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Bikeway or the Highway
Robert Gottlieb, Sierra Club Magazine
Southern California set the nation on the path to bicycling bliss, then detoured. But smogville could still become a velotopia.
... IN 1900, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS CREATED a futuristic traffic structure catering to the mechanical marvel of the day--the bicycle. It opened along a corridor known as the Arroyo Seco, named for the seasonal stream that flows from the San Gabriel Mountains and enters the Los Angeles River just north of downtown Los Angeles.
It was part of a grand plan to connect Los Angeles to Pasadena through an eight-mile "great transit artery." A Pasadena mayor, Horace Dobbins, provided the start-up funds to create an elevated, multilane, wooden "cycleway," complete with streetlights and gazebo turnouts.
When the first leg opened, swarms of bicyclists handed over the 15-cent toll. A Los Angeles Times commentator gushed that the countryside it passed through "is the loveliest in Southern California, the route having been chosen with an eye to scenic beauty as well as to practical needs."
The Los Angeles region, with its mild Mediterranean climate and relatively flat terrain, was in fact considered an ideal home for the bicycle, with more than 20 percent of the population biking for pleasure or to work when the cycleway was proposed.
"There is no part of the world where cycling is in greater favor than in Southern California, and nowhere on the American continent are conditions so favorable the year round for wheeling," one 1897 newspaper article commented. The bicycle use complemented the city's streetcars.
Soon the automobile gained popularity, however, and the elegant bicycling structure was eventually dismantled.
Oil changes every 3,000 miles: not for everyone
Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
Car manufacturers don't recommend such frequent changes for many vehicles -- and all that used oil is bad for the environment.
"Has it been 3,000 miles yet?" asks a banner hanging outside a Southern California quick oil change outlet.
The message -- also conveyed on stickers placed by many quick oil change shops inside customer windshields -- is to hurry back for another oil change.
But the state of California has a different message: Unnecessary oil changes are wasting money for consumers and creating millions of gallons of hazardous waste in the form of used oil.
Instead of listening to the advice of the car service industry, state officials are asking motorists to follow the recommendations of vehicle manufacturers printed in the owners manuals, which often specify oil changes at 7,000 miles or more. The officials say this would save 21.6 million gallons of oil waste a year.
Although environmental issues have played a role in consumer car-buying behavior, the concern seems to dissipate when it comes to car maintenance -- despite a fairly large toxic stream that results from the operation of the vast majority of motor vehicles.
(27 February 2008)
Airlines plummet on oil
Airline stocks plummeted Wednesday as oil prices touched new highs and American Airlines flight attendants' election of an aggressive leader indicated the carrier may be in for tough contract negotiations.
(27 February 2008)
The Post-Petroleum Age (cartoon)
Bizarro via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Chauffeurs awaiting passangers in a post-petroleum air terminal.
(26 February 2008)
Related: Another cartoon on oil and recession.