Spring 2001, p.18

Auto-Free World

CDC Investigates Four-Wheeled Pathogen
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

Mayors for Rails
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 built.
-Carfree Times

Britain 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.
-The Guardian

Will 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

A 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

The High 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

LA County 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)

Hong Kong 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 pedestrianized.
-Carfree Times

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