Carfree Times

      Issue 13

24 March 2000     
Cover of Carfree Cities
The cover of Carfree Cities

News at

Carfree Cities Published!  24 March 2000

The first printing has been delivered and Carfree Cities can now be ordered for delivery in Europe. Stock is being shipped to all English-speaking nations, and a small stock is being airlifted to Boston for early US distribution in support of the author tour. You can get ordering information and publication dates worldwide. The book is immediately available for international airmail shipment from the Netherlands, at moderate extra cost.

Help with Author Tour

Between 3 April and 7 June 2000, J.H. Crawford will make an extensive North American tour to promote the carfree concept and the book. Volunteers are needed to arrange local appearances. Nothing fancy is required; I'll be happy just to come talk to your group. View schedule of appearances.

Forum Launched

The long-promised Forum is finally here. I decided simply to let eGroups host it. This is an e-mail list with an on-line archive. You can read without joining. To receive postings by e-mail or post your own messages, you must join the group (please wait about 15 minutes before attempting to post a message). The ads will disappear as soon as eGroups gets my check. I look forward to a lively exchange and hope you will join us. To join now, send a blank e-mail to: Carfree Times now has 700 subscribers, and I hope all of you will join the Forum.


Events have become too numerous to describe in the body of Carfree Times.
You can get details about the following events:

Fourth International Ecocity Conference
4-7 April 2000 Curitiba, Brazil

Towards Car-Free Cities II
10-15 April, Timisoara, Romania

Earth Day
Various dates, Spring 2000, Everywhere on Earth

4th European Conference on Mobility Management - ECOMM2000
17-19 May 2000, Festival Hall, Bregenz, Austria

International Conference and Exhibition: Sustainable Transportation and Clean Air
31 May-2 June 2000, Jakarta

CNU 2000: The Politics of Place
15-18 June 2000, Portland, Oregon

Vélo Mondial 2000
18-22 June 2000, Amsterdam

ISEE 2000 Conference:
Business, the Economy & Sustainability

July 2000, Canberra, and on-line

Euro Carfree Day
22 September 2000, Europe

Ninth World Conference on Transport Research
22-27 July 2001, Seoul

Quotes of the Quarter

"One used to enter the city like a god. Now one creeps in like a rat."

Architectural historian Vincent Scully
on the demolition of the old Penn Station, New York
and the replacement

"Suburban tourists won't ride a bus, but they will take a historic streetcar."

Market Street Railway volunteer Mike Smith

Oil Slick Awards

Wretched Excess

The last time Ford came up with the "world's biggest" SUV, the Greens nicknamed it the "Valdez." Now Ford has introduced an even bigger SUV. Maybe this one should be nicknamed the Ford "Excess."

Nominated by Stephen Bryce
Geography Department, John Abbott College

World News Notes & Comment

Current events related to urban automobiles during the previous season.

Carfree Days Overwhelmingly Popular in Italy

A poll indicates that a large majority of Italians support carfree days:
  • 90% of the citizens judge them positively
  • 80% of the citizens would like this initiative to be repeated at least once a week
  • 76.2% favor the creation of more and larger pedestrian areas
  • 52% of the interviewees said that the carfree day did not cause "any disadvantage," against 8.4% who found no advantage
Gianni Silvestrini, National Coordinator at Italian Ministry of Environment, provided additional information to Carfree Times regarding the effects of the carfree day:
  • Public transport passengers increased 15-30%
  • Carbon monoxide declined by an average of 35%
  • Noise decreased at least 50%
  • More than 2,000 articles were published in the national and local press
The success of the September 1999 carfree day encouraged the Ministry of Environment to propose a round of four monthly "ecological Sundays." On these days, large urban areas will be open only to pedestrians, bicycles, public transport, and electric vehicles, with a different theme for each of the four Sundays:
  • 6 February: day of culture, with visits to museums and monuments
  • 5 March: sport
  • 9 April: Earth Day, with children active in the celebration
  • 7 May: music.
The idea is to enlarge the public debate on sustainable mobility and to increase the awareness by local administrations of policies that can reduce urban congestion.

On 16 January, a Sunday, the Mayor of Milano was forced by bad environmental conditions to order an all-day closure of the city to private transport. The move was widely supported by residents.

The ministry regards the organization of a pan-European carfree day on 22 September 2000 as a very important occasion to encourage different mobility behavior and a more radical approach by governments towards sustainable mobility policies.

