Towns take pride of place this week; placing their inhabitants’ quality of life and respect for the environment at the heart of their development today, they are being awarded for their innovative projects all around the world.
Each year, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy holds its Sustainable Transport Awards. This year saw four finalists rewarded for their initiatives: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Cape Town (South Africa), Medellin (Colombia) and San Francisco (United States). The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy chose to highlight Buenos Aires’ bike-share system, Cape Town’s first BRT corridor, a car-pooling programme developed in Medellin and improved parking through collaboration between local businesses and communities in San Francisco.
And what are the new initiatives for 2012 in France?
We learn from Mobilicités that Nice launched an intelligent parking scheme some time ago. An application allows motorists to be informed of available parking spaces and to remotely pay for their parking using their mobile phones. The companies behind this scheme were awarded the “2011 best innovative smart city project” prize at the latest Smart City Expo World Congress, which took place in Barcelona in late 2011.
Another positive sign in France: urban public transport usage increased by 25% between 2000 and 2010. This figure, published by the UTP (a French public transport and rail union), puts France in 4th place among European countries with the highest public transport usage.
Innovative cities are now at the heart of development, as the website Greenbiz.fr reminds us. Big cities have a role to play in sustainable development, since they have become a laboratory for new environmental and social initiatives. As such, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group represents a significant step forward. This network of international metropolises committed to the fight against climate change is implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction and energy efficiency programmes. Created in 2005, the Group was strengthened at the end of 2011 when it gained the support of the Bloomberg Philanthropy Program and the Clinton Foundation.
This week, VoitureElectrique.net reports on a unique Spanish electric car called the Hiriko (which means ‘urban’ in Basque). Manufactured entirely in Europe, this new model has a range of 120 km (75 miles) and its wheels can rotate 360°. However, its main asset is that it can be folded up! This is clearly a car aimed at city dwellers and can be parked in the innumerable small spaces that can be found in towns.
Staying in the context of making life easier for motorists, the company Qualcomm Halo has developed a wireless charging system for electric cars. A simple idea with an equally simple use: the car has to park above a charging plate which transfers a 3.5 kW current.
However, on the 11th February 2012, two engineers, Xavier Degon and Antonin Guy, will be setting out from Strasbourg on their Electric Odyssey without these new innovations! Their objective is to drive around the world in a standard electric car, going from one charging terminal to another! Further details can be found on the Voiture Électrique Populaire website.
In 2012, Vancouver (Canada) will host Velo-City 2012! It’s an apt location; this city has continuously nurtured cycling, notably via 400 km of cycling infrastructure, including 330 km of cycle paths on the streets. Green Code dedicates an article to this cycling-friendly city: it’s recommended reading!
Local authorities like bicycles! In any case, this is what Lemonde.fr reports, highlighting the considerable increase in the number of cyclists in France over the past decade. It specifies that “4.7% of French people use their bicycle every day, compared with less than 3% ten years ago”. The role played by local authorities is decisive and explains the wide disparity in bicycle use in different regions. “It’s the town halls and local authorities that choose whether to deploy pro-cycling polices or not.” comments Le Monde.
The ‘EuroVelo’ route is 5,580 km of soft mobility across Europe. “Motorists not allowed” – this is the credo of EuroVelo 3, which goes from Santiago de Compostela in Spain to Moscow. New sections of this route have just been opened in the Aisne region in the past few days. These themed paths are “of historic or natural interest, enabling cycling and soft mobility to be combined with tourism development” and have been welcomed by both the local population and its elected officials, as this article in the L’Union Ardennais confirms.