stops.
This kind of innovative, customer-oriented thinking is essential to making public transport a viable alternative to the private car. In the mid-1980s, Ken helped convert an abandoned automobile factory into studio spaces with huge windows. I happen to know, because I was the resident manager when the building first opened. And, yes, it is a small world.
Move 'em OutIn the USA, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation Strategies agency is charged with reducing the number of cars entering Yosemite Valley, perhaps the most beautiful site in the entire US National Park system. A staggering 1.5 million cars enter the valley each year. Initial plans are modest and involve bus service from the communities outside the park to the valley. Cars might eventually be banned from the valley.
"Yosemite's Scaled-Down Bus Plan:
This is a very timid beginning. Only a handful of buses would operate each day, and, at the fares being discussed, it would be cheaper to drive all the way into the valley as long as two or more people traveling in the same car, which is usual in the park.
If I Had a Hammer...In Milwaukee, "sledge-hammers of regret will soon begin swinging." The city will use $20 million in Federal transportation grants to demolish an unfinished section of highway that had been slated to rip through downtown Milwaukee. It is the nation's largest-ever highway deconstruction project.
"Concrete Choices: A special report:
The same article goes on to report Salt Lake City's doubling of the width of Interstate 15 (to TWELVE lanes) where it passes through the city. Some people never learn.
Bicycling and the American DreamAccording to a recent Harris Poll, 82% of downtown residents of US cities support a community-based planning mechanism that would turn walking and bicycling into an important part of urban transport planning. Downtown residents obviously know first-hand how badly traffic affects their daily lives, but nationwide, the figure is still an astounding 72%.
Lake Sosin Snell and Associates conducted a study in 1997 and found that 64% of potential voters support using money from federal gas taxes for bike trails, bike lanes and sidewalks. Even among those who never ride a bike, a majority still supports the use of fuel taxes for non-car infrastructure.
A 1993 survey by American Lives, Inc., showed that walking and bike paths were one of the top two features people look for when buying a house (open space was the other).
A 1991 Harris poll commissioned by Bicycling Magazine found that, among the 46% of all American adults who had ridden bicycles in the previous year:
Taken from Northern Virginia (NoVa) Sprawl E-News
The support is there. Time for the politicians to listen, or they'll be blind-sided in an election one of these days.
Yes, My LordThe Urban Task Force chaired by Lord Richard Rogers published a report calling for tax breaks and financial incentives to encourage reconstruction of brownfield urban sites. It called for local governments to consider streets and squares as public spaces, not as traffic arteries. The report also proposed a reduction in the requirements for parking allocations for urban development. Planning policy should be amended to encourage dense development, a reversal of the trends of the past 50 years. Rogers advocates densely-built city districts where different social classes and ethnic groups would live side-by-side, and where basic services would be within walking distance. Calling for an "Urban Renaissance," Rogers hopes the public and the government will once again think positively about living in cities and less favorably about development patterns that create auto dependency. If the report is implemented (and this is far from certain), the changes would effectively outlaw two-story detached houses built on low-density cul-de-sacs, the standard recipe in Britain since WW II.
"Lord Rogers: dreaming of urban renaissance"
Lord Rogers and I don't entirely agree about architecture, but we certainly do agree that cities must again become decent places to live.
Turning the Corner on SprawlReal estate economist Matthew Gardner recently analyzed building permits issued in King County (which includes the city of Seattle) in 1998. The number of multi-family permits ran 53.6% above the number of single-family permits. This reflects a national trend towards multi-family construction: in 1998, multifamily permits increased 28% over 1997 levels. In the same period, single-family permits actually declined by 0.2%. Said Gardener, "I believe that Seattle is seeing very tangible movement in terms of urban revitalization that is attracting many back to the downtown area to live as well as work."
From a posting on 25 Jun 1999 by
As the baby-boomers age, many will move downtown, abandoning large single-family houses in the suburbs for smaller apartments. This trend already appears to be established.
