November/December 1997, p.16

Auto-Free World

U.S. "Inundated" by Autos
WASHINGTON, D.C.: The vehicle population of the United States grew six times faster than the human population between 1969 and 1995, according to a Department of Transportation survey. The number of vehicles increased two-and-a-half times as fast as the number of households, and twice as fast as the number of drivers. "Inundation is not too strong a term for it," said Alan E. Pisarski, a transportation expert. The latest Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey paints a startlingly-changing picture of life on the road from 1969 when the first survey was conducted, until 1995. While the number of drivers has risen 72 percent, the number of vehicles has risen 144 percent. Drivers used to outnumber cars by 30 percent; now the two are equal. The number of households without vehicles decreased from 20.1 to 7.9 percent of all households. But Mr. Pisarski said the growth spurt would not continue because the rush of women into the work force and the baby boomers into the ranks of licensed drivers had ended. We're probably stabilizing at high levels," he said.
-The New York Times

Paris Gasps for Air
PARIS, FRANCE: The government banned half of all private cars from Paris roads on September 30 and ordered free public transportation because of record pollution hanging in windless weather. The French capital's air monitoring agency said nitrogen dioxide, a product of car exhaust, had increased pollution to "level three"--the worst on its scale.
-Reuters

Ped Thai
BANGKOK, THAILAND, is so choked with traffic that officials last year were forced to declare a city-wide holiday so that limousines could reach an international conference being held there. All the more need, then, for the Thailand Cycling Club which began in 1991 and now has more than 1,000 members.  For each of the past five years the Club has organized a major
bicycle rally in Bangkok to draw attention to the need for bicycle facilities. As a result of these efforts the city's first bicycle way was launched by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority in November 1995. Last year the Club was awarded a Thailand Tourism Award for its promotion of tourism by bike.

Say "Crash," not "Accident
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is purging the word accident" from official usage, changing instead to crash. The change is a welcome one to pedestrians and other transportation safety advocates, who have long held that the high levels of traffic fatality and injury in the U.S. are not accidental but are integral costs of our transportation system.
-Auto-Free Times

Drivers to Bear Repair Cost
SACRAMENTO, CA: California legislators recently announced a novel way to pay for repairs to earthquake-damaged bridges--make the drivers pay for them. While NYC transportation offices pillage government coffers to cover the $3 billion repair costs of the East River Bridges, Bay area commuters will fork over an extra dollar (to $2) to travel over five Bay area bridges. Elected officials and transportation planners have known for years that East River Bridge tolls make economic and transportation sense, but have lacked the political will to make drivers pay up for the cost of their excesses.

Kuala Lumpur Mandates Bikeways
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: The Kuala Lumpur City Hall has built the country's first bicycle ways in the suburban housing area of Wangsa Maju. The pilot project cost U.S. $320 000 and includes sheltered bicycle parking at certain bus stops in the area. The mayor said that U.S.$1.6 million has been allocated to build bicycle ways throughout Kuala Lumpur. Developers will be required to provide bicycle ways in new housing estates, and a similar sum has been allocated to building and improving facilities for pedestrians.
-The Star, Kuala Lumpur

Read the latest news about this issue.