Friday, May 22, 2009

Cyclists and Pedestrians Better for Business than Drivers

"The objective, unless you own a parking lot, is to attract the largest possible number of people – not the largest number of cars."

"A recent report by the Clean Air Partnership about Bloor St. in the Annex [in Toronto] found that only 10 per cent of patrons at local businesses arrive by car and that patrons arriving by foot and bicycle spend the most money each month. The report also noted that about 20 per cent of spaces in nearby parking lots were empty even during peak periods. Finally, the report's survey found that more merchants than not believed that wider sidewalks or bike lanes would increase business. (Patrons preferred the bike lane option by a ratio of four to one.)

"CAP's report suggests one rather obvious conclusion: bringing a single 70 kilogram shopper to a store in a 1,400 kilogram vehicle is a cumbersome route to success. By contrast, about half a dozen bikes can fit in the space of a single car. And since bikes can stop faster than cars, the amount of space between bikes can be small, which means far more shoppers on bikes can fit onto our roads than shoppers in cars.


"A study in Munster, Germany, found that cyclists buy fewer goods on each trip but spend more overall in the course of a greater number of trips."

File this article under "sudden outbreak of good sense".

More here: | Opinion | Shoppers on bikes good for business

(Alas, many of the comments below this article in the Star range from wilful ignorance, i.e. refusing to read TFA* - what else is new on the Internet - to blind hatred of cyclists, tarring them all with the same brush because some cyclists disobey traffic laws. Some Toronto drivers run red lights and/or speed and/or drive drunk, some kill pedestrians and/or cyclists and/or other people in cars, but you don't see people making hateful generalizations about all drivers. Double standard? You decide.)


* TFA = The Famous Article (substitute other words for the "F" one if you must :-)

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Power alarm over home electronics

"All told, between 5 and 10 per cent of electricity used in the average Canadian home is consumed by appliances and home electronics while the devices are on standby, Natural Resources Canada estimates. In some cases, the gadget actually needs to be unplugged to cut the power use.

"Ottawa now plans to force the industry to reduce the standby power needs of a wide range of appliances and home electronics – first issuing regulations by 2010 to meet California standards which are the toughest in the United States, and then regulating a one-watt standby mode in 2013.

"Power usage of electronics on standby currently ranges from five watts to 25.

"In its report yesterday, the International Energy Agency said the boom in electronics threatens to undermine efforts to reduce residential power demand and cut greenhouse gas emissions."
More at Power alarm over home electronics

The sad saga of climate change inaction

This commentary by Peter Gorrie in the Star just about sums it up:

" early December, at the annual United Nations conference, this time in Copenhagen. The goal is to reach agreement on greenhouse-gas emission cuts beyond those promised in the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012 and has been a bust.

"About 99 per cent of the world's climate scientists say total global emissions must be reduced to at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels – and preferably lower – by 2020 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. A regular stream of reports warns of disaster if we don't achieve the target.

"There was more evidence this week that we won't get close at the pace now being set.


"Canada is responsible for only 2 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, but we're with the Americans among the top sources per person. We need to act to bring China, India and others along. If we're unwilling, we might as well cancel the Copenhagen meeting and prepare for all that climate change has to offer."

The rest of the sorry tale is here: | Insight | The sad saga of climate-change inaction [bolding added]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Belgian city plans 'veggie' days to cut carbon emissions

"The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week."
"The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent's declaration of a weekly 'veggie day'."

BBC NEWS | Europe | Belgian city plans 'veggie' days
Not an entirely new idea -- various religions have had days of fasting or food restrictions (often, curiously enough, meaning no meat) for centuries. Still, nice to see the city of Ghent making an official connection between meat-eating and climate hazards.

But why stop at just one day a week? (Also not a new idea of course -- various religions and non-theistic philosophies had also advocated vegetarianism for centuries.) Anyway, climate change concerns provide a new, free-standing reason to go meatless, and this notion may be finally starting to go mainstream in Western countries.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Electric Cars? Cycling's Better and More Popular Than Ever

Great opinion piece by Leah McLaren in the Globe & Mail today:

Pedal power to the people - ride on!

The British government recently launched a £250-million strategy to introduce the electric car to mainstream London. The initiative, which includes citywide charging points, battery-swapping stations and hefty consumer incentives, is well-intentioned, but you won't see me signing up for an electromobile any time soon.

As it stands, there is only one convenient way of getting around the modern urban landscape, and that is the almighty bicycle.

Hopping on a bike is cheaper, faster, healthier, more pleasant and more environmentally sound than any other mode of transportation known to humankind. Old-fashioned as it might seem, cycling is the way of the future.

No need for initiatives or incentives here. People are way ahead of their governments on this one. The recent numbers are astonishing. Last year, the New York City department of transportation reported that, in 2007-08, bicycle commuting went up by 35 per cent. London is reporting a similar increase in the wake of the inner-city traffic congestion charge that was introduced a couple of years ago. Today, an estimated quarter of a million Londoners travel to and from work by bike.

Toronto - a city without the benefit of a year-round bike-friendly climate - is also on the upswing. Statistics Canada reported a 32-per-cent increase in pedal-pushers on the roads from 2001 to 2006 - and that was before the downturn.

As a committed lifelong cyclist, it's heartening to see so many people finally coming around to the same obvious conclusion. If you care about your health, the environment and your bank account and are physically able, biking just makes sense, full stop.

And yet in spite of its increased popularity, there are still a puzzling number of people who are resistant to cycling on the grounds that it's dangerous or impractical. In fact, though, London statistics show that the number of biking accidents actually goes down as the number of cyclists goes up.

In Germany, where bike riding is part of the normal culture, people are 10 times more likely to ride a bike than Americans and three times less likely to get hurt while doing so.
More here:

As Roger Gagne from Calgary, Canada has noted, though, pitting bikes against electric cars misses an important half-way technology. Electric-assisted bikes may be an excellent way forward for many people. (See )