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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

April, 2008


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Lose Weight And Save The Planet, Too!
By Stephen Simac

Two devices symbolizing the American Way Of Life (AWOL) greatly increase our Greenhouse Gases (GG) and obesity. Both are shiny and fast, at least when new. Automobiles and Televisions embody AWOL, which is both greenhouse gassy and extra wide.
It's suspicious that Global Warming (GW) prophets, routinely advise consumers to change their light bulbs to reduce GG's. Screw in a mercury dusted fluorescent bulb made in China with coal-powered energy. That will help.

Ironically the electricity saved by this consumer screwing is compared to the number of cars taken off the road. Duh- motor vehicles, not light bulbs are the major cause of GG's. Nationally transportation accounts for 60% of CO2 emissions, motor vehicles create 94% of this. In Marin it's slightly higher. Making it as pleasant and convenient for Americans to walk, bicycle, rideshare or use mass transit as it is to drive, will reduce GG's quicker than using GW hysteria to soften up the driving public for increased costs. Few politicitians are willing to anger the driving public.


THIRD WORLD BURNING
Televisions draw less electricity than lights, although BlueRay wide screens will wipe out any reductions from changing light bulbs. TVs generate GGs by churning desires for fast vehicles to chase the shiny objects and starter castles shown on screen. Hollywood will generate even more GG's by spreading the glory of AWOL to developing nations. While watching TV generates fewer GGs than driving, both contribute to weight gain by keeping us sitting without exercise.


SHARE THE ROAD, IDIOT!
Most Marinades could give up their TV's without social consequences, however those without a car become third class citizens.

Transportation Apartheid is as prevalent in Marin as most places in America. Where sidewalks are present they're usually narrow, obstructed and rutted.

Cyclists are squeezed out to the crumbling edges of the pavement as wider vehicles proliferate. Bus trips take twice as long as driving when they're on time. There's no BART in Marin, providing tortuous, shrieking rides for other Bay Area commuters. SMART

Light Rail (not either) promises the same for the North Bay, sucking up alternative transportation monies for decades to come. The bike path beside the railway is projected to draw more users than the passenger trains at a fraction of the cost. Without trailing freight trains that will rumble through Novato after SMART improves the track.

Freight trains spew far less GG's than trucks, but few SMART pushers live near the tracks. Vehicle traffic is the primary source of noise in Marin County now, but that would change with freight trains blasting through all night long.

Our roads are designed and maintained for MVT, although less than half the costs are paid for by their taxes, fees and fines. Medical costs from MVT are mostly shouldered by society. Forty thousand killed each year, while every 20 seconds an American is seriously injured. Adults are twice as likely to die from heart or lung disease when they live near high traffic areas. The medical costs of MVT are immense and car manufacturers do not pay health care mitigation fees for their dangerous product.

So there is a free ride for automobile profiteers. If MVT costs weren't heavily subsidized, gas would be $20 a gallon; all covered by general taxes or debt now.

California could reduce GGs without EPA approval by basing registration fees on vehicle weight, horsepower and top speed. No politician dares, so their GG reduction plans focus on token gestures like light bulbs, or alternative fuels.


DON'T BE A THULE FOOL
Drivers can do a lot to save money and reduce GG's right now, no matter what kind of vehicle or fuel they're using. Accelerate slowly, inflate tires, regular tune-ups, and reduce weight and drag. Just driving the speed limit can save 20% on fuel, while reducing GGs, pollution, noise, road maintenance, traffic enforcement and medical costs. Pedestrians and cyclists will feel safer, instead of cursing you as you blast by. Drivers should think of them as One Less Car. If more cyclists rode legally, drivers would Share the Road with less grumbling.

Of course, driving the speed limit will attract pissed off tailgaters. Since gas prices are dependent on supply and demand, self-righteously toodling along as a Pace Car will save money and reduce GG's for them, too.


OUT OF THE BOX SOLUTIONS
Traffic planners and legislators dole out hundreds of billions for MVT improvements, with mass transit, bicyclists and pedestrians merely an afterthought. Mostly poor people depend on "alternative" transportation and it shows. Drive up the costs with carbon taxes and congestion pricing and only the wealthiest will be able to afford it. Will politicians and their counsel improve alternatives, when they can drive without traffic jams?

Walking hasn't changed since we first got off our knuckles. Cycles, with only a century to develop, haven't evolved much since the first Safety Cycle was launched. And they called it that before it even had brakes.

The most efficient method of movement on the planet remains an inherently unstable, ergonomically and aerodynamically awkward conveyance in America. Basically, a dangerous toy.

The new, improved SafetyCycle! With a weather and impact resistant, aerodynamic shell, enclosing a comfortable recumbent tricycle with carrying capacity and electric engine assist for ascents hasn't been built yet. A human powered vehicle (HPV) like this will truly reduce GG's and obesity. Riders would feel safer, the number one reason Americans don't bicycle. More comfortable, the number 2 reason. Most cyclists hate hills, too.

Mass transit advocates are suffering from nostalgia in the North Bay, pining for diesel powered passenger trains. Who will champion the CycleTrain! a human powered mass transit system using existing road lanes. Entrained commuters with an aerodynamic faring could easily pedal a CycleTrain! At traffic speeds, gliding along on a monorail embedded in the pavement. A Marin Pipe Dream, or the cheapest way to reduce GG's and obesity in America?


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