Category Archives: Environment

Smart Bike DC Launches. Will the Bikes Last?

I rode my bike to work today, so had I not run an errand in China Town, I wouldn’t have noticed that SmartBike DC launched today.

Ironically, I was coming back from the camera shop and had a real camera this time.

According to SmartBike’s website, 10 locations opened today, and the one I visited (Gallery Place) had about 12-15 slots for bikes. This is a far cry from the 750 lockup stations and 10,000 bikes that Paris launched on its opening day (they’ve since doubled both numbers), but still infinitely more than have ever existed anywhere in this country. Continue reading

Chicago Toying with Rental Bikes

Mayor Daley is considering a test of 1,500 public rental bikes in a program similar to Paris’ Velib experiment. After visiting Paris this summer, Daley was very impressed with the Paris bike rental program; the Economist reports that Velib has seen daily rides hit 100,000 for its fleet of 10,000 bikes.

This would continue Daley’s long streak to make my hometown one of the greenest in the U.S., and transportation has always been a key component. Though its public transportation authority, the CTA, continues to face financial shortfalls and maintenance issues, Chicago still has one of the nation’s best transportation systems. Millennium Park also offers bike commuters a secure, public bike lock-up facility featuring public lockers and showers.

Whitewater National Championships = International Diplomacy

Last weekend we visited two of my oldest friends from Atlanta who moved to western Maryland last summer. Kieran is working remotely for IBM and Matt is managing the new artificial whitewater course at Adventure Sports Center International in McHenry, MD. They also manage four beautiful kids who keep them extremely occupied. After a long night of catching up, the kids woke us up early on Saturday for several hours of errands and field trips. I merely had to keep all four alive (harder than you think, and I can elaborate) long enough to give mom a quick break and then we were off to the race. Though officially opened a month to the day of the race, ASCI was hosting the 2007 US National Championships.

I was lucky to have Matt and Kieran indoctrinate me as a spectator long enough ago to have watched Matt qualify for both the Sydney and Athens Olympics. Whitewater slalom is the most exciting live sport I’ve ever watched and defies description. At first it really seems like controlled chaos. Paddlers either have a strong understanding of fluid dynamics (the science), a vocalized spirituality about how the water wants to flow (the art) , or both. Either way, they understand they can only go where the water permits, and maneuvering is about choosing the right line and hoping for the best.

Continue reading

Paris Introduces 21,000 City Bikes to Curtail Auto Traffic

In an attempt to reduce auto traffic by 40% by 2020, the Parisien Mayor, long-time friend to bike commuters, has staged another bold move to make the city more bike friendly.

This time, Paris has added a fleet of bikes that consumers can check out for about $1.38 per day. There are bike check-in/check-out stations all over the city, and it sounds like it works like those luggage carts that you rent temporarily at airports.

The city added about 11,000 bikes last week and has plans to expand to 21,000 by the end of the year. A private corporation popped for the cost of all bikes in exchange for exclusive advertising rights at the bike stations (and probably on the bikes as well).

The new movement is called “Velib“, a marriage of the terms “velo” (bike in French) and “liberte”.

The Parisien Mayor has also added 125 miles of bike lanes to Paris since 2001, angering some motorists.

Home Depot’s Green Streak

It has been said that Green is the new Black, as all marketers jump on the eco bandwagon. The NY Times reports on Atlanta-based Home Depot’s new Eco Options campaign, which features and promotes environmentally-friendly products.

Home Depot VP Ron Jarvis heads up the campaign and scrutinizes potential products for their environmental merit. There is no shortage of interested companies hawking products, and Ron acknoledges that it is mostly hype or “voodoo marketing.” While the article paints a flattering picture of Mr. Jarvis, it also notes criticism from consumer and environmental groups that highlight the fact that Home Deport continues to be a (large) retailer of non environmentally-friendly products.

Regardless, it sounds like Home Depot has put the right man on the job. I was very pleased to see Mr. Jarvis thinking about the total lifecycle of a product when considering its environmental impact. Some products have an eco-friendly consumption footprint, though when you examine the entire product lifecycle, including production and disposal, the negative can outweigh the positive. Mr. Jarvis mentions a corn-based rug. Economists as well as environmentalists continue to debate whether corn is really green.

NY Times: At Home Depot, How Green is that Chainsaw?