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Thursday, October 23 2014 @ 05:52 AM UTC
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Auto Bailout? Nothing new!

Biking Elsewhereby Peter Saint James

Is bailing out auto manufacturers really such a new and radical idea? Or should we perhaps consider carmakers wards of the state already?

Many people believe that gas taxes and other auto-generated revenue pick up the bills for roads and other auto-related expenses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some researchers conclude that if gas taxes really paid for what many people think they pay for, pump prices would probably be somewhere around $25 per gallon.

If you paid that much for gas, you would probably eliminate a lot of trips you make now. Wouldn’t you realize they aren’t cost effective? For example, you would probably refuse to pay so much to drive a couple of miles just to get a bag or two of groceries, wouldn't you? Wouldn’t everyone do things in better, easier, cheaper ways? How would this change the way our cities look and feel?

Driving really does cost that much. Driving is not cost effective. You pay those expenses through taxes and other means and only because you don’t know you’re paying them and have to pay them to keep from going to jail. If you did know and had a choice, you’d probably stop. You’re not that stupid, are you? You'd probably see it’s not worth it, wouldn't you? Is that why the costs are hidden so well?


So how much do autos cost? What are the real figures? Does anyone know for sure?

We can figure out impossible numbers like how many molecules exist in the universe, how many stars in Andromeda Galaxy, and other enormous numbers, but we can’t seem to get a handle on auto expenses. Many researchers, including me, have tried. A whole government agency was set up just to get that number. Everyone comes up with different totals. Even the same person comes up with different numbers on different attempts. Many argue that their figures are right, but in reality everyone has points to be taken into consideration. Transportation is so divorced from reality, so alien from sound economic and accounting principles, that getting exact figures remains nearly impossible.

Here are just a few of the complex, controversial problems.

Gas taxes don’t fully pay road building and maintenance expenses. Most road money comes out of general funds. That’s easy. We can find most of that money.

But what about other government activities and agencies? Gas taxes don’t fund them, but autos obviously inflict some or all of their costs. Most police agencies don’t get much from gas taxes if anything at all. Yet don’t most of them regulate traffic, search for stolen cars, and so on? About half of fire department calls are to cars, not houses or businesses. That’s auto expense, isn’t it?

And look at bigger agencies. EPA deals with pollution. Cars cause significant pollution. What portion of EPA budget should be considered auto expense?
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Prince George\'s County Bill Threatens Trail Easements

Biking in the Metro AreaLETTERS NEEDED TO OPPOSE ANTI-TRAIL EASEMENT BILL

 

A bill to severely restrict trail easements is on the Prince George's County Council's Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee agenda for next Wednesday, March 18. The bill (CB-10-2009, see attached file), introduced by Tony Knotts, would keep trail easements from being created on “individually residentially zoned lots” and place severe restrictions on building trails on existing easements. Restrictions would include having the trail open to the public only between 9 am and 4 pm, gating the trail when it is not open to the public, and having M-NCPPC Park Police man security posts every 1,000 feet.

 

Trail easements are frequently established as a condition for the approval of new subdivisions, and they are an important way to expand our future trail system. We need to inform the County Council that the easements are an important element of the County's overall policy for improving bicycle and pedestrian access.

 

The March 18 committee meeting (see attached agenda) will be at 10 am, Room 2027, County Administration Building. Committee meeting are open to the public, but usually there is no public comment period. If the committee goes along with the bill, there will be a  public hearing later and then the vote by the entire council. Before next Wednesday’s committee meeting, we need to have people e-mail, write or phone committee members asking them to oppose this bill and any other attempts to deny the public use of public trail easements.

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The Wild Bunch (NYC)

Biking Elsewhere...
Though bikers are hated, pedestrian deaths and injuries on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea immediately declined in the area of the physically separated bike lane, as reported on streetsblog.org, news blog of the Livable Streets Initiative, which advocates creating sustainable cities. In December, Community Board 4 voted in favor of creating a bike lane on Eighth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets.
...
The Brooklyn Bridge is an important front in the bike publicity war; it is a place where bikes are losing. The essential conflict can be grossly caricatured like this: Guys dressed as if they are in the Pyrenees stage of the Tour de France try to set speed records as Italian tourists linger in the middle of the bridge to get a photo of their cousin, Paolo, backed by the Empire State Building.

Bikers won’t stop, fearing they will lose a few tenths of a second off their times; and tourists from former Soviet republics confuse the phrase “Get out of the bike lane, you jerk” with “Enjoy your stay.”
...
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HB 1197 (removal of manitory shoulder use and righ of way in crosswalks)

Bike Maryland updatesThe Legislative Priorities Update developed for the Bicycle Symposium did not include information on HB 1197 due to the late nature of the filing. I submitted testimony for One Less Car, the Baltimore Bicycle Club and 1000 Friends of Maryland.

