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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Before and after a car-free Broadway

Before and after a car-free Broadway

Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that starting Memorial Day, Broadway will turn car-free in two heavily congested sections of the avenue, through Times Square and Herald Square.  I will walk out of my way to avoid Times Square due to the pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks, so this measure might actually make me more willing to undertake that feat.

What amazes me the most is that all the reactions I’ve heard are positive, including numerous traffic specialists who say this is a win-win situation, since pedestrians will have more room on a safer road, and that cars will move more smoothly as well since Broadway cutting diagonally across major avenues causes lots of  accidents and slows traffic down significantly.

The car-free Broadway experiment will continue through the end of 2008, and if it runs positively, will be implemented permenantly at that time.

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Auto-Free NY’s Plan for Improving the City through Better Transit

Come hear how it works this week.
Tuesday, Oct 28. 6-8pm
Auto-Free NY presents an open forum on key transportation issues. Moderated by Jeffrey Gold, Vice-President, Institute for Rational Urban Mobility.

More info on Sustainable Streets in New York City in SF this week from SPUR:
Wednesday, Oct 29. 12:30 – 1:30pm. SPUR Office, 312 Sutter St. (at Grant), 5th Floor. Close to the Powell St. BART station and several Muni lines. Feel free to bring a lunch. SPUR Forums are open to the public, free for members and $5 for non-members.

New York’s Department of Transportation has transformed in recent years into one of the country’s leading advocates for sustainable streets. Jon Orcutt, the agency’s Director of Policy, will discuss the agency’s strategic plan, released in April 2008, and the variety of projects and initiatives designed to align the department with the goals and challenges of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 sustainability initiative

What’s “Humanure”??
Thursday, Oct 30. 7:30 – 9:00pm. 6th Street Community Center
638 East 6th St (btw Aves B and C), in Manhattan

Permaculture Solutions Lecture Series presents: “Humanure” Humanure – the odorous excretions of human beings – can be recycled using natural processes without creating environmental pollution. And it can be done in your own backyard. Joseph Jenkins will cover this topic at least a couple inches deep. Joseph Jenkins, a businessman, organic gardener and author of three books, is perhaps best known for the award-winning Humanure Handbook – A Guide to Composting Human Manure, which is making its way to various United Nations and international development networks, and has been translated into Korean, Hebrew, Spanish, Norwegian and Mongolian.  From the Green NYC Events calendar.

Have a Great Week!

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Wired has an interesting article up, “Note to Next President: Modern-Day WPA Will Save the Economy”

“The state of America’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, drinking water, even schools and transit systems — couldn’t be much worse. A report card issued three years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it all a D. The society says we’ve got to spend about $1.6 trillion just to bring things up to a B-“

Is the economic meltdown an ideal opportunity to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, create jobs, and modernize our rails and roads? Or is it a government boondoggle that will undercut private industry and prolong our economic recession? Is the labor-intensive model of the WPA an accurate comparison for today’s hi-tech projects that require highly-skilled workers?

The writer says:

“The candidates can talk all they want about shoveling money into alternative fuels, electric cars and high-speed rail, but none of that will mean much if our roads, bridges and rails can’t support them. The next president must commit to fixing our infrastructure. Such an investment will create jobs, strengthen our economy and make America more competitive.”

Should wind-power, large-scale solar, and a new smart energy grid be part of the next president’s agenda? What about high-speed rail in California?

What do you think?

We’d love to hear!

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  • NYC buses started going hybrid 4 years ago to try and reduce emissions, but they are having an even bigger payoff these days due to increased fuel prices, causing the city to exceed their budget for gasoline by 56% in April.
  • Glassmakers look at ways to reduce their energy needs as energy costs skyrocket.
  • NYC will start car-free Saturdays in August, where a series of major streets and avenues will create a car-free path from Lower Manhattan to Central Park.
  • Honda releases a mass-produced hydrogen powered car, the FCX Clarity, though they only plan to make 200 in the next three years and they cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And there aren’t many filling stations.
  • Why has the tomato become infected with salmonella? Barry Esterbrook finds some possibilities, but the real answer is the FDA doesn’t know.
  • McCain infuriates environmental groups that have in the past seen him as an ally for calling for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as part of his energy plan.  And to help out his party, Bush flips his previous opinion to say he’ll ask congress to open up the Gulf for drilling.  Another part of McCain’s policy is to build 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030.
  • Recycling machine brings recycling program to Tijuana, but also brings jobs to the poor who live in the dump and scavenge for a living.
  • Is Astroturf a green alternative to a grass field in California, where a lawn would require heavy maintenance and water use to survive the summer?
  • With the rise in gas prices, suburbs will start to disappear and smaller cities will rejuvenate. And those cities out west? Without AC, they’ll probably disappear as well. However, skyscrapers aren’t much more sustainable, so NYC and Chicago will shrink too as sources of natural gas get depleted.
  • Mayor Daley proposes bikes sharing the bus lanes while the city of Chicago catches up with the increased demand for bike lanes on the streets.
  • Its actually better for the environment to upgrade from a 15mph gas guzzler to a 20mph car, then it is from a 30mph sedan to a 45mph hybrid.  Because you’ll use less gas on your commute with the first one.  It would be better to rate cars in gallons per mile than miles per gallon if we are trying to preserve our oil reserves.

