Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Two takes on "green" cars

Expand Messages
  • Christopher Miller
    1. A recent initiative in the US Senate to study the hazards posed by silent car technologies is praised by the US National Federation of the Blind:
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 30, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      1. A recent initiative in the US Senate to study the hazards posed by
      "silent" car technologies is praised by the US National Federation of
      the Blind:

      http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=437

      Of course, that this is a problem is not news among critics of the
      urban automobile, who anticipated this kind of thing several years ago.

      =========================================================

      2. A paper posted on the web in January arguing that the costs of
      hurrying to "green" the car fleet are greater than the benefits of
      moving to density and access by proximity:

      Worldchanging: Bright Green: My Other Car is a Bright Green City
      http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

      =========================================================

      My Other Car is a Bright Green City
      ALEX STEFFEN
      JANUARY 23, 2008 5:06 PM


      Today's cars are costly, dangerous and an ecological nightmare. What
      if the solution to the problems they create, though, has more to do
      with where we live than what we drive?

      This is a rough draft of a long essay about why I believe building
      compact communities should be one of America's highest environmental
      priorities, and why, in fact, our obsession with building greener cars
      may be obscuring some fundamental aspects of the problem and some of
      the benefits of using land-use change as a primary sustainability
      solution.

      It's very rough in some places. But I'd like to put it out there as an
      opportunity for discussion, and hopefully all you smart folks can help
      me make it better. So, what do you think about this issue and how can
      I improve this piece?

      Thanks,

      Alex


      I. The Truth About Cars

      Recently, I gave a talk at the IDSA conference, and, as it happened,
      my talk followed a presentation from the folks at Tesla, sharing the
      design process of their electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster.

      Since I was there to talk about sustainability, and was talking to a
      big room full of designers, I tried to lay out how serious our
      environmental predicament has become, and how much we'll need to
      change if we want to steer clear of ecological catastrophe. Along the
      way, I shared a few of the reasons why I thought the Roadster, though
      undoubtedly cool, went nowhere near far enough to be called sustainable.

      The response surprised me. After my talk, scores of people approached
      me or emailed me to ask, in generally polite tones, what the hell I
      was talking about? How could a car that gets 135 mpg-equivalent not be
      a major harbinger of sustainability?

      Because the answer to the problem of the American car is not under the
      hood, and we're not going to find a bright green future by looking
      there.

      =========================================================

      (...the rest of this fairly long paper, plus numerous comments, at the
      link above)


      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
    • Jym Dyer
      ... http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=437 ... =1= I am of course sympathetic to this problem, but it is a foreground/background problem caused by
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 30, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        > 1. A recent initiative in the US Senate to study the
        > hazards posed by "silent" car technologies is praised
        > by the US National Federation of the Blind:
        http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=437
        > Of course, that this is a problem is not news among
        > critics of the urban automobile, who anticipated this
        > kind of thing several years ago.

        =1= I am of course sympathetic to this problem, but it is a
        foreground/background problem caused by car culture, making
        noise pollution the norm. Also, I've been driving a "silent
        vehicle" for years (a bicycle) and I'm not so sure there's
        technological solution to that.

        > Worldchanging: Bright Green: My Other Car is a Bright Green City
        http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

        =2= A very welcome development from the coiner of the phrase
        "bright green!" The "bright green" crowd emphasizes positive
        technological solutions to environmental problems, but alas the
        "positive" part is often used as a rhetorical dodge to dismiss
        valid criticism (as "negative"). They tend to be ga-ga over
        "green" cars, so I'm glad Alex Steffen is writing this.
        <_Jym_>
        (An 0ld Sk00l Appropriate Technology Type)
      • Jason Meggs
        Glad to hear the silent car hazard is being studied. A friend of mine who is pregnant was recently struck by a prius while riding her bicycle, injuring her
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 30, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          Glad to hear the "silent" car hazard is being studied.

          A friend of mine who is pregnant was recently struck by a prius while riding
          her bicycle, injuring her sacrum and complicating her pregnancy with severe
          pain from the injury.

          The prius was stopped, evidently the driver was talking on the phone. My
          friend, an experienced cyclist, rode out into the intersection to cross and
          was suddenly on the driver's hood, then the street, didn't hear the car
          coming. Brings the "gun with a silencer" concern home, personally.

