Category Archives: Transportation

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Invasive Species: Zebra Mussels Now In Texas

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Zebra mussels are an invasive species in the US. They first arrived in 1988 on European ships ballast. Lack of predators against the zebra mussels gave them the ability to infest eastern US waterways from the start. When they arrived here they increased competition for native aquatic species. They attach to our boats and are hard to see because they are only about an inch long. Zebra mussels spread faster than bunny rabbits- they multiply by producing about one million larvae per one single zebra mussel. Texas should be worried about their lakes because as you can see in the graph, they’ve now spread down here. According to texasinvasives.org, “Zebra mussels can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage – hurting aquatic life, damaging your boat, hindering water recreation and even threatening your water supply.” Find out about if zebra mussel are in our area here.

So what can you do? Firstly, you can spread awareness. Many people don’t know what invasive species are. Spreading awareness brings attention to people like Dan Molloy, a researcher who is trying to find a “natural killer” to eradicate the pests. You can find more information about his research here in this short article. You can also go on outings to help get rid of the zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels attach to many parts of your boat and clean thrive for days. To make sure they aren’t attached to your boat, clean all parts of, drain it completely, and dry the boat for at least a week before entering into a new body of water.

Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair

The 13th annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair is a great reason to plan a fall road trip!  It takes place the last weekend in September (9/27-9/29) in downtown Fredericksburg, TX and has something for the whole family to see and do.  You can taste, test and explore your way through this event.

See the Solar Car Races, taste organically grown food and learn how you can make a difference with your water usage.  Do you want to know how you can afford solar panels on your home?  How about growing your own food? Come out and learn!  You can get the whole schedule here.
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There are four distinct categories of events.

1)   Renewable Energy

2)   Organic/Sustainable Growing

3)   Green and Efficient Building and Sustainable Living

4)   Alternative Transportation

David Foster, the State Director for Clean Water will be a keynote speaker. Learn more about him through this site.  As you know, Texas is in a severe drought.  He said “Outdoor lawn watering is a huge driver of municipal demand.  We need to re-think our landscaping practices if we are going to manage our water crises.”  Come to learn how you can change your landscaping to become more drought tolerant.
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Don’t forget to bring your refillable water bottle.  We will see you there.

Via: http://www.cvent.com/events/-/custom-20-8a41ebbf42ec40969b667e1adb0cda08.aspx

Pictures from: http://digitaljournal.com/article/298133

Could Public Transportation Be Taking Flight in Bat City?

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Soaring Over Traffic

While it may sound like another Austinite’s half-baked idea, last Wednesday during an event titled ‘Nerd Nite’ designer Michael McDaniel laid out a compelling case for gondolas, the cable propelled ski variety, as a viable public transportation mode here in Austin.

Among his claims, McDaniel, a member of Frog, an Austin-based international design firm, posits cable propelled transit would be considerably cheaper than the current proposed plans, require a smaller infrastructure footprint, be comparable in scale and speed, and make for a really fun commuting experience.  Yes, fun commuting experience. As for their environmental impact, gondolas demand far less energy to operate than contemporary transportation alternatives and with the proposed system being powered by a single drive house, retrofitting the operation to future energy technologies should be an easy switch.

As wacky of an idea as ski-lifting around town sounds to some, Austin would not be the first metropolitan area to adopt the high-flying approach. In fact, the technology has existed in this very country for decades.

Since its first trip in 1976, New York’s Roosevelt Island Tramway has shuttled over 26 million passengers from the east side of Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. Dozens of other cities around the world have deemed cable propelled transit the logical solution to their public transportation challenges. Last year, London built an aerial cable crossing the Thames. What used to be an hour and a half commute through often life-threatening favelas has become a sixteen minute glide above the famed vistas of Rio de Janeiro. Two French cities will start service by 2015. Even our competitor as the American counter-cultural mecca, Portland, OR already uses a cable system to transport passengers up its Marquam Hill.

While we shouldn’t jump into action just to out-weird Portland, if Austin is serious about providing a world-class public transportation system to its ever growing population it needs to consider all options, no matter how lofty they may seem.

Whether or not Austin decides to adopt the gondola system proposed by McDaniel or stick with a more traditional method, its going to be difficult to go back to thinking about buses and trains after we’ve envisioned soaring above our beautiful city, with its rolling hills and shimmering waters laid out below us as we are whisked quickly and cheaply to work–or, lets face it, for many Austin residents, their dealer’s house.

