Ben Adler for Grist – The city’s plan will create “superblocks” that cars, buses, and trucks must go around, with exceptions for local residents and deliveries at off-peak times. Despite the ominous name, these pedestrian paradises won’t be like their infamous American counterparts — the towering mega-projects that destroyed the urban fabric in the name of Urban Renewal. And with all that valuable space now available, Barcelonians are beginning to find better uses for their streets…
By John Rennie Short for The Conversation. Officials in Washington, D.C. said this week they may have to shut down portions of the Metro subway system for months because its piecemeal approach to maintenance is no longer sufficient. The disclosure follows a shutdown of the entire Metro system on March 16 for 24 hours. Three-quarters of a million people use the system each weekday, so the inconvenience and cost were considerable. The reason: frayed electrical cables discovered in at least 26 locations that posed an immediate danger. Closing the Metro was probably the safest thing to do. Just two days previously, an electrical fire in a tunnel forced stoppages to busy commuter service.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy.com. London – “Aviation is the fastest growing source of emissions in the UK. It cannot be de-carbonized,” Mel Strickland, a climate activist with the Plane Stupid network, told Occupy.com. “Heathrow is the world’s largest airport and the second biggest U.K. source of carbon emissions. We need to stop the government’s plans to build a third runway to stop climate change.” Strickland and 12 other climate activists, known as the #Heathrow13, cut through the security fence at London’s Heathrow Airport on July 13, 2015, and occupied one of the airport’s runways for six hours. This week, they will find out if they face jail time for their action. At last summer’s protest, the group held a banner that read: “No ifs, no buts, no third runway,” quoting an election pledge made by David Cameron in 2009, before he became Prime Minister.
By Staff of Tele Sur – Recife has joined the larger cities Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in protesting increases in public transportation fares, while demanding improved services. Protests in Brazil over the cost of public transit spread to the coastal city of Recife Friday as demonstrators took to the streets to say no to fare hikes, local media reported. Hundreds of protesters gathered in the center of Brazil’s fifth largest city to demand free transit passes instead of fare hikes from 3.50 reais (US$0.87) to 3.80 reais (US$0.95), which demonstrators have said is an unjustified increase given the state of public transit services.
By Lorelei Mcfly for Cop Block – In his article, “How Waze Makes Roads Safer than the Police” Jeffrey Tucker explains how the Waze mobile app helps create a safer driving experience for everyone by alerting drivers to pot holes, accidents, and traffic jams, and also fostering a sense of community amongst motorists: Waze has subtly changed my outlook on driving. Other drivers become your benefactors because it is they who are reporting on traffic accidents, cars on the side the road, blocked streets, and the presence of police. They are all doing you favors. If you report, others thank you for doing so. You even see icons of evidence that your friends are driving, too.
By Samantha Winslow for Labor Notes – Even basic rights like free speech can’t be taken for granted, transit workers are finding out, when your speech makes the boss look bad. Around the country, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union have been threatened with discipline and arrest simply for bringing their message to the public at bus stops, in breakrooms, at public meetings, and on social media. As workers resist budget-crunching, ATU International President Larry Hanley said, “the companies are fighting back using the power of the police and the power of discharge.”
By Eleanor Goldfield in Occupy – This week, grab your bicycle and give cars a well deserved middle finger in a world-wide initiative to cut emissions, get outside, move your ass and interact with your city and people. Next, let’s talk Syria and why their story could so easily be ours – I’ll give you a hint: climate change. Finally, peace in the middle east might not be a reality but the Iran deal could be – thanks to the tireless work of activists like Alli McCracken, director of Code Pink. And speaking of war and peace, we’ll kick off this week by meeting these unknown, unwilling soldiers.
By Ice Bike – Our climate is changing, and time is running out to take thoughtful action. If you’re like me, you may feel powerless in defending yourself and those that you love from the negative impacts of climate change. A handful of smaller communities embrace the concept of driving less by banning personal carswithin their city limits – granted, most of these communities are small island towns that thrive on tourism. While most of the world’s major cities aren’t quite ready to embrace emission-cutting tactics like banning personal cars, this article presents 10 reasons why they should. Getting to know our neighbors, and getting more engaged with our communities limits feelings of isolation, and develops more connected and stronger communities.
