January/February 1998, p.12-13

Auto-Free World

Comes Equipped With Global Heater
DETROIT: The lethal threat sport utility vehicles (SUV) pose to the occupants of lighter and lower cars has been well-documented. Now comes word that the growing popularity of these vehicles is slowing progress toward cleaner air in urban areas and is a major reason why American emissions of global warming gases are increasing even faster than previously expected. Classed as "light trucks" because they were once used mostly on farms and construction sites, SUVs are subject to considerably softer pollution and fuel consumption rules. Consequently, they are the fastest - growing source of global warming gases in the U.S., exceeding the increase in all industrial emissions combined over the next decade. Many Americans buy light trucks because they seem safer, but a study presented at a recent auto industry conference found that SUV vehicles roll over so often that their occupants are just as likely to die in an accident as car occupants. In addition, large sport utility vehicles and pickups account for an unusually large share of pedestrian deaths, apparently because of their weaker brakes, lack of maneuverability, and size.
-The New York Times

Bikes Bring Home the Bacon
UNITED KINGDOM: A grocery store chain, in partnership with the Chichester (U.K.) District Council here, is encouraging customers to transport their weekly shopping by "bike hod." For a small registration fee, cyclists receive a membership card and a tow hook that is fitted to their cycles by store staff. Specially-designed two-wheeled trailers are loaded at the checkout, wheeled out of the store and attached to the tow hook. Shoppers have three days to return the hod, which can also be used to transport empty cans and bottles to the store for recycling. (Note: The Random House Unabridged defines "hod" as a portable trough for carrying mortar or a coal scuttle.)
-Planning, The Journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute

City Will Pound Cars Into Admission
Edinburgh, Scotland wants to become the first city in the U.K. to charge drivers an entry fee. The 1 pound charge would raise more than 60 million pounds a year. The money would be directed into projects long-coveted by the city's transport officials, including a new light rail rapid transit system. An enabling act of Parliament allowing local authorities to charge the fee could be passed next year.
-The Sunday Times of London

Bikes Get Shanghaid
Shanghai, China: Officials are planning to ban cyclists from the city's congested main streets, seeing them as part of the city's traffic problem rather than the solution. For the deputy mayor of Shanghai, "the bicycle is just a reminder of past poverty."
-International Bicycle Fund News

Trade Your Space for Cash
WASHINGTON D.C.: One provision of the Tax Relief Act of 1997 allows states and localities to require, or employers to voluntarily offer, a "parking cash-out." Finally an acknowledgment that free parking is not "free," parking cash-out lets employees who forgo using employer-provided parking get taxable cash equal to the parking space's market value. Bicycle commuters, of course, would be eligible for this cash. The Commuter Choice Act (HR 878), a bill introduced by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), goes further: it requires employers offering free car parking to provide a minimum cash stipend of $15 per month to bicycle commuters and others forfeiting such parking.
-Bicycle USA

Fly the Friendly Roads
Americans travel is up, logging an amazing 800 billion miles a year on long-distance trips. The U.S. DOT's first comprehensive look at the nation's long-distance traveling habits found that even on trips up to 2,000 miles, the typical traveler would rather drive than fly. Seventy five percent of Americans travel by car for trips between 500 and 999 miles. Even for trips between 1,000 and 1,999 miles, 49 percent will still make the trip by road, compared with 47 percent who opt for the air ways.
-USA Today

Fast Route to Fitness
WALES: Police let a woman in Carmathen, Wales, get away with a warning after they clocked her riding her bicycle at 70 kph [42 mph] in a 50 kph [30 mph] zone. Ros Jones, a finalist in a local "slimmer of the year" competition, explained, "I had no idea I was going so fast. I have been cycling to lose weight and I suppose as I got fitter my speed has crept up."
-'This Is True' listserv

Read the latest news about this issue.