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TheCityFix Picks, September 10: Dubai Metro Turns One, Aussie iPod Zombies, Harnessing Human Heat
U.S. Transportation Secretary is encouraging students to ditch the car and take the school bus. Photo by Doug Wilson

The U.S. Transportation Secretary is encouraging students to ditch the car and take the school bus. Photo by Doug Wilson

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

The government of Greece has made a commitment to completely overhaul the state-run rail company OSE, which has been running for years at a loss of nearly one billion euros annually and multiplied the country’s economic woes.

Dubai’s Metro debuted one year ago and has moved over 30 million riders over the past year. Ridership is expected to hit 40 million in 2010.

The U.S. federal government could soon be laying out the nation’s first national rail plan, which would include high-speed rail corridors in various regions across the country.

The coastal city of Salvador, Brazil is in initial stages of designing and funding a proposed bus rapid transit corridor.

Quality of Life

In 2009, 33,808 people were killed in car accidents in the U.S. It may sound like a lot, but, in reality, traffic fatalities have not been this low since 1950, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The “iPod zombie trance” that people fall under when listening to and playing with their mobile devices is allegedly linked to an increase in collisions and deaths in Australia. The problem stretches across the globe and the U.K. Automotive Association  has called for a “halt [to] the ‘iPod pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies.'”

Recent research shows that people burn more calories when they forgo the car and walk to and from public transit stations. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine study indicates that improving neighborhoods and increasing the use of light rail systems could provide improvements in health for millions of people.

Results from a new study shows that in the U.S., pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle are much more likely to die if they are uninsured or a member of a racial minority than those who are not. Additionally, the study found that minority pedestrians are more likely to be hit by a vehicle than whites.

Environment

In an effort to reduce the amount of cars on the road, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pushing for students to use school buses rather than driving to school.

Environmental groups in the U.S. are making the case to the Obama administration to ensure cars and trucks are able to get 60 miles per gallon by 2025.

The government of Canada has finalized regulations that will require an average renewable fuel content of 5 percent in gasoline – 2 percent in diesel fuel and heating oil – starting December 15, 2010.

Public Space

Dallas, Tex. is installing a yet-to-be-named elevated “deck park” that will cover a section of freeway that divides the uptown and downtown areas. It’s a positive step to make the North Texas city more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

New York City’s Broadway Ave. has been transformed under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In total, 3.5 miles of car lanes have disappeared and traffic has dropped by one third. The reductions continue after Labor Day, according to The New York Times.

Technology and Innovation

The Paris Metro, which is not having a great week, has an innovative project in the works to heat public housing using the warmth generated by passengers on the underground subway system.

New cheap, tamper-proof parking meters have replaced nearly half of the 40,000 machines across the city of Los Angeles. The new model accepts credit cards in addition to traditional currency and are solar-powered.

The Philadelphia subway will soon be harnessing energy generated by the trains’ braking system and use the captured energy for powering trains as they exit stations, as well as returning a portion to the grid.

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