Aspen’s Green Challenge

When it comes to global warming, writes Brent Garnder Smith, Aspen is probably not as green as it thinks it is.

And it is certainly not as green as it should be.

Smith was writing about the ideas presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

“There is a saying at the Pentagon that a vision without resources is a hallucination,” Friedman said. “And I think right now we are in the middle of a big green hallucination.”

“We’re talking about preventing the doubling of CO in the atmosphere from the pre-industrial age to the year 2050,” he said. To do that, Friedman said, “We have to conserve as much energy as we’re now using as a world.”

Friedman said one way to move forward on the vast scale required to meet that goal is to change the definition of the word “green.” “So I’ve been trying to redefine green as the most capitalistic, patriotic, geo-strategic, pro-American, pro-growth, future-oriented thing you can do, be or say.”

But he said, “Green has not gone down Main Street at all at the scale we need. Not even close.”

And so while Aspen has gotten a lot of positive press coverage for its efforts to combat global warming, Friedman’s speech begs for a reassessment of the community’s efforts.

Read the full article . . .

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A New Two-Wheeled Course?

Neal Pearce highlights the posiblities for cycle tracks in U.S. cities in his  July 8 article.   Such infrastructure could address a number of growing concerns from climate change to obesity.  As he writes,

Cycle tracks are actually a separated part of the roadway yet distinct from the roadway, distinct from the sidewalk. In their purest form — Odense, Denmark, where 50 percent of all city journeys are by bicycle — the paths even have their own traffic signals.

What actually separates the cycle track? It can be a long, narrow curb. Or a line of cones or concrete barriers. Or metal stanchions. Or a line of trees and other vegetation (an on-street greenway).

Another solution, tried on relatively wide streets in Bogota, Paris, London and elsewhere, is to move the parking lane several feet from the sidewalk, creating a new lane for cyclists between the sidewalk and parked cars. Brooklyn-based bicycle advocate/blogger Aaron Naparstek has an excellent online video celebrating that solution (www.streetfilms.org/archives/physically-separated-bike-lanes/).

Read the full article . . .

Mayor Mick pedals to transit meeting in Meeker

Walking your talk can be challenging. Bicycling your talk in a world devoted to the automobile is almost impossible.  So it comes as no surprise that newly elected Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland was the only attendee at the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel meeting in Meeker to arrive by bicycle.

The 6 hour trip in a headwind gave Ireland a up-close view of some of the transportation challenges confronting the state.

Read Brent Gardner-Smith’s full article . . .

Garco bicyclists to find smoother sailing

To the joy (and relief) of bicyclists, Garco Commissioners decided spend extra funds to use smaller-diameter gravel on chip seal projects for six county roads that cyclists frequently use.

The Garfield County commissioners also said they will consider spending extra taxpayer dollars on some road projects this summer to accommodate cyclists.

Garfield County budgeted $1.1 million this summer for routine maintenance of some of its road network. The roads in roughest shape will receive a new chip seal surface, with the 3/4-inch gravel.

At Commissioner Tresi Houpt’s suggestion, the county got a second bid on topping the 3/4-inch gravel with a 3/8-inch mixture. The bid came in at $652,000 for all the projects.

Houpt supported spending that amount and topping all roads scheduled for work this summer with the smoother surface.

Read Scott Condon’s full article . . .

Drivers might pay road taxes by mile

Although better fuel economy sounds great for the pocketbook and good for the planet, it spells trouble for our long-term reliance on gas-tax money to finance transit and highway needs.

After spending more than it takes in for several years, the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money for road projects by 2009.

So, as part of a $16.5 million nationwide study over the next two years, 450 Triangle drivers will help road-test a new way to pay for transportation — by the mile, not by the gallon.

Replacing the fuel tax with a mileage fee would be a long-range idea — and possibly a long shot.

Long shot or not, the issue of how to pay for state and federal roads does not to seem to going away any way soon.

See also New Technology for an Old Dilemma by Paul Sorensen and Brian Taylor

NYC looks toward congestion pricing

New York City is already an expensive place to drive – tolls are $6 and a parking garage for just an hour can run you $20.  Now the mayor wants to make it so costly some people won’t even bother driving and will take mass transit instead.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing to reduce traffic and pollution by charging cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan.

New York would become the first U.S. city to adopt a “congestion pricing” plan of this magnitude. The proposal is similar to a system that London has used since 2003, and officials there say it has significantly reduced congestion.

Read the full article . . . 

Virgin launches Europe’s first bio-diesel train

Europe’s first train powered by bio-diesel went into service in London with Britain’s next prime minister Gordon Brown on board for its maiden journey.

Finance minister Brown travelled on the Virgin Voyager train which left London Euston station for Llandudno on the north Wales coast.

The train has been modified to run on a blended fuel which is 20 percent environmentally-friendly bio-diesel — fuel derived from sustainable and biological sources such as rapeseed, soyabean and palm oil — and produces less carbon dioxide emissions than diesel.

Virgin Trains hopes to convert its entire fleet to run on bio-diesel if a six-month trial proves successful.

Read the full article . . .