Thursday, June 28, 2012

Electric Bicycles on the move

The concept of electric bicycles, whose riders can cruise up hills on battery power when they are tired of pedaling, is slowly catching on in cities around the world. The bicycles resemble their conventional counterparts but have a heavier frame and carry a battery pack, which is usually either behind the rider or integrated in the frame. The motor transmits energy to the rear wheel, and the battery can be detached for recharging. China is far and away the world leader in the technology, with over 100 million e-bikes on the road already. Demand is growing in Europe, where Germany and the Netherlands are the largest markets and Paris has a program to provide subsidies of up to €400, or nearly $500, to electric bike purchasers. In the United States, electric bike shops have recently sprouted in car-dependent cities like Austin and Houston, and an electric bike-sharing project is getting under way in hilly San Francisco. Safety is challenge in China, with e-bikes zipping down sidewalks. Lead-acid batteries are not adequately recycled, creating an environmental problem, and a proliferation of small e-bike makers in China makes crafting effective safety rules a challenge. NYT

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rio+20 is a conference about implementation, and an important part of that is making and delivering commitments. Commitments are invited from various stakeholders, including business and industry, other Major Group organizations, associations, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, UN entities, partnerships involving more than one stakeholder, and Member States. The eight largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced today that they will invest US$175 billion to finance more sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade, boosting equitable economic development and protecting the environment and public health across the developing world. The pledge by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and six other MDBs was made at the start of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20). 16 additional voluntary commitments were made by 13 organizations on sustainable transport amongst which Asian Development Bank and partners: Commitment to Sustainable Transport, EMBARQ: Scaling Up Sustainable Transport Solutions Worldwide and Velo Mondial: Pas-Port to Mobility

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mobility Centers in Europe

A Mobility Centre is a centre that provides tailor-made information and services on mobility, not only for public transport modes but also for other modes, like car parking, carsharing, bike sharing. It operates at an urban or regional level, where mobility services are provided. Ideally, a MC has a 'physical' office, to visit or to contact by phone and email, and a 'virtual' one, a website offering multimodal information, route planners etc. (e.g. Helsinki Region Transport in Finland, Mobil Zentral in Graz, Austria and Centrale di Mobilit� in Milan, Italy). Although ICT is gaining in importance, the presence of physical offices remains important (for instance SUMOBIS). Qualified personnel, trained as a mobility consultant, is one of the minimum standards for a Mobility Center. . In the past 10 years, many Mobility Centers have been established through the support from European projects:  In March 2012 three Mobility Info Shops opened in Ljubljana. These Mobility Info Shops provide information on public transport in the city and the Slovenian railways. It is planned that at least one of these will grow into a real Mobility Centre by the end of the year. SEE MMS partner cities will have implemented 10 new MCs by the end of June 2012. five 'Transport Offices' have been created: in Toulouse, in Burgos, in Oviedo, in Ponferrada and a virtual office in Huelva. Read more in EPOMM.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cycling is Globally Cool & Accepted

In their latest book 'City Cycling' John Pucher and Ralph Buehler make the claim that cycling is no longer viewed as an outdated, old-fashioned mode of transportation. Especially among younger adults, cycling has become cutting edge and is viewed as a cool way to get around. Perhaps the greatest strength of cycling is that it provides enormous benefits both to the individual and to society as a whole. Many cities in Europe, North America, and Australia have witnessed impressive growth in cycling over the past two decades. It seems likely that the coming years will bring continued growth. Many studies predict shortages in oil supplies and rising energy prices, which would increase the cost of car use and enhance the relative cost savings of cycling. With slowing economic growth and falling real per-capita incomes in some countries, those cost savings may become even more important as an economic incentive to cycle rather than drive. The public health benefits of walking and cycling have generated much support for active travel in recent years, with more pro-bike government policies likely in the future. Increased attention to quality of life, personal and public health, livable cities, environmental protection, and climate change seem certain to provide cycling with a growing base of public, political, and financial support.  Velo Mondial feels a sense of pride and 'deja vu' when reading the book.