TheCityFix Picks, June 24: German Sustainability, Charging Polluters, Traffic Crash Transparency

Germany cities host some of the most energy-efficient buildings in Europe, according to a new report from Siemens. Photo by Andreas Levers.

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

In hopes of revitalizing Ghana’s ailing transport sector, the country launched a Transport Investment Summit and Exhibition in Accra. The summit was held under the theme: “Transportation as an Economic Apparatus for Efficient National Development.”

India’s Karnataka State Cabinet approved plans for introducing new bus rapid transit (BRT) systems to the cities of Bangalore, Dharwad, Hubli, and Mysore. Each of the BRT projects vary greatly in their stages of development.

Nationwide analysis from the American Commuter Survey found that, on average, cities where bicycling to work is more prevalent are richer, better-educated and fitter.

A new study on the economic benefits of transportation investments shows the versatile positive influence of cycling. In addition to alleviating air pollution and congestion, the study found that every $1 million invested in cycling projects results in the creation of 11.4 jobs.

Urban Development + Accessibility

The first green-parking spots were launched in Dubai, which are equipped with electric vehicle charging stations.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide Azerbaijan roughly $340 million in loans, as confirmed by the ADB’s recent signing of the 2011-2013 Country Operations Business Plan. The plan outlines ADB’s support in the areas of transport, energy, urban water supply and sanitation and urban services sectors.

The hassle of on-street parking payments in Washington, D.C. was lifted, as the city’s Department of Transportation announced much of the city’s parking will feature a pay-by-phone option.

Auckland’s CBD rail loop is facing complications with the release of a government commissioned report exposing the ratio of construction cost to economic payback at roughly three-to-one.

Florida’s recently passed growth -management system law is being used to dispute the “Farmton” development project, in helping deem it a contributor to urban sprawl. The project would result in the creation of 25,000 homes in a relatively undeveloped area.

Air Quality + Climate Change

The United States, along with several other countries, released 60 million barrels of reserve oil in response to the stoppage of Libyan oil production resulting from in-country political turmoil. About half of the released oil will come from U.S. reserves. Efforts are aimed at alleviating the stress of high pump prices.

German cities are among the best in Europe on environmental and climate change responsibility, according to the findings of Siemens’ German Green City Index. Ten of the twelve accessed German cities ranked as “above average” in the examined sustainability categories.

EU countries received clearance to charge trucks for their production of air and noise pollution.

Vietnam’s Ministry of National Resources and Environment presented the country’s 2010 National Environment Report last week, which outlined the severe problems the country is facing in air pollution and flooding in urban areas, industrial parks and trade villages.

Health + Road Safety

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s “Saving Lives Through Better Information Act” became active this week. The act requires the New York City Police Department to publish information on the number of moving-violation summons issued, the number of traffic crashes, as well as the number of traffic fatalities and injuries.

Trinidad and Tobago’s national traffic crash fatality number is on course to reach 100 deaths this year and has attracted national attention, including that of the non-government organization Arrive Alive. Arrive Alive states that it will take an overarching, inter-agency organization to ensure the effectiveness of the road safety initiatives already in place.

New York State Representative Carolyn McCarthy proposed legislation on Thursday to nationalize a ban on the use of portable devices while driving. The proposed legislation would also require the Department of Transportation to conduct a two-year study on distracted driving.

Congressman Jason Altmire introduced the Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety and Roadway Enhancement Act, which includes provisions to establish a funding program for State Departments of Transportation to correct conditions most hazardous to older drivers and pedestrians.

Communications + Marketing

Politicians, business owners, neighbors and transit enthusiasts gathered on Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto for a celebration of an impending underground transit line to pass through the neighborhood. Though construction will not be completed until 2020, such early displays of support help to raise the profile of this transit option.

In the effort to bolster its bus system’s ridership, the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency consulted the Llium Associates marketing firm last month, who conducted a study to ascertain the Napa Valley bus ridership demographics.

Demand for alternative energy vehicles (AEVs) is less than that of compact and sub-compact cars, according to a recent study by GfK Custom Research. Reported hindrances to AEVs’ demand included low familiarity. GfK emphasized the importance of communicating the “emotional benefits” of owning AEVs to potential drivers.

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