Annual Car-Free Day Sweeps
France's year-old movement to ban cars from city centers for one day is
sweeping across Europe. This year, more than 150 cities in France, Italy and
Switzerland declared their city centers car-free zones for September 22.
French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet said the percentage of residents
using their cars in the city centers dropped from 22% to 5%, with pollution
falling by 20 to 30%. An opinion poll showed 83% of residents in the French
cities involved wanted the experiment repeated. Voynet urged all European
cities to participate in next year's 'City Center Without My Car' day, set for
September 22, 2000.
-Reuters News Service
Welcome to Walden Moat
A shopping mall will pay $2 million to the family of a teenager killed by a
truck as she attempted to cross a busy seven-lane highway to get to her mall
job. The family of 17-year-old Cynthia Wiggins accused the Walden Galleria in
suburban Buffalo of using the highway as a moat to exclude residents of color
from the mall. The mall denied entrance to the city bus Ms. Wiggins took to
her job, forcing her to get off at an intersection with neither crosswalks nor
pedestrian signals, and traverse seven lanes of highway. Defense lawyers
claimed that the mall was not obliged to accommodate public transportation.
Nevertheless they decided to settle the case. The mall has since changed its
-The New York Times
Dismantling the Car-tel
Most cars are banned from downtown. Major streets are closed to traffic on
weekends and holidays. All metro stops have large bike parking areas equipped
with racks. Cabs may not cruise but instead wait in line at designated taxi
stands. Is this Amsterdam? The New York City of your dreams? Guess again-it's
Medellin, Columbia. Renowned for its drug smuggling cartel, Columbia's
second-largest city is making major strides toward blocking a car-tel of a
different kind. Any ideas on how to smuggle Medellin's progressive policies
into this country are welcome.
-adapted from an e-Bikes communication
A Place of Concorde for
Plans to turn Paris' famed Place de la Concorde into a pedestrian-only zone
moved closer to reality after France's Culture Minister approved the plan. The
Place, dominated by an obelisk standing between the Tuileries gardens and the
start of the Champs Elysees, is currently overrun with traffic and parked tour
Cars Leave Psychological
Scars on Kids
Even children with minor injuries following a traffic incident are at risk for
developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study in
Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. PTSD consists
of symptoms and psychological reactions that may follow a traumatic
experience. According to the study, one-quarter of children suffered PTSD
following a traffic-related injury. Furthermore, PTSD rates were similar to
those of children exposed to violence. According to the study, traffic injury
remains the leading health threat to American children. In 1996, 938,000
children under 21 years of age were injured in cars, 40,000 as pedestrians and
33,000 as bicyclists.
-American Academy of Pediatrics
Mexico City Turns to Women
to Fight Traffic Crime
Hoping to quell corruption among traffic policemen, Mexico City is yanking
ticket-writing authority from the city's 900 male traffic enforcers and
creating a new, all-female squad of patrols. In a city where red lights are
mere suggestions, the traffic policeman in his brown uniform often personifies
corruption, notoriously eager for a bribe in return for pocketing his ticket
book. "[Women] are more highly regarded by people," said Secretary
of Public Security Alejandro Gertz. Added his spokesman, Valentin Perez:
"Women, by nature, are more moral. They take the straighter road."
-The Washington Post
More Die From Road
Pollution Than Accidents
Road traffic is the fastest growing source of pollution in Europe. In some
countries more people die as a result of this air pollution than car
accidents, says a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO). The
report found that air pollution from cars in Austria, France and Switzerland
triggered an extra 21,000 premature deaths per year from respiratory or heart
diseases, more than the total number of annual traffic deaths in the three
countries. The report shows air pollution from cars caused 300,000 extra cases
of bronchitis in children, 15,000 hospital admissions for heart disease and
162,000 asthma attacks in children in the three countries. "The growing
evidence that air pollution causes a major health burden adds to the effects
of road traffic through noise, accidents and barriers to cycling and walking,
and we need to address this head on," said Dr Carlos Dora, of the WHO
Center for Health and Environment in Rome.
A New Employee 'Benefit'
An architecture and engineering firm in Holmdel, New Jersey, recently added a
new employee benefit-free: BMWs for all workers. ARCNET CEO Al Galdi said the
cars are "a key component in attracting and rewarding the most creative
and best [professionals]. I am honored to include these beautiful BMWs in the
ARCNET benefit package." Gushed one worker, "Once we heard that Mr.
Galdi would be adding BMWs to our benefits package last Christmas, we
recognized the personal care he brings to the company."
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