Read more about Frog’s proposed Gondola system, ‘The Wire’…

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/11/forget-subways-austin-needs-mass-transit-gondolas/4035/

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671214/a-mass-transit-proposal-to-connect-a-city-using-aerial-gondolas

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/at-the-watercooler/2013/02/austins-gondola-network-a-hit-at-ted.html?page=all

-Avery Thompson
Sierra Club Communications Intern and former ski gondola operator in Vail, CO

Celebrate Earth Day

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Texas constitutes 0.004% of the Earth’s surface

Earth Day events happening around Texas…

Austin
Austin Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 20th, 12pm-7pm
Browning Hangar at Mueller Park
4550 Mueller Central Dr., Austin, TX 78723
http://www.earthdayaustin.com

Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange
2013 Trail Between the Lakes Hike
April 19th , 20th, & 21st
www.texas.sierraclub.org/triangle/pages/trail.html
Phil Rogers – philarogers@gmail.com – 409-543-4616
Bruce Walker – bwalker@gt.rr.com – 409-782-3486

Belton
Earth Day Festival Belton
April 13, 9 am – 5 pm
Organized by AWARE Central Texas and
Belton Chamber of Commerce
Contact: Linda Griffith or Richard Paul Thomas at (254) 947-4717 or via email to linda@tbcinternational.com orrichard@tbcinternational.com.http://www.beltonearthday.com

Brazos Valley
Brazos Valley Earth Day
April 20, 2013
11 am – 7 pm
Wolf Pen Creek
Organized by The Brazos Valley Earth Day Committee
http://www.brazosvalleyearthday.com

Corpus Christi
Earth Day Bay Day
Saturday, April 13th, 10am to 5pm
Heritage Park
1581 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Sierra Club Contact:
Lois Huff, huffs@the-i.net, 361-774-1500
http://www.facebook.com/events/426674934068213/

Dallas
Earth Day Dallas
April 20-21, 10 am – 6 pm
Fair Park
Organized by Earth Day Dallas (EDD)
http://www.earthdaydallas.org

Edinburg
The City of Edinburg Earth/Arbor Day Festival
Saturday, April 27th, 9am to 1pm
Edinburg World Birding Center
Includes a 1 mile family walk and a ‘Bicycle Rodeo’
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=496129070453227&set=a.136022163130588.26197.135992229800248&type=1&theater

El Paso
El Paso’s Earth Day
Saturday, April 20, 9 am – 1 pm
Union Plaza District
Organized by City of El Paso
Environmental Services Department
home.elpasotexas.gov/environmental-services/documents/El%20Pasos%20Earth%20Day%202013%20Invitation%20for%20Exhibitors-Vendors.pdf
http://www.downtownelpaso.com/el-pasos-earth-day-celebration-2013/

Houston
Earth Day Houston
April 14, 11 am – 5 pm
Discovery Green
Organized by Air Alliance Houston
http://www.earthdayhouston.org

McAllen
Vida Verde Earth Day Festival
April 20, 9 am – 4 pm
Quinta Mazatlan
Organized by City of McAllen
http://www.quintamazatlan.com/events/special/vidaverde.aspx

San Antonio
April 18: “Earth Day” NW Vista College (9 A.M. – 1 P.M.)
April 22: “Earth Day” San Antonio College (10 A.M. – 2 P.M.)
April 23: “EarthFest” UTSA 1604 (11 A.M. – 2 P.M.)
Contact Gay Wright at alamo.sierra@yahoo.com or(210) 362-1984.

Earth Day San Antonio
April 20, 2013
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Woodlawn Lake
Organized by Build San Antonio Green
http://www.heb.com/page/about-us/community/events/san-antonio/earth-day-2013

Texoma
Texoma Earth Day Festival
April 20, 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Municipal Ballroom and Grounds
Sherman, TX
http://www.earthdaytexoma.org

Austin Yellow Bike Project – Austin’s Community Bike Shop

Bicycles are an excellent source of transportation – whether you use them to stay in shape or to cut down on your gas expenses and carbon footprint – bicycles are ubiquitous in Austin. The Austin Yellow Bike Project is an all-volunteer initiative that began in 1997. It is run solely on donations from the local community. These donations include cash, volunteering time or simply donating bike parts.

