Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Congestion Pricing In Rome

I have read lots of news about congestion pricing in London and Stockholm. I had not heard that there is also congestion pricing in Rome, until I saw it mentioned in an article by Andrea Broaddus, an American studying planning in Europe. In response to my question, Andrea wrote:

" Rome has a cordon scheme restricting access to the city center during peak hours, with revenues invested in transit. A CIVITAS-funded project, it is described on their website, Or you can find a nice comparative study by our very own FHWA on European demand management strategies, including a case study on Rome which describes their road and parking pricing schemes,"

Andrea blogs at

Friday, April 13, 2007

Our Teenage Governor

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been "pimping his ride" - showing off Hummers that he has souped up to increase their power and also has converted to hydrogen or bio-fuels.

This is consistent with the policies he has backed as governor. He has supported more freeway building and pulled funding from public transportation, and at the same time, he has claimed to be an environmentalist and has supported goals for reducing CO2 emissions.

What sort of a model is he for the people of the state?

Most of us can remember that, when we were teenagers, there were a few kids in the neighborhood who lived for their cars - which they wanted to have a more powerful engine and a bigger sound system than anyone else's. Teenage boys tend to like the rush of testosterone that they get when they accellerate, and a few were addicted to this cheap thrill.

Most of us have moved beyond this as we have grown up. We have realized that there are more important satisfactions in life, such as raising a family and contributing to our communities. But our Governor seems to be as addicted as he was when he was a teenager.

By promoting automobile use, he shows his ignorance of the history of American city planning. Americans drive twice as much now as in the 1960s, and we are no better off because we spend all this extra time on the freeway. Most city planners support pedestrian- and transit-oriented development that would reduce automobile dependency, but Schwarzenegger supports only one approach to city planning: more freeways.

By promoting automobile use, he also shows that he has an adolescent idea of the good life. If they had the choice, most Americans would prefer to reduce their car expenses so they could have more time to spend with their families; this is an adult's idea of a good life. By contrast, Schwarzenegger is a model for people who are willing to go into debt to buy a bigger, more powerful car than they can afford, thinking that this will somehow impress everyone; this is a teenager's idea of the good life.

By promoting automobile use, he also shows that he has not done the basic math about what is needed to slow global warming. There is a place for hydrogen and biofuels used in moderation. But if we use too much hydrogen, the leaks will damage the ozone layer, and there is not enough farmland in the world to grow biofuels to power a Hummer for everyone. Hollywood stars specializing in selling fantasies to the public, and this is a prime example.

Well, we have one consolation. It is bad enough that he is our governor. It would be even worse if he lived in our neighborhood and kept us awake late at night by racing his souped-up engine, like a obnoxious teenager.

(P.S. I have bicycled as my main form of transportation all my adult life. I think that Arnold is probably scared to bicycle on city streets because he is just a girlie-man.)