Tag Archives: Sustainable transport

Completing Streets, Giving Choices

Transportation choices: it’s the slogan of the Green Transportation campaign but it’s also at the heart of what we do. Complete Streets give choices: the roads and streets safely serve the needs of all users–cars (of course), but also cyclists, pedestrians of all ages, and transit users.

Common ways of completing streets are adding crosswalks, improving sidewalks, providing bus shelters, and narrowing traffic lanes to make room for bike lanes on the road. Simple, often inexpensive interventions can make an incredible difference.

Our Transportation Associate, Kari Banta, moderated a panel on Complete Streets at the SXSW Eco conference on October 3. Joshua Houdek of the North Star Chapter and David Jurca from the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to talk about Complete Streets– how they work, making them happen, and testing them out with  a “pop up” temporary demonstration project.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter helped get complete streets legislation adopted in Minnesota–a tremendous accomplishment–so now activists can direct attention toward getting them implemented. Minneapolis is truly transforming the way people think about getting around, as you can see in this presentation.

Making a complete street depends on who is using it. A rural highway might not need sidewalks or bus shelters, for example. The community needs to be involved in the planning process to decide what they need from their streets, working with the city planners and engineers to phase the improvements into the regular maintenance schedule. If the changes are low cost, there’s a possibility they could be done much sooner. As with many things the Sierra Club does, it takes volunteers working together to get people together and keep pushing the project forward.

Part of getting people comfortable with Complete Streets is giving them a chance to try it out for themselves. David Jurca explained Pop Up Rockwell, the project he did with graduate students to convert four blocks of Rockwall Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio to a pedestrian and biking oasis. Using paint, temporary planters, outdoor furniture, and some very clever inflatable art pieces he turned a disused and barren street into a real place.

Here’s the film they produced to explain the project–please set aside nine minutes to see how an amazing transformation is possible!

Pop Up Rockwell from KSU CUDC on Vimeo.

You can listen to the full SXSW Eco presentation, titled Life in the Streets: Reclaiming Public Space, here.

Kari Banta
Transportation Associate

The Annual Renewable Energy Roundup

If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend look no further! The Annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair is this Saturday and Sunday, September 29th and 30th in Fredericksburg. The festival highlights the latest eco-friendly technologies, green energy sources, and environmentally conscious products for our daily lives. It’s two full days of great speakers, demonstrations, and exhibits.

The event is completely family friendly. There is even a build-your-own RC solar car race for all ages, so bring the whole family for a weekend of fun!

The Roundup is being held at The Market Square, 101 West Main Street in Fredericksburg. Gates open at 9 AM and stay open until 6 PM on Saturday and 5 PM on Sunday. Please visit the Renewable Roundup Ticket Page for advanced tickets. For your convenience, you can also get them at the gate day-of.

For more information visit The Roundup Website. We hope to see you there!

Map of The Event Location- 101 W. Main Street

Today is an Historic Day for the Texas Environment

Today Sierra Club has launched the “Texas Green Report” blog, bringing you breaking news and regular updates about key regional, state, and national environmental issues. The Texas Green Report will update you about the activities of the Club here in Texas — not only environmental advocacy but also opportunities to interact with other folks interested in enjoying the great outdoors.

The Sierra Club covers a wide range of issues in Texas, through our state-level Lone Star Chapter, national field organizers, and campaigns such as Beyond Coal.  The Lone Star Chapter was formed in 1965 and has an ambitious conservation agenda for Texas for 2010-2011.  Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing now.

Beyond Coal

The Lone Star Chapter, in partnership with the national Beyond Coal Campaign, is contesting air pollution permits for five proposed coal or petroleum coke plants in Texas that would add tens of thousands of tons of pollutants into the air we breathe and dramatically increase the greenhouse gases from Texas sources. We’re also working on cleaning up and phasing out existing coal plants and achieving a strong new coal ash rule.

Clean Energy Solutions

The Lone Star Chapter, working cooperatively with our partners, is promoting the adoption of more energy efficient building codes by Texas cities, pushing clean energy plans for municipally-owned electric utilities in Austin and San Antonio, and working for a specific state target for expansion of solar power. At the same time we are ramping up efforts to achieve stronger environmental controls over oil and natural gas production.

Green Transportation

The Lone Star Chapter is supporting the efforts to identify and obtain revenue sources that would fund rail projects and other mass transit options that are more energy efficient and environmentally sound than our traditional reliance on personal vehicles.

Safeguarding Communities: Clean Air & Water

The Lone Star Chapter consistently watchdogs air pollution problems in Texas.  We won a landmark settlement in a Clean Air Act lawsuit against Shell Oil in 2009 over so-called “upset” emissions of toxics and other air pollutants from its Deer Park refinery and petrochemical plant. This year the Chapter is pursuing similar litigation against Chevron and Exxon/Mobil.  In addition the Chapter has been the main group successfully fighting TCEQ’s attempts to lower clean water standards for hundreds of water bodies around the state.

A Texas Land & Wildlife Legacy

The Lone Star Chapter is supporting legislation that will be introduced in the U.S. Congress to designate wilderness areas in the Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in West Texas.  We are also continuing to crusade for strong funding of Texas state parks and nongame wildlife protection programs.

Water for People & the Environment

The Lone Star Chapter is a leader and active participant in the process underway to preserve freshwater inflows into Galveston Bay, Sabine Lake, Matagorda Bay, Nueces Bay, San Antonio Bay, and other estuary systems along the Texas coast.

In future posts you’ll hear more about these and other Sierra Club activities to explore, enjoy and protect the Texas environment, and you’ll learn more about the key environmental issues facing our state.

Welcome to the Texas Green Report!

Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club

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