The centers for disease control and prevention is launching a major study to
examine the connection between urban sprawl and the dramatic increase in
obesity among Americans. "We are coming to the conclusion that land use,
urban design, and the built environment are much larger factors in public
health than people have really appreciated," said Richard J. Jackson,
director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. "When we
were kids, most kids walked or biked to school. Now it's 10%. How do we deal
with the obesity epidemic when our kids don't get even that fundamental level
of exercise?" Research has shown that residents of communities built
before 1947 traveled on foot or by bike more than three times every two days.
People living in areas developed after 1977 got out of the car barely once.
-The Washington Post and Scripps Howard News Service
More than 300 mayors urged president bush and the Congress to make passenger
rail service a top priority in the nation's transportation agenda. The mayors
released the results of a new nationwide poll that shows strong support by
residents of center-city and suburban neighborhoods for passenger rail
investment. The poll, conducted in 10 large cities, found that 80% of
respondents supported the idea of building light rail and commuter rail
systems to give them an alternative to driving. In addition, 66% of
respondents do not think that traffic congestion will ease if more roads are
Testing High-Tech Traffic Calming
The british government has commissioned a trial of computer-control speed
governors in cars that would make it physically impossible for vehicles to
exceed posted speed limits. Twenty trial vehicles will be fitted with the
system, which automatically limits a car's speed to the relevant posted limit
using a computerized navigator linked to the car's electronic controls and a
geographical positioning system. The tests could lead to the devices becoming
standard equipment within five years.
Texans Be Forced To Walk in the Street?
The Texas legislature's transportation committee has unanimously approved a
bill that would allow drivers to park a car or light truck on a sidewalk.
Under current law, vehicles are prohibited from parking on a sidewalk. But
some houses are so close to the street that there is not enough room for a
vehicle to park in the driveway without blocking the sidewalk. HB 674,
introduced by Rep. Gary Elkins (R-District 135), shifts the problem to
pedestrians, who would be forced to walk in the street.
-The Gulf Coast Growth News and the Texas Legislature
Blueprint for Car-Free Cities
Advocates for alternative transportation often casually remark that most major
cities could be totally independent of cars. Author J.H. Crawford has thought
through the details and he presents them in his book, CarFree Cities
(International Books, 2000). The 320-page, richly illustrated volume is a
thorough and convincing analysis of how a city could be planned to be
completely car-free. Crawford, who runs the Web site Carfree.com, begins with
a comparison of different city types, with Los Angeles as the extreme
auto-centered metropolis and Venice as the human centered and virtually
car-free model. The book's centerpiece is a "master plan" for
building the ideal car-free city, complete with high-density neighborhoods
whose residents are never more than a five-minute walk from a transportation
node. Order at www.modfirsts.com
Cost of Car Ownership in NYC
The annual cost of owning an average mid-size vehicle in New York City now stands at $8,066, according to Runzheimer
International. Surprisingly, New York isn't the priciest city in which to keep
four wheels at one's disposal. Topping the list is Los Angeles at $9,254 a
year, following by Philadelphia ($8,715), Providence, RI ($8,633), and
Bridgeport, CT ($8,543). New York is ninth on the list.
-Crains New York Business
Considers SUV Land Grab . . .
Los Angeles county's board of supervisors is considering an ordinance to widen
"compact" parking spaces by half a foot to accommodate the growing
number of sport utility vehicles. In so doing the county has joined the parade
started by several small California cities to widen parking spaces to
accommodate hulking, space-hogging SUVs. So far, the city of Los Angeles has
no plans to consider a similar move.
-The Daily News (Los Angeles edition)
Plans Car-Free Zones
Hong kong plans to turn parts of its central commercial district into traffic-free zones in an effort to improve air
quality. Several major roads would be closed to vehicles. Two popular
nighttime districts plus part of Central's busy Queen's Road may be
the latest information on this subject.