March/April 2000, p.14

Auto-Free World

Book Thrown at Crimes of the Road
Police in Great Britain will soon be treating traffic fatalities as potential criminal cases rather than mere "accidents." A new police manual for road death investigations describes drivers who kill as possible murder or manslaughter suspects and instructs traffic investigators in the same techniques used by homicide detectives. For example, the manual suggests traffic investigators seal off the scene for a thorough forensic examination and make house-to-house inquiries for witnesses. Driving this newfound vigilance is recent European Union human rights legislation that allows relatives of road victims to sue police forces for improperly investigating the crime. Currently, most British drivers who kill get off with a 250 fine for driving without due care and attention.
-London Times

Norway Aims at ZPG for Cars
Norway's newly unveiled national transport plan sets a goal of zero growth in private car traffic. Car traffic in the greater Oslo area alone has risen more than 70 percent in recent years, the plan says, and the capital's population is expected to rise more than 10 percent by 2015. The plan's authors call for "very strong measures," including higher tolls for rush-hour travel, restrictive parking regulations, and a substantial expansion of public transit.
-ENDS Daily, via Car Busters

Nepal Strikes Back at Two-Strokes
Nepal has banned the import of heavily polluting two-stroke motorcycles in order to improve air quality in the Himalayan kingdom. Bhakta Bhadur Balayar, minister in charge of population and environment, told the daily Kathmandu Post that the ban would be enforced immediately.
-Reuters, via Car Busters

La Car-Free Vita
Cars are being banned from the centers of Rome, Naples, Bologna and some 148 other Italian cities on the first Sunday of every month through May. An army of volunteer traffic guards will seal off city centers and urge residents to walk, bike or use increased public transit. The move is an effort to cut down on air pollution, which fells more than 15,000 Italians each year, according to the World Health Organization. During a trial day without cars last September, eight cities recorded an average 35 percent drop in carbon monoxide levels. Environmental groups praised the initiative for taking on Italy's love affair with the car. Italy has more cars per capita than any other European country - one car for every 1.8 residents, right behind the U.S.'s one car for every 1.7 residents.
-The Boston Globe

Worldwide Campaign Launched to Block Chilean Highway
A coalition of community organizations has launched an international campaign to block a major urban highway that would bisect the Chilean capital of Santiago. The controversial "East-West System," a 33-km freeway sponsored by the Chilean Public Works Ministry would devastate some of the city's most culturally significant neighborhoods, including the central market area and the Barrio Bellavista, considered the Chilean equivalent of New York's Greenwich Village. The highway would serve Santiago's upper-class neighborhoods, allowing drivers to reach the city center, airport, and their beach homes. "Living City," the 25-member coalition opposing the project, has vowed to take its case to investors and consumers throughout the world.

L.A.'s Bumper Crop
Drivers in which city spent the most time stuck in traffic? According to the Texas Transportation Institute, Los Angeles' drivers are the lucky winners, spending an average of 82 hours annually in congested traffic. Right on L.A.'s bumper are Washington, D.C. (76 hours), Seattle (69 hours) and Atlanta (68 hours). (New York City failed to make the top 10.)
-The Wall Street Journal

U.S. Beats Europe on Bike Sales
Believe it or not, per capita purchases of bicycles are 35 percent greater in the U.S. than in Europe. Proportionate to population, bike sales peaked in the U.S. at the height of the 10-speed craze in 1973, but the absolute number of bicycles sold has remained stable.
-The Coffrin Group

Eye in the Sky on Cars
Satellite technology may soon be employed to keep British drivers from exceeding posted speed limits. Government-funded researchers at Leeds University have developed an electronic speed regulator that uses global positioning satellites to pinpoint a vehicle's exact location. A digital road map on board the vehicle then tells the car when it is exceeding the speed limit, and the fuel supply is choked off. Road safety advocates say the device, which will cost around 200 to install, would cut road deaths by up to two-thirds and reduce total road accident injuries by one-third. But the device will not be popular with drivers or car manufacturers, warns Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation. "For most motorists the best speed limit is their right foot," said King. The device, which could be fitted to all cars within the next few years, is just one of a number of measures the British government is considering to make roads safer.
-BBC News

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