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Re: SFGate: Outside the U.S. countries manage traffic flow very creatively

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  • Richard Layman
    Speaking of Eric s point about the U.S. being open to learning from outside the U.S., this is a syndicated feature piece, it ran in the San Francisco Chronicle
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 12, 2009
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      Speaking of Eric's point about the U.S. being open to learning from outside the U.S., this is a syndicated feature piece, it ran in the San Francisco Chronicle among other places.  If people on the list have images of some of the things she discusses, it would be helpful.

      Washington, DC 

      --- On Sun, 1/11/09, rl <rlaymandc@...> wrote:
      From: rl <rlaymandc@...>
      Subject: SFGate: Outside the U.S. countries manage traffic flow very creatively
      To: "rl" <rlaymandc@...>
      Date: Sunday, January 11, 2009, 8:20 AM

      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      Sunday, January 11, 2009 (SF Chronicle)
      Outside the U.S. countries manage traffic flow very creatively
      Evelyn Kanter
         Every time I travel outside the United States, I see traffic management
      tools and driving alternatives that make me wonder why they are not in use
      here - or more widely in use.
         Take Sao Paolo, Brazil, for instance. It is one of the world's largest
      cities with 12 million people and six million cars. Instead of traffic
      lights at many intersections in residential neighborhoods - the same type
      of intersections where there would be stop signs or speed bumps in the
      United States - there are large circular puddles of raised bricks in the
      center of the intersection.
         Our U.S. speed bumps simply force drivers to slow down briefly. The
      circular Sao Paolo version requires steering around the outside of the
      circle to avoid chewing up the tires. That's much more of an incentive to
      slow down than just worrying about bumping and jostling the groceries. By
      driving around, instead of over a straight-line hazard, the driver gets
      more time to watch for any oncoming traffic.
         Another sensible traffic tool is in Geneva, Switzerland, where streets
      downtown are old-fashioned and narrow, as in so many historic districts of
      European cities. There are digital billboards at major intersections that
      list the name and location of the three or four nearest public parking
      garages. The signs also inform drivers exactly how many parking spaces are
      available in each. That saves a lot of wasted time. The sign alerts you
      that Parking Garage A has just three empty spaces, which might be filled
      by the time you get there, but since Garage B and C have more than a dozen
      empty spaces each, that's a better alternative.
         The digital signs also save wasted gas, a significant concern in a country
      where petrol costs at least $6 per gallon. By saving gas wasted looking
      for a parking space in a congested area, the efficient Swiss also reduce
      the release of carbon emissions into their famous mountains.
         Zermatt, a ski and hiking resort village in the shadow of the iconic
      Matterhorn, is one of many car-free villages in the Swiss Alps. Like the
      tourists, even residents must leave their vehicles down the mountain and
      use the shuttle train between home and parking space. The public busses in
      Zermatt are plug-in electric, their range boosted by solar panels on the
      roof (no gas or diesel emissions). The village taxi fleet also is plug-in
      electric - what we would call golf carts, or NEV, for neighborhood
      electric vehicle.
         On a visit to Paris last year, I was baffled when I first saw racks of
      identical bicycles lining the streets every few blocks, each one plugged
      in to a meter device. It's a bicycle-sharing system called Velib.
         Users pay a fee to use the system, but the genius is that if you borrow a
      bike for less than one hour, it does not register against the number of
      hours you have purchased. That means if you use a bike for less than one
      hour, you use it for free.
         The system encourages you to take a bike whenever and wherever you need
      it, pedal to where you are going, plug it into the rack closest to your
      destination and walk away. Parisians use the bikes to go shopping, meet
      friends, even go to work, and swipe their Velib card to release another
      bike for the next errand or trip home.
         Even with the extensive and efficient underground metro system in Paris,
      the bicycle-sharing program is popular. You pay to ride a single stop on
      the metro, but bicycling that distance on a Velib bike is free with your
      credit card membership. If you think these fast-rent-bikes are popular
      only with starving artists and college students, you would be wrong. I saw
      businessmen in suits and other grown-ups taking advantage of the free
      transportation and the great exercise, too.
         The program is available also in the French cities of Lyon and in
      Marseilles, and there's a bicycle-sharing program called Bicing, in
      Barcelona, Spain.
         A similar bicycle-sharing program was introduced, on a limited test basis,
      in Washington, D.C. this summer, as a public-private partnership called
      SmartBike DC. For $40 a year, members can check out sturdy three-speed
      bicycles for up to three hours at a time. Keep any bike longer than three
      hours, and you could forfeit your membership or be charged $200 to replace
      the bike.
         Large cities everywhere in the world have traffic problems. Some just
      manage it more effectively - and creatively - than others.
      © Motor Matters, 2008
      Copyright 2009 SF Chronicle
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