Image of the FCX Clarity from Honda

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  • Radiohead and their Carbon Neutral World Tour have pushed for venues to go green, including the Daydream festival in Barcelona that features an extensive recycling program and reusable cups.
  • LA Department of Public Works dropped 400,000 black plastic balls into one of their reservoirs, creating a UV reflecting cover for the reservoir. DPW hopes that this will prevent a reaction between bromide and choloride from taking place, thereby preventing the carcinogen bromate from forming.
  • Seven things you thought you could recycle, but can’t. I guess I’d better stop putting my recycling in the bin in plastic bags. (via Archinect)
  • A new washing mashine technology may be available by next year that uses 2% of the water and energy of conventional washing machines. The lack of water also reduces the need for a dryer.
  • Governors Island in NYC started their free bike share program, which will take place every Friday until October 4th. They will also be available on the weekends for a fee.
  • Trees actually modify their temperature so that no matter what the climate, their leaves are usually at an average temperature of 70o F when they are performing photosynthesis.
  • New York City gets its first LEED certified school with the expansion of Poly Prep in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
  • The US accounts for half of the golf courses in the world, which take up an area the size of Delaware. With water crises arising, golf courses will need to go green, using more drought resistant seeds and recycled water.
  • American car makers are not keeping up with demand for more fuel efficient cars in the US, despite the fact that they make fuel efficient cars for distribution in Europe that aren’t available here.
  • County buildings in the heart of coal country may switch to natural gas heating systems, since the system would save the county a significant amount of money.
  • Modern turboprop airplanes are much more fuel efficient than traditional jets, leading more major airlines to use them, especially for short hop and smaller market flights.
  • As more people turn to public transportation with rising gas costs, there is a chance to rethink the nation’s transportation system.
  • Hypermilers are drivers who try to squeeze out every last drop of gas from their car by modifying their driving techniques to improve efficiency.
  • ASCE’s annual report card on infrastructure shows that number of unsafe dams has increased 33% over the last decade.

Photo of plastic balls being dumped into Ivanhoe Reservoir by Ifran Kahn of the LA Times

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  • Delta goes green by eliminating their paper newsletter. Not so impressive, but they already have an on-board recycling program and have many options to allow customers to purchase carbon offsets. Jet Blue is going green too, attempting to do energy saving things like using one engine instead of two during taxiing, using ground power instead of engines for power at the gate, and eliminating paper tickets.
  • There is some improvement in sulfur dioxide emissions and water quality measures in China, but overall, pollution has increased over last year.
  • Climate bill dies in the Senate – we’ll have to wait until next administration for any kind of movement on the cap and trade issue.
  • Alain Robert scaled the NY Times Building in NYC as a protest against global warming for World Environment Day. He was detained by police on the 52nd floor. I was alerted to the action by swarming helicopters since our office is across town.  Another man climbed the building later that afternoon.
  • Adnam’s brewing company is creating “East Green”, a carbon neutral beer available in the UK only. Among the carbon saving features are using locally grown barley and reusing steam from the brewing process for the next batch.
  • If you have to have a lawnmower (that isn’t a push model), follow these instructions to convert it to solar powered.
  • A portion of Times Square got turned into a park on Thursday in honor of World Environment Day.
  • It is more efficient to turn off your car than to idle if you are going to be idling more than 10 seconds.
  • Guerrilla gardening greens up pockets around New York City.
  • GM is closing four of its truck and SUV plants due to rising gas prices. And they may cancel production of the Hummer.
  • Some major American corporations have been meeting regularly with environmental groups for the past couple of years to develop proposals for federal limits on carbon emissions.
  • Best Buy is testing an electronics disposal program at their stores.
  • Fiji Water is trying to green their image, despite being criticized for promoting bottled water, from Fiji at that.
  • Price does matter, and as a result, driving miles have gone down an estimated 4.3% nationally over this time last year.

Photo of a successful guerrilla gardening effort in London from The Guerrilla Gardening Homepage

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  • Closer monitoring of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is leading to political conflicts.
  • Jesus Leon Santos has rejuvenated agriculture in Oaxaca, Mexico by looking back to the Meso-American agriculture patterns rather than modern techniques, increasing production by 50% over the last 25 years.
  • We have an ongoing battle in our NY office as to whether to keep the windows open or turn on the AC in the summer, due to poor circulation and ac balancing in our office. But at least we can open our windows if we want, unlike many modern buildings.
  • A high school science fair project in Canada may have found a way to use bacteria to help plastic bags decompose in a matter of weeks instead of 1,000 years.
  • Clark Fork Basin Superfund Complex entails gradual removal of Milltown dam in order to minimize the impact of the release of sediment contaminated with heavy metals that had accumulated behind the dam.
  • Atmospheric deposition of DDT in the Antarctic may have led to DDT being trapped in the glaciers, where it is leaking out in the melt water.
  • New federal report on climate maintains that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will significantly impact water supplies, agriculture, forestry and ecosystems for decades.
  • A new Brookings Institution study released maintains that West Coast metropolitan areas are among the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the U.S. Honolulu ranked 1st, followed by the LA region, Portland/Vancouver, and New York City. The report also includes policy recommendations and factors that contributed to rankings.
  • On Wednesday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into a law “a measure that will establish the nation’s first management and protection plan for a state’s ocean waters.”
  • There are a number of gas pumps in New York State that can’t display a price above $3.999/gal.  Some places are getting leeway to sell by the half gallon, but could this be a reason to switch to metric?
  • The Green Machine is a mini-power plant that can convert your waste heat into energy through a closed-loop zero emission cycle.
  • Lake Victoria is rapidly shrinking in Uganda, leading to ever more heightened battles over the lake’s resources.
  • Women’s rights and environmentalism don’t seem like closely related subjects.  However, improvement of women’s rights can help lead to reduced population rates, and over population is a one of the causes of draining our natural resources.
  • Many scientists worry that clean coal technology, including carbon capture and underground storage, has not been sufficiently pursued recently due to high costs; without proven technology and sufficient research, utilities will continue to construct traditional coal plants.
  • American biofuels policy is being criticized as a major factor in the world food crisis and increase in international food prices.

Photo of the Green Machine by Electratherm, from Treehugger.

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