Ozzie Zehner

Author of Green Illusions

Category: Bicycling

Safe Routes to School Leader Deb Hubsmith Has Died

Deb-Hubsmith

I sadly just learned of the passing of safe streets pioneer, Deb Hubsmith, who was responsible for saving countless lives and reminds us of the various forms that environmental leadership can take. I did not know Deb personally but had corresponded with her when writing Green Illusions. I covered her important work in articles and in Green Illusions, excerpted below. I wish her family and colleagues the best during this time.

…Many of the nation’s schools stand behind a barricade of rushed drivers–hardly a safe environment for students to bike or walk to class. A student environmental group at Bridgewater-Raritan High School raised money for a bike rack only to have their principal reject it, citing safety risks. Similarly, a principal at Island Park Elementary School in Mercer Island, Washington, an avid bicycler herself, vetoed a proposed bike route, pointing out that a fifth-grader had recently been killed while walking his bike through a street crossing.

Stories such as these are all too familiar to Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) National Partnership, which institutes programs across the country to make walking and biking to school safer and more practical for students and educators. Testifying to Congress about an SRTS pilot program, Hubsmith stated, “In only two years, we documented a 64 percent increase in the number of children walking, a 114 percent increase in the number of students biking, a 91 percent increase in the number of students carpooling, and a 39 percent decrease in the number of children arriving by private car carrying only one student.” Nevertheless, even though children represent over 12 percent of pedestrian fatalities, and bicycle-related injuries send over a quarter million children to hospitals annually, the SRTS won just 0.2 percent of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s safety budget. And even though safe routes are a far more effective challenge to fossil-fuel consumption than solar cells, legislators overwhelmingly direct more money into the solar pot. In California, for every dollar spent on safe routes, well over ten dollars has flowed to solar cells during every budget year from 2007 thru today.

Given the clear and far-ranging benefits of walking and biking to school, the fact that communities hold bake sales to finance bike racks and safe thruways for students while the fetishized solar-cell industry bathes itself in billions of public funds is an inglorious national embarrassment. There is no secret to designing safe and convenient bikeable and walkable communities. The strategies are flexible to a wide array of neighborhood layouts, simple to institute, and return rapid paybacks in terms of public safety, quality of life, energy footprints, and long-term infrastructure maintenance costs. Ultimately, the success of bikeable neighborhoods hinges on a community’s ability to establish a bicycling culture, where bicycling and walking stand as legitimate and esteemed modes of transportation…

Green Illusions

Advertisements

Green Illusions a Top-20 Pick for 2012

Green Illusions Ozzie Zehner Top-20 Nonfiction 2012 Goodreads

This morning, Goodreads selected Green Illusions as a Top-20 Nonfiction pick for 2012, the first time a book from an academic press has made the annual list. Many thanks for your support!

Green Illusions is an environmental book that pioneers a critique of clean energy.  But it doesn’t stop there. Green Illusions also delivers three dozen first steps around the themes of environmental justice, overpopulation, rebound effects, energy economics, degrowth, taxes, bicycling, livable neighborhoods, and energy conservation.

Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternative technologies come with their own side effects and limitations. How, for instance, do solar cells cause harm? Why can’t engineers solve wind power’s biggest obstacle? Why won’t contraception solve the problem of overpopulation, lying at the heart of our concerns about energy, and what will?

Anyone may receive a Free Chapter by sharing GreenIllusions.org on Facebook.

Video: 5 Reasons to Bicycle

This is a recent Danish video from the city of Aarhus, which may offer a glimpse into the future of bicycling through North American cities. Here are the translated points:

  • Reason 674: Big smiles
  • Reason 762: Fitness and fresh air
  • Reason 2,548: Speed through traffic
  • Reason 6,237: Quality time with the kids
  • Reason 94: CO2-neutral transport

See more about the the future of transportation here.

Green Illusions

New Infographic: How Much Do Americans Support Bike Lanes?

A new report and corresponding infographic (above) by AmericaBikes.org show broad support for bicycle infrastructure funding in the United States. For me, it was fascinating to learn that this support crossed party lines and geographic boundaries. Here are some findings from the study:

  1. 83% of those interviewed support preserving or growing federal funding for sidewalks, bike infrastructure.
  2. 80% of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats think Congress should preserve or increase funding for biking and walking.
  3. 85% of Northeasterners, 79 percent of Midwesterners, 84 percent of Southerners, and 84 percent of Westerners support preservation or increased funding for sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure.
  4. 91% of those interviewed between the ages of 18 and 29 support preservation or increased funding for sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure.

For more details on the study, see: AmericaBikes.org

See more about the book John Perkins is endorsing here.

Green Illusions

Electric Cars? No. Bicycles? Yes.

I was recently quoted by both USA Today and FOX News regarding my take on priority parking for electric vehicles. I argued that American taxpayers give electric car owners tax breaks and credits to buy their vehicles as well as priority parking and special freeway lanes even though there’s no evidence they’ve done anything positive for the environment in return. In fact, the mining, heavy metals, and other side effects of electric car production and operation are likely worse for the environment when compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, and will be for some time according to a National Academies report.

If stores and organizations wish to minimize their environmental footprint, then they can give priority access to bicyclers and pedestrians. Congress can do the same.

Bicycling is booming across the country right now but Congress has taken no notice of the trend. Congress is actually moving to lower bicycle and pedestrian transportation funding, which already represents less than 2% of the total transportation budget.  (See the just released Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2012 Benchmarking Report)

Senate bill 1813 has left committee and will be up for a vote soon. In its current form, it will shrink bicycle and pedestrian support by eliminating dedicated funding for programs such as the broadly successful Safe Routes to School (SRTS) initiative. It will lump other types of pedestrian and bicycle funding into a discretionary budget to be apportioned by state governments. States would be free to divert bicycle and pedestrian funding within their borders to automotive projects.

Congress is framing all of these cuts as a way to save money. But if Congress is serious about stabilizing the nation’s balance sheets, they’ll stand up to thirsty car-culture lobbies and back low-cost bicycle and pedestrian improvements that pay durable dividends.

— Ozzie Zehner is the author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

New Infographic: Bicycling Rates, Deaths & Funding in the US

Here’s a handy new infographic from Kory Northrop, a grad student at the University of Oregon. The main graphic breaks down bicycling commutes by state.

The infographic also displays federal infrastructure funding, bicycle-related traffic fatalities, and the top cities for bicycling in the US. You can view the massive full-size graphic here.

DIY Bike Lane for $1000

Photo from thisbigcity.net

Five years ago, Mexico City pledged to paint 300km of bike lanes on existing streets throughout the city by 2012 but the government has been slow to respond.  Only 22 km have been painted so far. So, Mexico City bikers raised $1000 to buy some paint.

Political science student Jimena Veloz reported on the one-day event at thisbigcity.net:

“We bought paint, brushes and rollers. We built wood signs. We cut stencils. We borrowed a tricycle to carry everything. We invited everyone we knew and told them to come help…We worked for 8 hours. We painted 5 kms. We spent less than 1000 dollars. How much would it cost to actually build the bicycle infrastructure the city needs?”

See more about the book John Perkins is endorsing here.

Green Illusions

New: Dutch Cycling Embassy Video

The Dutch Cycling Embassy, a coalition of bike ambassadors from, private companies, non-profits, bike manufacturers and government entities, released this new video on the perhaps surprising history of Dutch cycling. (Well, surprising for those who did not read my recent post on the history of Dutch bicycle infrastructure.) The video is by Marc van Woudenberg.

%d bloggers like this: