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Earth Policy Institute;
The United States is now home to 34 modern bike-sharing programs that allow riders to easily make short trips on two wheels without having to own a bicycle. With a number of new programs in the works and planned expansions of existing programs, the U.S. fleet is set to double again by the end of 2014, at which point nearly 37,000 publicly shared bicycles will roll the streets.
Earth Policy Institute;
At the start of 2013, the United States was home to 22 modern public bike-sharing programs. By spring 2014, that number will likely double as a flurry of cities joins the more than 500 bike-sharing communities worldwide.
With the expansions of current programs and new openings in larger markets like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the nationwide fleet of shared bikes is poised to quadruple in the next couple of years, from nearly 9,000 to above 36,000. And with a growing list of American communities exploring the possibility of setting up bike shares, this number is expected to continue to climb.
California cities have the least affordable housing and the most congested traffic in the nation. California's housing crisis results directly from several little-known state institutions, including local agency formation commissions (LAFCos), which regulate annexations and the formation of new cities and service districts; the California Environmental Quality Act, which imposes high costs on new developments; and a 1971 state planning law that effectively entitles any resident in the state to a say in how property owners in the state use their land. Cities such as San Jose have manipulated these institutions and laws with the goal of maximizing their tax revenues.
Meanwhile, California's transportation planning has allowed transit agencies, such as San Jose's Valley Transportation Authority and Los Angeles' Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to hijack tax revenues that were originally dedicated to highways so they can build rail empires that will do little or nothing to relieve congestion. New highway construction in the 1990s cut San Jose congestion in half, but congestion is again worsening as funds once spent on highways are now diverted to expensive and little-used rail transit projects.
California should change its planning laws to forbid cities and counties from conspiring to drive up housing prices in order to maximize tax revenues. California and its urban areas should also fund transportation out of user fees instead of taxes, thus making transportation more responsive to the needs of users instead of politically powerful special interest groups. Other states should avoid passing laws that create similar conditions. These recommendations and eight others in this report will greatly improve the livability of San Jose and other California urban areas.
Alliance for Biking and Walking;
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report is an essential resource and tool for government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking. The Benchmarking Project is an on-going effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. This second biennial report reveals data including: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; bicycle and pedestrian policies and provisions; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; bicycle and pedestrian staffing levels; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, paths, signed bike routes, and bicycle parking; bike-transit integration including presence of bike racks on buses, bike parking at transit stops; bicycling and walking education and encouragement activities; and public health indicators including levels of obesity, physical activity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The report is full of data tables and graphs so you can see how your state or city stacks up. Inside you will find unprecedented statistics to help support your case for increasing safe bicycling and walking in your community. Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of Bikes Belong and Planet Bike.
Alliance for Biking and Walking;
The Alliance Benchmarking Project is an on-going effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and at least the 50 most-populated U.S. cities. This first biennial report, released August 29, 2007, reveals data on bicycling and walking throughout the U.S. including: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian fatalities; bicycle and pedestrian policies and provisions; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; bicycle and pedestrian staffing levels; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, paths, signed bike routes, and bicycle parking; bike-transit integration including presence of bike racks on buses, bike parking at transit stops, and hours per week that bicycles are allowed on train; and public health indicators including levels of obesity, physical activity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The report is full of data tables and graphs so you can see how your state or cities stacks up. Inside you will find unprecedented statistics to help support your case for increasing safe bicycling and walking in your community.
Alliance for Biking and Walking;
This spreadsheet contains data collected for Alliance's 2007 Benchmarking Report on bicycling and walking in the U.S. Tabs differentiate between data for the 50 states and the top 50 most-populous cities. Data collected here includes bicycling and walking modeshare, demographics, safety statistics, funding for bicycling and walking, policies at the state and local level, and more.
Environmental and Energy Study Institute;
The United States' surface transportation infrastructure is funded through a combination of federal, state and local revenue. This revenue is primarily collected through transportation user fees, including state and federal taxes on fuel purchases. Federal fuel taxes on gasoline and diesel make up about 90 percent of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the primary fund for federal investment in surface transportation infrastructure. Federal fuel taxes, which are set per-gallon fees and not based on percentage of sales, have not been changed in 20 years. As construction and maintenance costs rise, the HTF has lost significant purchasing power. Compounding matters, fuel consumption trends have cut into fuel tax revenue. Congress has shown little appetite for increasing the per gallon user fees and has opted to dip into general funds to meet HTF obligations.
Infrastructure investment is no longer meeting the needs of the national transportation system, and current revenue from user fees is below investment levels. Transportation infrastructure is deteriorating as a result, putting a strain on the national economy. The nation's transit and roadway infrastructure received a grade of D in the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 Report Card on America's Infrastructure; the report highlighted U.S. Department of Transportation studies indicating a $112B annual funding gap to bring roads, bridges and transit to a state of good repair over 20 years. An increasing number of states have taken action; recently Wyoming increased its per gallon fuel tax from 14 to 24 cents. So far, the federal government has not taken similar action.
