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For Teenagers, the Car Is the Danger Zone

Jane E. Brody, NY Times
Parents of teenagers worry about lots of things: drugs, sex, poor choices of friends. But the activity that causes the most harm to older teenagers is none of the above.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16- to 20-year-olds, with about 5,500 teenage drivers or passengers dying each year. In addition, about 450,000 teenagers are injured, 27,000 of them requiring hospitalization, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in the December issue of its journal, Pediatrics.

Of those who are killed, 63 percent are drivers and 37 percent are passengers, with boys accounting for two-thirds of the fatalities. Although teenagers represent only 6 percent of drivers, they are involved in 14 percent of fatal crashes. And the crash rate among the youngest drivers – 35 crashes per million miles driven by 16-year-olds – is nearly nine times the rate of the general population
(6 Feb 2007)

Subdivisions in remote areas increase cost county services

Michael Jamison, the Missoulian
…And the land company wants to carve out a 60-home subdivision on approximately 600 scenic acres around Ashley Lake – part of a larger land divestment, a national move by the company to convert industrial timber acres into homesites.

The problem is, doing so will cost Brenneman’s taxpayers money.

“Right now,” said Commissioner Gary Hall, “some of our biggest subdivision activity in the wildland-urban interface is on Plum Creek land. We know they have something like a quarter-million acres in the county, so the potential is pretty huge.”

Not many of those acres are very close to things like paved roads and schools and fire departments and hospitals and police stations.

“When people develop out away from the infrastructure,” Brenneman said, “it always costs the taxpayers money.”

In 2004, the county’s administrative officer researched the costs of hinterland growth. In Flathead County, where a whopping two-thirds of the population lives away from city centers, population grew 34 percent between 1990 and 2004. During that same time, the per-capita cost of providing county services increased 84 percent.

…Brenneman said surveys estimate that for every property-tax dollar collected on timberland, the county provides about 20 cents in services. For every dollar collected on rural residential land, the county provides at least $1.75 in services.

“So even though you’re taking in more in sheer dollars,” he said, “you’re constantly losing ground. There are lines of diminishing return that pretty quickly converge.”
(6 Feb 2007)

China expands ship-rail transport

China Economic Net
Shanghai Port has taken its first step toward penetrating deeper inland through an integrated marine-railway transport.
A train with 56 container carriages left the city’s Luchaogang station for Hefei, capital of East China’s Anhui Province, on Friday, kicking off direct rail container service the two places. Luchaogang is close to the Shanghai’s Yangshan deepwater port.

The country plans to build 18 rail container terminals, and the Luchaogang is the first to start operation. ..

“The marine-railway transport mode can be more economical and environment friendly than the road transport. Its advantages become obvious over long distances,” Meng Qingyi, of Luchaogang station, said.

One train is capable of carrying 100 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), equivalent to the combined capacity of 20 container trucks. And a train traveling from Shanghai to Hefei will use far less energy than 20 trucks and save a considerable amount in road tolls. ..

At present, rail transport accounts for only a small percentage of the city’s container transportation network. Trains carried only four out of the 1,000 TEUs leaving Shanghai. ..
(6 Feb 2007)

Why Don’t You Walk More?
D.C. Seeks Residents’ Input as It Prepares a Master Pedestrian Plan

Sue Anne Pressley Montes, Washington Post
D.C. officials want more people to take to the streets.

To make life easier for pedestrians, they want to widen sidewalks, redesign crossings and reduce driving speeds. They want to know where brighter lighting is needed, where more trees should be planted, which intersections are too perilous for foot traffic. For the next 10 months, officials are working on the District’s first formal plan to make the area a more enjoyable — and safer — place to walk.

…With its first Pedestrian Master Plan, the District is joining a nationwide trend toward more walkable and less car-reliant communities. In the past few years, a growing number of cities, including Cambridge, Mass., and Portland, Ore., have adopted blueprints for how best to encourage and protect pedestrians. In the Washington region, Arlington and Loudoun counties also have adopted detailed pedestrian plans.

…”The more pedestrians you have on the street, the safer it is for every pedestrian,” said George Branyan, DDOT’s pedestrian program coordinator, who said a major safety priority is to “calm speeds.”

…Burden said support for doing more to promote walking comes from several directions, citing concerns about traffic congestion, fuel consumption and obesity. “For health reasons, we need to use our muscles again,” he said.
(5 Feb 2007)