Bike Lanes Improve Cities Aesthetically and Economically

There is a strong and powerful myth in North America that car drivers spend more and will always require parking. That is a myth. It turns out that nearly every study done on bike lanes as proven that cyclists are the transportation class cities should cater to because drivers don’t need all those useless parking spaces and drivers aren’t richer than others. (They have to waste all their money on gas and repairs anyway.)

Transportation Alternatives

A neighborhood survey of 420 people on First and Second avenues in Manhattan’s East Village, home to protected bike lanes, found that aggregate spending by non-drivers accounted for 95 percent of all retail spending in the area. That’s not too surprising in New York, given the great transit infrastructure, but the figures remain impressive. Cyclists spent about $163 per week on average, compared to $143 among drivers.

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Even More Evidence That Bike-Friendly Cities Are Better Cities

Bicycles are wonderful contraptions that help people be healthier, have better commutes, and are a wonderful solution to car-based traffic jams. Yet, there are still cities out there that hate cyclists (like Toronto and it’s crack-smoking mayor). In a more civilized place, Aukland, they are embracing bike-friendly infrastructure to make the city better for people and for businesses!

The researchers looked at Auckland, New Zealand, which is currently not a particularly bike-friendly place, and used computer simulations to model different scenarios for new bike-related investments, including regular bike lanes, lanes shared with buses, and fully separated lanes.

They found huge differences: If the city built a network of separated lanes and slowed down traffic speeds, it could increase cycling by 40% by 2040, but adding a few lanes in a few places might only increase bike traffic by 5%. The more people ride, the more the cost savings would add up for Auckland–the biggest factor being a reduction in health care costs. A smaller investment would have little impact at all; the city is so bike-unfriendly that major changes are needed.

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China’s Changing Waste Management

China’s rate of economic development has caused massive change in the country and that includes the impact on waste management. Waste from consumer goods, industry, and other “good” things for the economy causes huge problems around the world. China is now at a turning point that can see interesting solutions to problems the developed world has had an easier time dealing with.

The sheer amount of pollution in China is causing people in the city to protest government policies. Environmental consciousness is growing in China.

Chinese waste management stands at a watershed moment. Rising environmental consciousness among the educated, urban middle class—who insist on clean air, clean water, and a clean landscape—may compel the Chinese government to act.

One foreign observer I spoke to noted that contemporary Chinese protests are “always environmental.” Recent events seem to support his point. Grist has reported on artist-activists who make pollution the central feature of their work. And in May, protests exploded after locals caught wind of imminent groundbreaking on a new garbage incinerator in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai. It is the latest example of what has become widespread opposition to burning waste.

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Solar Has Won

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In Australia the amount of energy being produced by sustainable systems caused the price to fall so low it went in to the negative. This will not be the last time we see this. As more places adopt renewable energy into their power grids the old models of industry will be forced to change – meaning a better world for consumers, producers, and the environment!

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

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Bank: Toronto’s Trees Worth $7 Billion

One of Canada’s largest banks has announced that their economic research has concluded that in Toronto alone the tree canopy is worth $7 Billion (CAD). The non-monetary value of trees is obvious to most people and usually that’s enough to justify keeping trees around. However, there are people who only think in monetary terms and to those people we can now use the results of economic research to prove the greatness of trees.

If Toronto’s trees are worth $7 Billion, just imagine what the total value of trees are around the world!

It’s also well known that trees help manage temperature, both by blocking cold winds in winter, but also keeping the city cool in summer. Alexander said the net cooling effect on the city of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners, running 20 hours a day.

“On their own, these effects might seem small, but over the long term, these benefits make a significant contribution to environmental well-being,” Alexander said.

Beyond mitigating the need to belch out any more air pollution to cool the city, trees also provide an important role in storing pollutants already out there. The total amount of carbon currently stored in Toronto’s urban forest is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes — roughly the amount emitted by 700,000 cars a year.

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