September/October 1997, p.9

Auto-Free World

Monkeys or Monkeywrenchers?
Three teens from Woodside, Queens were arrested in July for busting through the roof of a car dealership and trashing a half-million dollars' worth of new Jeeps and Mazdas. According to police, the perps broke into an auto storage warehouse and turned it into a demolition derby, smashing lights, doors and fenders on about one hundred new cars. Finding keys in the ignitions, the joyriders managed to do a bang-up job of curbing auto-mania.
- Western Queens Tribune

Good Nuess
Motorists who invest in mass transit get a discount in their car insurance in Germany. The Rheinland insurance company in Nuess will cut premiums by 20% for anyone who buys an annual pass for trains or buses. "Most accidents occur during rush hour," said a company spokesperson. "Those who travel by public transport cause less crash costs."
-London Cyclist

Century-Plus Cyclist
The world's oldest person, Jeanne Calment, of Aries, France, died on August 4 at age 122. She attributed her many healthy years to eating more than two pounds of chocolate per week, treating her skin with olive oil, and riding her bicycle, which she managed to do regularly up until her 100th birthday. Ms. Calment, who long outlived her husband, daughter and even her grandson, chose to celebrate her centennial on foot, walking through the streets of Aries to greet neighbors and well-wishers.
- New York Times

Britain's Cities Boom
More and more Brits are packing up from the traffic-clogged and inconvenient suburbs and are heading Downtown, where the living seems to be getting easier. This urban revival, found in London, Manchester, Newcastle and other major cities, may be due in part to the appeal of a car-independent life. In Manchester, new pedestrian shopping malls, expanded green space, and new housing has replaced the rubble from an IRA bombing. In London, where for security reasons cars are all but banned in the one-mile-square City, politicians, shopkeepers and residents hail the improvement in life and want the car-cutting extended. Despite fears otherwise, in the City of London, where bus travel times have been cut by 70%, car collisions reduced by a third, and car trips cut by 25%, traffic crowding in neighboring boroughs has not
occurred.

So, What's New??
The nation's first stretch of automated highway opened to yawns in California this July- "You can sit back and let your mind wander," said Jim Killings of the National Automated Highway System Consortium of the computer-operated vehicles. "It's really exciting for about the first 15 seconds, then it gets really dull," he said. Magnets in the asphalt on both sides on the lanes help keep the magnetized cars on the road, intended to reduce car crashes and air pollution. As if not paying attention were something new in American driving!
- New York Times

Cycling the Globe
In August 1998, 500 cyclists representing every nation in the world will kick off the Great Millenium Peace Ride from Vancouver, British Columbia. Planning to pedal 25,000 miles through 70 countries and five continents, Peace Riders hope to raise awareness for global harmony. With UNESCO, the Paris-based youth and sports division of the United Nations, the Millenium cyclists will visit thousands of schools in their mission to promote peace world-wide. The ride will finish in Sydney, Australia on December 31, 1999. Be there. For more info, check out the web site at www.holistic.com.au./gmpr/.
- Bicycling Magazine

S.F. Mayor Vows to Roast Little Weenies
More than one hundred peace-minded cyclists found themselves in handcuffs after joining San Francisco's largest Critical Mass ride ever on July 25. Mayor Willie Brown, who had previously described the ride as a mob scene carried out by "lawless, insurrectionist types," threatened to keep the bicycles of those arrested and vowed to make those arrested spend time in jail. With no legal leg to stand on, he had no other recourse than to rant and rave, calling the 5,000 participants "little weenies." Cycling advocates have found some sunshine in the mayoral maelstrom. "I'm sort of seeing it as the birth of yet another social movement," says Niko Letunic, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition president. "An alternative transportation move-
ment."
- Tubular Times, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

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