Geo-2000 Report from the United NationsGeo-2000 was released on 15 September 1999, following up on Geo-1, which was published in 1997. The new report looks at the state of the world's ecosystems at the turn of the millennium. Some statistics from the report:
The same week (11 September 1999), the usually-reliable Economist published two rosy articles about the health of the world's ecosystems. Actually, the writers must have been wearing green glasses, not the usual rose-colored variety.
Thermostat 1999Recent data points on global warming:
"Scientists Zero In On Sign After Sign Of Warming"
Wake up and smell the methane! (which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the better-known CO2, and, in fact, equally odorless).
Now What?"The latest findings, analyzed by Drs. Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University and Harold A. Mooney and Peter M. Vitousek of Stanford University, show a 'disturbing negative trend in the Earth's ability to maintain the quality of human life,' Lubchenco stated. Lubchenco presented the findings at the XVI International Botanical Congress where more than 4,000 scientists from 100 countries met to discuss the latest research on plants for human survival and improved quality of life.
"Among the findings are:
"Nearly half of Earth's land has been transformed by humans;
Join the fun! Nuke the whales!
UK Climate ChangeThe UK Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, has published a report, "Indicators of Climate Change in the UK." There are now clear indications that Britain's climate is warming:
"Climate Change Brings UK Earlier Spring, Hotter Summer"
Evidence continues to mount up.
Good News, Sort OfDespite rapid growth in the Dutch economy during the past 12 years, the load on the environment has grown more slowly and in some cases has actually declined. The GNP has grown by about 35%, but trash has declined by some 18%. The release of CO2 has increased by about 11%, which is not good news except when compared to the level of economic growth. What this means is that economic growth and CO2 output do not have to march in lock step. Still, action will have to be taken to bring CO2 emissions down below their 1990 levels, as required by the Kyoto Accords.
"Druk op milieu daalt ondanks groei economie"
It's not time to bring on the champagne just yet (all those tiny bubbles are... CO2).
US Energy Consumption Soars, But...While the US population grew by only 82% between 1949 and 1998, US energy use increase by 194%, according to a report from the Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency. One encouraging note: the amount of energy consumed per unit of GNP actually fell by 42%. The report goes on to say, "Fifty years ago, the nation was nearly self-sufficient in petroleum and was a net exporter of natural gas." However, as reported in Carfree Times #5, US oil production peaked in 1970, and the US now imports more than half its petroleum and 15% of its natural gas. Although the production of electricity by wind turbines rose by 89% between 1989 and 1998, it remains a tiny factor in the overall energy supply.
"Americans' Energy Appetite Skyrocketing"
The nugget of good news is the decline in the amount of energy consumed per unit GNP.
"Complete Loss of World's Coral Reefs Forecast"Global warming may devastate the world's coral reefs. Coral bleaching is expected to increase rapidly and will be commonplace within 20 years, according to Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (a marine biologist at the University of Sidney). "Bleaching events in 1998, the worst on record, saw the complete loss of live coral from reefs in some parts of the world," according to a report published by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation. Professor Heogh-Guldberg called the problem a matter of great concern. A minor rise in water temperature is sufficient to induce bleaching. If the damage continues, the impact on the world's fisheries will be enormous. Coral bleaching has been reported in 30 countries.
"Complete Loss of World's Coral Reefs Forecast"
Just how bad does global warming have to get before we take real action?
A Breath of Fresh AirThe US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new rules that would force oil companies and car manufacturers to cooperate in reducing emissions from cars. As usual, the car manufacturers and most of the oil companies are trying to knife the plans. The Environmental Defense Fund cited action by British Petroleum Amoco that shows that cleaner gasoline is technically feasible without large price increases. The company recently began offering low-sulfur premium gasoline at hundreds of service stations in the Atlanta area; the gasoline meets the EPA's proposed low-sulfur fuel standard without a price increase.
Environmental Defense Fund Press Release
If the auto and oil industries don't start to clean up their acts, they may find themselves without any act at all. It's now a hundred years past time that these two industries got down to the real business of protecting the Earth. A few progressive companies have already started.
