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Cycling in New York Is No Longer an Extreme Sport


One might think that riding a bicycle through the horn-honking, taxi-swerving streets of New York City would scare away even the bravest of the spandex-clad set.

But in fact some 6,000 cyclists will mount carbon-fiber racing machines, commuting clunkers and the occasional unicycle on Sunday for the 21st annual New York City Century, a ride that has become safer than ever thanks to the cooperative efforts of advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives and the bicycle-friendly administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

About 80 percent of the 100-mile tour (there are a series of shorter options too) will be on a network of bicycle lanes and paths that continues to grow every year, making New York City a cycling mecca for commuters, exercise enthusiasts and tourists who can take in a majority of the sites without breaking a sweat — or a limb.

“Sometimes New York City’s fast-paced streets can seem intimidating, but all the new bike lanes are changing that, as are all of the new cyclists on the streets,” said Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycling advocacy for Transportation Alternatives.

In 1997, the city developed a plan to create 1,800 miles of bicycle lanes throughout all five boroughs. The plan languished until 2007, when Bloomberg announced PlaNYC, a strategy to make New Yorkmore sustainable by 2030. Part of that plan involved speeding up the development of the bike routes.

In two years, 200 miles of bicycle lanes were added, major arteries like Times Square were closed to cars and the number of cyclists exploded. The city now plans to add 50 miles a year until all 1,800 miles are completed.

“We’ve spent a lot of time investing in our cycling infrastructure,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation and a bicycle commuter, told CNBC last month. “If we’re going to accommodate a million more people in New York City by 2030, we’re not going to do it by having a million more cars, so we need to engineer sustainable forms of transportation into our network.”

The current strategy includes the continued addition of bicycle paths through parks and protected bike lanes along busy streets like Broadway, where barriers separate cars from cyclists. “Protected bike lanes are a design solution for our widest and most unruly avenues,” said Transportation Alternatives’ Samponaro.

In a city where 56 percent of automobile trips are less than three miles — often three miserable, traffic-filled miles — the new infrastructure is creating new reasons for people to exchange their keys or subway passes for a two-wheeler.

In the past 10 years, daily cycling in the city has increased by 123 percent, according to Transportation Alternatives, while a study by the city found that bicycle commuting is up 79 percent since 2007. This increase has occurred as the city has seen a dramatic drop in the number of cycling accidents and fatalities.

But it’s not only working stiffs populating those new bike lanes. Tourists have also discovered the ease with which they can get from the Brooklyn Bridge, say, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art — about five flat, scenic miles, and you can ride protected bike lanes most of the way.

Bicycle rental companies have sprouted around the city, especially near Central Park (which is car-free most of the day) and Riverside Park along the Hudson River. The next step, according to Transportation Alternatives, is to create a bike share program along the lines of those in Paris, Montreal and most recently London.

Offering a ride share, where people can pick up and drop off bikes at designated locations throughout the city, would provide flexibility in commuting options, as well as a way to ride in the city without having to park bikes in already tiny apartments.

“Public bike share holds the potential to only encourage this trend toward safer, saner streets for all New Yorkers,” Samponaro said.

On Sunday, people from around the world will get a snapshot of New York’s continuing transformation into one of the country’s most bikable cities. Bicycling magazine currently ranks the Big Apple ninth among cities of more than 100,000 people; Minneapolis is in first place.
The 100-mile route within the 300-square-mile city will take cyclists down car-free Broadway, along the ocean-side boardwalks of Brooklyn and through the twisting, wooded paths of Queens’ parkland. More important, it will be an opportunity for cyclists to interact with the city and show others just how much their numbers have grown.

“It is simply not as scary on the streets as it used to be,” said Ross French, who has been cycling in the city for 34 years and volunteering at the New York City Century for more than a decade. “I think drivers are more aware of the presence of bikers and are therefore less aggressive and more cooperative.”

Source: AOL

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Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk


Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Swinging Cow Wash Means Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk

The cow wash is a free-swinging brush that starts rotating when a cow rubs up against it. The cow can move around the brush as it pleases, getting rubbed wherever it wants – along its sides, back, and head.

