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Once in a Lifetime

Thanks to Moster Pete on Flickr for this great Creative Commons image of his friend's Jimmy the Cornman tattoo, which gets him one free meal per day for the rest of his life at Casa Sanchez restaurant in San Francisco (or until they go out of business!)

 For the price of a Jimmy the Cornman tattoo, a lifetime of burritos was a bargain for some Casa Sanchez customers. 

Tranvia de Murcia is offering a similar deal: trade in your car for a lifetime transit pass. The campaign is intended to spark use of the new trolley system and reduce driving in the city of Murcia, Spain. The charming promotional videos highlight the frustrations of driving downtown. 

Casa … Continue Reading

My Car, My Crutch (Editorial)

Increased freedom at the price of decreased romance and artistry? Thanks to Sam Burnett for this evocative Creative Commons photo.

Recently I read an outline for a friend’s thesis on the use of vehicles as a prosthetic component of the human body. Her argument, still in development, is predicated on Rebecca Solnit’s belief that “the car has become a prosthetic… for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale” and that walking has become an “indicator species for various kinds of freedom and pleasures”.

My experience with my car merges comfortably with the typical negative statements made about vehicles, such as disassociation with community and the natural world, and increased material consumption. However, … Continue Reading

Weekly NewsPool: Local energy, the London Underground, and the end of Heritage Week!

In planning news and in the blogosphere, this week brought two great stories from Boston, including a glimpse at the future of open transit data. Other stories address the challenging imperative of energy security, and mark without mourning the end of the public-private partnership that, until recently, operated London’s Underground.

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LiveBlogging this week: Globe 2010 in Vancouver!

This week, Vancouver will be host to the world’s largest event dedicated to the business of the environment. Globe 2010 will bring together over 10,000 professionals from more than 70 countries, “for three days of thought-leading sessions presented by world-renowned sustainability experts; to survey leading-edge environmental innovations; and to participate in unparalleled global networking opportunities.”

Held March 24-26 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Planning Pool will cover some key sessions at Globe 2010 including:

  • Opening plenary
  • Eco Communities: Designing a Sustainable Future
  • Ministerial Dialogue on Sustainability

Globe 2010 has four sub themes to its programming: clean technology, water, sustainable retail, and the future of the auto industry. Check out the full program schedule for more information.

For fans of CBC’s business competition television program, Dragon’s Den, auditions for the upcoming sixth season will happen as … Continue Reading

Proposed Drive-Thru Ban in Comox, BC: Cognitive Dissonance and the LEED-certified A&W

***Update, July 17: The Comox bylaw received first approval from the town council.***

Have you ever wished that your least favourite form of development could be simply banished? In the Vancouver Island town of Comox (pop. 12,000), the town council is considering just that.

Drive-thru A&W in the City of Coutenay, in the Comox Valley. Thanks to Brian Chow for the Creative Commons picture.

Drive-thru A&W in the City of Courtenay, in the Comox Valley. Thanks to Brian Chow for the Creative Commons picture.

A current resolution, meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development, would amend Comox’s Zoning Bylaw to prohibit drive-thru services like restaurants and banks throughout the town. Existing uses would remain but no future drive-thrus could be developed.

Howls of protest and approval … Continue Reading

The epic battle of pedestrian vs. driver rears its ugly head in Toronto

Good and evil. In the media, so many things are reduced to black and white, liberal and conservative, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. In the past week, the Toronto media has seised upon a specific grudgematch, and they decided to take out their biggest wedge. I’m talking about the epic struggle between the “build more roads” crowd and the “tear out roads” crowd. See – isn’t it easy to put them into two boxes? In real life, it’s never that simple.

Successful Pro-Bus Swedish Advertising Campaign

The City Fix just posted a really interesting video about an advertising campaign in Sweden that hoped to get drivers to take the bus. The campaign started with an installation on the side of a busy highway of bus made out of 50 crushed cars. The installation created such a huge buzz on local media that it became viral, spreading to other media channels and eventually the internet.

Probably the most interesting part of the campaign is the website that the advertising company set up. The site (unfortunately there isn’t an English version but check out this site anyways – it has some really interesting pictures and graphs) has a video of the road where the advertising installation is located. A camera counts the number … Continue Reading

Mobility on Demand: Winner of the The Buckminster Fuller Challenge


Mobility Network from winning team

Mobility Network from winning team

A team from MIT just won the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a competition that awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

The team devised a Mobility-on-demand system that works a lot like bike sharing programs that we have covered extensively, but has a greater variety of vehicles. The system has racks of super lightweight and compact electric bikes, scooters, and cars at closely spaced, convenient locations around an urban service area. The vehicles automatically recharge while they are in these racks.

To use, people walk to the nearest rack, swipe a credit card, pick up a vehicle, drive it to a … Continue Reading

Little cars, big problem?

Autopia has arrived in India.  Yesterday, Tata Motors introduced the long-awaited Nano, a tiny car with an equally diminutive sticker-price.  At just under $2,300US, the idea is to shift urban Indians from motos to four-wheelers.  The cars, which are already in high-demand, get around 55 mpg and produce less CO2 than the average motorcycle.  Still, many are unhappy about this development, primarily because it further embeds the desire for private vehicles and Indian cities are already plenty congested.  Environmentalists might be a little more enthused if the Nano used something other than petroleum, despite its relative efficiency.  Also, Tata has a less-than-sparkling reputation within India.

While I share the reservations many are feeling toward India’s new automotive independence, the Nano represents  an unfortunately necessary step in the country’s rapid … Continue Reading