New Belgium Brewary Promotes Going Carfree

Would u trad ur car 4 a bike? ©New Belgium

Would u trade ur car 4 a bike? ©New Belgium

If you are a beer enthusiast, or even a cyclist, then you’ll know the name New Belgium Brewery. They have long been the organizer and sponsor of the Tour De Fat Festival that travels in the US and ends up giving away many bikes for festival competitions

This year is a bit different as New Belgium is promoting going Carfree through a video contest in each of this year’s locations. They want people to trade in their cars for bicycles and at this years 11 Tour De Fat locations (Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Boise, Fort Collins, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin) they will give away 11 hand-crafted commuter bicycles and trailers to the winner of the video contests. New Belgium will promote the winners through a Tour De Fat ceremonial event in each city and will follow people’s carfree success over the next year.

This is very interesting for the carfree movement. Such a huge sponsorship and promotional campaign of the carfree lifestyle is something that only a few years ago would have seemed unthinkable. I’m sure this campaign will evoke a lot of media attention, mostly for the novelty, as “normal” Americans wonder why the hell someone would give up their car. But at the same time this will give a big boost to the idea of being carfree.

Anything that promotes the idea of getting people out of their cars is great and this is the kind of creative marketing that can help the carfree movement really gain some ground. Cheers to New Belgium for trying this.

Thanks to Imagine No Cars for sharing the news.

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More colours in car adverts?

On the streets just outside the EU Parliament in Brussels we’ve asked people about the information in car adverts, showing two versions of our imaginary MOTOKA car advert.

In the first ad the info is very similar to the way it is currently displayed on car ads. In the second ad the info is more prominently displayed with a colour code label.

Which one is more clear? Do you understand the figures?

Video by Friends of the Earth Europe : http://www.drivingthechange.eu

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Brand new Carbusters 39 issue is out now!

What’s the view from your window? Do you like what you see? Do you want to change it?
So now’s about time we change the outlook – of our cities, towns and streets – let this issue be a source of inspiration for you and others: take a walk, spread the word with others on two wheels, or simply take pleasure in the artwork of carfree cartoonists.

So what does new issue offer us? Karl Fjellstrom guides us through Guangzhou, a carfree oasis and a leading model for changing cityscapes in China.
We talk to Chris Carlsson, co-founder of Critical Mass, and get a glimpse into the success of the monthly movement and how it can help alter attitudes.
Someone who clearly recognises the benefits of cycling is Kim Nguyen; his two-wheeled world tour is a source of inspiration for others – helping change the environment we live and the lifestyles we lead. Read an interview with him!
Then we escape the city and take a scenic walk with Tim Woods, who shows us that taking a sustainable step outside of the city is an important move toward preserving and improving public transportation services.

And much more in a new issue of Carbusters 39 “Changing the Outlook”!

Check more on Carbusters website

September 22 is World Carfree Day!

World Carfree Day Wiki

World Carfree Day Wiki

As you know, every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets and neighbourhoods to celebrate World Carfree Day and to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated societies.

World Carfree Day, promoted and supported by the World Carfree Network, is intended to advance the economic, social and environmental benefits of self-propelled or mass transportation. It is meant to promote more sustainable ways of transportation and new ways of building and thinking the urbanism of our cities, allowing streets to be a living space, rather than only a transit space.

With the global economy in freefall, carmakers are facing turbulent times and people around the world are re-evaluating their relationship with the car. So now is the perfect timing to try out the alternatives, spread the carfree word, join or start a World Carfree Day in your area! It is also time to push for a new use of car factories that could be used to build public transportation, providing employment and allowing us to build a better urban environment.

Before the 10th anniversary of World Carfree Day next year, let the 2009 edition be a showcase for how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars 365 days a year!

World Carfree Network invites organisations and individuals everywhere to share information. You can add your event online at: http://editthis.info/wcd/Main_Page

And join the World Carfree Day Page on Facebook

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An Open Letter to your Representatives

A good way to spread the carfree word: Send an open letter to your represntatives. It is what did Willie Weir (http://www.willieweir.com/) in Seattle, USA.

According to Weir, “We are a long way off in Seattle, WA to being carfree. But you have to dream.” We can share the same feeling in many other cities…

It is also nice to know that he already get some answers: http://www.yellowtentadventures.com/2009/07/30/give-it-up-responses/

"Now I’m asking you all to give up your car"

"Now I’m asking you all to give up your car"

Mayor Nichols–give it up. Seattle City Council members. You too. As well as King County Council members, Governor Gregoire, State representatives and ALL candidates for the above offices.

I’m talking about your car. For a week. Just a week.

You see, my wife and I answered the call to help the region and the planet by giving up our car over four years ago. With climate change upon us, it was imperative that we transition out of our auto-centric society. Get on the bus. Get on our bikes. Get out and walk.

There were plenty of incentive programs offered by our city and county governments, including the Way to Go Seattle–One Less Car Challenge. We took advantage of the Washington State Vehicle Redistribution Program … our car was stolen. We opted not to replace it.

We were in a good position to give up our car. We don’t have kids. We live on Beacon Hill with frequent bus service (and now Light Rail). We have stores, restaurants, a library, and a park all within a ten minute walking distance of our house. We both do most of our work from home.

Easy.

OK. Walking up the hill from the grocery store with a 20lb Thanksgiving turkey in an excursion-size backpack wasn’t easy. Waiting outside in a 40 degree drizzle for a bus that never came wasn’t fun. And taking 4 buses and a ferry to get to Sequim wasn’t convenient.

It didn’t take long to understand that for someone who owns a private vehicle, our city and region’s public transportation, bike paths and pedestrian corridors are top notch. Because when it isn’t easy, fun or convenient … you take your car.

When I joined the ranks of the carless, I began an education in how auto-centric our green little region is, and how far we have to go to get to be a truly livable place … for everyone.

How many of my neighbors park their cars across the sidewalk. How cracked and poorly maintained those sidewalks are. How fast the cars fly by on our residential streets. How few cars yield to me in a cross walk. How few bike racks there are outside the businesses I frequent. How poorly signed (or not at all) the bike routes are throughout the city. How terrifying biking can be in downtown Seattle. How little park space we have downtown and how much space we devote to parking.

So many issues and problems invisible to me while driving in my own personal vehicle.

Now I’m asking you all to give up your car. Not for four years. Just seven days.

For seven days live the life that few have chosen and many have no choice but to live.

Believe me, no matter how long you have lived in or served this region, you’ll learn things that will surprise you.

I know I did. And I’ve lived here for 25 years.

The best decisions about transit and neighborhood planning will be made by government officials who have taken the time to live a life without a car as an option.

Give it up.

We’ll all be glad you did.

Sincerely,

Willie Weir
Beacon Hill, Seattle

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Space Bikes

Maybe some of you heard about the Walkmobile from the Professor Hermann Knoflacher.

The Walkmobile was invented in the 70’s as a smart way to address the issue of public space usage. It is a simple frame made from light wood which, when whorn, occupies the same amount of space as the average car. It exposes that behind the metal and glass of a car is a human being – while it is a direct criticism on how our systeme allocates so much land for just one person.  Several actions have been organised in Austria, featuring walkmobiles, with people parking and walking on the road.

This concept has been used by several collectives, inspiring new creations like the “manif spaciale” – developed by the Montreal group Le Monde a Bicyclette (the world by bicycle). It is simply a group of cyclists riding around downtown with giant “space frames” attached to their bikes, making them take up the same amount of space as a car.

The idea is inspiring and here is the draft version of a space bike from Roanoke, USA. The final version will have balloons, graphics etc on it, for fun and to increase visibility of the frame. A workshop was organised to help people to make their bike frame in preparation of a ride Friday.

For more information about the event in Roanoke, please visit: http://carlessbrit.tumblr.com/tagged/space_frame

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New Auto*Mat video teaser

Auto*Mat is an organisation and a movie. The movie is about the organisation, which is based in the city of Prague, Czech Republic. It also discusses the love for the automobile and the thinking of people in early 21st century Europe. The organisation is the movie. The two are inseparable. We make the movie, we watch the movie and we live the movie.

Find more about Auto*Mat actions here

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Yes Men crash BMW Gala

Leonardo Di Caprio, Bob Geldof and and Mikhail Gorbachev were among the dignitaries momentarily blocked by protesters as they tried to enter BMW’s high-octane “Cinema for Peace” charity gala in Berlin las February.

“We aren’t leaving till BMW stops making cars,” declared Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (also known as “The Yes Men”) as they planted themselves in the middle of the red carpet wearing ridiculous inflatable costumes. “Cars are killing the planet, and charity events that greenwash their image aren’t helping.”

Despite “tight security” (provided by Flash Security, one of the event’s sponsors), the two men were able to waddle through a gap in the fence unnoticed. They made it halfway up the red-carpeted grand staircase of the Konzerthaus Berlin, where they sat down and refused to move. Confused celebrities had to navigate around the six-foot-diameter balls for about five minutes until Flash’s tall, blond security guards clumsily removed them by force. The protesters sustained a few bruises and a bloodied nose but were otherwise unharmed.

Although BMW does have an electric car, most of their business is in phallus-enhancing gas guzzlers. The acquisition of petroleum that is used in BMW’s cars has been identified as the source of ongoing wars in several parts of the world, making them an unlikely sponsor of an event calling for peace.

In addition to ongoing violence over the acquisition of oil, burning petroleum in BMW engines is accelerating climate change, which already kills 150,000 people per year and by 2050 will make a billion homeless (according to one UN study). Historically, mass displacement of people has resulted in war, which means that if BMW wants to avert war, they should stop making cars. After that they can more honestly celebrate peace with lavish charity galas.

“This is yet another case where we treat the symptoms but ignore the disease,” said Yes Man Mike Bonanno. Andy Bichlbaum continued: “If we don’t fix our system and start regulating these companies, they will just keep on destroying the world and throwing parties while it burns.”

The Yes Men were already in town to launch their new film “The Yes Men Fix The World” at the Berlin Film Festival when they heard about the unrelated “Cinema for Peace” event and could not resist throwing a wrench in the works.

http://www.theyesmen.org/

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Free Transportation Program

I work for a company that has more than a thousand employees. Approximately eight hundred of them are located in two buildings in the same neighbourhood only half a mile away from each other, and both really close to a bike path.

In 2007, when I noticed that more and more of my work colleagues were interested in my commuting choice, I decided I should do something to encourage more people to bike to work.

CELEPAR bike commuters

CELEPAR bike commuters

The project started when I joined the company’s CIPA (an internal comity responsible for employee’s health and safety, compulsory to every Brasilian company). We were able to use the intranet and corporate email to help us develop educational campaigns, organise visits to different departments, and distribute flyers.  It was the first phase of the project called Survey.

Survey
Before carrying out any effective measure toward cycle mobility in the company, we designed a questionnaire to evaluate the feasibility for the company and whether or not there were people interested in it. It contained a set of closed-ended questions (e.g.: commuting distance, travelling time and costs) and open-ended questions (e.g.: pros and cons for biking, street safety). We also recorded some video interviews where the employees could speak more freely and we could gather some suggestions and critics.

All this process took almost six months. The results were promising and we were anxious to start the second phase.

Most employees support cyclists

Most employees support cyclists

Analysis
From the collected data, it was possible to acknowledge that the majority of the employees supported the project, even those who said that would continue to use their car. However, bike commuting wasn’t an appropriate choice for all those who were interested. During this phase we determined our target group and developed some strategies to encourage a more efficient use of the bicycle. It was time to ride.

Implementation
Almost one year later the program was launched. Besides the employees who spontaneously began to use the bike during the first two phases, it was time to get people to ride.

We organised bike tours with groups of more than 30 people among employees and relatives. The route was made exclusively by bicycle. It was an excellent opportunity to enforce bicycle as a valid means of transportation and address legal issues, basic bike fitting, and riding techniques.

