Thought this was too good to pass up. From Steve Mouzon, fellow urbanist, traditional architecture guru, and Miami Beach resident, who recently bought a smart car.
That’s my new car… a Smart. Finally, we have a car equal in compactness to our 747 square foot condo, which is just behind the car, on the first floor. I’ll have more to say later about the Smart purchasing experience, but the design of the car largely lives up to its name. Shockingly, it doesn’t feel small. Unless you look behind you and realize that the back end of the car is about 3 feet away, you feel as if you’re in a fairly normal-size car. And the payload area behind the seats is actually larger than in our previous car, a Mini Cooper. In theory, it gets 33 in town and 41 on the road, but we appear to be averaging about 40 so far, and that’s with mostly in-town driving. And Bill McDonough would be proud… the Smart is highly recyclable, as McDonough called for in his Cradle to Cradle book several years ago. But on top of all that “responsible” stuff, it just looks cool. Similar to driving a Mini several years ago, people on the road tend to look at it… and smile. The “anti-road rage!”
Check out Steve’s blog Useful Stuff. It’s about, well, useful stuff.
A new report from the National Research Council shows that compact development, if done correctly, can result in reductions of VMT’s of up to 25% - over the next 40 years.
Requested by Congress and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Special Report 298: Driving and the Built Environment: The Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions examines the relationship between land development patterns and motor vehicle travel in the United States.
According to the committee that wrote the report, the most reliable research studies estimate that doubling residential density in a metropolitan area might lower household driving between 5 percent and 12 percent. If higher density were paired with more concentrated employment and commercial locations, and combined with improvements to public transit and other strategies to reduce automobile travel, household driving could be lowered by as much as 25 percent. By reducing vehicle use, petroleum use and CO2 emissions would also be lessened.
You can read the full report here. The long time horizon means that while compact development will play an important role in mitigating our carbon footprint in the long term, it will not be enough to slow the brunt of climate change in the short term.
A few months ago we realized Miami was missing out on the benefits of car sharing and asked, “Dude where’s my Zipcar?” As proponents of this easy car sharing program we were disappointed to see that it wasn’t more widely used in our region, although Miami Beach and the University of Miami recently became proponents of this useful transit tool. Students are a great place to start introducing the benefits of car sharing, as Zipcar is inexpensive and accessible to people on limited budgets. I wonder when our other local universities, self-proclaimed centers of research and academic excellence, will adopt similar programs.
Zipcar, and other similar car sharing programs are seeking to expand their efficiency in urban settings with a new wave of vehicles called the CityCar. A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has recently experimented with small electric motors located in the wheels of this tiny, nimble and practically silent vehicle. The CityCar has wheels that turn 360 degrees, enabling it to slip neatly into tight urban parking spaces. A Smartcar that is designed to stack like a supermarket cart when not in use, the CityCar is aptly named because its unique maneuvering ability will allow parking in front of subway stations and office buildings, where people could squeeze in as needed for short-term use.
So, dude where’s my CityCar?
Over the past week I’ve already seen a few Smart Car’s dashing around. The Smart Car’s arrival comes at a time when the mindset and priorities of owning a vehicle in this country are rapidly changing, becoming more fuel and spatially efficient. Click here to learn more about the Smart Car…
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