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Transport - Nov 27

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Don't need no stinkin' SUV's

various photos, Lords of the Logistic
If you think you can't carry it on a bicycle or mo-ped, look at these photos.
(no date)


Rail revolution to clear Britain's road gridlock 'in next 30 years'

Gaby Hinsliff, Nick Mathiason, Juliette Jowit and Martha Alexander, UK Observer

Double-decker trains are just one part of an official plan to tackle our transport crisis and persuade people to abandon their cars
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A railway revolution to ease the pressure on packed commuter routes and shorten journeys between major cities is being drawn up within government following a major Treasury review.

The report, by former chief executive of British Airways Sir Rod Eddington, to be published next month, will warn that Britain's creaking transport system is near saturation point. It will call for a major expansion of rail capacity over the next 30 years to help take the strain off congested roads.
(26 Nov 2006)


New Study: Americans' Weight Gain Leading to Increased Fuel Consumption

Watthead, The Watt
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University have concluded that the weight gain of Americans since 1960 has resulted in increased fuel consumption. In a paper to appear in the October-December 2006 (Vol. 51, No. 4) issue of the journal The Engineering Economist, the scientists conclude that each extra pound of body weight in all of today’s vehicles results in an increase in gasoline consumption of more than 39 million gallons each year. As a result, Americans are now pumping 938 million gallons of fuel more annually than they were in 1960 as a result of extra body weight in vehicles, the study finds. When gas prices average $3 a gallon, that results in additional aggregate expenditures of $7.7 million a day, or $2.8 billion a year!

The fuel-consumption calculations apply only to passenger vehicles, including cars and light trucks driven for non-commercial reasons (so the actual increase in fuel consumption is presumably higher considering air, bus, rail and other mass transit). The scientists ruled out other factors such as increasing the weight of cargo or decreasing fuel efficiency through poor maintenance. Although the amount of fuel consumed as a result of the rising prevalence of obesity is small compared to the increase in the amount of fuel consumed stemming from other factors such as increased car reliance and an increase in the number of drivers, … it still represents a large amount of fuel, and will become even more significant as the rate of obesity increases
(22 Nov 2006)


Turns Out, Seattle Isn't So Green: How About Your City?

Erica Barnett, AlterNet
Seattle's mayor is dubbed an environmental hero but other cities are making real progress toward addressing climate change.
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In the summer of 2005, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels convinced hundreds of urban mayors around the country to pledge to enact laws aimed at reducing greenhouse gases to levels mandated by the Kyoto Protocol, which was rejected by President Bush. The gutsy move earned him political points in magazines from Rolling Stone (which dubbed him an environmental "hero") to Vanity Fair (which praised him as a rising green star). But in his own city, Nickels's policies are frequently at odds with his professed green agenda. Meanwhile, other cities across the country are making real changes that will help them meet and even exceed Kyoto targets.

Nickels's much-touted "Climate Action Plan" -- the final product of a so-called Green Ribbon Commission charged with crafting climate solutions for the city -- calls for spending $37 million over two years to reduce Seattle's greenhouse-gas emissions by increasing fuel efficiency, building sidewalks and bike lanes, planting trees, conserving energy, and increasing the use of biofuels.

All are laudable goals. But only eight percent of that $37 million is new from this year's city budget (the rest comes from a ballot initiative that primarily funds road and bridge repairs.) The Climate Action Plan also includes many policies that have already been implemented

...As environmental policy, Nickels's Climate Action Plan ignores Seattle's real environmental problem: too many people driving too many cars too many places.

...As environmental policy, Nickels's Climate Action Plan ignores Seattle's real environmental problem: too many people driving too many cars too many places. Because much of Seattle's energy comes from clean hydropower, the overwhelming bulk of the city's contribution to global warming comes from cars. So if we're going to cut our emissions (7 million tons in 2000, with 8.2 million tons projected for 2010), it follows we'll have to drastically reduce our reliance on cars.

But the vast majority of Nickels's commitment to funding alternatives to driving focuses on building bike lanes and sidewalks to the exclusion of other strategies to get people out of their cars. Pedestrian and bike facilities are obviously important (Portland, Oregon, a smaller city than Seattle, has six times as many miles of bike lanes) but local government won't get people out of their cars without creating disincentives to drive (tolls, a moratorium on road expansion) and incentives to get around without a car (fast, reliable transit, something Seattle currently lacks).

...This car-centric viaduct policy is the cornerstone of Seattle's global-warming hypocrisy. The only environmentally responsible position on the viaduct is to tear it down and replace its capacity with improvements to surface streets, bike lanes, and transit.

...While the mayor of Seattle hogs the green spotlight, other cities across the U.S. are taking far more significant steps to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead of placing the primary burden of reducing emissions on individuals, other cities are making systemic, citywide changes-the only kind of changes that will ever make a lasting impact.
(21 Nov 2006)
Predicted: a split in the environmental movement over cars. It's politically very difficult to move against auto transport - even environmental organizations prefer to talk about increasing CAFE standards and less polluting fuels like ethanol.

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