Dirty DieselsDelhi is recording 10,000 deaths a year because of particulate pollution. (Diesel engines are a major source of fine particulates, which are now acknowledged to be carcinogenic.) The smallest particulates ("PM10") exceed established standards by a factor of 8. However, the big automobile manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz are promoting diesel cars in India, despite the fact that Delhi is under the directive from the Indian Supreme Court to convert all public buses from diesel to natural gas by 31 March 2001 in order to reduce particulate pollution.
From a CSE "Right to Clean Air"
It's time car manufacturers stopped insisting on their "rights" to pollute the air in third-world nations in order to make a profit.
Getting Rid of 2-Stroke MotorbikesNepal has banned the import of 2-stroke motorcycles in an effort to improve air quality in the country. Two-stroke engines emit more pollution than the 4-stroke engines used in almost all automobiles.
Dr A. Rahman Paul Barter
As the 2-stroke bikes disappear from the road, air quality should improve noticeably: 2-stroke engines are really filthy and stinky. This old technology should have disappeared decades ago, but it's still widely used for outboard motors, snowmobiles, and, of course, motorbikes. You can identify them by the sickly-sweet smell of their exhaust
A Quarter of the Valdez Spill... Every YearThe 11 million people living along San Francisco Bay and the waterways that flow into it dump nearly 3 million gallons of oil a year into this watershed. (By comparison, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was about 11 million gallons.) The biggest source of copper (a serious pollutant in the Bay) is from brake pad dust. When industry was the primary source, it was fairly easy to regulate. Regulating "non-point source" emissions of oil and heavy metals (including those from cars) is much harder.
"Our Poisoned Bay"
The easy part of the clean-up is done: industry has been forced to reduce most of its emissions quite dramatically, and indeed the EU has recently shifted its attention from industry to transportation, and, in particular, to cars.
Get that Container on a Train, Now!US Senator Chafee introduced a bill that would implement weight-distance charges for tractor-trailer trucks. The measure would reduce the subsidy for heavy trucks traveling long distances and would encourage the long-haul movement of freight by rail, a change that gets further impetus from the continuing increase in containerized shipping.
Compared to Europe, the USA already does quite well getting heavy freight off the road and onto the rails, but even in the USA, the ton-mileage of rail freight might easily double, with a corresponding reduction in truck traffic.
Somehow, We Just Knew They Could Do ItFord has delivered a full-sized 60 MPG car to the US Department of Energy. That's double the fuel efficiency of conventional full-sized cars. The diesel-electric hybrid is 40% lighter than conventional cars thanks to extensive use of aluminum components. From a driver's standpoint, the car works just like a normal sedan, except that it needs widely-available diesel fuel instead of gasoline. The car recovers about half of the energy usually lost in braking.
"Ford car gets twice gas mileage"
Ford seems to be embarrassed by this car - I could not find any information on their Web site by searching for "P2000" (the model name given by ENN) or "diesel-electric hybrid." They can do it, but apparently they would rather you didn't know.
Letter to the EditorDear Sir:
Carfree Times #10 quoted U.S. News and World Report, saying "Vancouver ... had only 9000 residents in the central business district in 1991. Today, 60,000 people live in the same area." It seems that the original U.S. News and World Report article mistakenly grouped the "West End" neighborhood with the "Central Business District" neighborhood when arriving at their figure of 60,000 so that their comparison was not of equivalent areas. In fact, the original article states "in 1991, nearly 9,000 people lived downtown, but they were mostly young singles in the hip West End." This is wrong: the residents of the West End were not included in the 1991 downtown figure (see below).
Assuming that the figure of 60,000 includes both "West End" and "Downtown", then the correct 1991 population of the equivalent area is approx. 46,000, which is 30% growth. Not as spectacular as 670% growth, but still impressive.
Here are the population figures for the two neighborhoods in question from Welcome to Vancouver's Neighbourhoods:
Central Business District (Downtown)
Thanks for the correction. Ed.
Hot LinksPlease suggest some. Be bold: it's OK to suggest your own site.
Subscribe to Carfree Times
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.
|Tel.||+31 20 638 5115|
Carfree Times Home
Carfree Times Back Issues (1-12)
Continue on to Car-Free Times Issue 10
About the book: Carfree Cities