TheCityFix Picks, February 10: Mexican Superhighway, Helmet Legislation, Public Transit Apps

Are you safer without a helmet? Photo by Steven Vance

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: integrated transport, urban development and accessibility, air quality and climate change, health and road safety, and communications and marketing.

Integrated Transport

London Cycling Campaign is pushing mayoral candidates to adopt more radical improvements to cycling infrastructure with the launch of their campaign, “Love London, Go Dutch.”

A team of U.S. researchers traveled to Ahmedabad to study the impact traffic has on society. They found that people with heavy traffic outside their home lead a lonelier life with few friends in close vicinity and those with low traffic have three or more friends with happier surroundings.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency released its 2011 Bicycle Count Report, happily reporting a 71 percent increase citywide bicycling since 2006.

Urban Development + Accessibility

India and Israel are expecting to sign an agreement to collaborate on water treatment technologies in urban areas. The collaboration will cover urban renewal, solid waste management, drainage, desalination technology, recycle and re-use of waste water, sanitation, sewage, water use technology and financial sustainability of urban water supplies.

Mexican officials have high hopes on a “superhighway” to bring wholesome economic development. The government is investing $1.5 billion on the project to bridge the centuries of isolation, curtail violence and reduce travel time.

The Brazilian economy pulled tens of millions out of poverty in the last few years and created a new middle class, yet, the GDP per capita is still about a fourth of that in the United States and the minimum wage is less than $400 a month. Many blighted areas in Sao Paulo are being torn down for urban redevelopment, but the poor still complain that housing is not affordable.

Air Quality + Climate Change

This is an interesting post from the Scientific Alliance on the role of biofuels in attaining environmental goals for transportation and the reality of adopting more environmentally-friendly fuel.

The Gazette published an article that looks at the results of a Quebec survey on climate change. The survey results suggest that most agree that something must be done about climate change and believe that industrial activity is the biggest contributor to climate change inducing pollution. It’s actually the proliferation of motor vehicles.

Here is a great post by Media Matters for America on the myths and facts about electric cars. For the record, electric vehicles cause substantially fewer carbon emissions than gasoline-powered cars and are just as safe as conventional cars.

Yale Environment 360 published an interview with Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, on how California is leading strict legislation on auto emissions and air pollution standards.

Health + Road Safety

New Zealand Medical Journal published a controversial report on the country’s Helmet Law and how it has contributed to 53 premature deaths each year and halved the number of cyclists on the roads. Experts argue that withdrawing helmet legislations would not necessarily boost the number of cyclists or that it is the only reason for increased road fatalities.

The Portuguese Road Safety Organization (PRP) is calling for a younger driving age and a lower legal blood-alcohol content. The organization is rooting for 16 and 17 year-olds to be able to drive and a 0.2g per liter blood-alcohol limit for drivers in their first three years of driving.

What sort of deterrence works best to ensure road safety, jail sentence or monetary penalty?

Distracted-driving is the new drunk-driving, even if you’re using a hands-free device.

Communications + Marketing

Nokia released a new application to help mobile users to better navigate their public transportation systems. Nokia Public Transport contains public transit directions for almost 80 cities or urban areas across the world. The app is currently available for Nokia Belle.

The Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System introduced a smart card last month that customers can recharge. Commuters can purchase the smart card for 25 rupees (50 U.S. cents).

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