Personal communication from Gianni Silvestrini
Car free day National Coordinator
Ministry of Environment of Italy

Databank, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment,
surveyed 1600 citizens after the first "Ecological Sunday" on 6 February 2000
Further information: Mr. Diego Girelli or Mr. Lorenzo Fanoli, +39 02 809556

This is a really marvelous accomplishment. Hats off to Italy! The level of irritation caused by cars in cities is apparently very high.

Carfree Day in Bogotá

A message from Margot Wallström, the Commissioner for Environment of the European Commission, on the occasion of the first Bogotá carfree day:
I am delighted to hear that the Mayor and the people of Bogotá are organising their first Car Free Day on 24 February 2000. A Car Free Day is important as it helps to change public opinion in the direction of a more sustainable mobility culture. Building on the success in France and Italy a similar initiative was recently launched in Brussels by the European Commission together with 9 EU countries. The first European Car Free Day will take place on 22 September 2000. In addition to raising awareness of more sustainable lifestyles, it can also be seen in the light of the environmental legislation framework that has been established in the European Community. I wish the city of Bogotá a very successful Car Free Day and hope that it will turn out to be a contribution to the process towards sustainability in the cities of the whole American continent.

As posted to Ecoplan
Ecoplan helped organize the event.

When she says, "the whole American continent," I'm sure she does not mean exclude the USA.

Carfree in Bogotá: A Brief Analysis

On 24 February 2000, the streets of Bogotá, Columbia, were closed to personal motor vehicles from 06:30 to 19:30. Located high in the Andes Mountains, Bogotá held what was the first-ever carfree day in a developing country. Mayor Enrique Peñalosa Londoño said, "We want to raise awareness of the unsustainable use of the private car as transportation. Cars are the main source of degraded quality of life in the city." Traffic, noise, safety, and air pollution (a persistent problem at high altitudes) improved as a result of the car ban. These problems arise in a city where just 14% of residents own a car. Traffic has gotten so bad that 65% of the population supported the carfree day. Said Londoño, "Even among car owners it is 65%. We said we would only do it if we had support through opinion polls from a majority of the people. It has been taken very positively.... Cars are the main source of degraded quality of life in the city."

Bogotá has already instituted bike lanes on Sundays and holidays and restricted the use of private cars during morning and evening rush hours. Even so, weekday traffic is often gridlocked and the capital still has the fourth-worst air pollution in Latin America, a highly polluted region. Peñalosa's carfree day produced results: At noon Thursday, air pollution levels were 22% lower than average for this time of year. Bogotá residents must start thinking about alternative transportation, said Oscar Diaz, a member of the organizing committee for the no-car event. "If we continue at this rate," he warned, "in 2020, the speed limit will be 5 miles an hour."

As one radio announcer pointed out, "Day Without a Car" was an event for the privileged 14% of Bogotá residents who own cars. "Most of us face 'Life Without a Car’, " he quipped.

"Bogotá breathes easy on a car-free day""
Environmental News Network (ENN), 24 February 2000
"Bogotá Mayor Bans Private Cars for a Day"
The Los Angeles Times

I think we're at a turning point. Up to now, the rights of drivers have taken precedence over the rights of pedestrians. This entire structure is about to be inverted, with pedestrians taking precedence and cars going to the bottom of the list. The choices are drawn with unusual clarity in cities where only a privileged few can afford a car.

UNEP Weighs In

Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that emissions from car exhausts are responsible for more deaths than road accidents themselves. The WHO study reviewed data from Austria, France, and Switzerland and found that exposure to pollution caused an estimated 21,000 deaths a year in the three countries alone. The researchers also calculated that car emissions caused 300,000 extra cases of bronchitis in children and 15,000 extra hospital admissions for heart disease exacerbated by pollution. Despite these problems, motor vehicle ownership is increasing at a staggering rate, with the fleet in China doubling in about five years.

The UNEP's "Global Environment Outlook 2000" shows that motor vehicles emit more than 15% of all CO2 released from fossil fuel combustion, and are thus a major contributor to global warming. The UNEP praised the approach of Curitiba, Brazil, with its integrated transport system that carries nearly 75% of the city’s commuters.

"Habitat and UNEP welcome the weekend car ban in Italy"
UNEP News Release 2000/10
Jointly issued by UNEP and Habitat
Contact for more information
Tore J. Brevik, UNEP Spokesman
Phone +254 2 623 292

It’s Hot Down Here

Temperatures deep in the ground are unaffected by seasonal variations and therefore offer a convenient method to detect long-term climate changes. Measurements made in more than 600 deep boreholes confirm that a 500-year warming trend accelerated in the latter half of the 20th century. "Some 80% of that warming corresponds with the growth of industrialization," said Henry Pollack, a geology professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and co-author of the study. In a related article, Jonathan Overpeck, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, said, "We do not know of any combination of natural mechanisms that can explain this phenomenon."

