Driving Down Car Use in Great Britain

A recent article in The Independent highlights how car use in England is on the decline. A combination of factors (including high gas prices, poor congestion, and general disdain for internal combustion engines) has lead to fewer people getting their licenses, and fewer people using their cars.

[Steve] Goodwin [professor of transport policy at the University of the West of England] has been building his argument for peak car in a series of articles in Local Transport Today. His evidence includes that fewer young people are learning to drive. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of 17- to 20-year-olds who held licences fell from 48 per cent to 38 per cent, and for 21- to 29-year-olds, the number fell from 75 per cent to 66 per cent. Also, there has been a decline in private transport’s share of trips from 50 per cent in 1993 to 41 per cent in 2008. And, according to Lynn Sloman, director of Transport for Quality of Life, between 2004 and 2008, car trips per person went down by 9 per cent and car distance per person by 5 per cent.

Of course, this doesn’t amount to incontrovertible evidence of the beginning of the end for cars – it could be a momentary blip, an aberration – but it would be foolish not to have this debate now, given the paucity of Government funds, and given the long planning horizon of most public works.

Have a look at the rest of the article here.

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Toronto’s First Bike Boxes

Cyclists in Portland have long since known the benefits of Bike Boxes (also called advance stop lines.) which allow a safe place for cyclists to stop at an intersection. This gives cyclists increased visibility when taking the lane to make a left turn, and generally increases the safe space around bikes. Toronto’s first bike boxes have sprouted up at Harbord and St. George recently and although many motorists and cyclists are unfamiliar with them, they’re a step in the right direction!

Read more of Derek Flack’s article at BlogTO.

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SkySails Start Sailing to Save Fuel

skysailFootball field sized sails are finally hitting the waves, last year we mentioned SkySails initiative to sell their sails to large tanker fleets. December will see the first ship equipped with the extra-large sails head out on its maiden voyage.

The SkySails system consists of a towing kite with rope, a launch and recovery system and a control system for the whole operation. The control system acts like the autopitot systems on an aircraft, the company says. Autopilot software sends and receives data about the sail etc to make sure the sail is set at its optimal position.

The company also says it provides an optional weather routing system so that ships can sail into optimal wind conditions.The kites typically fly at about 1,000 feet above sea level, thereby tapping winds that can be almost 50% stronger than at the surface.

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Portland Loves Their Cycling Economy

bikeI love bikes, and I love it when places embrace the wonderful invetion, Portland Oregon has arguably done the best job of bike-loving in North America. The International Herald Tribune has a really nice article about what has made Portland the mecca of bike culture in North America.

Mia Birk, a former city employee who helped lead Portland’s efforts to expand cycling in the 1990s, said the original goals were rooted in environmental and public health, not the economy.

“That wasn’t our driving force,” Birk said. “But it has been a result, and we’re comfortable saying it is a positive result.”

Birk now helps run a consulting firm, Alta Planning and Design, which advises other cities on how to become more bicycle-friendly. In a report for the City of Portland last year, the firm estimated that 600 to 800 people worked in the cycling industry in some form. A decade earlier, Birk said in an interview, the number would have been more like 200 and made up almost entirely of employees at retail bike stores.

Thanks Aidan!

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