September/October 1996, p.17

Auto-Free World

Who Really Pays
WASHINGTON, DC: The federal government estimated recently that car crashes cost Americans $150.5 billion in medical bills and destroyed property in 1994. That comes out to $580 for each man, woman, and child in the country. According to the Transportation Department, less then a third of that cost is paid by those involved, while the rest is picked up by the general population through higher insurance premiums and payments by governments, charities, and others.
-Associated Press

Rollin' With The Danish
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK: About one-third of all commuters in the Danish capital pedal to work on bicycles, but even that's not enough for officials in the progressive country. The government wants to reduce auto use drastically, shifting to bicycles two of every three car trips under two miles. To accomplish their goals, planners are considering lower speed limits for cars, as well as auto-free city centers.
-Washington Post

Bureaucrat
WASHINGTON, DC: Ron Medford, an official at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is studying the effectiveness of bike headlights: "We don't want to promote nighttime riding. We don't think people should ride at night, though we realize people do."
-Washington Post

Cars Kill 885,000 A Year
LONDON: Traffic crashes are now up there with malaria, cholera, and TB as the great killer epidemics of the age. In 1993, according to the World Health Organization, some 885,000 people died worldwide as a result of car and truck accidents. Road collisions are now the leading cause of death among young adults and adolescents.
-The Guardian

A Million
LONDON: A million people have died on the roads of Western Europe over the past 20 years; and three times more are permanently disabled.
-The Guardian

A World of Difference
LONDON: In Britain, there are 20 deaths per 100,000 motor vehicles. In Kenya, there are 580.
-The Guardian

Money Pit

  • Percentage of annual income the average American auto owner spends on his or her car: 13.
    -Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • Percentage of annual income the average American bicycle owner spends on his or her bicycle: much less than 1.
    -Transportation Alternatives

Rims and Ribs
SOMERVILLE, MA: Redbones, a great barbecue joint in the Davis Square neighborhood of this city outside Boston, now offers valet bike parking to diners who arrive on two wheels. For $3, an attendant takes the bike to a locked and alarmed storage area, and gives the biker a coupon for free parking on the next visit. Owner Caryn Whitney says, "The response has been great. We can't believe how many people have shown up."
-The Ride

The Freedom Of The Open Road
SAN DIEGO, CA: In June, the federal government began to install a demonstration of the nation's first Automated Highway System (AHS) technology along a 7.6 mile stretch of Interstate 15. By means of some 92,000 magnets implanted in the pavement, AHS will control the speed and direction of cars on the highway. When the technology is fully developed, officials believe, it will triple roadway capacity by locking on to each vehicle as it enters, then guiding it down the road in a kind of group cruise control to a pre-selected exit, where the AHS will then release the car to the control of its driver.
-Civil Engineering News