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S.F. moving to catch up with European bike-share programs

Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco is one push of the pedal closer to offering residents and visitors a bike-sharing program in an effort to ease traffic congestion and to promote health through exercise.

More than a dozen European cities have government-sponsored programs in which bikes are provided for people to share. Last month, Paris started the most ambitious program yet, providing more than 10,000 bikes at 750 stations and expecting that the program will be double in size by year’s end.

Now, hilly San Francisco is gearing up for a program of its own. A proposed city contract with Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. that gives the company advertising rights on transit shelters also would require the company to set up a bike-sharing program if the city opts for one. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the contract this month.

The cost to use such a program would be free or nominal, San Francisco leaders say, pointing to the Paris project as a possible model.
(3 October 2007)

Transport Expert Todd Litman: Alter Car Insurance & Save Oil, Lives, Environment (Part 1 of 3)

Staff Energy Tech Stocks
Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Canada says his ideas won’t just help the world cut way back on gasoline consumption. They also will save thousands of lives per year and significantly improve air quality.

That’s a tall order, but Litman’s logic is easy to understand, beginning with his idea for overhauling how automobile insurance rates are determined.

Litman calls it “Pay-As-You-Drive” pricing (PAYD). Simply put, the fewer miles you drive in a year’s time, the lower your annual car insurance premium. Litman argues that by making it pay – literally – for motorists to combine shopping trips, to carpool, and so on, the more likely it is that the family SUV stays in the garage, thereby not just reducing gasoline consumption but also air pollution and auto-related fatalities.

Litman, who would include vehicle registration, taxes and leasing fees under a PAYD plan, says that PAYD would reduce total mileage driven by about 10%, thereby alleviating the world’s worsening traffic congestion. In addition, it would reduce auto-related fatalities by 10% to 15%, saving some 4,000 to 5,000 lives every year. “That’s the same as two terrorist attacks,” he emphasized in a lengthy interview with …

Part 2: If you’re like most people, you drive to work and, when you get there, you park for free in space provided by your employer.

But what if your employer paid you to NOT park in that company parking lot? Would it be worth $50 or $100 a month to not drive to work but instead bicycle, carpool, or take public transportation?

Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Canada says one important way to reduce the amount of gasoline the world uses is to institute such a system, which he calls “Parking Cash Out.” By financially encouraging commuters to voluntarily give up their free parking space, automobile commuting could be reduced by up to about 30%, he says. …

Part 3: …Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Canada says Mayor Bloomberg should think even bigger. Not just individual cities but entire regions that are routinely congested with traffic should be incorporated into large congestion pricing zones.

Litman explained that doing so would not entail turning more highways into toll roads. Rather, vehicles would be tracked using satellite technology, with motorists paying more the closer they got to the middle of a congested zone such as, for example, midtown Manhattan. Litman said this sort of tracking technology already exists, as do safeguards for protecting motorists’ privacy.
(1 October 2007)
Energy Tech Stocks writes:
Just passing along links to a 3-parter now on which may be of interest to your readers. Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has some interesting ideas for saving gasoline, lives and the environment — at the same time. It’s not a cure-all, but I think it could make a significant difference. I’ll let you decide. Here are the links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Moral Dangers of Adventure Tourism

Lakshmi Chaudhry, The Nation
The best read this morning is this amazing piece by Rolf Potts titled “Death of an Adventure Traveler” (via Arts and Letters Daily). The narrative traces his decision as a writer for what he describes as “a Major American Adventure Travel Magazine” to abandon his trade. The immediate reason: the disappearance, and perhaps death of a beloved Burmese friend.

The article delineates the stark and shameful contrast between the faux adrenalin-raising thrills sought by adventure tourists and the very real dangers faced by the people who call these “exotic” destinations home.
(3 October 2007)
The article discussed by Chaudhry is: Death of an Adventure Traveler.