TheCityFix Picks, May 20: Harnessing Commuter Energy, Hawaiian Smart Grid, Mobile Devices as Metro Tickets
Japanese and U.S. companies team up for smart grid project in Maui. Photo by Marks Jonathan.

Japanese and U.S. companies team up on smart grid project in Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Marks Jonathan.

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

Smartmatic signed a US$ 370 million deal to implement and operate the ticket collection and fleet management areas of Colombia’s new bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The BRT will service the district of Cartagena and its surrounding areas.

Central Florida lawmakers took steps towards creating complete streets by passing legislation calling for narrower road lanes, wider sidewalks and more buildings closer to road’s edge.

U.S. gas prices are forecasted to decrease during the summer months, with the explanation of shrinking public demand and increases in refinery inventories.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will present his cycling plan next month, according to Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong. The plan will include physically separated bike lanes.

Malaysia’s traffic congestion problem could be alleviated by implementing a BRT system, contra-flow bus lanes and comprehensive sidewalks, according to Muhammad Zulkarnain Hamzah of the Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit.

Quality of Life

Put on your helmets and roll-up those pant legs—today is the U.S. National Bike to Work Day! Bike commuting has increased nationwide by 44 percent over the past 10 years.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a new report purporting the benefits of active transportation. Among the report’s most memorable findings is that “physical inactivity contributes to one in eight deaths annually among New Yorkers aged 30 and older.”

The Vulnerable User Bill was officially signed into law by Washington State’s governor, Chris Gregoire. The law’s penalties include fines of up to $5,000 to those who seriously injure or kill “a more vulnerable road user.”

Bicycle illumination, and consequently bicycle safety, was improved by a recently developed bicycle lighting system,  Project Aura. The system consists of lights that attach to wheel rims, making bikes visible at night from any perspective.

Environment

U.K. Transport Minister Norman Baker announced a new carbon calculator tool for use in aiding the development of local transport projects.

The body heat of commuters will be captured and transferred to the heating of buildings through a new system in Paris and Stockholm.

Converting agricultural waste into biofuel could satisfy 59 percent of India’s transport gasoline demands, asserts a new study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Japanese and the U.S. companies are teaming up on a smart grid project for the Hawaiian island of Maui. Hitachi, the electronics and IT group, will serve as the project leader.

Public Space

A recent conference in Barcelona, titled, “What’s the Place for Public Space in our Cities?” explored the arena of public spaces.

Farmingthecity.net, an interactive website showcasing urban farming projects, was launched by the European urban research institute CITIES. The project aims to encourage the development of local urban food systems.

Farmers’ markets in Prague have blossomed, growing from zero to 20 markets that feature local farmers’ produce within the past 12 months.

Technology and Innovation

General Motors is revving up production of its all-electric Chevy Volt, planning to increase production from 16,000 units this year to 60,000 units in 2012.

St. Albert Transit became one of the first Canadian transit agencies to offer real-time bus arrival information. In the United States, LA Metro launched its real-time bus information system this week, as well.

Fiat’s 875cc TwinAir engine was honored with a number of awards including Green Engine of the Year, Best New Engine of the Year and the International Engine of the Year.

A myriad of EV-industry experts convened in the first edition of the “Charging Forward: Electric Vehicle Survey“ to assess the factors impacting the success of EVs in the short-, mid-, and long-term.

Chiltern Railways of the U.K. launched the first fully mobile ticketing platform, allowing rail users to use mobile devices to buy, download and even scan tickets. “This innovation in ticketing is a first within the rail industry,” said Thomas Ableman, marketing director of Chiltern Railways.

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