From the journal Nature as reported in
"Borehole temperatures confirm global warming"
ENN, 17 February 2000

"We do not know of any combination of natural mechanisms that can explain this phenomenon." Read it once more.

Hot, Hot, Hot

"Scientists who first sounded the global-warming alert predicted temperatures on Earth would accelerate at a rate of four degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years. Now comes data from the National Climate Data Center that indicates the globe has already warmed at that rate in the past 25 years." Center director Thomas Karl went on to say, "What's important is the fact that the 1997-1998 events that were so warm globally were warmer than what we would have anticipated with the constant rate of temperature change since the mid-1970s. We're trying to raise awareness of the fact that we now have events taking place that are not consistent with what we've seen in the past." The data strongly suggests that the increased warming since 1976 is the result of human activity. The research was to be published in the 1 March 2000 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
The really scary thing is that we keep finding new mechanisms that suggest that global warming could become severe enough to destabilize the climate. Arctic warming, for instance, is now known to release large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Hot Winter, Too

Even before the end of the winter, climate scientists have called this the warmest winter since climate record keeping began in 1895. December 1999 through February 2000 was the warmest winter on record for the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The last three winters have been the three warmest on record, according to scientists working from the world's largest statistical weather database, at the National Climatic Data Center.

"This American Winter Warmest on Record"
Environmental News Service (ENS), 12 March 2000

Heat from the Experts

Climate experts have said that global warming will have far-reaching effects on public health, real estate, commerce, and global environmental policy in this century, so climate change becomes issue that affects everyone. Climate forecasters at the 2000 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science reviewed research detailing a broad array of possible effects of global warming, ranging from changes in water cycles, to frequent storms and floods, to displaced species. The population of aspen, maple, and birch may be reduced by 90%. The acreage of arable land is expected to decline by some 30%. If the world population doubles by 2075, as now forecast, many people will be hungry. Heat waves have increased by 20% since 1949, which is expected to lead to increased frequency of heat strokes. A greater demand for air conditioning will tax power plants.
And those power plants will release even more CO2 into the atmosphere, still further aggravating the situation.

Just Tear It Down

Boston, Fort Worth, Hartford, New York, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Providence, and San Francisco are relocating or removing downtown freeways constructed in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Nationwide, an effort is being made to repair the damage done by particularly misguided freeway development and reclaim important urban spaces for public use. Under the auspices of the 1956 Federal Aid Highway Act, the USA embarked on a road construction frenzy that lasted decades. Especially in the early days, new freeways were built where it was easy: curving along waterfronts, slicing across parks, and through the heart of poorer neighborhoods. Some even cut downtown districts in two. The vast, unbearably ugly concrete expanses created a dehumanizing and alienating urban environment that divided cities and cast a pall over adjacent neighborhoods. The federal government paid for most of the post-war freeway frenzy, and it is now paying much of the cost of fixing past errors.

Despite the high costs of reconstruction projects, they offer large benefits. Milwaukee will spend $50 million to demolish a one-mile stretch of freeway and replace it with a grand boulevard that will open up a large area for intensive urban redevelopment. "Land around [the demolished freeway] will be developed so fast it will make your head spin," said a local developer. The project could generate $84 to $160 million in new development, yielding some $4.7 million in annual property taxes.

San Francisco's elevated Embarcadero Freeway was damaged during the 1989 earthquake and demolished soon afterwards. Acres of land along the waterfront suddenly became attractive for redevelopment. Gone are rotting wharves, empty warehouses, run-down hotels, and trash-filled vacant lots. In their place are vibrant projects that have changed the face of downtown San Francisco. A seven-mile waterfront promenade, surface-level road, and tram line opened along the Embarcadero and spurred nearby redevelopment.

My lasting impression of my first visit to San Francisco in 1972 is of the elevated freeways that chopped up the city and wrecked the adjacent neighborhoods. Although the Embarcadero Freeway is gone, this town, like so many others, is still in the thrall of its freeways. I do, however, look forward to seeing the redeveloped Embarcadero when I visit San Francisco this spring.

Kids and Cancer

Every parent’s nightmare: a child stricken by cancer. It now appears that growing up near a transportation corridor with more than 20,000 daily vehicles causes a six-fold increase in the cancer risk for children, according to a new study conducted in the sprawling Denver metropolitan area.
Automobile pollution is a much more likely explanation for cancer clusters than power line emissions.

