IMBP

This video called “I moustache Budapest” was made by the participants of European Mobility Week 2009 in Budapest and presented as one of the final results of the Mobility Week Workshop coordinated by the Hungarian Cyclists’ Club and funded with support from the European Commission as a part of the Youth in Action programme.

The animation highlights the most common problems related to urban planning, cycling and car-dependence in contemporary Budapest but presents them in a funny childish way, thereby it can be interesting for everyone from children to adults.

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Carfree cyclists also uses more buses and cabs

A few months ago I hurted my ankle badly while I was doing a physical training. I didn’t feel much pain at the moment and went back home by bike. The next morning I had a tenis ball instead of an ankle and couldn’t even touch the floor with my foot. So I had to call a cab and go straight to the hospital.

ordinary bus line in Curitiba

ordinary bus line in Curitiba

In those kinds of situations I must find alternative means of transportation since I don’t own a car. Most of the time, the bus is my option, for instance:

  • When it’s pouring down rain and I am carrying something that can not get wet.
  • If it’s too late and the distance is too great (like 25km).
  • When I have visitors who are not crazy enough to face the streets by bike (like my mother).

But sometimes it has to be a cab. Walk almost 1km to the bus stop with a bad ankle wasn’t feasible at all. Another example is the  migraine my wife occasionally has. It also requires some urgency. But when that’s not the case, she can easily bike (or even walk) a few miles.

To promote a carfree lifestyle is beneficial to public transportation.

Not only because there will be more space on the streets. But there will be actually more people using it. After I sold my car, I started to use public transit a lot more. I also get a few rides with some carsharing friends but it doesn’t happen very often and as a last resource, I can take a cab.

Someone might ask: But if you are going to spend money, why don’t you just keep the car?

Well, those situations are exceptions, and it costs me about R$40.00 a month. Very different from the R$600.00 the car used to cost me. Not to mention that I don’t need to worry about parking, washing, paying taxes and fixing the car. BesidesI get a lot of extra space in my garage to do whatever I want to.


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End of the Road:Clean-burning Cars Ignite Fight Within Dealers’ Ranks

Man Running from Car - © Carbusters

Man Running from Car - © Carbusters

When Monty King called around his Oregon Vehicle Dealers Association in recent months to gather opinions on Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s strong-arm push for clean car rules, he found the unexpected.

The dealers weren’t necessarily opposed.

“The overwhelming response was, `We like clean air, too,’ ” said King, who works in Salem as president of the auto group. The dealers also said, ” `we don’t see it’s that big of a deal.’ ”

Though some auto dealers had furiously battled Kulongoski’s plan in the Legislature and had sued the state when the governor went ahead anyway, the industry, it turns out, is not a monolith of opposition as Kulongoski’s plan proceeds.

Joseph McKinney, CEO of Eugene’s Oregon Roads Inc., points out the difference in opinion within his own business sector. And McKinney – admittedly a breed apart from many dealers – is enthusiastic about the governor’s plan.

The governor’s order will require that all cars sold in Oregon meet California’s famously tough auto emissions standards the same year the Golden State’s new rules take effect: 2009. They require auto- makers to cut car emissions by 25 percent and SUV and heavy truck emissions by 18 percent.

Opponents say the rules will raise the price of new cars, thus reducing sales, and many argue that the changes won’t do much to reduce overall air pollution.

The state is rushing to institute the plan by late December, so the rules will be in place for the 2009 model year. If Oregon’s plan advances, the Washington Legislature already decided that the northern state will follow suit, which will create what activists call a clean car corridor from Canada to Mexico.

Hoping to stop those dominoes from falling, another Oregon auto manufacturer’s group and four Oregon car dealers squared off with
the state’s attorneys on Nov. 7 in Marion County Circuit Court. Both sides asked for summary judgment.

Now they’re all awaiting a ruling by Judge Mary Mertens James that will decide whether Kulongoski can go ahead – or, conversely, that the governor’s new rules are unconstitutional.

Fault lines:
The clean car drive has proven a dicey issue for a few of Oregon’s new and also used dealer associations.

The Oregon Auto Dealers Association, which represents 200 franchise new car dealers in the state, didn’t join the lawsuit because doing so wouldn’t have reflected the views of the organization’s total membership, said Greg Remensperger, association executive vice president.

“We represent all of the dealers in the state of Oregon,” he said. “The majority of them are of the same mind, but not everyone is.”
The 57-year-old Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association also has its dissenters, said McKinney, Eugene’s iconoclastic dealer and an OIADA member. The organization sent out a message urging members to let the governor know that the clean cars initiative was the work of “environmental extremists,” McKinney said.

