Today’s Headlines

  • Dem Leaders Insist on Propping Up Detroit With Bailout Funds; Obama May Agree (NYT, NYT)
  • Al Gore Urges Obama to Speed Development of Plug-in Hybrids (NYT)
  • Robert Reich: Ambitious Infrastructure Spending Needed to Turn Around Economy (TPM)
  • Election Over, Pricing and East River Tolls Are Back in the Headlines (News, Post, CBS, NY1)
  • So Are Grousing Drivers and Cherry-Picked Business Owners (News, Post)
  • DCP to Unveil Bike-Friendly Zoning Regs for New Buildings Today (Post)
  • Bike-Share Sweeping Across Europe, Making Inroads in North America (NYT)
  • Drunk Driver Crashes Into Base of Williamsburg Bridge, Injuring Two (News)
  • News Covers the Rising Number of Brooklyn Bike Commuters
  • AYR Breaks Down RPA’s Transpo Recommendations for Brooklyn
  • JP

    Re: Gore’s NYTimes piece

    Does anyone know of studies that examine how much electricity would be needed to power electric cars on a national scale and what effect this would have on Greenhouse gasses? I know it will depend on the source of electricity production, but I’m looking for any estimates. Any comparisons between electric or hybrid cars and rail cars per passenger mile?

    I’m upset that Mr. Gore completely left out the other type of electric car: rail cars. Concentrating on cars also does nothing to change our development patterns and would continue to support resource-intensive suburban development.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The United States may be heading for an Icelandic-style national banrkuptcy. Saver countries are starting to pull back. So in addition to Wall Street, who is grabbing money while the grabbing is good? The auto industry, following the post-9/11 bailout of the airline industry. And stimulus will be “investment” in roads and bridges, as predicted by others here.

    And then there will be no money.

  • Attention Al Gore: better cars = more sprawl.

  • Here’s what one of the aptly branded “cherry-picked business owners” had to say in the Post’s story on East River tolls:

    Bent Singh, who manages a gas station on the Lower East Side, said, “No one will leave Brooklyn for $5 to get an oil change.”

    Um, that’s the point: leaving Brooklyn for an oil change is precisely the kind of trip to Manhattan that’s socially inefficient (’cause its cost to other road and street users far outweighs the utility to the driver), which congestion pricing can and should weed out.

  • Re tolling East River bridges: The coverage says both city and state approval would be required because the city owns the bridges and the MTA is a state agency. That in turn requires both city and state approval, which means heading back into the land of Silver and Brodsky.

    Since the city owns the bridges, why doesn’t the city just toll the bridges itself? It could then hand the money over to the MTA — or use it to plug its own budget gap. Going through the state legislature just seems like a needless (and probably futile) extra step.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Since the city owns the bridges, why doesn’t the city just toll the bridges itself?”

    I believe that State approval is required to give tickets to those who refuse to pay the toll. The city could install toll booths and obstruct vehciles until they pay, but that would back up traffic for miles. With an all-EZ-Pass and photo solution, scofflaws could just drive right through.

    The question is why would the city agree to tolls on the bridges it has paid $billions to rehab with all the money going to the MTA, and from there to the suburbs — with the suburbs demanding concessions in exchange?

    It appears clear that the state legislature is going to allow the state to go broke and public services to collapse, after having taken all past AND future money off the top for narrow interests. Expect catastrophe. They are evil.

  • I’d really like to stand on principle and unequivocally say that I oppose a bailout for the automakers, but… gosh, that’s a LOT of people who could potentially be without jobs if one of those companies go under. I know sometimes you just need to pull of the band-aid and deal with the pain, but that might be too much all at once.

    Re. the story about tolling the East River bridges, this kind of stupid rhetoric is exactly why Anthony Weiner should never see the inside of Gracie Mansion. Middle-class and working-class New Yorkers take the subway, and if they don’t then they should be smart enough to adapt.

  • andrew

    Environmental New Deal, I have been hearing alot of buzz on the BBC about this,why not use the bailout to create jobs for autoworkers to build light rail and other city infrastructure? And start building an economy that serves the a more social and environmental world. Kind of along the David Brooks essay

  • Ian Turner

    Couldn’t the city make the state an ultimatum: Give us permission to write the tickets, or we’ll back up traffic all the way to Westchester?

  • Most of Gore’s suggestions are great: solar thermal energy, a better grid to transmit it, more energy efficient buildings, and carbon pricing.

    But his suggestion about plug-in cars would create problems that no one seems to have thought of.

    For one thing, it would cost only about one-quarter as much per mile for the electricity as it now costs for gasoline, largely because electricity prices are regulated. The lower price would generate more driving.

    Also, most people would want to charge their cars at night, when those solar plants are not generating, so it would be harder to phase out coal-burning plants. Gore is confused in suggesting “Think about it: with this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours.” (Solar thermal with storage that allows them to generate overnight should come in the future, but the cost has not yet come down.)

    One more problem with plug-in cars that no one has mentioned: they would not pay gas taxes, which are the main source of funding for transit and road construction.

    I expect that plug-in cars will catch on because of the lower price per mile, and suddenly everyone will say: where are we going to get transportation funding? Why didn’t we think of this before? Duh.

    The silver lining is that the obvious source of transportation funding will be road-use pricing, including congestion pricing. Britain is now experimenting with road pricing (http://www.planetizen.com/node/35938) and the technology should be available at about the same time that plug-in hybrids become popular. So maybe we finally will control congestion – and control the demands for new road capacity that congestion causes.

  • gecko

    re: Dem Leaders Insist on Propping Up Detroit With Bailout Funds; Obama May Agree (NYT, NYT)

    This is no time for business as usual. Defense department’s DARPA should be incouraged to go full bore with a molecular strength materials science initiative (R&D, industrial design, broad implementation strategies), not only directly applicable to the battlefield and aeroscience, but with direct application to include ideal ultra-personal sustainable transport and transit, the built environment, and even protective high performance clothing.

  • jmc

    I have a PhD in materials chemistry and I have to say that that sort of thing is a pipe dream. Those advanced materials will be too expensive for widespread use as building materials.