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Kent Larson: ‘Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city’

From TED Talks via YouTube:

How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.

The single most important issue facing cyclists today is the absence of proper infrastructure to allow cycling to prosper, as it should, as it must, in a civilized community. If we accept as a general proposition that our societies would be healthier if they had fewer cars and more cyclists, then it follows we need to dedicate our resources to infrastructure, change and development.

Accidents do not happen because cyclists were not wearing a helmet. Accidents happen because there is an unacceptable proximity between automobiles and cyclists. Until this changes, and our particularly North American consciousness evolves so that our minds can better anticipate the presence of a cyclist on a roadway, we will continue to see an unacceptably high level of cycling casualties.

We need to embrace physically separated bike lanes designated bikeways with traffic diversion, bike paths not shared with pedestrians and reduced speed limits on residential streets. These are but a few examples of progress achieved in jurisdictions with much lower rates of cycling casualties and fatalities

Above are few paragraphs from bike injury lawyer David Hay’s recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, 'The great debate over bike helmet laws'. There’s been quite a controversy stirred up over recent months here following news from that Vancouver will be joining more than 165 cities worldwide in getting a bike sharing system in 2013. The concern on the part of a lot of people here is that we have a provincial mandatory bike helmet law and in the two cities with bike shares and mandatory helmet use, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, the systems have not been very successful. Mexico City had a mandatory helmet law, but provided an exemption after the first year of their bike share system. There have been some workarounds proposed here in Vancouver, but nothing that seems like a sure thing at this point. That said, I think Hay makes a good point that the critical factors for improving safety for cyclists and making cycling a more mainstream way to get around is through better infrastructure and a change in thinking on part of drivers and cyclists alike. 

(Photo source: Open File)


Getting Around: ‘Paris EV and Bike Sharing Programs’ 

From Translogic:

In a city as densely populated as Paris, driving your own car around is about as good of an idea as speaking English to every French person you encounter. Fortunately, Paris and similar cities are setup with substantial public transit systems. But for those moments when you need a car or bike, Paris has you covered.
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Vélib’ is a new bike-sharing program that started in 2007 and has since grown into a city-wide alternative transit system. There are now almost 20,000 bikes that live at about 1,200 bike stations. These stations are scattered all around Paris’ city center, on average about 1,000 ft from one another. This kind of availability allows for quick and easy transportation, without having to hunt down bikes or places to lock them up.
If something bigger than a bike with basket is required, Paris also has an extensive car-sharing program called Autolib’. Launching in December 2011, Autolib’ operates similarly to Vélib, but for cars. Bolloré’s Blue Car is the vehicle of choice because it is cheap and all electric. The design comes from Pininfarina, an Italian design firm noted for their work with Ferrari.
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At launch, 250 cars were placed around Paris in small convoys. All the cars connect to a terminal for charging and accounting. The terminal is used to rent and unlock the vehicle. Drivers can go up to 150 miles on a single charge and speeds can hit 80 mph — but don’t ever expect to go that fast around Paris. These cars are more for commuting, when you need to carry a lot of things, or need to go somewhere that public transit doesn’t go.
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When drivers are finished, they bring the car back to an Autolib’ station and plug in. The car can fully recharge in 8 hours. The 30 kWh lithium-polymer battery is designed with frequent use in mind and can stand to last a long time.
Check out the rest of the article here. (H/ T Huffington Post)
(Photo credit: Translogic
‎Every additional trip we take on foot, on a bicycle or by public transit frees up significant space for drivers, since the “footprints” of these other modes are so much smaller. The cyclist beside you is not the car in front of you; the bicycle locked to a ring at curbside means one less parking space is taken. Driver, cyclist and pedestrian are complementary rather than mutually exclusive categories. Most of us are all of these at different times. What’s crucial is the proportion of time we use each mode, and creating communities where the car is needed for only certain types of trips. For other trips, we can make more efficient choices. A key paragraph from a recent Globe & Mail article, Drivers, want more space on the roads? Push for bike lanes’. Co-written by urban planners Ken Greenberg and Trent Lethco, the article explains why increasing walking, cycling and transit use are central to improving the efficiency and sustainability of our urban transportation systems. It also serves as a great compliment to an iconic image from Muenster, Germany showing the amount of urban space occupied by different modes of transport. 

Reuters Video | Eco-Transport System Gives French City Clean, Green Travel Alternatives

The pioneering city of La Rochelle, France has had a bike share service since the 1970s. Now electric cars have been added to the program and the city has plans to build a clean, green future through other infrastructure improvements and citizen support. The video clip highlights these efforts before hearing some encouraging words from a couple of locals. Good stuff!