“(But) it was not a message from the OIADA,” McKinney said. “It was from one of the members on their board: a used car guy, a broker in Portland.”

Four car dealers – from Coos Bay, Wilsonville and Portland – joined the national Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to oppose Kulongoski’s plan in court. The dealers are Coos Bay Toyota, Suburban Ford, the Don Rasmussen Company and Ron Tonkin.

Medford-based dealer Sid DeBoer, chairman and CEO of Lithia Motors Inc., did not join the lawsuit but said he doesn’t support the governor’s efforts. Lithia is one of the largest full-service new vehicle retailers in the United States, with 89 stores and 179 franchises in 12 states, with total revenue of $2.75 billion in 2004. DeBoer believes that the new-car requirements won’t be effective in cleaning up the air, an assertion disputed by supporters of the rules.

“We’ve been encouraging him to support an increase in the gas tax,” DeBoer said of the governor, “to encourage people to buy more economical cars and also to improve our highways in Oregon so people aren’t stalled in traffic burning gas needlessly and emitting both carbon dioxide gases and polluted gases by not getting where they need to go.”

“Lithia’s totally for having clean air. We’re an Oregon company. I was born here and raised here. But this is foolishness,” he said.
None of the auto dealers based in Eugene-Springfield is on the plaintiff’s list, and that’s significant, McKinney said.
“Dealers are good neighbors. Dealers are not the big, bad guys up on a hill that you might think. They have to operate in their community.”

Joseph McKinney of Oregon Roads Inc., based in Eugene, agrees he’s not the typical auto dealer — he’s an activist who sings in the Eugene Peace Choir. But he says many new and used car dealers in Oregon support the proposed emissions standards: “It’s the future of the car business.”

McKinney, meanwhile, has linked arms with Oregon State Public Interest Research Group activists to promote the technologies the governor’s plan eventually would require.

His Eugene-based Oregon Roads Corporation does $12 million in sales a year leasing fleets of cars and trucks to businesses across the United States. Still, McKinney is not your standard auto dealer.

He’s a self-described “leftist” who has campaigned for increases in the minimum wage because he believes in a “trickle up” theory. He sings in the Eugene Peace Choir. He’s been arrested at the Pentagon.
But he says he’s not the only dealer who supports clean cars.

“It’s the future of the car business,” he said. “The new car dealers I
talk to; they’d prefer clean air. They’re not opposing progress.”
The dealers and manufacturers bringing the lawsuit contend, however, that the clean car standards will add “thousands” of dollars to the price of a vehicle, reduce the demand for new cars and make a sizable dent in their revenues.

McKinney, on the other hand, says the evidence in the marketplace proves the reverse.

Hybrid cars are hot commodities, he said. They burn gas, but they also run on electricity part of the time, so they’re cleaner. They also get upward of 50 mpg.

Chuck Gittere, fleet sales manager for the Eugene-Springfield based Kendall auto group, said he can sell “as many as Honda will let us have.”

“Demand is really high,” he said. “We don’t have any Civic hybrids in stock. Toyota is sold out also.”

Manufacturers are responding. This week, Toyota announced plans to boost production to 600,000 hybrids a year by 2008. In September, Ford said it would ramp up to produce 250,000 hybrids per year in 2010. Both are 10-fold increases.

Hybrids are in such short supply that they retain their value, McKinney said. “Right now the (Toyota) Prius has the best resale value of any car on the street,” he said.

Two-year-old Prius hybrids sell for only $2,000 less than their new price. Other cars can lose upward of $10,000 of their value during the same period, McKinney said.

“Dealers profit selling hybrids,” he said. “There are lists of people for these hybrid cars. People pay list price for hybrids when, on the other hand, there’s a $5,000 rebate on a ’05 Ford Explorer.”

Front Page Article: Eugene Register-Guard, by Diane Dietz
Published: Saturday, November 19, 2005

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Car-Free Day Contest: Win FREE GAS!!!!

“Washington, D.C., September 21, 2009—As organizers prepare to observe “World Car-Free Day” tomorrow, the Competitive Enterprise Institute would like to remind observers and participants of the value of personal mobility and the advantages of car ownership.”

Here is a very surprising call to fight against World Carfree Day. It is of course the work of free minds who are fighting against the corporate idea of Carfree Cities (supported by powerful corporations).

