The Green Minds

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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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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.

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

Solar Energy : New York City’s Future as a Sustainable City


While our country confronts the enviromental disaster in the Gulf Coast, we’re reminded yet again of the need totransition to clean energy sources. New York City and State is taking the lead by constructing the ‘Solar Pipeline’, which includes a Solar Map and Solar Empowerment Zones that will integrate solar energy into our nation’s largest city and most complex grid.

New York City and Sustainable CUNY have created three Solar Empowerment Zones, strategically selected areas where solar power systems are most beneficial and technically viable, and where development of solar power will be encouraged. Solar power is a reliable, renewable source of electricity for New York City that reduces demand on the City’s electrical grid.

New York City has over 1.6 billion square feet of rooftops.

The three Solar Empowerment Zones – on the East Shore of Staten Island, in Downtown Brooklyn, and in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint-Gateway section-were designed to reduce peak electricity demand and the associated pollution from dirty plants that operate when demand is at its highest, while also potentially deferring or eliminating the need for costly upgrades to the electrical system.

Solar Panel Tax Abatements & Installations

Record Number of New Yorkers Have Applied for Solar Panel Abatements in 2010. To encourage the use of sustainable technology, the City offers property tax abatements to property owners that install solar panels on their building’s rooftops.

This year, property owners will receive a property tax abatement of 35% of the eligible expenditures over four years with a maximum abatement of $62,500 per year for four years or the building’s annual tax liability, whichever is less.

Under the solar panel tax abatement program, solar panels have been installed at 25 buildings across the City, five times the number of systems approved and installed last year. Savings from these installations vary on the size and type of the building.  A single-family house can save approximately $2,600 a year on energy costs.  Property owners can also receive rebates from their utility company.

Interested in buying a new green (LEED) certified condo recently built or under construction in Manhattan?  Go to nycnewdevelopments fill out the buyer form and write green in the comment section. I will send you email listings of green condos that match your buying criteria.

Source : ActiveRain

New York’s Iconic Subway Map Gets Makeover



19982010

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New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow