Tonight at 8:00, on PBS stations across the country, a new one-hour documentary film will give Americans a history lesson and, hopefully, an inspiration to learn from it.
In the film, correspondent Miles O'Brien (formerly of CNN) travels to three American cities that have taken very different paths to dealing with transportation infrastructure and policies. From the outset he makes the focus clear: With shots of stressed out commuters in bumper-to-bumper traffic, O'Brien says, "As a nation we've arrived at a station called gridlock... We can't pave our way out of his mess. We've got too many people, too many cars... too much pollution." (more...)
"While we are working to improve conditions for bicyclists on the roadways, let's, please, remember the culture we've created over the last 100 years will not welcome bikes overnight."
-- From the US DOT blog
Came across an article on bike safety published to the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation this morning (which is unfortunately called "Welcome to the Fast Lane"). Since May is National Bike Month, the US DOT found it fitting to remind folks on both sides of the windshield that safety should be the top priority.
A blog post about bike safety isn't usually news, but when it comes from the US DOT I think it's worth noting how they approach the topic.
The basic gist of the article is, 'hey, we all know bikes are great, but this new push get more people on them will only work out if people don't run into each other'.
"As this Administration works to develop environmentally-sound transportation options, making our streets more bike-friendly is high on the list,"
"Visitors will find that special bike-crossing signals and bike lanes highlighted in bright green help to guide traffic in the most complicated intersections. Breaking up a ride with a stop at a cafe or a pub adds to the pleasure." - Matt Furber, New York Times
Portland's bike-friendliness earned prominent billing in the Escapes section of today's New York Times. An article called "Portland, Portland Style: Touring by Bicycle" encourages travelers to bring their bikes to Portland to see the city the way locals do.
The article extensively quotes Roger Geller, the city's bicycle coordinator, discussing the "exponential" growth in the number of people on bikes in recent years, and saying that the city's "goal is to become a world class bicycling city."
Unlike many bike-oriented travel articles that focus on renting a cruiser for a summer jaunt down Waterfront Park and back along the Eastbank Esplanade before heading to a fancy downtown restaurant, this piece focuses on citywide infrastructure, amenities and destinations. (more...)
"Amsterdam is a wonderful city, but Americans never seem to want to live there."
-- David Brooks in the New York Times
In his latest piece in the New York Times, columnist David Brooks opines that, while Americans might appreciate the finer points of Amsterdam's urban life (like bikes and beer), they really would rather have their suburbs.
Citing the economic downturn and recent momentum of ideas about sustainable transportation and livability, Brooks writes:
The time has finally come, some writers are predicting, when Americans will finally repent. They’ll move back to the urban core. They will ride more bicycles, have smaller homes and tinier fridges and rediscover the joys of dense community — and maybe even superior beer. (more...)
"I believe we can help by getting the consumer into the showroom."
-- Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
To give you an idea at just how difficult it will be to make any significant change in the American transportation paradigm, here's the latest in the ever-changing saga of President Obama's economic stimulus bill (via the Associated Press, emphasis mine):
The Senate voted Tuesday to give a tax break to new car buyers, setting aside bipartisan concerns over the size of an economic stimulus bill with a price tag edging above $900 billion. The 71-26 vote came as President Barack Obama said he lies awake nights worrying about the economy and signaled he'll try to knock out "buy American" provisions in the legislation to avoid a possible trade war.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski led the successful effort to allow many car buyers to claim an income tax deduction for sales taxes paid on new autos and interest payments on car loans.
Portland's favorite pedaling politico got his views on biking into the hands of 72.6 million Americans on Sunday.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) was featured in a Parade Magazine column titled "Greener Commute".
In the article, he was asked three questions, including one that featured Portland: (more...)