Enjoy it, I guess it is a kind of joke…

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A critical mass ride on September 22th

This is a small video made last year during our ride on September 22th. It was our all-time record. More than four hundred people celebrating the streets. I hope it can be inspiring for the World Carfree Day 2009.

Thanks to Simone and Pinduca for doing such a great job.

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End of the Road:Acknowledgements

Carwars © Carbusters

Carwars © Carbusters

A great many people contributed to this book directly or indirectly. We thank first of all our incredibly accomplished, knowledgeable essayists, Andy Singer, Paul Scott and Jim Wilcox. Each of these writers is working hard in their professional and personal lives to bring about the kind of changes we advocate for in this book. We do not all agree on all the issues, but share the same values. These men are treasures in their communities and the world’s. Many others granted us permission to use their words and images; there are too many to list and we are truly grateful to all of you.

We are deeply grateful to Andy Singer for freely and graciously sharing his wonderful cartoons. Thank you Andy, for your excellent writing and hilarious, thoughtful images. You help lighten up and enlighten a potentially painful topic. Change is hard even when it’s wanted.

It is a particular delight to live and work in a community with a Mayor, Kitty Piercy, whose vision is so thoroughly about sustainability and a truly healthy world. We appreciate her contribution and constant encouragement. No one has ever stood up for, or thought about, the balances of community more than she has. She has given her life to these issues.

Deep thanks to our families, who put up with busy parents and partners being even busier way too long. You sustain us; you motivate us. Our most heartfelt appreciation goes to Saul Isler, editor extraordinare, and a highly accomplished fiction and non-fiction writer in his own right. You are a renaissance man, tremendously talented and sensitive to language. Yup!

Finally, there could not be a better work partner than Joseph McKinney. Disagreements were never once arguments. Joseph is an incredibly gracious, knowledgeable, values-driven businessman. I admire the way he lives his life, and he has taught me a great deal. I am going to venture to say, and say it for him because he is a busy guy, that he feels just the same about working with me. Me? I generally know more than I say, but I try not to take that too seriously because I would rather be learning every single day.

We hope you take our vision to heart. The time is now; the money is being spent; the moment will pass too quickly. You can contact us on our blog: www.greenhorsepower.wordpress.com

Amy Isler Gibson

Joseph McKinney

Eugene, Oregon

August 2009

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Pedal Power: Documentary on Bike Culture

Igor Kenk's former bike shop in Toronto © Christopher Dew/Cogent/Benger Productions

Igor Kenk's former bike shop in Toronto © Christopher Dew/Cogent/Benger Productions

The bicycle, a humble nineteenth century invention, is challenging the fossil-fuel automobile as the conveyance of the future. It’s the ideal city machine, light, portable, and cheap. Non-polluting. Good exercise too. Urban dwellers around the world are turning to bikes as the car turns them off. But with bicycles coming of age as a serious mode of transportation there are a few problems. Bicycles and automobiles have to share the same roads, a recipe for conflict, and many potential cyclists just won’t ride in the city because they see it as too dangerous. Add in the plague of bike theft and a lot of cyclists are simply leaving their bikes at home.

The film wraps around the story of Igor Kenk, a man variously described as the Greatest Bike Thief in the World, The Fagin of Queen Street, or the cyclists’ Robin Hood. His well-publicized bust in Toronto pushed bike theft onto the front pages of newspapers across the country and around the world. Toronto, meanwhile, is grappling with whether to really embrace bike culture. What does it take to be truly bike-friendly like Amsterdam, Paris, or even New York City? A series of character mini-narratives propel the film through a study of what makes a city “bikeable”.

The film is to be aired on Thursday, September 24 on the CBC (Canadian channel) at 8 pm. It will be available for streaming on the CBC website – see “Doc Zone” page: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/2009/pedalpower/

Source: http://www.cogentbenger.com/

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Evaluating Obama and Transportation Policy So Far


This piece recently appeared in Carbusters magazine. Here is an extended version of the article written by Susan Vaughan. You can follow her blog at: http://carfreetalk.blogspot.com/

As the most powerful person in the world, President Barack Hussein Obama has an unenviable task – saving humanity from its inclination to environmental self-destruction by transforming the way Americans travel. Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, does a good job of talking the talk about bicycling and walking as parts of this transformation. But have Obama and Congress started to walk the walk and really begun to change American transporation?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus bill early in his administration, $48.2 billion of which will go towards transportation. Most of that – $27.5 billion – is dedicated to highways and bridges. The rest gets distributed to various mass transit systems, with almost $10 billion for state and local public transportation – but only capital projects. To put this in context, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency alone has an annual operating budget of $700 million to $800 million, is expected to have operating expenses of $1 billion in five years, and was so strapped for funds this year that it cut bus service and raised fares.

