March/April 1998, p.10

Auto-Free World

Dutch Drivers Liable in Car-Bike Collisions
If you're traveling in the Netherlands by car, beware! Colliding with a bicyclist will be your fault-no matter what! A law is about to take effect that presumes that, in most such accidents, the motorist is guilty until proven otherwise. The reasoning is that cyclists are in a weaker position with respect to potential injury. To avoid liability, a motorist will have to prove in court that the cyclist ignored traffic regulations and acted recklessly. Once the new rules come into force, drivers will also have to fork out another 100 Dutch guilders (about $50) each year for car insurance. The Dutch government sees this as another way to encourage people to leave their cars at home. (The new law will not apply to motorways or main country roads.)

Bulldozing the Holy Land
A coalition of Jewish environmental groups demonstrated in front of the Israeli consulate in New York City in late January to protest the proposed Trans-Israel highway, an eight-lane thoroughfare that will stretch from south of Be'er Sheva to the Lebanon border. The protestors, supporting demonstrations that took place across Israel, say the highway will worsen air pollution, disrupt farming communities, and destroy archeological sites. "Israel has the opportunity to learn from the last 50 years of U.S. experience,"said a spokesman for L'OLAM, the Committee on Judaism and Ecology, organizers of the demonstration.

Messenger's Body Is Not a 'Vehicle'
Toronto courier Alan Wayne Scott, 47, lost a three-year battle when the Ontario Tax Court ruled that he took improper business deductions. Scott, who makes deliveries on foot and by bicycle, had claimed that his body is a professional vehicle and that operating expenses (shoes, knapsack, the $13 a day in extra-high-calorie food he must consume to do his grueling work) should be tax-deductible, just as an automobile's expenses are.

Don't Spend Surplus on Roads-Poll
A recent USA Today-CNN Gallup poll asked Americans if the government does indeed have a budget surplus, what priority should be given to eight different spending options. The spending proposals ranged from "reducing the national debt," and "strengthening Social Security" to "increasing spending on highway construction." In the poll, road building came in dead last. Only 11 percent of respondents gave it top priority, while 51 percent gave it low priority.

San Diego Tries 'Congestion Pricing'
In March 1998, a stretch of special San Diego toll road is scheduled to become the first highway in the world to shift to "dynamic congestion pricing." The idea is to optimize traffic flow by adjusting toll rates as frequently as every six minutes using computer algorithms, traffic-volume data, and assumptions about demand. Tolls will vary between 50 cents and $8 in 50-cent increments. The dynamic pricing will take effect for a minimum two-month trial period on the I-15 HOT lanes, 13 km of barriered central dual lanes just north of San Diego. Under the present system, drivers buy a $90 monthly pass to use the lanes.
-Toll Roads Newsletter

Britain Focuses on Cycle Theft
New research has found that 172,000 people give up cycling every year in the United Kingdom after their bikes have been stolen, and the threat of bicycle theft plays a significant role in deterring many other potential cyclist. The Transport Research Laboratory, which conducted the research as part of the National Cycling Strategy effort, found that more than 717,000 bicycles are stolen in the UK every year-or one bicycle every 45 seconds-at a cost to the nation of 250 million pounds per year. A National Cycling Forum working group is looking into both bicycle security and registration schemes as part of the National Cycling Strategy. A registration code of practice is planned for later in 1998, while a new set of lock standards is expected to be announced in the spring.
-London Cyclist

Cars More Essential Than Food?
Food, clothing and shelter are the basic necessities of life, right? Guess again. A survey of American spending habits conducted by American Demographics magazine shows that we spend only about half our money on those things. Where does the rest go? Transportation is a biggie. The typical household spends about $500 a month on transportation (almost all of that is devoted to motor vehicles, as opposed to mass transit). By contrast, the food bill comes to about $377 a month.

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