The Yellow Bike Project Logo

The Yellow Bike Project Logo

One of the most remarkable things about this community project is that it is a hub for serious bike lovers and bike newbies alike. People go there not to get their bike fixed, but to learn how to fix it themselves. The coordinators are very friendly and helpful. One of the ways that the YBP gives back to the community is by running a program called Earn-A-Bike, which basically lets anyone build his/her own bike for free after having volunteered their time and learned about the basics of how bikes work. I personally came to the YBP without knowing anything about bikes.  After taking a part in this amazing community initiative, and having a lot of fun in the process, I successfully built my own bike from spare parts in the shop.

A taste of what the facility has to offer

The YBP also acts as a local bike advocacy group – it strives to make bikes a safer mode of transportation in Austin and Central Texas. It does so by having members sign petitions that will engage local legislators to create separate bike lanes throughout Austin. This facility has been in the news on multiple occasions, and even had a short documentary done about it.

A loyal volunteer moves bike parts to the new YBP facility

A loyal volunteer moves bike parts to the new YBP facility

I urge you to consider volunteering in the Yellow Bike Project. It will not only give you an opportunity to learn more about bicycles, but will allow you to give back to the community through a more refreshing hands-on approach.

Written by Yuval Edrey

You Look Bike-alicious!!!

My experience as a novice Austin biker:

I recently took a 3- hr seminar on lawfully riding a bike in Austin and it was very informative. Our instructor went over subjects like: proper signaling, traffic maneuvering and Austin biking statistics. I was shocked at all the things I did not know about biking and how there were so many rules for the people I seen carrying on daily life.

After the class session the question was asked did I feel safer if I were to ride a bike, the answer is definitely, “No!”. I say that only because when I was a kid, biking meant fun and carefree days and now as a “novice city biker”, there are so many things to be weary of, like, buses and drivers not seeing you.
The next portion of training was actually taking a bike out to cycle. It was a ton of fun! We rode around for about an hour and then hauled it in with some constructive criticism from our instructor. It was a great ride, even though, there are a ton of reasons why I am afraid, I still can’t ignore the reasons why I would ride a bike. There are a ton of (1) healthy obvious reasons why bike riding is beneficial- avid bike riders usually eat healthier and are more physically fit. (2)It is feasible- I am rolling the numbers in my head on how much I would save on gas, if I simply biked short distances. (3) Lastly, I would cut down on my carbon-foot print if I simply didn’t drive so much!

Even though, I started off afraid of riding a bike in the streets of Austin, I was easily persuaded after a 1-hour ride around the neighborhood.  There are many programs in Austin to get you “bike ready” for the streets. All you need to do is a little research and you will find yourself enjoying all the benefits of pushing two pedals and you will look “Bike-alicious” doing it!

Icye Walker, Sierra Club Intern

Plug it in and Grin!

National Plug-In Day was an awesome experience! If you missed it, after you read this I doubt you miss the next one because it was AWESOME! Ok ok, I know you are thinking, “Icye, can you just tell me about it already ?”

On September 23rd, in our beautiful city, supporters and proud owners of plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars gathered to mark the progress and draw new fans to more energy efficient technology. National Plug-In Day featured vehicle test drives, opportunities to get involved with environmental justice movements and a chance just to have a flat out great time. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, great for family and mingling with new people. The bonus was that it just happen to have cleaner energy cars, scooters, motorcycles, bikes and even a converted Jeep Wrangler! That was the best part!

 

Juicing Up!

So why am I so excited about plugging it in? Because you save money! Granted, I am a college student, still I know my first purchased car will be a hybrid or EV. Plug in America says, “A plug-in car uses clean, affordable, domestic electricity for some or all of its energy. An all-electric vehicle (EV) stores all its energy in batteries. Plug-in hybrids (PHEV) store some energy in batteries, and have a gas engine to extend range. Conventional hybrids have batteries, but all their energy comes from gasoline. They cannot plug in to cleaner, cheaper, domestic power!”

Jealous yet?! Being able to see all the new technology and hearing about the new developments for future transportation was almost surreal.  I enjoyed so much of my time there and it gave me so much joy in knowing that I was helping out in the growth of clean cars, as well as clean air. So now that you know the scoop, where will you be on National Plug-In Day next year?

- Icye Walker

Sierra Club Intern