(Here is a story on SamTrans, the public transportation system in San Mateo County, and the way that agency used its share of stimulus funds.)

Buried in the ARRA is the $1 billion Cash for Clunkers program in which car owners with vehicles that get 18 mpg or fewer can exchange their gas guzzlers for $4,500 towards the purchase of a new vehicle that gets at least 22 mpg. Some environmentalists, however, see this program as a handout to Detroit and auto dealerships, but not a serious way to tackle foreign oil dependence, global climate change, or any one of the other dire problems associated with car dependence.

(September 7, 2009: Congress increased the amount of stimulus money dedicated to Cash for Clunkers by $2 billion this past summer — for a grand total of $3 billion. Many people saw this program as primarily a way to move merchandise, and one muckraker seriously criticized the program for adding to the nation’s solid and toxic waste dilemmas.)

CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy)

In mid-May, the Obama administration announced new automobile fuel economy standards calling for improvements of 5 percent a year – standards that will require that cars achieve 39 mpg and light trucks 30 mpg by 2016, 40 percent more efficient than cars are now. The new CAFÉ standards underscore the irrelevancy of the Cash for Clunkers program, but have their own weaknesses: sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, those humongous gas guzzlers long the favorites of families, have always been classified as ‘light trucks’. These new mandates also leave the American fleet at 2 mpg lower than the European fleet.

California Waiver

In June, the Obama administration reversed Bush administration policy by granting waivers long sought by California and 13 other states to set auto emission standards higher than national ones. Those emission standards will be higher for about two years – when the new national CAFÉ standards start to kick in.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act

This bill, which passed the House of Representatives in June, addresses greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources, but it overrides the United States Clean Air Act by permitting the construction of new coal-fired power plants for up to a decade with no additional emission reduction requirements.

And as to those mobile sources that are to be regulated? According to Auto Glass and Insurance Industry News, if the bill passes, the US Secretary of Energy would have to create a large-scale plug-in program and assist car manufacturers financially in their transition to producing electric vehicles.

The US Senate will take up review of this bill in September. The Center for Biological Diversity has come out in strong opposition to the bill. Here the Center for Public Integrity breaks down the dollar dance of industry and lawmakers now going on in Washington, DC over this bill.

The Surface Transportation Bill

The House of Representatives is now working on a half trillion-dollar reauthorization of the 2005 transportation act. Currently the bill seeks to set aside nearly $100 billion for public transit. However, in June the Obama administration announced its wish for an 18-month postponement. Jim Oberstar, D-Minnesota, chairman of the House transportation committee and an avid bicyclist, does not want to postpone the bill, but Jeff Mapes, staff writer for The Oregonian, and author of the just-published book, Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities, surmises that Congress will have to raise taxes in order to pay for this bill and that perhaps the Obama administration just is not ready for it.

“I do think Obama is interested in change,” says Mapes. “But it’s politically difficult to do … . One can argue that the 18-month delay will give his transportation department time to craft a plan.”

GM and Chrysler

Obama appointed a ‘car czar’ to tackle the collapse of two of the Big Three car companies – GM and Chrysler. Under this czar, Steven Rattner, American taxpayers have become majority owners of General Motors and are likely to end up contributing $50 billion for its transformation into a leaner manufacturer of smaller, more fuel efficient cars with fewer dealerships. Meantime, Chrysler got $6.6 billion from the federal government to finance its exit from bankruptcy and its sale to Fiat. Many more billions in taxpayer dollars are likely to be funneled to suppliers and the GMAC, GM’s former finance arm. In addition, now that Americans are majority owners of GM, congressman and women are making efforts to keep dealerships in their own districts open. (Rattner has announced his resignation.)

GM and Chrysler “were both clearly failing enterprises and the bailouts were done just to … prevent massive numbers of unemployed [from hitting] the claims lines all at once,” says James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and other books about transportation. “I doubt that they will survive in any recognizable form … Personally, I think the whole Happy Motoring paradigm is in its death throes (though most Americans don’t realize it),” he adds.

Does Obama realize it? That is hard to say. If he does, politically he may not be in a position to say so — and he certainly has not been heard calling for gasoline taxes along the lines of what Europeans pay.

There was no room in the Carbusters edition for a section on …

Rail???

