Spring 2004, p.21

World News
Big Tickets, London’s Cycling Mayor and more

Finnish Meat Head Speeds and Loses Big

A driver in Finland caught driving at 50 mph in a 23 mph zone has been fined $200,000. Jussi Salonoja, the 27-year-old heir to his family-owned sausage business, was fined according to Finland’s policy of relating fines to income. With tax office data showing Salonoja earned around $8 million in 2002, he was given a world record speeding fine. If he does not successfully challenge the ticket, Salonoja’s fine will more than double the existing record of $96,000 also given to a Finn in 2000.
T&E Bulletin

Ciao to Cars

Authorities in Italy banned cars from more than 100 towns and cities one Sunday in early 2004 to help cut pollution. Some cities offered public transport free of charge. The ban included Milan and Rome, where a long period of calm weather had allowed smog levels to rise. Traffic was banned from the inner city in Rome between 10 am and 5 pm.
T&E Bulletin

Read the latest news on the reducing automobile dependence.

London’s Next Mayor is Pro-cycling, Guaranteed

London’s four mayoral candidates agree on little but they are united on one front for the forthcoming election: all of them have pledged their support for a ten-point cycling manifesto drawn up by the London Cycling Campaign. This includes 20 mph limit in all streets where Londoners live, work or shop, and free cycling training for every schoolchild. Cycling in Central London has increased by 20% since the congestion charge was introduced.
Bicycle Business

Expanding Roadway Capacity = More Tailpipe Emissions

A report released last month from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) finds a clear and highly significant link between roadway capacity and air pollution from cars and trucks. The report, “More Highways, More Pollution: Road-building and Air Pollution in America’s Cities,” analyzes Federal Highway Administration data on major roadway capacity and Environmental Protection Agency data on air pollution, and reviews the current academic literature examining road building and traffic congestion. Contrary to claims by the American Highway Users Alliance that adding roadway capacity will reduce tailpipe emissions, the PIRG report shows that road building actually exacerbates air pollution by inducing additional motor vehicle travel. Emission reductions achieved through improving traffic flow are outstripped by the overall growth in miles traveled. According to PIRG’s analysis, if large metro areas continue to expand roadway capacity over the next decade by 14.6% (the average rate of growth for urban areas during the 1990s), they could expect to see emissions of smog-forming pollutants grow by nearly 11%.

Read the latest news on induced traffic demand and clean air.

Afraid to Fly After 9/11, Some Took a Bigger Risk—In Cars

Immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Americans afraid to fly took to the nation’s highways, a decision that many experts on risks said could be a fatal error: Driving 1,000 miles poses a greater risk of deadly accidents than flying the same distance. Statistics show the risk experts were right. In the first analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation data for the last three months of 2001, a study finds there was a significant increase in the number of fatal crashes in this period compared with the same period in the year before the attacks. Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, an expert on how people respond to low-probability but high-consequence events called “dread risks” calculated that, because of the extra traffic, 353 more people died in traffic accidents during this period.
Wall Street Journal

Hasta La Vista, Truck Traffic

Thousands of Austrian citizens took to the streets to protest increasing pollution and traffic, especially truck transit, on the Alps highways. Following on the heels of Swiss voters’ rejection of a new tunnel through the Alps, this action signaled continuing citizen revolt against excessive truck traffic. In Tirol, pollution levels are 30% above the limits set by a 1991 convention, and truck traffic increased by 2.2% this year. Still, the European Union continues to push Austria to loosen its trucking regulations.

Read the latest news on the trucks.

Global Health Epidemic

For World Health Day on April 7, United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, called attention to the fact that every year 1.2 million people are killed in car crashes, 90% of which happen in developing countries. The victims are primarily pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and users of public transit. “Most of the accidents are not mentioned in the media,” Annan said, “yet they are always a personal tragedy.” The number of people injured by motorists each year is estimated at between 20 and 50 million.

Read the latest news on reducing pedestrian deaths.