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Big City Mayors Discuss Approaches to Reducing Transportation Congestion and Greenhouse Gases

16 May 2007

Mayors and business executives from around the world are meeting in New York this week for the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit to discuss actions and projects to tackle climate change. In a panel session on Tuesday, mayors tackled the topic of the reduction of transportation congestion.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, discussed London’s successful implementation of a congestion charge. Mayor Livingstone described how the initial proposal for a congestion charge came from a consortium of London business interests that calculated the cost of congestion in terms of London’s productivity and competitiveness at two billion pounds annually.

In one year, the congestion charge has brought about a 38% drop in private cars entering London—twice the anticipated figure. There has also been a more than 80% increase in cyclists and a rise in bus passengers from four million to six million. This modal shift has been accompanied by substantial emissions reductions, including a 20% reduction in carbon emissions.

Mayor Livingstone reassured leaders concerned with the effect that making such changes would have on their electability that his own poll ratings jumped 12% within one week of adopting the congestion charge.

Panelist Beto Richa, Mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, pointed out that the battle for the world’s climate would, in fact, be fought in the major metropolises represented at the summit, since those cities are home to the majority of the world’s population. He noted that, in coming up with solutions to the problem of transport congestion, cities need to look for integrated solutions that addressed multiple problems associated with climate change simultaneously.

In Curitiba, Mayor Richa is developing “green lines,” consisting of roadway arteries in which all traffic is fuel-efficient and bordered by plantings that both combat carbon emissions and increase biodiversity. Mayor Richa also argued that in expanding urban mass-transportation systems “fair prices compatible with user’s wallets” had to be maintained. “Quality of life concerns and standards of sustainability,” must be linked, he stated.

In his keynote luncheon address, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterated his administration’s goal of “a 30% reduction in New York City’s global warming emissions by 2030,” and outlined a major conservation plan for New York City to achieve this which includes the reduction of vehicle traffic through strategies such as congestion pricing. (Earlier post.)

In a case study supplied for the event, the city of Bogotá, Columbia described its successful implementation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that reduced traveling and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bogotá Transmilenio BRT system consists of 850 buses. The system averages 1,600 passengers per day per bus, reducing traveling time by 32%, eliminating 2,109 public-service vehicles, reducing gas emissions by 40%, and making zones around the trunk roads safer thus decreasing accident rates by 90% throughout the system.

Currently, Transmilenio has completed two initial phases and has a total of 84.4 kilometers of dedicated lanes. Transmilenio Phase III is to add three new trunk routes by 2012, representing 130 km of new dedicated lanes including new bus-stations and a fleet of around 1200 new articulated buses with a capacity of 160 passengers, operating on trunk routes and 500 new large buses operating on feeder lines. The daily passenger target is 1.8 million.

The city of Copenhagen provided a case study on cycling. More than 36% of the city population cycles to work each day, and the city continues to build out its cycling infrastructure. A 10-year Bicycle policy crafted in 2002 is targeting an increase in the proportion of people cycling to workplaces to 40% by 2012.

There are cycle tracks on either side of all major roads with a total cycle track length of approximately 350 kilometers. Tracks are traditionally 2.2 meters wide, however, the new standard is 2.5 meters. On roads without tracks, cycle lanes indicate a separate lane for bicycles. Approximately 15 kilometers of cycle lanes exist within Copenhagen.

The city’s new Cycle Track Priority Plan 2006-2016 calls for an additional 65 kilometers of cycle tracks. The Green Cycle Route Plan 2007-2024 includes an additional 71 kilometers.

A summit session on Wednesday will explore the use of alternative fuels in urban transit systems.

May 16, 2007 in Climate Change, Policy | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)

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Comments

Bloomberg for President. However, he would probably need to run as a Democrat or an independent. He recognizes that we can't just simply increase efficiency at the margin, that we have to attack the basic cause of our problems, too many people in too many cars clogging up too many streets and highways.

All of the other candidates are pretty much committed to business as usual.

If the AQMD in Southern California had gotten mayors of all the cities together decades ago, things could be much better. Southern California residents live in the suburbs and commute to the jobs in the cities. Pretty typical nationwide, but the L.A. basin is just that...a basin. The air quality is bad, the freeways and roads are congested and we consume tons of fuel. About time for housing in the cities, jobs in the suburbs and telecommuting.

If LA wants better air, it would be more bang for the buck to do something more about ships in the harbour.

I'm not saying the Air in the LA basin is fine, but its at least 20 times better in quality and frequency measures, than it used to be back in the 1940s-50s-60s and 70s.