This topic deserves some deep research, but for now I’ll say this: Obama seems to be bumping up the funding for passenger rail a wee bit, and he has ambitious plans for high-speed rail. Some critics say it’s really more important to just fix up the system we now have — improve and expand the tracks (and perhaps get Amtrak onto separate tracks too so that it is not constantly playing second fiddle to freight trains up at the pass just west of Denver …). And if you look at the maps for projected high-speed rail lines, there are strange disconnects all over the nation — HSR from San Antonio to Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth with no connections to Houston; HSR all around Chicago and through the Midwest, with no connections to New York or Washington, DC. There could be some logic to this, but it’s beyond me.

Here’s a high-speed rail plan that makes sense: Los Angeles to San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento.

Susan Vaughan

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The End of the Road: Forward, by Mayor Kitty Piercy

© Carbusters

© Carbusters

As Mayor I am called to lead the community and to be a public servant, to make policies based on a positive vision for our future.  I must look for practical solutions to the challenges that face us.  The End of the Road explores opportunities for both vision and practical solutions.

The title of this book, The End of the Road, is a metaphor for where we are as a society, as a community.  We have come to a place where global warming and finite resources make it imperative that we think anew. Necessity is the mother of invention and profound change is necessary now. Governments and public agencies have a key role in crafting strategies to bring about change.  We can no longer count on cheap distribution of fuels nor accept the damage caused by their usage.

The End of the Road challenges the existing system of unsustainable growth. It suggests that we can use less money and fewer resources and still maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.  It suggests that we do not need to do without the things we require, want and love, we simply need to eliminate waste.  The savings will pay for the transition.

The authors, Joseph McKinney and Amy Isler Gibson, point with optimism to entrepreneurs who are creating a sustainable model instead of continuing to accrue wealth at the expense of others. They label this concept a step back, but not backwards, claiming we have missed a transformation link in our great race forward.

The authors of The End of the Road show how one of the most complex problems we face may have a simple answer:  lightweight rechargeable transporters that can take you from home in 15 minutes or less – to your workplace, school, shop or mass transit connector.

These authors challenge our community and region to prioritize and coordinate such an effort.  This is a timely dream. I hope you will read this book and join Joseph, Amy and myself in planning for a future that is truly sustainable.

Kitty Piercy, Mayor,

Eugene, OR                                                                   May 2009

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Total and Chevron Fuel Human Rights Abuse in Burma

“We can no longer do farming around our village because we don’t have existing land [anymore],” said one villager whose land was confiscated by Total and Chevron’s security forces. - ©  ERI© ERI

EarthRights International (ERI) released two reports today linking oil giants Total and Chevron to forced labor, killings, high-level corruption and authoritarianism in military-ruled Burma (Myanmar). For the first time, ERI reveals that the military regime is hiding multi-billion dollar revenues from natural gas sales in two offshore banks in Singapore.

Based primarily on over two years of research, the first report, entitled Total Impact: The Human Rights, Environmental, and Financial Impacts of Total and Chevron’s Yadana Gas Project in Military-Ruled Burma (Myanmar) explains that Total and Chevron’s Yadana gas project has generated US$4.83 billion dollars for the Burmese regime. The 110-page report explains how the regime would have excluded at least US$4.80 billion dollars of that revenue from the country’s national budget.

As a result of this revenue, Total and Chevron are a “leading external factor contributing to the regime’s intransigence” and a primary reason why international and domestic pressure on the SPDC has to date been ineffective, according to ERI.

“Total and Chevron claim abuses have stopped in connection to their project but it’s simply untrue,” said ERI Program Coordinator Naing Htoo, another principal author of the reports and coordinator of ERI’s investigations in Burma. “Forced labor, killings and other abuses are being committed by Total and Chevron’s security forces while the companies mislead and lie to the international community about their impacts.”

Focusing on the many misrepresentations of the Yadana Project is another new report from ERI, entitled Getting it Wrong: Flawed “Corporate Social Responsibility” and Misrepresentations Surrounding Total and Chevron’s Yadana Gas Pipeline in Military-Ruled Burma (Myanmar). Based on seven years of research, this 84-page report describes Total and Chevron’s public relations endeavors, including impact assessments commissioned by the companies since 2002. ERI presents evidence proving that Total lied to the public when it claimed that the International Labour Organization (ILO) certified that the company eradicated forced labor in its project area. The ILO made no such statements and has publicly disavowed the claim as untrue and inaccurate.

You can read more and find the two reports at: http://www.earthrights.org/content/view/693/114/

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