WORLD CARFREE NEWS #20 - May 2005
Dearest readers: Twenty bulletins later, World Carfree Network is still trying to save the world. With your support of course. Help us out. Become a member and get a subscription to Car Busters magazine and a choice of books: <www.worldcarfree.net/support/>.
Standing on the virtual hill of information looking out into the carfree future, we give you the...
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Edition no. 20 - May 2005 - English version
QUOTATION OF THE MONTH
- THE DETROIT OF THE EAST
- INCREASING YOUR CAR USE
- REGISTRATION FOR TOWARDS CARFREE CITIES V: JULY 18-21
- TRAIL LINK 2005: JULY 27-30, MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL, USA
- CAR BUSTERS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
- GREEN CITY VISIONS: MAY 31, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, USA
QUOTATION OF THE MONTH >>
"I absolutely loved the Discovery [an SUV] but the fuel was killing me - $60 bucks to fill the tank. I found myself not driving as much. What's the point of having something you love if you can't drive it?"
- Peter Dailey, an advertising executive, California
IN BRIEF >>
- The Middle East's first carfree destination, called "The World," is under construction on a series of islands off the coast of Dubai. It is the world's "first fully master-planned elite island retreat." Travel on and between the islands will be by ferry or through a network of walkways.
- A Florida man was arrested and jailed after shooting five rounds from his semi-automatic pistol into the hood of his Chrysler to put it "out of its misery." Even though he said the shooting was dumb, he thinks that "every guy in the universe has wanted to do it."
- ITDG Practical Action has built a bicycle ambulance, complete with a two-wheeled metal trailer, to reach remote rural areas in Nepal. The "bed" section is padded with cushions, while the "seat" section allows someone to attend to the patient during transit. A waterproof cover protects the patient and attendant in poor weather. The ambulance takes patients to the nearest health care centres in adjoining towns.
- Austrian Railways, OBB, has decided to cut one-third of its rail network - mostly smaller, less frequently used train lines, in the interests of increasing organisational efficiency. One likely result is that villagers who previously relied on the train to get around will end up turning to motorised transportation.
- The bicycle is the most significant invention since 1800, according to a BBC poll.
- Armoured car sales are shooting through the roof, reports the New York Times. The market is booming in Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudia Arabia, but also attracting customers who although in not in any danger, like the magician David Copperfield, see an armoured car as a status symbol. Referring to the difficulty of gettting out of the caged-in driver's seat, armoured car maker J.P. Ackermann says, "it's better to have a bump on your head than a bullet in your head."
- Organic, carfree weddings are on the rise in North America says The Telegraph, a New Hampshire newspaper.
- On May 3, Green Action activists in Zagreb made a 20-metre long human chain securing the passage to trams and other public transportation vehicles, keeping the lane free of cars. The activists carried banners with messages "300 people in the tram and 1 person in a car - who gets the priority?" They were warmly received by the tram drivers.
- Despite high gasoline prices, falling demand and general disdain for SUVs, General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are continuing to spit them out of North American assembly lines. America's roads will soon see a seven-passenger SUV and more than a dozen redesigned SUVs from GM.
WORLD NEWS >>
THE DETROIT OF THE EAST
As the European Union continues its eastward expansion, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is increasingly popular with foreign investors. Car manufacturers are leading the pack, gathering up their factories and dropping them here, trumpeting a new era where aggressive marketing and intense production burden the already car-dominated streets of Prague, Bratislava and Budapest.
Slovakia is expected to produce the most cars per capita of any country in the world. Kia, the Korean company, has cited cheap labour costs as their reason for setting up a one billion euro factory in Slovakia.
One and a half million vehicles are produced in CEE countries, says a report on European enlargement by the French Ministry of Economy. CEE production rose by 12% in 2004, and the report promises that 2005 will be a "vintage year" as the first cars leave the PSA-Toyota assembly line in Kolin, Czech Republic.
Car manufacturing makes up 15% of total industrial production in CEE (Czech Republic and Slovakia account for half of that).
The industry hopes that both demand and supply will settle at four million cars per year in the future; however people need to buy a lot of cars to climb from the current annual level of one million. The manufacturers' expectations, says the report on enlargement, justifies their "commercial aggressiveness."
Manufacturers believe that low car ownership in CEE countries and the scores of old and ageing Skodas and Trabands will bring about the necessary demand.
Although car sales fell in Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic last year, they increased dramatically in Romania and Bulgaria. In Romania, Renault is successfully marketing its "low-income" 5,000-euro car, affectionately named the Logan. (It is also set to be launched in Iran, Russia, Columbia, Morocco, India.)
Many of these countries' inhabitants still get around w
without a car, suggesting that there is still time to strengthen the alternatives to personal automobile travel. The Czech Republic, for example, has the densest rail network in Europe. Finding ways to put a hold on the car's progress in CEE is a key issue for the carfree movement.
INCREASING YOUR CAR USE
[Road Block e-bulletin, May 6]
The UK Department for Transport has just released the 2005 Focus on Personal Travel statistics, which includes little gems such as:
- the proportion of households with access to one or more cars increased from 59% in 1980 to 74% in 2002;
- the average annual distance travelled by people as car drivers rose by 15% during the 1990s;
- the average distance walked fell by 20% during the 1990s;
- the distance travelled by bus declined by 11%;
- bus and rail fares rose by a third in real terms between 1980 and 2003;
- the lowest levels of household car ownership were among single elderly people (two thirds of whom do not have access to a car), and single parents (half of whom are without a car); and
- about 20% of households without a car have difficulty accessing supermarkets or their doctor.
Check out the statistics at <http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_transstats/documents/page/dft_tr>.
REGISTRATION FOR TOWARDS CARFREE CITIES V: JULY 18-21
Registration is open for the Towards Carfree Cities V conference, which will take place July 18-21 in Budapest, Hungary. The World Carfree Network annual meeting will take place afterward on July 22. You can register on-line or download a registration form at <www.worldcarfree.net/conference/>. The conference programme and accommodation information can be found there as well.
TRAIL LINK 2005: JULY 27-30, MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL, USA
If you are in North America feeling down about not being able to make the trip across the pond for the Budapest conference, think about the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy's international trails and greenways conference.
"TrailLink 2005 will examine new trends in trail design and management; explore the public health impact of trails; provide the latest policy and legal updates; and examine other core issues affecting national and international trails, all with a focus on improving communities through expanding trail networks."
For more information see <www.railtrails.org>.
CAR BUSTERS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
The next issue of Car Busters magazine (issue #24) will cover carfree holiday destinations. We will be writing about places that don't allow cars (completely, or other than peripheral parking), some of which explicitly promote themselves as carfree.
If anyone has ever visited such a place, we would like to hear from you. Rather than promoting specific places or programmes, the coverage will be focused on how the carfree aspect functions in the various cases. We of course also welcome any other submissions you have for the magazine, including news items, photos, artwork, and articles.
All submissions should be sent to info@... by May 30.
GREEN CITY VISIONS, MAY 31, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, USA
Green City Visions addresses the critical relationship between the health of the environment and how we build the largest things humans create - cities. Attendees will be introduced to the best ideas and proposed responses for all sizes of cities and towns based on ecological principles and scientific assessments of what needs to be done in the face of the peak oil/climate change/biodiversity collapse/health crisis, in order to rebuild our human habitat in balance with living systems.
For more info, see <www.ecocitybuilders.org/greencity>.
The author of this month's bulletin explicitly denies any links to Renault's successful low-income car. For further proof, he is the editor of Car Busters, a popular magazine known for its anti-car views. He wishes they called the car something else.
- Steven Logan