Summer 2001, p.16

Auto-Free World

Car-Free Sundays in Italian City Centers
Beginning last year and continuing on through this spring, fourteen Italian cities, including Rome, Florence, and Milan, banned cars from their city centers on the second Sunday of each month. This follows a successful trial that dramatically lowered pollution levels. Public transport will be made more frequent on Sundays to compensate. Cities joined the experiment on a voluntary basis but the national Government has provided financial incentives to those that join the scheme. Visit www.carfreeday.com for more information on this and other world wide car-free initiatives.
-Auto-Free Times, Spring 2001

Cargo bikes headed back to the T.A. office after Bike New York.Ticketing Pedestrians for Crowding…Sidewalks?
The sidewalks are so cheek-to-jowl with shoppers that businesses on London's Oxford Street want to fine pedestrians 10 pounds ($15) for dawdling. In the interest of commerce and British decorum, pedestrians on the mile-and-a-half-long street would be ticketed for walking too slow. "There are too many people and there is too little space," says Rhona Harrison, a spokeswoman for Operation Tugboat, the campaign to segregate the sidewalks. More than 9 million tourists visit Oxford Street each year, and about 60,000 people work in the area. Local merchants note it's so crowded that people move at 1 mph. Under Operation Tugboat, the sidewalks would be divided into two lanes (one with a minimum speed of 3 mph) and patrolled by special marshals with speed cameras. Anyone caught in the fast lane while reading maps, using a mobile phone, or carrying bulky shopping bags would be liable to a fine. The proposal, under consideration by Westminster City Council, has received enthusiastic support from local residents and workers who say that they experience "pavement rage" (i.e., angry shoving) at least once a day. [It is interesting to note that in all of the reports on Oxford Street pedestrian congestion, there is no mention or even consideration of the possibility of closing the street to automobile traffic, thereby widening the area available to walkers. Instead, there is only an urge to apply policies meant for automobiles onto humans (i.e., ticketing people). Maybe Operation Tugboat should rethink its focus. One resident touched upon the true problem, perhaps without even knowing it: "It's like this all year round. People are rude, and you get forced out into the street in front of traffic." -T.A.]
-The Christian Science Monitor (Car Busters), December 2000

Trains Safer Than Private Car
The latest statistics from the EU (European Union) show that there were 43,400 road accident deaths in 1997 compared to 139 rail fatalities. Taking into account that road travelers far outnumber those on rails, the EU statistics showed traveling by private car was 15 times more dangerous than train journeys.
-Metro Magazine, May 2001

Legislation for Car-Free Living in Santa Cruz, CA
In an effort to increase the supply of housing and encourage car-free living, the City Council of Santa Cruz, CA asked its planning department in early 2000 to consider allowing homeowners to build an extra room provided the occupant does not require a parking space. Although some homeowner associations have passed similar proposals that allow for car-free living, cities in the U.S. typically require homeowners to provide parking for each additional unit of housing. However, a city official told the Auto-Free Times in 2001 that the proposal has gone nowhere for a year. In order to encourage the city to get back on this interesting approach, please visit www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/pl/.
-Auto-Free Times, Spring 2001

Ireland Draws the Line on Store Size
The Irish government has capped the size of superstores that sell food and general merchandise at 3,500 square meters (38,000 sq. ft.) in Dublin and 3,000 square meters (32,000 sq. ft.) in the rest of the country. [In comparison, the average size of a WalMart building taken from a list of 112 buildings for sale around the U.S. (found on the WalMart Realty website) is 95,826 sq. ft. and half of those 112 are over 100,000 sq. ft. -T.A.] The policy in Ireland also requires that new retail stores be located in town centers if sites are available. Out-of-town retail developments are strongly discouraged. The policy's purpose is to foster sustainable development, maintain competition, ensure that retail outlets are readily accessible by public transit, and protect the viability of town centers. "Where new developments compromise (downtown vitality), they should be rejected," the policy states.
-Home Town Advantage Bulletin, January 2001

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