Kids and Bad Air

A report from the World Resources Institute claims that millions of the worlds' children are being exposed to air pollution levels that are two to eight times higher than allowed by World Health Organization standards. In developing nations, more than 80% of deaths related to respiratory diseases occur among children under the age of five.
Old folks probably don’t do very well with this, either.

Better Air for Bangkok

Two-stroke motorcycle engines, a serious cause of urban air pollution, will be phased out when the Thai government implements tough new emission standards on motorcycle manufacturers next year. Two-stroke motorcycles are expected to become extinct in Thailand with the launch of the fifth emission standard in 2003.

"Two-strokes doomed by regulations: End of the road for smoke-belchers"
The Bangkok Post, 17 December 1999
As posted to the SUSTRAN list by Craig Townsend
Institute for Sustainability & Technology Policy

If you’ve ever visited Bangkok, you’ll know what welcome relief any improvement in air quality would bring.

The Secret History of Lead

The Nation carried a recent Special Report, "The Secret History of Lead." While too long to go into here, the report details gross malfeasance on the part of oil and chemical companies in foisting highly toxic leaded gasoline on the world for the better part of a century. While leaded gasoline is finally banned in most of the Western nations, its use is still widespread in the rest of the world. Read it and weep.

The Secret History of Lead
The Nation, 20 March 2000

This poison should never have been used anywhere, but some corporations are still making good money selling it.

Oil Prices Up Sharply

As Carfree Times #12 forewarned, the price of crude oil has recently touched $30/barrel. There is a lot of hopeful talk about how the OPEC nations are going to help out the rest of the world by increasing production, to drive down prices. Why they should want to do this is a mystery to me. This also leaves the question of whether they will be able to make significant increases in production even if they want to. Clearly, Iraq can export more oil, but whether oil production will ever rise much above its current levels is open to question. Demand continues to rise in Asia following a brief period in which economic turmoil had suppressed demand in the region.

Numerous sources

Americans are moaning about gas prices that are less than half of what Europeans pay.

Black Gold Becomes Too Costly

"As the world's weather grows warmer and deadlier, uneasy public opinion is starting to see climate change as the ugly legacy of the oil era." So says oilman-turned-environmentalist Jeremy Leggett, who argues that oil companies sow the seeds of their own demise if they continue to dismiss the fight against global warming. Referring to record-breaking storms in France and mudslides in Venezuela that killed 30,000, he said, "We are seeing the first faint signals of how bad it can get."

The world's hottest year, 1998, coincided with the costliest year for insured losses from weather-related catastrophes. Storms, floods, droughts, and fires worldwide in 1998 exceeded all weather-related losses of the 1980s.

"Climate change spells doom for oil"
ENN, from a Reuters story, 11 January 2000
(Sorry, you'll have to be a member of ENN to view this article.)

The insurance industry has already started making noises about the severity of the problem.

Solar Power, Anyone?

The photovoltaic industry in the United States wants to regain the technology lead it once enjoyed. To accomplish that, the Department of Energy has published a five-year business plan, "Energy for the New Millennium," for photovoltaic technology. It outlined strategies through the year 2020. Global sales in 1998 exceeded 150 megawatts, with sales of $1.5 billion.

Feature Article

The Health Benefits of Non-motorised Modes of Transport

Paulo Câmara
Senior Transport Planner
Maunsell Transport Planning, Birmingham, UK

Special to Carfree Times

"In order to improve public health, national governments should develop and implement strategies to stimulate daily cycling. It is the most effective way to save billions of funds in the health sector and solve traffic and environmental problems at the same time."

Dr. Harry Owen, School of Medicine,
Flinders University of South Australia and
President of the Bicycle Federation of Australia

Transport policies could play a key role in promoting health, publicly and individually, by promoting non-motorised modes of transport, such as walking and cycling. Both are not purely modes of transport but also forms of physical activity and as such can enhance individual's health and improve their well being. Collectively they can decrease pollutant emissions and reduce accident rates, provided some facilities are made available to minimise the conflict between those modes of transport and motorised traffic.

In Australia the Government estimated that if 40% of its 20 million people exercised regularly the general benefits - through savings in the health sector - would be around 6.5 million Australian dollars a day. This figure would be equivalent to 2.4 billion Australian dollars annually, or 10% of the total national health budget.

However, it seems to be a vicious circle in which people are discouraged to cycle and walk more often due to high traffic flows and high speeds, that leads to an unsafe road environment producing fear, which ultimately "pushes" more and more people off the roads and to drive their cars, so they can feel more "protected" and "safer" in this threatening environment. How can this circle be broken, if at all?

