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Housing & urban design - Apr 3

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NYC Approves Fees on City Drivers

Sustainable Business News
New York's city council took a bold step yesterday to relieve traffic in Manhattan by approving Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "congestion pricing" proposal to charge motorists who enter the city's busiest sections on weekdays.

The council voted 30 to 20 to approve the plan, which proponents say will increase funding and use of the city's public transportation, while improving air quality and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles idling in traffic.

The plan must now be approved by the state's legislature and the governor. The U.S. Department of Transportation has offered the state $354 million in mass transit aid if the plan is approved by April 7.

As proposed, the plan would charge cars $8 to enter the "congestion zone" south of 60th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(2 April 2008)
Contributor Ed writes:
This won't be popular, but it's an effective way to use market tools to shift more people to more energy efficient mass transit.


Life in the 'Burbs: Heavy Costs for Families, Climate
(text and audio)
Elizabeth Shogren, Morning Edition, NPR
Millions of Americans have moved to the suburbs in the past 60 years, drawn by the lure of larger houses and cheaper prices. But until recently, few were aware of the impact those choices had on the environment.

Outside metropolitan Atlanta, one of the nation's most congested cities, Michelle Carvalho's dreamhouse is 3,000 square feet. It has five bedrooms, a two-car garage and a big yard.

Her 16-month-old son's day care is 10 minutes away. But Carvalho's real commute, to her job as a cancer prevention researcher at Emory University, can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

... When the Carvalhos lived in the city, they only had one car. But when they moved to the suburbs, they needed two. Both get a lot of use. The amount of gasoline they burn is the biggest reason the family's greenhouse gas emissions have more than doubled since they moved.

The average Atlanta resident with a job drives 66 miles every day. In fact, people here drive so much that if you added up every commute and every trip to a store or soccer practice on just one day, you'd get a number that's larger than the distance between the Earth and the sun.
(1 April 2008)


Eco-towns? Britons say no thanks

James Kanter, International Herald Tribune
STOUGHTON, England: The British may be among Europeans most concerned by climate change, but few people in this tiny village in the English Midlands want to be part of their government's latest proposal for a low-carbon future: an initiative called eco-towns.

Stoughton is one of about 60 areas under consideration for new eco-town developments, so-called because they are supposed to be made carbon neutral through clean technology and projects to reduce carbon dioxide. A shortlist of about 15 areas will be announced shortly, and Stoughton - like a number of other communities across Britain - is fighting hard to avoid selection.

Villagers in Stoughton and their politicians say that their area is predominantly rural and that these developments, containing up to 20,000 new homes, would do more harm than good to the environment and to the community. They also say eco-towns are being used by developers as a smokescreen to win approval for unpopular projects to ease a chronic housing shortage in Britain.
(1 April 2008)


Walkable towns curb obesity, pollution, expert says

Megan Rauscher, Reuters Health
Designing walkable communities is a cost-effective way to address the growing epidemic of obesity in the United States and cut down on harmful car emissions and pollution, a researcher told the American College of Sports Medicine's 12th annual Health and Fitness Summit in Long Beach, California.

The problem, said Jim Sallis from San Diego State University, is that local zoning laws essentially prevent the development of walkable communities. "Zoning laws today," he told Reuters Health, "really enforce the separation of uses; they are designed to move cars as quickly as possible -- which is dangerous to pedestrians."
(1 April 2008)

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