Back then, when the air was much worse every day of the year. (It would have failed air quality measures for 250-300 if not all 365 days a year, if they even had measures for it) instead of the 20-30 days per year of air that is not fine today, but still much better than it was then. It continues to improve. Its a triumph of American technology and regulatory pressure.

Even then, there were NO people dropping dead in the streets. The street sweepers didn't have to sweep up all the asphyxiated people who strangled in the bad air. Yet that did happen in London, England.

T5he fatal flaw is property values...
As long as living in the city ibvkves million buck spots most cant live there.. and adding enough CHEAP housing inside will implode the local property values.. imploding tax base and alot of poeoples life savings to boot.

Moving the jobs out to where the people can afford to be.. again implodes the city tax base.

And cities everywhere are teetering on the edge of being able to cope with commuters needed to fund everything a city costs... the average city is bloody expensive to maintain.

Ken "the Red" Livingstone the un-reconstructed communist mayor of London, is proud that for the proletariat masses, he has forced them to increase cycling by up to 80%. Has he traded his Limousine for a bicycle? Like all the phony Greenies, Gore, Hillary!, McClain, Pelosi ( Waahh !!!I wanna bigger private jet, WAAAAh !!)etc, I'll wager not even a bit.

How much GHG CO2 increased from all the huffing and puffing of human beings pedaling their bicycles. All of them breathing harder, inhaling precious O2 and exhaling the Greenies hated new "pollutant", CO2?

What was the net effect?

The net savings was probably not even a smidgen.

Certainly not enough to make up for taking his crew on vacation to North America to attend this useless conference; nor replace the precious fuel consumed in going there,or the CO2 added to the atmosphere from the Jet's exhaust.

Stan, thanks for your humorous post. The London congestion charge is an outstanding success.Even if you're a hard-nosed economist you can't deny the financial value of lessening congestion caused by DODO (driver owned driver occupied) vehicles. This market intervention is a winner.

As for the cyclists, has it occurred to you that people actually like cycling and have been waiting for the roads to become less dangerous to ride to work or wherever they're going. Australian research supports this conclusion. Don't feel sorry for us cyclists, we love what we do and deliver a significant and health benefit to the community. If I was exhaling 200g Co2 per km like most vehicles I think I would be seriously unhealthy.We need more mavericks like Ken Livingstone.

Wintermane, your point is well made but affordable housing can be brought into the city without lowering property values or creating an appearance of cheapness. Inclusionary zoning in the UK and the US has managed to do this quite well. Granted, it is hard to do it on the sort of scale that is necessary to have much impact on the size of the commuting task in the larger cities.

Np they cant be added.. the reason is if you add enough cheaper housing in the city the main reason the current houses are uber spendy goes away.. They are very limited. People wont pay 1.5 mil for the same housing they can now get for 300k same range from work same nice area same everything else.

Agreed,people do pay for the exclusivity but many local governments in the US have mandated inclusionary zoning in new developments. A percentage, say 5%, of any new development must have rents set at a rate affordable to low to moderate income earners for a set period, usually 20 years. In these areas, land is so valuable that it is not a big hit for the developers or building owners to take, so they agree to it. The developers don't trumpet it in their sales brochures but it is there.

Part of the pay-off for local government and business is that key workers such as teachers, policemen and hospitality workers are able to live close to their place of work. The system is also supported by the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit which makes it more appealing for developers. Have a look at the Housing and Urban Development Department website for details. I am an Australian and we don't have anything so refined for the same purpose here.

Ok I see you didnt get it at all..

Say LA has room for 1 in 16 peioke who work in LA...

To matter traffic wise they would realy need to change that to say 1 in 3.. and EVEN that would pnly cut traffic by a third... that would increase the number of places to live by 5 fold.. AND that would drop values as now instead of only the upper few the upper third would be owning/renting.

Result is a nightmare for homeowbers and landlords.

There are cities that have built high density housing with urban mass transit where the property values can remain high. NY City has multi million dollar apartments and some that do not cost as much.

I think that with planning and working together between public and private, something could be worked out.

But as long as we have the developers just applying for permits and building with no central planning, you get what the builders give you.

Stan:

How much GHG CO2 increased from all the huffing and puffing of human beings pedaling their bicycles. All of them breathing harder, inhaling precious O2 and exhaling the Greenies hated new "pollutant", CO2?

I know this was meant as humour, but this pretty much sums up your ignorance - there's a big difference between fossil CO2 and that which was taken from the air recently by plants which rapidly became food. If you don't understand this then I suggest you educate yourself before making such posts.

And yes, cyclists do enjoy it (I use a bicycle as my primary means of transport myself), and I'd be very surprised if you could find one person who enjoys driving in central London, regardless of pollution concerns. Cars do have their place, for example when you need to transport luggage, but any reduction is a good idea.

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