This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
AN ELECTRIC URBAN VEHICLE FOR ALL?
According to Ryan Chin, a researcher at MIT’s Media Center (http://cities.media.mit.edu), “40 percent of the fuel consumed by cars in NYC is used by vehicles that are driving around looking for a parking place.” Chin has been working on a way to harness some of the wasted energy from personal vehicles. He suggests that if every vehicle in an urban setting could be somehow linked to one power grid, many megawatts of power would be available as a backup to local utilities. “It’s emergency storage for the grid,” he explains.


Chin is also working on “stackable” electric cars that can replace combustion-powered personal vehicles and make more sense for cities. The CityCar actually will fold up and plugs in to strategically placed charging stations, reducing parking demands and taking tailpipe emissions out of the equation.


Part of Ryan Chin’s research, the CityCar prototype gets the equivalent of 150 mpg. It contains electric motors in the wheels—no central motor, and can move sideways or in a circle as needed for tough parking spots.


 


Some of the drawbacks to the electric car, however, are rarely discussed. For example, the promise of simply replacing our current fleet of gas burners with electric vehicles infers that the fossil-fuel intensive infrastructure of highways, bridges and interstates will be maintained. The promise of electrics also allows politicians to avoid allocating serious money to mass transit and infill development.


The Burden of the Burbs
The flight from the cities to the suburbs of the last 40 years radically changed the transportation landscape. That trend has only recently begun to reverse. Planners now have plenty of hard data with which to measure the success of so-called “smart growth” policies. In most cases, they’ve found that aggressive urbanization policies have greatly reduced use of personal vehicles (and pollution) as intended.


For example, take Portland, Ore., –the city with the best known (and most controversial) anti-sprawl approach. The Transportation Research Board (via the National Research Council) analyzed the effect of Portland’s urban growth boundary and other policies, initiated in the 1970s.


The NRC report says: “Portland’s policies to steer growth into more compact, mixed-use development have paid off , not only in revitalizing the downtown and many of its neighborhoods but also in changing travel behavior. While daily VMT per capita has risen sharply in the United States as a whole, it has declined in the Portland metro area since about 1996.”


After many years of losing density to the suburbs, the trend finally reversed in 2000. Economic forces are likely to continue attracting exiled suburbanites to more metropolitan areas.


In addition, they note that be tween 1993 and 2007, transit ridership increased 55 percent, and population density grew by 18 percent. But Portland’s green transition didn’t happen by accident, they point out: “The success of Portland’s strategy depended on strong state planning legislation, an ambitious investment in a light rail system that received substantial federal assistance, and strong citizen support.”


06.2011
55

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74