Winter 2001, p.18-19

Auto-Free World

Bogota to Cars: Get Out of Town by 2015
Citizens of Bogota, Colombia, have voted to ban car
use in the city during peak hours beginning January 1st, 2015. From that date forward, cars will be barred from using any city street from 6:00 am to 9:00 am and from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm during weekdays. Bogota's voters, who are forced to breathe some of Latin America's most polluted air, also approved the establishment of a day without cars in the city on the first Thursday of every February, beginning this year. In addition, the citywide referendum calls for the building of 200 kilometers of bike ways, as well as joint planning with companies, schools and businesses to promote cycling. The goal is to have 20 percent of the population riding bicycles as transportation by the year 2015.
-El Tiempo

London's Mayor Favors Lower Speed Limits, More Cycling
The Greater London Assembly is poised to vote on a city-wide 20 mph speed limit. The majority of Londoners favor the proposal, as does London's new mayor, Ken Livingstone. Studies suggest that lowering the standard speed limit from 30 to 20 mph would save up to 200 lives a year in London. It is also hoped that slower traffic will encourage many more people to use bikes, as fear of speeding traffic is one of the major reasons Londoners give for not cycling. Meanwhile, Mayor Livingstone has told the London Cycling Campaign that cycling should play a key role in a truly integrated transport system for the city. Livingstone promised the Campaign that it will have a cyclist advisor on the Transport for London (TfL) board and he committed to setting up a specialist cycling unit with the TfL that will become "center of excellence for cycling."
-London Cyclist

Wealthy Finns Pay Thousands for Speeding
Helsinki police fined a Finnish dot.com millionaire $71,400 for driving his BMW 43 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone. Two months earlier, the same driver had received a $44,100 fine for zigzagging in the Finnish capital. The amounts were no mistake: in Finland, traffic fines are based on two factors: the severity of the offense and the driver's income. Using cellular technology, police on the scene can tap into official tax records and learn within seconds a driver's reported income and the corresponding traffic fine. After Keijo Kopra, the managing director of a wood products company, was clocked at driving 14 miles an hour over the speed limit, the officer wrote out a ticket for $14,500, which a judge later increased to $38,000 when two previous speeding tickets came to light. Teemu Selanne, Finland's most celebrated hockey player and a member of the National Hockey Leagues Anaheim Mighty Ducks, was fined $39,000 for colliding with another car and injuring five. The formula for calculating the fine is complicated, taking into account not only the driver's after-tax income but the number of dependents and how fast the driver was traveling. "Some people think it's the only way to get the wealthy people to drive slowly or respect the law," says Leena Harkimo, a member of the Finnish Parliament.
-The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong Traffic Chief Is Pedestrian Champion
Declaring that "road space and priority is often biased against pedestrians," Hong Kong's Commissioner for Transport is trying to redirect priorities and improve conditions for pedestrians in the former British colony. The Commissioner, Robert Footman (yes, that's his real name), is calling for full-time pedestrian streets that would be closed to vehicular traffic throughout the day; streets where vehicle traffic will be banned during certain hours; and traffic-calmed streets featuring widened sidewalks to improve pedestrian circulation. In a letter to Hong Kong's pedestrians, Footman asked, "Have you ever dreamed of walking on a road in Hong Kong free of traffic and traffic noise ? Have you ever dreamed of taking your children on the road without fear of vehicles?" Seems like more and more people are having those dreams.
-CenterLines

Car-Free Day Wins Irish Sweepstakes
Ireland's car-free day in September was a huge success. Nearly 90 % of residents surveyed in cities and towns that participated in the event said the day should be repeated at least once a year, and one-third said they would like to have a Car-Free Day once a month. Air pollutants in Dublin were 30 % lower during the day and the number of vehicles going in and out of the city decreased by 11 %, according to preliminary measurements. Dublin Bus reported a 9 per cent rise in ridership and average journey times decreased by almost 30 per cent. In Limerick, noise levels were less than half normal levels.
-The Irish Times

Two Deadly Weapons for the Price of One
Adding firepower to a weekend sales pitch, a used-car dealer in Tennessee recently offered a free gun to anyone who bought a car. "Buy a car, get a gun this Saturday," read a banner hanging outside Greg "Lumpy" Lambert's car dealership near Knoxville. The promotion lured in three buyers, each of whom received a voucher for a bolt-action, 8-mm deer rifle valued at about $100.
-New York Post

Cyclists Reviving Spirit of Protest in Chile
On the first Tuesday of each month, hundreds of "Ciclistas Furiosos" weave through the rush-hour traffic of Santiago, Chile, pedaling as slowly as possible, blowing whistles, and waving flags. These "enraged cyclists" - often mothers, fathers and children - are determined to convince citizens to change their transportation habits and to get bike paths built on the Chilean capital's busy thoroughfares. In the process, they are reviving Chile's culture of protest, abandoned during and after Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. In Santiago, with a population of 5 million, polluted air gets trapped by the surrounding Andes, creating a thick cloud of smog that hangs over the city nearly nine months of the year. The spirited group has been slowly building contacts and membership for the last seven years, and now boasts 5,000 members throughout the country.
-CS Monitor

Nissan's Frontier Mentality
A television ad for the new nissan frontier pick-up truck features Nissan America design chief Jerry Hirschberg boasting that the truck is "muscular and powerful." Hirschberg closes the ad with these words: "The Frontier sends a message: 'Get out of my way'."
-CarTalk.com

Walking in California Is an Extreme Sport
A new report from the surface transportation policy project suggests that pedestrians throughout California are in serious danger navigating streets and intersections that are increasingly built for speed and traffic. According to the 47-page report, "Dangerous by Design: Pedestrian Safety in California," Sacramento, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Mateo were the state's five most dangerous counties for 1999. Regions characterized by rapid growth and sprawling suburban-style development, with wide streets and fast-moving traffic, typically pose the worst problems, the study says.
-CenterLines

Britain Completes Car-Free Bike Routes
Bicyclists heading to Britain this summer have more than 5,000 miles of cycling paths to explore on the National Cycle Network, which was begun in 1995 under the auspices of the non-profit group, Sustrans. The signposted routes combine traffic-tree sections of unused railway lines, canal towpaths and country lanes. The longest section, which opened in April, stretches 501 miles from John O'Groats, the northernmost town in Scotland, to Aberdeen. The 200-mile Celtic Trail opened in June, runs east to west across South and West Wales. For more information, visit Sustrans' Web site at www.sustrans.org.uk
-The New York Times

Melbourne Cyclists Riding on Water
Cyclists in Melbourne, Australia's eastern suburbs now have an express route downtown - a floating bike path on the Yarra River. Bicycle Victoria welcomed the $4 million floating path, which opened this past fall, calling it a "magnificent addition" to Melbourne's bike network. The two-kilometer trail, 600 meters of which is on pontoons to avoid flooding, runs alongside the Monash Freeway on the north bank of the Yarra.
-The Age

First Earth Car-Free Day Scheduled for April 19th
The first earth car-free day is to be celebrated on April 19, 2001. "The goal of Earth Car-Free Day 2001," says organizer Eric Britton, "is first to empty as many streets of traffic in as many cities around the world as we can, and then fill them with people going about the business of their daily lives in safer, quieter, more efficient and more convivial ways. The goal is to make the streets come alive with human activity, and the entire effort behind it is being carried out without one drop of taxpayer money behind it." For more information, go to http://www.carfreeday.com

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