Pew Center on Global Climate Change;
Outlines the need to cut transportation emissions to limit climate change effects, mitigation options and technologies, policies to promote mitigation, and various scenarios for public attitudes, public policy, technological progress, and energy prices.
National Institute for Transportation and Communities;
This report presents finding from research evaluating U.S. protected bicycle lanes (cycle tracks) in terms of their use, perception, benefits, and impacts. This research examines protected bicycle lanes in five cities: Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C., using video, surveys of intercepted bicyclists and nearby residents, and count data. A total of 168 hours were analyzed in this report where 16,393 bicyclists and 19,724 turning and merging vehicles were observed. These data were analyzed to assess actual behavior of bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers to determine how well each user type understands the design of the facility and to identify potential conflicts between bicyclists, motor vehicles and pedestrians. City count data from before and after installation, along with counts from video observation, were used to analyze change in ridership. A resident survey (n=2,283 or 23% of those who received the survey in the mail) provided the perspective of people who live, drive, and walk near the new lanes, as well as residents who bike on the new lanes. A bicyclist intercept survey (n= 1,111; or 33% of those invited to participate) focused more on people's experiences riding in the protected lanes. A measured increase was observed in ridership on all facilities after the installation of the protected cycling facilities, ranging from +21% to +171%. Survey data indicates that 10% of current riders switched from other modes, and 24% shifted from other bicycle routes.
Earth Policy Institute;
Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tons in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States, leaving only 6 million tons to satisfy the world's growing food needs. In agricultural terms, the world appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year. The grain to fill the tank every two weeks over a year will feed 26 people. Investors are jumping on the highly profitable biofuel-bandwagon so fast that hardly a day goes by without another ethanol distillery or biodiesel refinery being announced somewhere in the world. The amount of corn used in U.S. ethanol distilleries has tripled in five years, jumping from 18 million tons in 2001 to an estimated 55 million tons from the 2006 crop. In some U.S. Corn Belt states, ethanol distilleries are taking over the corn supply. In Iowa, a staggering 55 ethanol plants are operating or have been proposed. Iowa State University economist Bob Wisner observes that if all these plants are built, they would use virtually all the corn grown in Iowa. In South Dakota, a top-ten corn-growing state, ethanol distilleries are already claiming over half of the corn harvest.
Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch);
The Cascadia Scorecard is a regional gauge of progress that tracks seven key trends shaping the Northwest. This year's Scorecard spotlights an emerging body of research indicating that car-centered sprawl contributes to the region's leading health risks, including a high car-crash fatality rate and a high obesity rate. And residents of neighborhoods that encourage foot traffic are healthier--and safer as well.
Earth Policy Institute;
Is world oil production peaking? Quite possibly. Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show a pronounced loss of momentum in the growth of oil production during the last few years. After climbing from 82.90 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2004 to 84.15 mb/d in 2005, output only increased to 84.80 mb/d in 2006 and then declined to 84.62 mb/d during the first 10 months of 2007.
The combination of world production slowing down or starting to decline while demand continues to rise rapidly is putting strong upward pressure on prices. Over the past two years, oil prices have climbed from $50 to nearly $100 a barrel. If production growth continues to lag behind the increase in demand, how high will prices go?
There are many ways of assessing the oil production prospect. One is to look at the relationship between oil discoveries and production, a technique pioneered by the legendary U.S. geologist M. King Hubbert. Given the nature of oil production, Hubbert theorized that the time lag between the peaking of new discoveries and that of production was predictable. Noting that the discovery of new reserves in the United States peaked around 1930, he predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil output would peak in 1970. He hit it right on the head.
Globally, oil discoveries peaked in the 1960s. Each year since 1984, world oil production has exceeded new oil discoveries, and by a widening gap. In 2006, the 31 billion barrels of oil extracted far exceeded the discovery of 9 billion barrels.
The aging of oil fields also tells us something about the oil prospect. The world's 20 largest oil fields were all discovered between 1917 and 1979. (See data at http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2007/Update67_data.htm) Sadad al-Husseini, former senior Saudi oil official, reports that the annual output from the world's aging fields is falling by 4 mb/d. Offsetting this decline with new discoveries or with more-advanced extraction technologies is becoming increasingly difficult.
Yet another way of assessing the oil prospect is to look separately at the leading oil-producing countries where production is falling, the ones where production is still rising, and those that appear to be on the verge of a downturn. Among the leading oil producers, output appears to have peaked and turned downward in a dozen or so and to still be rising in nine.
Among the post-peak countries are the United States, which peaked at 9.6 mb/d in 1970, dropping to 5.1 mb/d in 2006; Venezuela, where output also peaked in 1970; and the two North Sea oil producers, the United Kingdom and Norway, which peaked in 1999 and 2000. The pre-peak countries are dominated by Russia, now the world's leading oil producer, having eclipsed Saudi Arabia in 2006. Two other countries with substantial potential for increasing output are Canada, largely because of its tar sands, and Kazakhstan, which is developing the Kashagan oil field in the Caspian Sea, the only large find in recent decades. Other pre-peak countries include Algeria, Angola, Brazil, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.