We also started a “Ride Buddy/Mentor” program (similar to CommuteOrlando) helping people to choose the best route, fitting their bike and riding with a mentor for novice cyclists.

Follow-up
Although our study indicated that the company staff supported this mobility program, there was no incentive to maintain and expand the program from the board of directors.

Even so, there are new employees adopting the bicycle. On sunny days, more than 15 bicycles can be seen leaned against the company garage’s wall. And they aren’t always the same ones. It is good to see more and more bicycles than the measly two or three bikes parked there before the program.

The importance of the program has been recognised outside the company. Last year it was accepted in the Towards Carfree Cities Conference in Portland, USA. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it. And this year, it will be presented at the 17th National Congress of Transit and Transportation (CNTT-ANTP) held in September here in Curitiba, Brazil.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Ulrich Jager, a mobility consultant from L & J Mobility who strongly supported our project since the very beginning.

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Rickshaws under threat in Dhaka

A Rickshaw ©Maruf Rahman

A Rickshaw ©Maruf Rahman

A recent parliamentary decision in Bangladesh further extends the rickshaw ban across many parts of Dhaka. This anti-people initiative was taken apparently on the basis of some prejudices against fuel free transportation, rickshaw in particular, without any regard to proper scientific investigation.

It is hoped that authorities will eventually see the importance of fuel-free transport. Given the small modal share of automobiles and the many problems they cause, there should be no provision for creating more auto-only roads within urban areas, and all existing auto-only roads should be converted into mixed-use roads by properly integrating public transit with other modes.

Lessons can be learned from the Mirpur Road Demonstration project before proceeding with transport planning, where fuel free transport (rickshaws and rickshaw vans) were banned. This case showed a very different direction from that of current transport initiatives in Dhaka. The answer lies in the “After Project” report of a government-mandated study into the project, which showed a number of key congestion indices with respect to before and after scenarios including:

No travel time gain for fuel-dependent vehicles was achieved due to the rickshaw ban. Bus travel has worsened following the rickshaw ban; passenger travels by bus has become slower than by rickshaw. An increase in congestion due to taxi operators reluctant to take short trips, causing significant increases in waiting times for passengers. The economic impact of the fuel-free transport ban has been devastating; figures show losses as high as Tk 1.52 billion (€10 milliard) per year in the area. Overall, the banning of fuel-free transport has deteriorated accessibility of the majority of road users by cutting access to side roads, destroying the continuity of the transport system, and hampering door-to-door mobility of passengers. In government sponsored studies the overall net impact of rickshaw ban was disproportionately in the negative side.

It may be mentioned here that after failure of the rickshaw ban in the demonstration project of the Mirpur Road, the World Bank has set the standard of extending further bans on the condition that: “Any future support from the World Bank would be possible only if it can be demonstrated that aggregate positive impacts of NMT-free conversion on transport users and transport providers outweigh the aggregate negative impact”. We hope it will set the minimum standard for all decision makers and transport professionals in Bangladesh prior to embarking on any potentially regressive transport policy.

Yet policies continue to give car owners absolute priority, while ignoring the fundamental principle of any transport project appraisal, that is, that net user benefits of any transport intervention must exceed net loss. The double standard of providing absolute priority to a tiny minority of car owners, while at the same time restricting environmentally friendly and efficient rickshaws, not only has no scientific basis as far as congestion management is concerned, also infringes on the fundamental rights of the vulnerable rickshaw drivers to earn a living by legal means. Moreover, such ban will increase sufferings of the most vulnerable road users, such as, women, children and disables by depriving them from having their most suitable means of transport.

A mother and a child on a rickshaw ©Maruf Rahman

A mother and a child on a rickshaw ©Maruf Rahman

As people’s representatives, we hope to uphold the fundamental principal of social justice and transport policy appraisal on the basis of economic efficiency and social equity and revoke further ban on rickshaws and reintroduce them where they were previously banned without further delay.

Mahabubul Bari

International Expert on Transportation Infrastructure

Ministry of Infrastructure , Republic of Rwanda

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