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The Monday Roundup

Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on April 19th, 2010 at 9:12 am

Here's the news that caught our eye this week:

- Some European airports are beginning to resume flights today, after four days during which no air travel to or from Europe was possible due to clouds of ash from an Icelandic volcano, heavily disrupting global trade, particularly in perishable goods. Some stranded travelers have found creative ways to get around, including one impromptu bicycle parade.

- In Paris, the battle against the "unacceptable hegemony of the automobile" will soon result in the removal of much of the expressway that runs along the Seine. It will be replaced with a smaller road, parks, and a botanical garden on a barge.

- Toyota denies breaking any laws in its handling of the sticky-accelerator recalls, but has agreed to a $16.4 million fine for "failing to report known safety problems."

- The Economist scrutinizes Portland's emergence as a model city for bicycling and livability, and suggests that more sprawling cities like Houston or Atlanta may be on a path to sustainability that takes longer but keeps rent more affordable.

- China is hoping to transform its economy through the rapid expansion, now underway, of its high speed rail network.

- The criminal trial begins today in the case of the NYC police officer who shoved a Critical Mass participant off his bike and arrested him for assault. The charges were dropped and the officer fired when a video of the incident appeared, and he is now on trial for falsifying records, among other charges.

- It's becoming harder for police to crack down on meth labs as people are starting to build easily hidden, portable, and disposable set-ups in their cars.

- An urban planner discusses his vision of every neighborhood containing a small grocery store.

- The rolling, collapsible cart used for groceries, laundry, and other pedestrian cargo needs is finally getting the attention it deserves as a part of the urban transportation mix.

- Casual carpooling, which is what you call hitch hiking if you sport a suit and briefcase and are motivated by savings on tolls and transit fares in the Bay Area, has a particular set of unspoken rules. Here they are.

- What does it mean for a family to live carfree? It must be a bit like growing up in the country, one blogger speculates.

- A list of "the 10 freakiest urban ecosystems on the planet" is full of interesting adaptations in city life and infrastructure. And in that vein, the "19 most complex and dangerous roads in the world" are fascinating to look at.

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  • Anonymous April 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

    On the "casual carpooling" item, in the Washington DC area, the practice is known as "slugging". The riders are known as "slugs" - I don't remember if there is a widely accepted term for drivers.

    Slugs from outlying areas get a ride to DC destinations such as the Pentagon, and drivers get to use the HOV lanes. My brother-in-law slugged for years while stationed at the Pentagon and ran a slug-oriented website even after transferring.

    The effectiveness of this grass-roots mass transit becomes apparent from time to time when nasty weather shuts down the drivers and everybody piles on to official mass transit.

    For more information, click here.

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  • Stig10 April 19, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Could we have a thread to share experiences on the Ronde ride from Sat? Hopefully there will also be a flickr group setup for event photos.

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  • Tacoma April 19, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Another marvelous roundup. Thanks for putting this together each week, Elly. You are the best.

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  • John Lascurettes April 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Ah, yes. I remember the casual carpooling the Bay Area. It was quite ingenious and efficient for everyone. And, well, it encouraged carpooling!

    When visiting Baselstadt, Switzerland in 2003, my wife and I saw a more formalized version of the casual commuting over there. There were something along the lines conceptually of "citizen taxi stands" (I wish I could remember exactly what the were called) and they were formal meeting places for a person that wanted a ride somewhere to hook up with someone driving there any time of day (not just commute hours).

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  • Paul Johnson April 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Mobile meth labs aren't new...they were rather common compared to the kitchen labs back in the 90s and the early parts of the 2000s, so much so someone was busted with a backpack-sized meth lab on the Westside MAX at Beaverton TC causing the line to shut down and the station to be evacuated while hazmat dealt with it early last decade.

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  • Andrew Plambeck April 19, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Can file an injunction against any inter/national news source wanting to write anything that could be perceived as a "puff piece?"

    Like we need anyone else moving here.

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  • Opus the Poet April 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    On the bad cop in NYC. Defence lawyer is claiming this was his first arrest and he didn't know how to fill out the paperwork. Did he also not know to not tackle people off moving bicycles and claim they assaulted him?

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  • Pete April 20, 2010 at 12:07 am

    re: "slugging" in DC and the Bay Area - thanks for that! Had never heard of it before (probably because I commute by bike and avoid the Bay Bridge at all cost ;). Ya learn something new every day...

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  • Paul April 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Re casual carpooling, here are two blogs about it. The first is a one-off that is really humerous, the second a daily note about casual carpooling rides that is really poetic.
    link
    link. At Trip Convergence we are promoting a formalised version of the system, and we are awaiting the outcome of a grant application process for a flexible carpooling pilot project in Seattle.

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