The Daily Mail writes that the cow wash increases milk production by about 3.5% through improving blood circulation and decreasing the likeliness that cows will suffer disease. The company has already sold 30,000 cow washes in Sweden, and is moving on to the UK.

The cows definitely seem to enjoy it!

Though there are serious environmental issues with raising cows for milk (let alone beef), it’s not likely that we’ll see an end to dairy farming. So hats off to the dairy farmers who are doing all they can to make sure their cows are happy, healthy, and treated humanely.

Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Car Charging


The Car Charging Group, Inc. (CCGI) this weekend announced a partnership with LAZ Parking in New York and New Jersey to begin outfitting its facilities with smart, electric vehicle charging stations.

The Miami-based CCGI installs and maintains electric vehicle charging stations in government-owned lots, and at commercial sites like shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and corporate parking garages. LAZ Parking operates over 1,300 parking facilities in 21 states and 99 cities. The LAZ Parking sites will be equipped by CCGI with smart, ChargePoint Level II, 240 volts charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies.

Smart charging stations, unlike those designed for home-garage use, have metering and e-commerce capabilities, and are visible online. Drivers can find smart charging stations on Google Maps, for example.

Coloumb Technologies, the recipient of a $15 million Department of Energy grant (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative) is a leader in sales of charging stations in the U.S.

The company is, with some of its government grant money, setting up — sometimes temporarily free — public electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country, including New York City’s first.

General Electric and Toyota have announced that they are developing and will sell their own smart charging stations, as well.

The Department of Energy estimates that charging station locations in the U.S. will increase 41 times over between 2009 and 2012.

Citing consumer demand and a slew of new charging station technology, and vehicle models — like the Nissan Leaf, GM Chevy Volt, Fisker Karma, and Tesla Model S — Car Charging Group, Inc.’s president Andy Kinard said Saturday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama administration fulfilled its goal: getting one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

To recharge at public or commercially installed stations, Kinard says hybrid and electric vehicle owners should be prepared to pay about $3 per hour. He noted: “It’s hard to get 220 volts out into the streets. [Parking facilities] do have to charge more than it would cost an electric vehicle driver to plug in at home. But that’s nothing compared to gas prices now. And it will still be cheaper than what you spend driving an internal combustion engine.”

New York City’s Motto: I Heart Tap Water


NEW YORK — New York City is so proud of its tap water that the Bloomberg administration has come up with a product line to promote it as an affordable, sustainable alternative to bottled water, according to the New York Times.

The merchandise, which bears a NYC Water logo, ranges from glasses and T-shirts to coasters, decanters and water bottles and is available at CityStore, the city’s online shop for all things New York, the story stated.

Cas Holloway, New York City’s environmental protection commissioner, said: “Our high-quality drinking water not only quenches New Yorkers’ thirst, but is the not-so-secret ingredient in the bagels, pizza and thousands of other dishes that people come from around the world to get.”

According to the story, the water is so clean that it does not require filtration and comes from highly protected watersheds in Upstate New York.

The Environmental Protection Department oversees a daily supply of more than one billion gallons of water that serves more than nine million people, the story noted.

To reduce consumption of bottled water, New York City is also providing outdoor drinking water stations this summer connected to fire hydrants at parks, public plazas and other outdoor spaces, the story added.

Click here to read the complete story.

For related information, click here.

Summer Energy Conservation


In April 2007, Mayor Bloomberg released PlaNYC 2030, the long-term sustainability plan for the City of New York. Within the Plan, the City committed to lead by example by reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from City operations 30% by 2017. Subsequently, in July 2008 Mayor Bloomberg released the Long-Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Green House Gas Emissions by Municipal Buildings and Operations (The Long-Term Plan), which outlined the steps the City should take to reach its ambitious goal. You may visit the City’s Energy Management website to learn more about the comprehensive efforts the City is taking to reduce energy use.

As part of the City’s overall energy conservation efforts, the Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management (DCAS DEM) is implementing energy efficiency programs in existing school buildings. Program areas include: energy benchmarking, building audits and retrofits, improved operations and maintenance, Peak Load Management, metering and monitoring imitative, summer kitchen energy conservation and renewable energy. Each of these programs is described in more detail below.

