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Free public transit for all

Bill McKibben, Plenty
Bill McKibben explores an alternative congestion pricing plan that would make subway and bus rides free

When proposed change runs into strong resistance, we usually say it’s because the idea is overly ambitious or it’s gone too far. But sometimes it’s because it hasn’t gone far enough.

Consider New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial plan to charge automobile drivers entering Manhattan south of 86th Street during major business hours an $8 congestion pricing fee ($21 for large trucks). Modeled after a system in place in London, the proposal for New York is an excellent effort to reduce traffic, and hence cut down on some of the environmental and economic costs arising from gridlock. New York’s state assembly rejected the plan in April, but most believe New Yorkers haven’t heard the last of congestion pricing.

Now consider a much-discussed alternative, proposed by famed New York labor mediator and environmental advocate Theodore W Kheel: Double that fee for cars driving into Manhattan south of 60th Street (and raise it to $32 for commercial vehicles). And then use the extra revenue to make subways and buses free for everyone in the five boroughs. Drivers might howl twice as hard, but at least there’d be someone howling back on the other side-someone who wanted to ride the bus for no charge.
(12 June 2008)

When is a bike not a bike? When it’s electric

Geesche Jacobsen, Hills News (Australia)
THEY might look like a solution to the rising oil price and global warming, but a court ruling has found some motorised bicycles cannot be legally used on NSW roads – even though the Roads and Traffic Authority previously advised owners they could.

As many as 10,000 such bikes, known as E-bikes, may have been sold in NSW on the basis that they did not require registration, and all users had to do was wear a helmet and obey the road rules.

The law specifies that “pedal cycles” with “one or more auxiliary propulsion motors” up to 200 watts do not require registration.

In May last year, Deborah Alice Matheson was riding her Eazyride bike on a street in Nyngan at about 30 kilometres an hour, using its motor, when she was stopped by police. She told them the RTA had told her that the bike did not need to be registered, but she was charged with driving an unregistered vehicle. She was convicted at Nyngan local court this year and fined $500.
(16 June 2008)
Governmental rules and regulations are going to have to scramble to keep up with the oil crisis. -BA

The Threat to the Car

Terence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News Agency
Recent evidence that automobile use is declining in America and that some Americans are making significant — and in some cases not readily reversible — changes in their lives because of escalating gas prices should be worrisome signs for those who love liberty.

No device is more in keeping with the American spirit than the automobile. Privately owned cars and trucks allow us to go where we want, when want. They are freedom machines.

Still, some liberals would like to use government to force Americans out of their cars.

They believe in socialized transportation, not free-market transportation.

In a free-market transportation system, a person purchases his own vehicle with his own money, buys his own gas with his own money and can drive his vehicle anywhere there is a road — and, if he has the right kind of vehicle, some places where there are no roads.
(12 June 2008)
Contributor Matt Picio writes:
More at the original. As we move over the peak and production falls, we can expect to see more demands for domestic production on the continental shelf, in the ANWR, and other areas currently off-limits to exploration and production.

Mr. Jeffrey ignores another “freedom machine” which can be entirely powered by domestic, renewable energy – the bicycle.

BA: A real libertarian cleans up after his or her own messes – does not externalize costs, does not expect the military to protect his/her energy supplies. -BA