          The police still have not issued a report, months later, and I have to fear
          based on experience that it will be unfairly disfavorable to her.

          Jason



          On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:06 PM, Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          > > 1. A recent initiative in the US Senate to study the
          > > hazards posed by "silent" car technologies is praised
          > > by the US National Federation of the Blind:
          > http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=437
          > > Of course, that this is a problem is not news among
          > > critics of the urban automobile, who anticipated this
          > > kind of thing several years ago.
          >
          > =1= I am of course sympathetic to this problem, but it is a
          > foreground/background problem caused by car culture, making
          > noise pollution the norm. Also, I've been driving a "silent
          > vehicle" for years (a bicycle) and I'm not so sure there's
          > technological solution to that.
          >
          > > Worldchanging: Bright Green: My Other Car is a Bright Green City
          > http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html
          >
          > =2= A very welcome development from the coiner of the phrase
          > "bright green!" The "bright green" crowd emphasizes positive
          > technological solutions to environmental problems, but alas the
          > "positive" part is often used as a rhetorical dodge to dismiss
          > valid criticism (as "negative"). They tend to be ga-ga over
          > "green" cars, so I'm glad Alex Steffen is writing this.
          > <_Jym_>
          > (An 0ld Sk00l Appropriate Technology Type)
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jason Meggs
          Incidentally, noise pollution from vehicles contributes to many health harms including preventable mortality. In sum the social, health and economic costs are
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 30, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            Incidentally, noise pollution from vehicles contributes to many health harms
            including preventable mortality.

            In sum the social, health and economic costs are enormous.

            Hearing damage for drivers and those exposed (e.g., those who walk and
            bicycle near traffic) is only one of the harms.

            As for bicycles being silent, bells and the voice both work if the rider is
            attentive. A noisemaker in the spokes is also viable. Personally, laws
            requiring noisemakers on bikes would be an all-around bad idea. Better to
            address the occasional reckless cyclist in other ways.

            Diesels need to be replaced with electrification, which reduces harmful
            noise as well. Petroleum is too valuable, and too harmful, to be wasted on
            transportation anyway. Electrification does not eliminate noise but warning
            devices may be important there as well, although a different case from
            silent cars.

            Jason


            On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:16 PM, Jason Meggs <jmeggs@...> wrote:

            > Glad to hear the "silent" car hazard is being studied.
            >
            > A friend of mine who is pregnant was recently struck by a prius while
            > riding her bicycle, injuring her sacrum and complicating her pregnancy with
            > severe pain from the injury.
            >
            > The prius was stopped, evidently the driver was talking on the phone. My
            > friend, an experienced cyclist, rode out into the intersection to cross and
            > was suddenly on the driver's hood, then the street, didn't hear the car
            > coming. Brings the "gun with a silencer" concern home, personally.
            >
            > The police still have not issued a report, months later, and I have to fear
            > based on experience that it will be unfairly disfavorable to her.
            >
            > Jason
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:06 PM, Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:
            >
            >>
            >>
            >> > 1. A recent initiative in the US Senate to study the
            >> > hazards posed by "silent" car technologies is praised
            >> > by the US National Federation of the Blind:
            >> http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=437
            >> > Of course, that this is a problem is not news among
            >> > critics of the urban automobile, who anticipated this
            >> > kind of thing several years ago.
            >>
            >> =1= I am of course sympathetic to this problem, but it is a
            >> foreground/background problem caused by car culture, making
            >> noise pollution the norm. Also, I've been driving a "silent
            >> vehicle" for years (a bicycle) and I'm not so sure there's
            >> technological solution to that.
            >>
            >> > Worldchanging: Bright Green: My Other Car is a Bright Green City
            >> http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html
            >>
            >> =2= A very welcome development from the coiner of the phrase
            >> "bright green!" The "bright green" crowd emphasizes positive
            >> technological solutions to environmental problems, but alas the
            >> "positive" part is often used as a rhetorical dodge to dismiss
            >> valid criticism (as "negative"). They tend to be ga-ga over
            >> "green" cars, so I'm glad Alex Steffen is writing this.
            >> <_Jym_>
            >> (An 0ld Sk00l Appropriate Technology Type)
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >
            >


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • chbuckeye
            Sorry to hear about your friend, but this seems like an accident borne of a careless driver rather than a silent car. Any time I see a car stopped at an
            Message 5 of 11 , May 1, 2009
            • 0 Attachment
              Sorry to hear about your friend, but this seems like an accident borne of a careless driver rather than a silent car.