Some good news, Senator Raskin called me earlier tonight to inform me that SB 428, the three-foot bicycle safety rule, came out of Judicial Proceedings favorably with all but one Senator voting in favor of the bill! Thank you Eric, Jim H. and Greg for joining with me to testify on the bill.

Carol Silldorff, M.P.A.
Executive Director
One Less Car
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SENATE BILL 784 Vehicle Laws - Motorcycle at a Red Signal - Affirmative Defense

Bike LawsProviding an affirmative defense for the operator of a motorcycle [and bicyclists] to the charge of entering or crossing an intersection against a red traffic signal in violation of specified provisions of law; and establishing specified elements to the affirmative defense.
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Bike 'Contrails' to Create DIY Bike Routes

Biking Elsewhereimage
Contrail is a tool for developing bicycle communities. As you ride, contrail leaves a faint chalk line behind your bike. The goal is to encourage a new cycle of biking participation by allowing the biking community to leave a unique mark on the road and to reclaim this crucial shared space.
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Green Film Fest Events in DC

Health & Environment
Environmental Film Festival:- March 11- 22
Film Festival
At this year's Environmental Film Festival in DC, the health and sustainability of earth’s oceans and sea life will be a major theme. Presentations will include:
  • Journalist Hedrick Smith about his film, Poisoned Waters, comparing the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound and
  • David Conover on the practical uses of the genome and Craig Venter's ocean discoveries from his film-in-progress, Life v2.0.
Those interested in sustainable food issues and biodiversity won't want to miss Potato Heads and Corn Dogs: Keepers of the Crop.

See the full listings and show times.

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 Special Screening Honoring Environmentalist Rachel Carson: March 18
Rachel Carson

In March 2009, the National Women's History Project is honoring women who have taken the lead in the environmental movement, with a special emphasis on the pioneering work of Rachel Carson.

See the debut of the new Rachel Carson film, A Sense of Wonder, in a free one-night-only special screening with guest appearance by actress Kaiulani Lee.

For more information and reservations click here.

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
March 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Free!
Donald W. Reynolds Center for America Art and Portraiture, Nan Tucker
McEvoy Auditorium

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 Join Water For People DC and filmmaker Sam Bozzo at Policy bar: March 20
Water for People DC

Meet guest speaker Sam Bozzo, filmmaker of Blue Gold: World Water Wars (screening at the Environmental Film Festival) at a reception with Water for the People DC on Friday March 20.

Policy Bar
1904 14th St NW
6:30 - 9:30
Cover Charge: $15.00
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres

RSVP at waterforpeopledc@gmail.com

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Bicycling on water? - all the power to them

Biking Elsewhereimage
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Grand Opening of On-Street Bike Parking in Charles Village

Biking in Baltimoreimage
Converting 1 vehicular parking spot to park 10-12 bikes, this on-street bike parking will be a first for Baltimore.

Brought to you by the Dept of Transportation, Parking Authority, Charles Village Business Association and Be Fit Baltimore, this event will include a bike ride from City Hall at 5:00 to Eddie's for the ribbon cutting. Mayor Dixon will lead the ride, so please be prepared for a fast-paced bike ride...or just join the celebration at Eddie's Market
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Battle over clean air is bound to get dirty

Health & EnvironmentAFTER EIGHT YEARS, our long-suffering air is already breathing easier. In just the first month of the Obama administration, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson began revisiting Bush administration policies that some scientists say have set us back more than a decade on global warming. A prime candidate for reversal is the agency's decision to turn down a California request to set tough emissions standards that would effectively create a vehicle fuel efficiency standard of 42 miles per gallon by 2020.
...
The fierce resistance is symbolized by William Kovacs, vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce. He told the Wall Street Journal that carbon dioxide regulation through the Clean Air Act "would completely shut the country down."

The resistance also comes in the fine print. In December, General Motors submitted a restructuring report that pledged an average car fleet fuel efficiency of 37.3 miles per gallon by 2012. But in a revision submitted to the Treasury two weeks ago, the company slid backward to 33.7 miles per gallon. It also downgraded its 2012 goal for trucks from 27.5 miles per gallon to 23.8.

If General Motors, on its knees for another $17 billion in bailout funds, remains this sneaky and arrogant, what will other fossil fuel-related companies do to delay regulation and destroy the future? It is another reason GM and Chrysler should not get another dime of taxpayer money until they get real. More broadly, it is a reason for Obama - as much as he is being stretched by the overall economic crisis - to signal he will not tolerate any more corporate shenanigans.
...

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