Winter 1999-2000, p.21

Auto-Free World

Annual Car-Free Day Sweeps Europe
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 bus policy.
-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 Pedestrians
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 buses.
-Agence France-Presse

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.
-Car Busters

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."
-CE News

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