By Stephen Kalin in Reuters – Road access to Iraq’s southern Umm Qasr commodities port was restored on Sunday following a two-day closure by protesters after the authorities promised to create new jobs, a port company spokesman and port workers said. Thousands of Iraqis have protested in recent weeks in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, calling for jobs, government services and reforms of the judiciary, parliament and local governing bodies. At Umm Qasr, negotiations with security officials and the director of the state-run General Company for Ports of Iraq resulted in a pledge to create up to 75 new jobs, said company spokesman Anmar al-Safi. Dozens of demonstrators, who had set up tents in front of the port’s two main gates, agreed to let trucks pass and employees enter the facility, Safi and workers said.
By Daniel Faris in Truth Out – On a recent trip to Baltimore, I encountered something startling: a US city with a public transportation system that actually works. From buses to water taxis, Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator (or CCC) was established in 2010 by former mayor Sheila Dixon. The program boasts a fleet of around 30 vehicles that shuttle more than 3,000 daily riders along four color-coded routes meeting over 100 city stops. The service has a smartphone app, it consists entirely of hybrid vehicles, and the fare is nonexistent. That’s right: the buses are 100 percent free. I thought, Surely there has to be a catch. Then I stepped back and asked myself: Why? All across the world, there are close to100 cities that offer free public transportation, and about one fifth of them are in the US. So what do these cities know that the rest of the country doesn’t? Is the public transportation system in the US really as bad as everyone says? And if so, why?
By Eleanor Goldberg in the Huffington Post. Los Angeles, CA – In many areas, poor residents typically have longer commutes and less access to public transportation than middle- and upper-class communities, yet they’re being excluded from the growing car-share trend. But that gap may at least begin to close in Los Angeles. Across the U.S. people earning between $5,000 and $30,000 a year spend about a quarter of their household income on transportation. Though car-sharing programs can help low-income individuals greatly cut down on travel costs and gas emissions, these companies typically don’t cater to poorer neighborhoods since the profit potential isn’t there, Streets Blog USA points out.
By Wendy Carrillo in The Intercept – In Paraguay, 14 people have crucified themselves and are partaking in a partial hunger-strike after 51 bus drivers were fired for forming a labor union. For the past 21 days, twelve men — all fired bus drivers — and two women — the wives of fired bus drivers — have nailed their hands to wooden crosses outside the offices of their employer. Three additional workers joined them 12 days ago and have clamped their mouths shut with long, rustic, curved nails to demonstrate how their bosses wants to keep them silent. Under a large tent, surrounded by religious artifacts and family members, all 17 of them have spent their days and nights mostly lying down, unable to move or eat solid foods.
By Dahr Jamail in Truthout – In May, hundreds of doctors, nurses and health-care professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) called on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to take a stronger position against proposed oil-by-rail shipping terminals in their respective states, in order to insure the health and physical security of families and communities there. Washington PSR describes itself as a group that promotes “peace and health for the human community and the global ecosystem by empowering members, citizens and policy makers to develop and model for the rest of the nation socially just and life-enhancing policies regarding nuclear issues, climate change, environmental toxins, vulnerable populations and other risks to human health.” The group has sounded the alarm over what it sees as a direct health threat to the country stemming from the oil-by-rail system.
The May 12th train derailment near Philadelphia, which killed eight people and hospitalized 200, was the deadliest Amtrak accident in recent history. The train barreled around a dangerous bend at 106 mph, more than double the 50 mph speed limit for the curve. Whether this was due to operator error or mechanical issues is not yet known. But experts say the derailment might have been averted by a safety system called positive train control, which can automatically reduce the speed of a train that is going too fast. The system must be installed on both the train and the route. The Amtrak train had it, but on that stretch of track in that direction it was not yet operational. Why not? The stretch was known to be dangerous. Nearly 80 passengers died near the spot in an earlier derailment in 1943. Absence of positive train control was also cited as a factor in the fatal 2013 crash of a Metro-North train in the Bronx.
It has been a week now since Amtrak Train #188 derailed at speed east of Philadelphia, PA. The last week has witnessed endless speculation as the official investigation into the cause of the derailment continues apace. Those of us in the rail industry anxiously await the findings. If we are serious about preventing future catastrophes of this nature, we must equip railroad workers with the necessary tools – including but not limited to those outlined above — to enable them to perform the job safely. Pointing fingers at this or that employee (at any level in the company, union or management) might make some folks feel better, but it does little or nothing to prevent future accidents. Railroad Workers United believes it is time we learn from these terrible tragedies and get serious about implementing the necessary measures to ensure safe railroad operations.