TheCityFix Picks, February 25: Electric Carshare, Air Pollution and Cocaine, Rock Girl Benches
"If aliens were looking down on Los Angeles they would come to the conclusion that the ultimate life form is the automobile." BMW's Activate the Future Series.

"If aliens were looking down on Los Angeles they would come to the conclusion that the ultimate life form is the automobile." From BMW's Activate the Future series.

Welcome back to TheCityFix Picks, our series highlighting the newsy and noteworthy of the past week. Each Friday, we’ll run down the headlines falling under TheCityFix’s five themes: mobility, quality of life, environment, public space, and technology and innovation.

Mobility

Obama’s transit upgrade proposal, if approved, will cost $556 billion, the largest amount for such projects in U.S. history. Even now, there is a$134 billion gap between sources of funding for transport infrastructure and funding needed to maintain and improve the current system.

Hawaii’s most expensive public works project, Honolulu’s new rail system, broke ground this Tuesday. By 2019 the system will connect the fast-growing West Oahu region to the city’s core.

Construction began on the $1.45 billion transit project in Panama City that will run from a national bus terminal to the north of the city and is considered the first mass transit system in Central America.

Megabus expands its bus services to Philadelphia, in line with growing demand.

Chennai Metro Rail awarded its last major contract to build tunnels and an 18-kilometer corridor, of which 14.3 kilometers will be underground.

Lyon, France is aiming for 5 percent modal share of bikes by 2014 and will continue to make the city bike- and pedestrian-friendly by creating innovative bike paths and greenways.

Quality of Life

A developer who owns land near the Tysons East Metro Station in metropolitan Washington, D.C. is proposing 21 walkable new developments near the future station.

Also in the District, government officials take the heat for drivin’ big cars, guzzlin’ gas and takin’ up resident road space.

BMW produced a four-part documentary series, “Activate the future,” on the future of mobility.

Public Space

During political upheaval, people always hijack the streets. Recent events show how public space has been crucial for political change and protests in Egypt.

Underway today, the Complete Streets for Los Angeles Conference discusses ways of improving road safety, multi-modal transportation and design.

A lawyer based in Cape Town, South Africa developed a campaign, called Rock Girl, to plant benches in the city that are literally and figuratively symbolic of female voices, safety and non-gendered public spaces.  The first bench was installed this Wednesday.

Hollywood actor Edward Norton launched a bike ride for sustainable communities from the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP ) in Nairobi, Kenya to Mount Kilimanjaro as part of three-week campaign.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s new mayor, plans to build off Chicago’s Complete Streets policy plan by investing in trains, buses, biking and walking.

Environment

Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than the use of cocaine and “poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion.”

Gas is cheaper than water, Streetsblog points out.

Targets to improve average fuel economy by 50 percent for new cars by 2030 and for the entire global light duty vehicle fleet by the same amount by 2050 is achievable using “existing, cost-effective technologies,” according to a new report commissioned by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative.

Technology and Innovation

Next month, Zen Car will launch 29 all-electric cars as part of a carsharing organization that will include 15 charging stations in Brussels, Belgium.

America’s first offshore turbine wind factory opened this month in Norfolk, Va. that will supply windmills for future projects.

In 10 years, look for Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety that would use sensors to measure blood alcohol content, either by analyzing a driver’s breath or their skin, using touch-based sensors.

We can’t get enough maps! This one shows the cost of train tickets by distance in the U.K.

Transport for London will roll out contact-less payment for its entire transport network with compatible credit cards, just in time for the 2012 Olympics.

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