              Any time I see a car stopped at an intersection I think it's safe to cross, as did your friend. Since cars generally are bigger and faster than pedestrians and cyclists, you don't have much time, if any, to react to a car that decides to enter the intersection you're already in, even if you do hear an engine revving.



              --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Jason Meggs <jmeggs@...> wrote:
              >
              > Glad to hear the "silent" car hazard is being studied.
              >
              > A friend of mine who is pregnant was recently struck by a prius while riding
              > her bicycle, injuring her sacrum and complicating her pregnancy with severe
              > pain from the injury.
              >
              > The prius was stopped, evidently the driver was talking on the phone. My
              > friend, an experienced cyclist, rode out into the intersection to cross and
              > was suddenly on the driver's hood, then the street, didn't hear the car
              > coming. Brings the "gun with a silencer" concern home, personally.
              >
              > The police still have not issued a report, months later, and I have to fear
              > based on experience that it will be unfairly disfavorable to her.
              >
              > Jason
              >
            • J.H. Crawford
              Hi All, The other point that needs to be made here is that if ALL vehicles are relatively quiet, they will all be audible. It s only when there is a large
              Message 6 of 11 , May 1, 2009
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi All,

                The other point that needs to be made here is that
                if ALL vehicles are relatively quiet, they will all
                be audible. It's only when there is a large disparity
                between the sound levels of the vehicles that the
                quiet ones cannot be heard.

                The noise in New York City is nearly deafening. People
                who live there for any length of time yell all the time,
                as they cannot otherwise make themselves heard.

                The roar of traffic carries all the way up to the
                observation deck of the Empire State Building,
                which is nearly a thousand feet above the street.

                Best,

                Joel


                At 2009-05-01 08:37, you wrote:


                >Sorry to hear about your friend, but this seems like an accident borne of a careless driver rather than a silent car.
                >
                >Any time I see a car stopped at an intersection I think it's safe to cross, as did your friend. Since cars generally are bigger and faster than pedestrians and cyclists, you don't have much time, if any, to react to a car that decides to enter the intersection you're already in, even if you do hear an engine revving.
                >
                >--- In <mailto:carfree_cities%40yahoogroups.com>carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Jason Meggs <jmeggs@...> wrote:
                >>
                >> Glad to hear the "silent" car hazard is being studied.
                >>
                >> A friend of mine who is pregnant was recently struck by a prius while riding
                >> her bicycle, injuring her sacrum and complicating her pregnancy with severe
                >> pain from the injury.
                >>
                >> The prius was stopped, evidently the driver was talking on the phone. My
                >> friend, an experienced cyclist, rode out into the intersection to cross and
                >> was suddenly on the driver's hood, then the street, didn't hear the car
                >> coming. Brings the "gun with a silencer" concern home, personally.
                >>
                >> The police still have not issued a report, months later, and I have to fear
                >> based on experience that it will be unfairly disfavorable to her.
                >>
                >> Jason
                >>
                >
                >



                ----- ### -----
                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
              • Matt Hohmeister
                Of course, NYC s high density intensifies traffic noise, but even here in Tallahassee, FL, the outdoors--save for rural areas--are also nearly deafening. It s
                Message 7 of 11 , May 1, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  Of course, NYC's high density intensifies traffic noise, but even here in Tallahassee, FL, the outdoors--save for rural areas--are also nearly deafening. It's just not noticed as much because the number of pedestrians in most of the city hovers around zero. However, it's still clearly audible even inside with all the windows shut.

                  Here are some other noises of interest:

                  - Traffic. There's no point in the urban service area that's not close enough to a busy road to make the traffic audible--especially some motorcycles, which can be heard for miles.

                  - Air conditioning compressors. I've mentioned this before, and a carfree city is likely to put them on roofs, as opposed to the American method of putting them in the worst possible locations, like apartment hallways, house balconies, or right outside bedroom windows. That is, if there's no district chilled water.

                  - Two-stroke lawn-care appliances. This is a biggie, and I'm not talking about the occasional chainsaw to remove a tree that's threatening to fall. From downtown to the suburbs, lawn-care services will spend hours on end running two-stroke leaf blowers, weed trimmers, and hedge trimmers, which produce deafening amounts of noise. Even the City itself does this--no wonder nobody wants to use the downtown parks. I guess laying extension cords is just too much work. Those of you in Europe--is this a problem there too?

