Archive for the ‘autos’ Category

German suburb finds car-free life quite carefree

May 13, 2009

Have you ever heard of Vauban, a small suburb in Germany? I hadn’t until recently, but after reading an article in yesterday’s New York Times“In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars”—I’m ready to pack my bags and hop on the next plane there.

Vauban, completed in 2006, sits on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden, and Vauban’s streets are completely car-free, except for the main thoroughfare and a few streets on the outskirts of the suburb.

You may be asking yourself, How is this working out for the 5,500 residents of Vauban? Quite well, it seems. From the article:

The town is long and relatively narrow, so that the tram into Freiburg is an easy walk from every home. Stores, restaurants, banks and schools are more interspersed among homes than they are in a typical suburb. Most residents…have carts that they haul behind bicycles for shopping trips or children’s play dates. For trips to stores like IKEA or the ski slopes, families buy cars together or use communal cars rented out by Vauban’s car-sharing club.

Moreover, parents in Vauban rave about the safety that goes along with having no cars on the streets. Children can run free without their parents fearing for their safety as they would if their kids were playing on a busy street corner. Check out this interesting slideshow of Vauban.

Vauban is part of a growing suburban trend many are referring to as “smart planning.” In the U.S., the EPA is beginning to promote “car reduced” communities and experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year. Currently, most zoning laws in the U.S. still require two parking spaces per residential unit. Hopefully, Vauban’s success will lead to many more car-reduced cities and suburbs.

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Scotland hopes to lead the drive towards all-electric vehicles

April 29, 2009


The city of Glasgow is striving to become ‘Electric Motor City’ under an ambitious $250 million dollar plan to create, encourage and spread sustainable transportation options throughout Scotland. Glasgow has been selected as one of five urban areas in the UK to pilot the use of electric vehicles over the next two years. A plan to test 30 electric vehicles in Glasgow has just been given the go-ahead and the government also plans to give drivers who buy new all-electric vehicles a substantial tax break.

Electric vehicles are powered by battery-driven motors and therefore produce none of the polluting emissions that traditional cars produce. They also operate much more quietly than traditional vehicles. However, their range is limited without being recharged.

Environmental and transportation groups have applauded the plan, although they highlight the importance of using renewable and clean energy sources for the charging of the vehicles. Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warns against using coal or nuclear sources of energy, and instead argues that, “We can use renewable power from the wind and tides.” Seeing as Irfan Rabbani, executive member for the environment, has publicly announced the City Council’s goal to make Glasgow “one of the most sustainable cities in Europe,” this just may happen!

Want to check out an all-electric car for yourself? Check out this video on the new Chevy Volt, which will debut to the public in 2010.

Car Ownership Costs Families Thousands

March 19, 2009

From “Wheels,” an editorial blog in the New York Times, yesterday:

“In 2007, a statistically average household, with an annual pretax family income of $63,091 and 1.9 vehicles, spent more on transportation than it did on clothing, health care and entertainment combined ($7,432).”

Here’s the full story.

I-GO’s not kidding when it say car sharing will save you big-time on annual auto costs. Seriously. Thousands of bucks!