Fall 2003, p.21

Auto-Free World

Polluted Paris Mulls Congestion ChargePolluted Paris Mulls Congestion Charge
France is considering a London-style vehicle congestion charge for Paris in an effort to reduce choking pollution, which has pushed the capital close to emergency traffic restrictions, a government minister said. "All aspects of the London experience are worth studying," said a Paris official, who also said that a 2.5 cent per liter rise in taxes on diesel next year was an environmental measure. Police have imposed speed restrictions because of pollution levels. The authorities could order every other car off the road at the weekend in an attempt to limit pollution levels.
Reuters

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Toyota Tells Employees Not to Drive to Work
To alleviate the traffic jam that occurs each day at the company's headquarters in Toyota City, Japan, the company is asking the people who work to develop cars to avoid commuting in them. "It may seem like a contradiction, but if you think about the problems we are causing to the community around us, it can't be helped," said Toyota spokeswoman Monika Fujita. "It's also quite meaningless to drive in a traffic jam," she said.
Japan Today

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School District Bans Bikes
The Wauconda School District in Chicago has decided to ban students at Wauconda Grade School from cycling to school. The school District Superintendent explained that parents drive so many children to school that it has become unsafe for cyclists and walkers. Rather than controlling traffic around the school, the Superintendent said "the simplest answer is for the school to ban bike riding," And now, with the bike ban, there will be even more traffic.
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation

Americans Wasting Their Lives Waiting in TrafficAmericans Wasting Their Lives Waiting in Traffic
The average rush-hour driver wasted more than two full days-about 51 hours-sitting in traffic in 2001, according to an annual report released recently by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. That is an increase of four hours in the last five years. The price tag: $69.5 billion in wasted time and gas, said the study, which looked at 75 urban areas. The report found that the average rush-hour driver in Los Angeles spent about 90 hours waiting in traffic in 2001, far more than anywhere else. The San Francisco-Oakland area was next at 68 hours, followed by Denver (64), Miami (63) and Chicago and Phoenix, which tied for fifth (61).
Associated Press

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Driving Carnage Too Much for the Mighty VulcanDriving Carnage Too Much for the Mighty Vulcan
One of the country's strangest traffic safety symbols has returned to his perch but without his old sense of duty. Vulcan, a 56-foot tall, 200,000 pound sculpture atop Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama, once held a torch in his outstretched arm that glowed red to indicate an area traffic fatality within 24 hours or green giving the all clear. After a nearly four-year, $14 million restoration and reconstruction, the world's largest cast iron sculpture is back, but with an unlit spear in his right hand. "I've felt it gives Vulcan a negative connotation," said Scott Howell, president of restoration contractor. "In 1946, traffic deaths were less common than they are today. It seems like it would be red nearly all the time."
Transportation Alternatives

European Cities Have Annual Car-Free Day
More than 1,000 cities, most of them in Europe, took part in the sixth annual car-free day. The annual event started six years ago in France as a way to push drivers to think about air pollution and their role in creating it. This time, the problem seemed even more pressing: Bad air worsened the suffering of thousands of elderly people who died in August's soaring temperatures. But people had a hard time leaving their cars in the garage, and many streets were as clogged as usual.
Associated Press

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Toddler Crashes Dad's Car Twice in Four DaysToddler Crashes Dad's Car Twice in Four Days
A motor-mad three-year-old German boy crashed his father's car twice in four days, police in the town in the UK said on Monday. Using a ladder, the boy stole the keys to his father's Honda Accord, started the car and plowed it into a nearby Toyota, causing some $5,750 of damage but escaping unharmed. When a television crew came to their home to reconstruct the incident four days later, the young lad took matters into his own hands. Sitting behind the wheel with the car key given to him during filming, his urge to drive overtook him again. "The father was with the television crew," said Borken police spokesman Frank Rentmeister. "The car was in gear and the boy just started up and drove into the car ahead." The boy was not hurt, but chalked up further damages totaling around $859.
Reuters

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