                  - Dogs. Many residents leave their dogs outside while at work or sleeping, and they bark for hours on end. I'm wondering how carfree cities would handle this--I sure wouldn't want to live in a row house next to someone like this.

                  - House parties. I've lived in student-heavy areas, and I'll say it: parties do not generate nearly as much noise as you think. My apartment's bathroom exhaust fan was probably louder inside my apartment than most nearby house parties. The real reason people call the police on house parties? The partygoers park up the street or apartment parking lot. With the only real problem caused by house parties out of the equation, no more problem here.

                  - Electric tools. Air compressors and circular saws make enough noise that your neighbors will know what you're doing, but these noises are generally in short bursts and have never bothered me. Again, not a problem. Is there any easy way to contain electric tool noise from a construction site in a carfree area?

                  > Hi All,
                  >
                  > The other point that needs to be made here is that
                  > if ALL vehicles are relatively quiet, they will all
                  > be audible. It's only when there is a large disparity
                  > between the sound levels of the vehicles that the
                  > quiet ones cannot be heard.
                  >
                  > The noise in New York City is nearly deafening. People
                  > who live there for any length of time yell all the time,
                  > as they cannot otherwise make themselves heard.
                  >
                  > The roar of traffic carries all the way up to the
                  > observation deck of the Empire State Building,
                  > which is nearly a thousand feet above the street.
                  >
                  > Best,
                  >
                  > Joel
                • Erik Sandblom
                  ... A lot of the noise from cars is from the tyres, not the engine. I suspect tyre noise grows faster with speed than engine noise. It would be interesting to
                  Message 8 of 11 , May 1, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > The other point that needs to be made here is that
                    > if ALL vehicles are relatively quiet, they will all
                    > be audible. It's only when there is a large disparity
                    > between the sound levels of the vehicles that the
                    > quiet ones cannot be heard.


                    A lot of the noise from cars is from the tyres, not the engine. I
                    suspect tyre noise grows faster with speed than engine noise. It would
                    be interesting to know the cutoff point where more noise is coming
                    from tyres.
                  • J.H. Crawford
                    ... In Amsterdam I almost never had a problem with this despite being surrounded by hundreds of families with doubtless dozens of dogs. The only regular
                    Message 9 of 11 , May 3, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Re:

                      >- Dogs. Many residents leave their dogs outside while at work or sleeping, and they bark for hours on end. I'm wondering how carfree cities would handle this--I sure wouldn't want to live in a row house next to someone like this.

                      In Amsterdam I almost never had a problem with this despite
                      being surrounded by hundreds of families with doubtless
                      dozens of dogs. The only regular offender was... an American
                      family. They denied that their dog barked.

                      >- Electric tools. Air compressors and circular saws make enough noise that your neighbors will know what you're doing, but these noises are generally in short bursts and have never bothered me. Again, not a problem. Is there any easy way to contain electric tool noise from a construction site in a carfree area?

                      This can be objectionable. In the new book I have called
                      for limits on tools and noise levels. (Some tools are
                      MUCH quieter than others.) This is a reason to concentrate
                      all construction activities in a short period.

                      BTW--I have been building a deck recently, and I have been
                      doing all the sawing by hand. With a sharp saw, it's nowhere
                      near as difficult as you might think. Of course, where to
                      get a saw sharpened these days is another matter.

                      Best,

                      Joel




                      ----- ### -----
                      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                    • Matt Hohmeister
                      My sister and brother-in-law--both American--have two dogs that bark very little. I guess you just have to know how to care for these very attention-hungry
                      Message 10 of 11 , May 5, 2009
                      • 0 Attachment
                        My sister and brother-in-law--both American--have two dogs that bark very little. I guess you just have to know how to care for these very attention-hungry animals.

                        > In Amsterdam I almost never had a problem with this despite
                        > being surrounded by hundreds of families with doubtless
                        > dozens of dogs. The only regular offender was... an American
                        > family. They denied that their dog barked.

                        I've noticed that cheap power tools tend to make a LOT more noise than their better-made counterparts. Anyone who's ever used a direct-drive air compressor vs. a belt-driven compressor has noticed this.