Engineers, doctors and health professionals should unite their efforts to promote the potential these modes of transport could offer in improving individual and collective health and ultimately to improve overall quality of life.

The advantages of cycling and walking are numerous. Walking is the only mode of transport available to the majority of the population. It is, like cycling, a non-polluting mode and it is highly efficient in use of both the urban space and energy.

Cycling is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get fit and is often the fastest and the most reliable way to get around in cities.

While walking can easily cater for short and local trips, cycling could suit perfectly to journeys of up to 10 km in length. They could both substitute a great deal of short car journeys in our cities. In the UK alone 72% of all journeys are made by car of which 59% are less than 8 km in length. These shorter journeys are the most polluting ones and could be very easily shifted to cycling, public transport or walking.

In 1992, the British Medical Association published a comprehensive report on the health risks due to high accident rates and their severity among cyclists and the benefits of cycling. The report concluded that even in the current hostile road environment, the benefits gained from regular cycling - reduction in coronary heart disease, obesity and hypertension as well as increasing overall fitness level - were likely to outweigh the loss of lives through cycling accidents involving regular cyclists.

One study, among factory workers, concluded that regular cyclists enjoyed fitness levels equivalent to that of individuals ten years younger while another found that those who cycled 100 kilometers a week from the age of 35 could expand their life expectancy by two years.

What can be done to encourage more cycling and walking in our cities? There are many barriers to cycling and to some extent walking in our built environment - the major deterrent being the real and perceived risk of accidents and their severity due to the conflict with high-speed motorised traffic.

The modal share of the bike is still low - on average only 5% of all trips within EU member states are made by bike. However in some countries its participation is as high as 18% in Denmark and 27% in the Netherlands and the population cycle on average 850 km a year, showing that more cyclists on the roads do not mean more accidents, on the contrary. Where cycle culture is strong, there is much more respect for their users. In Groningen (in the Netherlands), 50% of all trips in the city centre are made by bicycle.

Cycle use has been boosted significantly in some European cities such as Basle, Graz, Hannover, Münster and Delft, where traffic conflicts have been minimised mainly through engineering measures such as traffic calming schemes to reduce traffic flow speeds and the implementation of dedicated cycle lanes to minimise the conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles.

The current transport system does not encourage or enable people to cycle and walk regularly or as much as they want to. It is clear that cycling and walk retain a great potential both as modes of transport and as means of promoting individual and public health. They could easily substitute short car journeys in cities and towns and make the environment safer and more attractive for all.

The bike could be the missing link to enable the co-operation of those responsible for transport, health and environmental policies. Then we would be able to see more and more people cycling and walking on the roads, which would make the road environment safer and more pleasant, which in turn would encourage ever more people to walk and bicycle and discourage people from driving their cars. This is the ideal "vicious" circle we should try to build into our towns and cities.

Paulo Câmara
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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I found for the first time today and mostly liked it. But there was one reference that I thought was unfortunate. One of your stories in Car-Free Times (about environmentalist Republicans) was captioned: "Nixon Would Roll Over in His Grave". In fact, Nixon was probably the most pro-environmental Republican president of the past 60 or 70 years. He signed legislation creating the EPA, and presided over the expansion of federal aid to public transit. (In fact, his transportation secretary, John Volpe, had to be forced to support new highways by Congress).

Michael Lewyn

Hot New Links

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

"Coming Around Again," an article about the resurgence of streetcars (trams).

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy promotes environmentally sustainable and equitable transportation policies and projects worldwide.

Transport 2000 Canada is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is research, public education and consumer advocacy.

"Expansion Induces Traffic," a page at the Sierra Club about induced traffic.

Discussion forum of group of people trying to live carfree. Practical matters receive the most consideration.

The SUSTRAN Network: Taking steps: a community action guide to people-centred, equitable and sustainable urban transport. Read the group's archives at eGroups.

Earth Day Energy Fast: Take action right now - begin an energy fast!

Urban Quality Indicators Newsletter provides information on efforts in North America to measure the quality, health, and sustainability of its communities.

Briefly Noted

An International Sourcebook of Automobile Dependence in Cities, 1960-1990
Jeff Kenworthy and Felix Laube, with others
University Press of Colorado, July 1999

This book provides a large source of urban data about land use, private and public transportation, energy use in transport, environment, and economics.

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Contact Information

J.H. Crawford
Tel. +31 20 638 5115
E-mail Send e-mail

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