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More Cyclists Means Fewer Accidents, Says Report

Peter Walker, WorldChanging
A study of the most and least safe places to cycle in Britain, released today, shows that where there are more riders on the roads there is generally a lower accident rate, while in areas less popular for bikes, cycling can be notably more risky.

Contradicting the notion that a mass of inexperienced riders taking to the streets brings a spike in injuries and deaths, the research by the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC), the UK’s main cycling organisation, rates local authority areas in England on a scale of A to E according to how safe they are.

The trend is clear, with areas popular for cyclists tending to be safer on average, with the differences sometimes significant. Top of the list is traditionally bike-friendly York, where around one in eight commuters cycle to work and 0.1% are badly hurt in accidents each year. Not far down the road, Calderdale, West Yorkshire, a district centred around Halifax, is at the other end of the scale. Here, fewer than 1 in 120 commuters use bikes, and those that do face a danger level 15 times higher than in York.
(7 May 2009)

Car-Free in America?

Room for Debate, New York Times
A New York Times article this week described efforts in Vauban, Germany, a suburb of Freiburg, to go “car free.” The story mentioned attempts in some American communities to achieve something similar. While walkable communities have become common all over the United States in the last 15 years, going car-free is another challenge altogether. Is this a realistic goal in a car culture like ours? We asked some urban planners, developers and other experts to comment.

* Witold Rybczynski, professor of urbanism
* D.J. Waldie, author of “Holy Land”
* Dolores Hayden, professor of architecture
* Christopher B. Leinberger, real estate developer and author
* J.H. Crawford, author of “Carfree Cities”
* Marc Schlossberg, professor of public policy
(12 May 2009)
Duncan Black (“Atrios”) comments:
I think a key point is that while it isn’t realistic to imagine that much of the country will become a car free paradise, it is realistic to imagine that relatively small changes to land use, planning, and transit could reduce the number of cars that households need. They may need one, but not one per driving age member.

As for me, personally, living in one of those small number of walkable downtowns, I’m quite content without a car and lacking one doesn’t negatively impact me at all. That wouldn’t be the case if affordable and convenient carsharing wasn’t available. I easily could live without a car in that case, but at some point I’d probably decide it was a luxury I was willing to pay for. Cars are useful things, even if you don’t need one.
See the NYT article here

Building a Low Cost EV in 1 Week

David’s Electric Vehicle Page
My wife and I drive an Electric Car every day. You could too! There is no need to wait for big car companies to come out with $40,000 production EVs – you can build your own EV for as little as $6,000. EVs are great to drive and perfectly suited for day-day commuting. There is very little maintenance as the only wearing parts are tyres and brakes. No oil, no water, no exhaust system and just one moving part in the motor. Think about it – most of your car maintenance and repairs are due to that horrible old petrol engine.

Our EV is charged from my home solar PV panels, so we pay nothing for fuel. To convert a car to electric drive and install the PV panels costs less than a new medium size petrol car.

I really like the idea that I have “recycled” a 15 year old petrol car into an EV – saving all the embodied energy required to manufacture a new car.

… In April 2009 we converted another Charade from ICE to Electric in just 3 days! We had originally planned 1 week, but had so much fantastic help we had a drivable electric car way ahead of schedule. It was a community effort – up to 10 people were helping at any one time. A great way to spend a weekend – recycling a petrol car to clean, renewable, electric drive.

The conversion cost was around $8,000, the EV has a top speed of 75 km/hr and a range of around 80 km. Perfect for metro commuting. The conversion is based on the low cost Chinese EV kit with 8 110AH lead acid batteries.

We blogged on the conversion each day, and even took time lapse pictures so you can see the conversion coming together over the three days:
(28 April 2009)
EB contributor Michael Lardelli writes:
I suppose there may be many car conversion (Internal combustion to electric) sites around. This one took a community approach and saved embodied energy. They blogged the entire process.