                        I've heard proposals to regulate noise to 70 dB, measured at the property line, exception for burglar/fire/flood/temperature/etc alarms. A typical electric leaf blower is this loud at 50', ruling them out for use in most areas of a carfree city.

                        > This can be objectionable. In the new book I have called
                        > for limits on tools and noise levels. (Some tools are
                        > MUCH quieter than others.) This is a reason to concentrate
                        > all construction activities in a short period.
                        >
                        > BTW--I have been building a deck recently, and I have been
                        > doing all the sawing by hand. With a sharp saw, it's nowhere
                        > near as difficult as you might think. Of course, where to
                        > get a saw sharpened these days is another matter.
                        >
                        > Best,
                        >
                        > Joel
                      • Jason Meggs
                        Noise is an enormous public health problem which is only just beginning to be addressed again. In the USA, the EPA s nascent Noise Control Division was
                        Message 11 of 11 , May 5, 2009
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Noise is an enormous public health problem which is only just beginning to
                          be addressed again.

                          In the USA, the EPA's nascent Noise Control Division was remarkably gutted
                          by the new Reagan Admininstration. A calculation of lives and DALYs lost
                          due to that would surely be staggering. Noise kills. (One of the effects of
                          that act is that transit agencies cannot specify noise as a condition for
                          purchasing transit vehicles, and so transit vehicles often are many times
                          louder than private vehicles in the USA. This is particularly harmful as
                          transit corridors often run at night when other traffic is light, and
                          through the densest population centers where the most people are exposed.)

                          In Europe, noise has recently been identified as a top public health concern
                          and mobilization is taking place to address it in a variety of ways, and for
                          good reason:

                          "About 65% of the population of the European Union is exposed regularly to
                          sound levels (55-65 dB) that lead to serious annoyance, interference with
                          speech, and sleep disturbance. This proportion has increased over the past
                          decades.22<http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1116028#B22>Very
                          loud noise (65 to 75 dB) is associated with a small increase in
                          cardiovascular disease, which might have a large impact on the population in
                          view of the wide
                          exposure.23<http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1116028#B23>Furthermore,
                          the attention, problem solving ability, and reading acquisition
                          of children exposed regularly to aircraft noise are impaired. Noise also
                          interferes with memory, attention, and the ability to deal with complex
                          analytical problems.24<http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1116028#B24>Transportation
                          is the main source of noise in Europe, and road traffic is
                          the main source of human exposure to noise, except for people living near
                          airports or railway
                          lines.25<http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1116028#B25>"

                          http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1116028

                          So yes, all onoise sources are needing a rethinking, and regulations of
                          power tools, vehicles, and more are critically important to public health.

                          Worth mentioning that in Berkeley, CA at least, use of private
                          combustion-powered leaf blowers has been banned.

                          Jason Meggs



                          On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 6:25 PM, J.H. Crawford <mailbox@...> wrote:

                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > Re:
                          >
                          >
                          > >- Dogs. Many residents leave their dogs outside while at work or sleeping,
                          > and they bark for hours on end. I'm wondering how carfree cities would
                          > handle this--I sure wouldn't want to live in a row house next to someone
                          > like this.
                          >
                          > In Amsterdam I almost never had a problem with this despite
                          > being surrounded by hundreds of families with doubtless
                          > dozens of dogs. The only regular offender was... an American
                          > family. They denied that their dog barked.
                          >
                          > >- Electric tools. Air compressors and circular saws make enough noise that
                          > your neighbors will know what you're doing, but these noises are generally
                          > in short bursts and have never bothered me. Again, not a problem. Is there
                          > any easy way to contain electric tool noise from a construction site in a
                          > carfree area?
                          >
                          > This can be objectionable. In the new book I have called
                          > for limits on tools and noise levels. (Some tools are
                          > MUCH quieter than others.) This is a reason to concentrate
                          > all construction activities in a short period.
                          >
                          > BTW--I have been building a deck recently, and I have been
                          > doing all the sawing by hand. With a sharp saw, it's nowhere
                          > near as difficult as you might think. Of course, where to
                          > get a saw sharpened these days is another matter.
                          >
                          > Best,
                          >
                          > Joel
                          >
                          > ----- ### -----
                          > J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                          > mailbox@... <mailbox%40carfree.com> http://www.carfree.com
                          >
                          >
                          >


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.