The Third World's Hidden Killer
Traffic accidents kill
proportionately more people in the developing world than in the industrialized
world. Yet there are only three motor vehicles per 100 people in developing
nations, compared to one vehicle per two people in the West. In New Delhi, 75%
of people killed on roads are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
During his 10 year military
rule. General Ershad of Bangladesh ordered government workers to ride bicycles
to work to protect the environment. On the other hand, he also ordered a
complete replacement of the presidential car entourage with a fleet of
expensive, bulletproof limousines.
China has one of the highest
rates of bike ownership. But recently, the government has begun discouraging
bicycle use. Bicycle traffic has recently been banned on several major
highways. Replacing those pesky bikes will be easy-the economic planning
ministry has announced that it wants every family in China to have a private
car. The private car fleet grew by 172% between 1990-91 and auto sales are
projected to reach 1.1 million per year by 2000.
A Pennsylvania highway road
crew repaved state road 895 directly over a dead deer near the town of
Andreas. Across the ocean, a city official in Netherlands bought six sheep and
put them on a busy road to slow down rush hour traffic.
In 1995, Greenpeace asked
Swiss engineers to modify a Renault to create the Twingo Smile, a car with
half the fuel needs of the original-giving the driver 81 miles per gallon. A
year later, Greenpeace paid a deposit at the Paris Auto Show to display a
prototype of this "clean car", only to be told at the last minute
that their space had been cancelled. Greenpeace's Stefan Krug said, "The
auto industry is not interested in environmental cars." Renault replied
huffily, "If we knew how to mass produce a car like that, we would have
done it long ago."
Residents of Kalamazoo,
Michigan recently voted down an initiative to replace a downtown pedestrian
mall with a traffic-filled street. The 37-year-old mall is reportedly the
first site in the nation where a street had been closed off to cars in favor
of pedestrian traffic. Despite the media's gloomy forecasts for urban
pedestrian malls, Kalamazoo wants to keep this mall in place.
300 cyclists from
Australia-based CRITICAL MASS took over Five lanes of traffic as they went
over Harbour Bridge. Police were on hand but did not make much trouble, as
they were too busy trying to get out of a traffic jam! When they finally
caught up, the police requested a route map for the next ride. Coming next:
"Bike in Suits," an event which will send hundreds of bikers into
downtown Sydney during the morning peak hour. The whole world is
AutoWeek magazine recently
ran this item: "10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more. Your bloody front bumper is
running up the score...You can record exactly how much roadkill you've caused
with little magnetic dead animals that you stick on your car door. Handy Dan's
Roadkill Magnets come in dogs, cats, possums, raccoons, turtles, and MULES,
all with their eyes X'd out. Very cute."
Cars have been banned from
the inner courtyard of the baroque parliament building in Mainz, Germany,
according to Die ZEIT. 'The most beautiful places in the Republic are
ruthlessly metaled-over, noised-over and stunk-over," the author writes.
"Therefore, banish the autos, out of the old inner courts, away from the
historic squares! And a salute to Mainz - for someone must start!"