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RE: [GreenYes] Cars
More about the car issue...interesting that no one has mentioned
ride-sharing, the transportation equivalent to recycling, in that a personal
contribution can make a major difference. Ridesharing programs also require
an on-going public education campaign, as well as appropriate incentives,
much like recycling.  In California, legislation was enacted in the 80s that
required any company with more than 100 employees to have a rideshare plan
and trained rideshare coordinators in place.  This law created a
well-functioning infrastructure of rideshare trainers, vanpool and carpool
subsidies, preferred parking, rideshare lanes, and specialists in the public
sector.  In Los Angeles, where I worked with these programs, participation
was high in the large employment sectors and beneficial traffic impacts were
considerable.  Gov. Wilson and the legislature killed the law in the 90s and
overnight, all ridesharing disappeared.  Today, the freeways and surface
streets in that city, and in other urban areas in California, are strangled
with traffic.
Heidi Feldman, Monterey, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Turner [mailto:WAYNET@no.address]
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003 1:33 PM
To: RJayW2@no.address; Greenyes@no.address
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Cars

In response to Peter Anderson's post from the Gallon Newsletter article
about the impact of cars on the environment:

Jonh Lively posted:

"Focus people... don't kill the car.  Kill the crappy design."

To which John Waddell added:

"Instead of talking about cars or any other links to the Gulf War past or
War future might we just cut to the chase and in the subject line just put 
"Gulf War" or "Anti-Bush?"  It makes it easier for us to sort through 
Greenyes postings that have to do with recycling and those that have to do 
with other issues that can sometimes be informative but other times be real 

My two cents:

During the gulf oil crisis of the 1970's, the federal government gave large
cities money to install computerized traffic control systems.  These systems
were designed to minimize the amount of idling of cars at intersections by
creating 'green bands' along major thoroughfares where, if you went the
speed limit, you could go long distances without catching a red light.  The
City of Greensboro, NC and Winston-Salem, NC both got federal money to
install these systems.  They not only save fuel, they save us time and agony
when driving.  It's nice to be able to drive from one side to the other of a
major metropolitan area in 15 minutes or less.  And it's efficient.  As
cities grow and the number of major thoroughfares with them, the ability of
these systems to provide a real benefit decreases.  This is due to the need
for the system to give 'green band' preference to the more heavily travelled
thoroughfares than the side streets.  Where two large thoroughfares
intersect preferences are difficult to determine, so everyone waits and
idles about the same period of time.  In Greeensboro, where I live, there is
an intersection near my home that has a 2 minute cycle time.  That means if
you arrive at the signal just as it turns red, you will have to wait 2
minutes for it to turn green again.  (I know most of us think the time is
more like 10 minutes when we're in a hurry!)  Most intersections with a
thoroughfare and a minor side street have cycle times of under 1 minute.
Imagine, if you will, how many intersections there are in the United States
with cycle times of 2 mintues or more.  Imagine a line of traffic 10-20 cars
in length in each of 2 or more lanes in every direction, plus an equal
number in 1 or 2 turning lanes.  At a typical intersection then, you may
have 120 cars, 110 of which might be idling waiting for the light to change.
Not very efficient.  And,  I'm not aware of federal money that's available
to cities for these types of systems today.

It's not just the 'crappy design' of our cars that has us in this dilemma,
it's the design of our entire transportation system.  More cars beget more
roads, more roads beget more cars.  Bigger transportation corridors beget
more urban growth which, in turn, beget more growth of large intersections.
Although there have been some token improvements recently, for the most part
we have a car-friendly, pedestrian-unfriendly transportation system.
Driving your car is explicitly encouraged by the amounts of money we spend
on streets, roads, highways, bridges and fueling infrastructure while other
forms of travel are implicitly discouraged by the relative dearth of bike
trails, sidewalks, mass tranportation systems and alternative travel

In this country, the politics that shape energy and transportation policy is
the same politics that shape environmental policy.  Whether one chooses to
support polluting and inefficient energy sources (environmental destruction)
or to support cleaner and more efficient energy sources (environmental
preservation), the poltics acrrue accordingly.  It is our current
Adminstration's choice to continue to give unqualified support to an
extremely polluting energy source.  While it might not be possible to make
the changeover to a hydrogen or other cleaner energy source within our
lifetimes, to continue to spend trillions of tax dollars on protecting a
polluting energy source and spending and a trifle on clean energy research
only lengthens that development curve.  So, while we lobby to support more
on clean energy research, we should also lobby to spend more on making our
current transportation system more efficient and therefore less polluting.
And let the politics accrue as they will.

"Pave paradise, put up a parking lot" - Joni Mitchell



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