Building Energy Benchmarking

DOE benchmarked its buildings’ energy consumption using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Principals, teachers, parents and students are encouraged to review DOE’s benchmarking data by creating a free account and sending their username to sustainability@schools.nyc.gov. In the e-mail, please indicate the name and address of the school’s data you would like to access.

Building Audit and Retrofit Program

DCAS DEM uses the benchmarking data to prioritize schools that will receive energy audits on an annual basis. Energy audits assess current building performance and find cost effective energy conservation measures (ECMs) that will improve the energy efficiency of the building(s) and reduce the City’s annual energy costs.

Operations & Maintenance Initiative

The Long-Term Plan estimated that improved operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing municipal buildings could reduce 195,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and millions of dollars in energy costs. Since schools comprise 40% of the City’s total municipal building square footage, DOE was one of two agencies to participate in a year-long O&M pilot program at 10 schools. The program will be expanded citywide over the next few years. One of the program’s goals is to educate building users about the simple steps they can take to conserve energy, both in the cold winter months and in the warmer summer months. Click on the following links to find winter and summer energy-savings tips Winter Energy-Saving Tips and Summer Energy-Saving Tips. School custodian engineers and building managers can get additional tips from US Department of Energy Operating and Maintaining Energy Smart Schools Online Training program.

Peak Load Management Program

DOE participates in the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Peak Load Management Program (PLM), designed to help NYPA avoid electrical system overload and prevent power outages during very hot summer days. Currently, 18 school buildings participate in the program.

Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation

In 2009, DOE’s Division of School Food introduced the Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation pilot program in 57 schools citywide. The program was designed to unplug (if feasible) school cafeteria refrigerators and freezers during summer break. As a result, DOE and the City reduced energy use by 100,000 kilowatt-hours and saved thousands of dollars in electrical bills. This summer, DOE will expand the program to all schools that are closed for the summer.

Renewable Energy

DOE is exploring renewable energy opportunities with DCAS DEM and the New York Power Authority.

Energy Efficiency in New School Buildings

DOE is also committed to reducing energy usage in new school buildings. The School Construction Authority (SCA) implements all major capital improvements and new construction for DOE. As part of the City’s Local Law 86 SCA developed the NYC Green School Guide.

Resources

In addition to energy initiatives at school buildings, DOE encourages students and school community involvement in energy conservation initiatives through school participation in Green School Alliance and other non-profit programs.

Green Schools Alliance Programs

As a charter member of the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) ( www.greenschoolsalliance.org ), DOE encourages student, teacher, and principal participation in sustainability initiatives, including energy conservation, through the following GSA programs:
Green Cup Challenge
Green Schools Resource Fair
One Million Acts of Green
Student Climate and Conservation Congress (SC3)

Junior Energy

Junior Energy’s mission is to work in classrooms and schools to help children discover how they can positively impact the planet by engaging their parents, family, friends and neighbors in small, simple actions.

Alliance for Climate Education

Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) delivers in-person, science-based, multimedia presentations on climate change designed for high school age students that inspire all school community to go green. This no cost 45 minute presentation also addresses certain New York science standards from the Living Environment: Core Curriculum. For more information, visit the ACE website.

The Next 50 Years’ Big Sustainable Design Project


Keeping Times Square Cool


The New York City Department of Transportation has announced the winner of its reNEWable Times Square design competition, aimed to temporarily “refresh and revive” the streetscape of newly pedestrianized Times Square while plans for permanent reconstruction proceed (construction is slated for 1012).  Brooklyn artist Molly Dilworth‘s Cool Water, Hot Island was selected from 150 submitted designs for the pedestrian zones along Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets.  The piece is a large-scale painted installation abstractly interpreting—and mitigating!—Manhattan’s heat island effect.  From NYCDOT’s release:

The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.

It isn’t the artist’s first brush with large-scale installations in the City: more of her work is viewable through her flickr streamCool Water will be installed in July.

Source : TreeHugger