Tuesday, May 31, 2011



To ensure that all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities, are able to travel safely and conveniently on and across federally funded streets and highways.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled


This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011’’.

1 (1) COMPLETE STREET.—The term ‘‘complete

2 street’’ means a roadway that—

3 (A) safely accommodates all travelers, par-

4 ticularly public transit users, bicyclists, pedes-

5 trians (including individuals of all ages and in-

6 dividuals with mobility, sensory, neurological, or

7 hidden disabilities), motorists, and freight vehi-

8 cle operators; and

9 (B) enables all travelers to use the road-

10 way safely and efficiently.

Bill sponsor Tom Harkin understands the connection between autocentric street design and health and safety. “In many places across the country, there is a complete lack of sidewalks and bike lanes,” said Sen. Harkin in a statement upon release of the legislation. “This not only makes our roadways more dangerous for pedestrians, it discourages people from being more active by walking or riding a bike.” (from dc.streetsblog.org)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gas is over $4 a gallon

On April 7th, I will return a car I have been driving for nearly a year to it's owner. I will then be without a car again. This will give me an opportunity to revisit what I felt nearly 3 years ago when giving up my own car. Interestingly, gas had gone above $4 a gallon then. It seems there is much less concern or panic that gas is as high as it is. Probably $5 is the threshold for panic/worry at this point. I think that rising gas prices, while not good for the economy or people with lower incomes, higher gas prices will lead to more alternatives to automobile for day to day transportation which is a good thing. Most alternatives to the automobile have multiple benefits both for society and the environment. I have been riding my bicycle to work, but not for any other errands really. I quote Oscar Wilde here "I can resist everything except temptation." Initially, early in the year, I drove the car less. But as the year progressed, I drove it more. One can do
a lot with a car, there is a sense of getting around and accomplishing a lot and as Americans we admire that. It is part of our culture to do a lot, see a lot, and be busy. All this busy-ness has a cost which we largely ignore. I am looking forward to slowing down the pace of my life in a couple of weeks, to get back to my inner snail. Thanks for the year in the car Andy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Confession

Last year, my friend and neighbor got a DUI. She was drinking and driving. In April of 2010 her license to drive was revoked for a year. I have had her car in my driveway since then. I have driven her car a fair amount and have felt a lot of guilt about that driving. I justify and I rationalize that I drive her car by noting that since she is not driving, that lessens my impact, that it is really her impact, she would be driving if she could. That might not make a lot of sense, but some rationalizations don't make a lot of sense.

I want to incorporate her story into my story, to relate an addiction to alcohol to our addiction to cars. I have not been writing much. My friend has written some. Her blog is http://canthurry.blogspot.com/. It is quite good.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Copenhagen is Cool

How many cars are in the United States? Take a guess. Answer is after the video.

There were 254,403,082 cars in the United States as of 2007. Did you guess correctly?
Here is an interesting table that shows the Number of U.S. Aircraft, Vehicles, Vessels, and Other Conveyances in the US from 1960 to 2007. The numbers paint an interesting picture. There are more than a quarter BILLION cars in the country now. There are only around 300 million people in the US. This is simply not sustainable. What we need to do at the local, state and national levels is promote the two most sustainable forms of transportation... walking and bicycling.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Small things can make a big difference SALT

A 3-gram daily salt reduction per person would lower annual cases of heart disease and stroke by about one-third, according to an analysis published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine. One-half teaspoon does not seem like much to me. And the study estimated that "consuming just half a teaspoon less salt each day may save as many as 92,000 US deaths and as much as $24 billion in medical costs a year." Here is the article from the Boston Globe.

It seems that this is a reasonably easy goal to accomplish. If food manufacturers across the board would reduce the amount of salt in their products, bingo, healthier Americans. If we as consumers buy reduced salt products, we are on the road to substantial savings in health care costs and a better and longer life. Small changes can have big results. A little less salt, a little more biking or walking, a little less car driving, and we are on a way to a healthier planet and a healthier population. Except for the additional label reading for salt content, I am sure that I would not notice a reduction in flavor by reducing salt.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tell Congress: Make walking and biking safe!

In the last 15 years, 76,000 Americans have been killed while walking or crossing a street – too many of our roads are built for cars only.

But thousands of people are stepping up to make biking and walking safe. Rep. Earl Blumenauer introduced a piece of legislation that could set aside $2 billion for grants to fund safe networks for biking and walking in communities all across the country. And Secretary Ray LaHood just joined the fight by issuing a directive that makes safe walking and biking a priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation!

Help us keep the pressure on! Urge your representative to co-sponsor the Active Community Transportation Act.

Transportation for America Coalition

Back from Santa Fe

WOW!!! The train ride was a vacation in itself. I met many people including Andy from Brighter Planet www.brighterplanet.com who was traveling by train all the way across the country. Lots of good information on the web site which says this:

On Brighter Planet you’ll measure your carbon footprint, discover simple ways to reduce it, track your progress, and share your experiences.

No politics, no arguments. Just real people, real actions — all making a real difference.

I am enamoured with train travel. Here is a list of 10 advantages to travel by rail vs by airplane or automobile:
More room compared to plane or automobile travel
Friendly conversations with fellow passengers
Better views through bigger window
Dining car with good food and good conversation
Observation lounge with bigger windows to view the great American landscape
Coach seats with lots of leg room
Doors between cars are exciting to pass through
Very cool sleeper cars
The pace of travel is slower and the feeling is civilized
The number one thing... lower carbon than other modes of travel
Look for videos of some of the train travel.