US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work

by Nicholas Brown

Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.
Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.Image Credit: IQC.

The US is such a large country, that it has co-cultures and is almost like multiple countries in one. As a part of that, people’s habits and the accessibility of transportation options vary significantly throughout the country.

For example, in Oklahoma City, only 2.2% of people travel to work without cars. Tulsa and Fort Worth are tied just an edge above that. Notably, Tulsa is also in Oklahoma – its second-largest city. Meanwhile, in New York City, 67% of people travel to work without cars. It’s a world of difference.

Leading the nation at 67%, NYC’s subway system and density are surely big parts of that. There is also the fact that intense congestion (largely a result of high density) in some parts of the city can deter people from driving, as they don’t appreciate long waits in traffic.

The Institute For Quality Communities, which is at the University of Oklahoma, gathered data from Census metrics of how Americans usually travel to work to come to  the above conclusions. Here are more of their findings:

Next are charts where it is broken down by region and individual mode share.

Here’s the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic:

Image Credit: IQC.
Image Credit: IQC.

The Midwest:

chart-3
Image Credit: IQC.

The Southeast:

chart-4
Image Credit: IQC.

Finally, here are cities where bike transportation increased significantly over the last decade:

chart-5
Image Credit: IQC.

Congratulations to these cities for their strong and effective support for bicycling. Let’s see if these cities can surpass New York’s public transportation usage rate someday!

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This article, US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

All New Non-Hybrid Taxis In NY Will Be The NV200

by Important Media Cross-Post

Originally published on Gas2.
By Andrew Meggison.

The Taxi of Tomorrow is most likely coming to New York City. As it stands, on October 28th, all new non-hybrid taxis in the city will be a Nissan NV200, though there are still those opposing the program. New York, get ready for a Nissan invasion.

The Nissan NV200 is more of a van than a traditional sedan that is routinely used as cabs, and was the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow contest. The Nissan NV200 was designed from the inside out using input from New York taxi drivers, medallion holders, and passengers. The NV200 vehicles offer interesting features such as more space for passengers, increased cargo room, and even a transparent roof so passengers can look up at the city. An electric version is even in the works specifically for taxi and delivery use.

So how is the NV200 on gas mileage? Well, about 24 miles per gallon in the city, which isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. The NV200 will only be replacing non-hybrid cabs in the city however, and some NYC taxi driver operators aren’t happy with being told what to buy.

Lawsuits to prevent implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow have been filed, claiming the vehicle is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is not wheelchair accessible, although the Nissan NV200 can be retrofitted. Additionally, a few NYC taxi fleets have planned to retire their current no- hybrid cabs early and purchase new cabs that are not Nissan NV200s, likely using the old Crown Vics for as long as possible. With these new cabs in operation before the deadline, implementation of the 3 to 5 year plan could take much longer.

So why all the fuss over the NV200s? Well historically it seems that any change that impacts the The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade is met with opposition – these are the guys who fought mandatory air conditioning in cabs. Concerning the NV200, it is one part money and one part politics. The Greater New York Taxi Association, a group of medallion owners that oppose the plan, is flat-out accusing NYC of exceeding its authority by mandating that operators buy a Taxi of Tomorrow. They don’t want to be told what cars they have to buy, and they have a point.

As for politics, Bloomberg is on his way out of office, so any delay of the Taxi of Tomorrow implementation by a court of law could push the project off to the next administration, where it might get struck down or just lose traction and fall flat. The kicker here is that the Taxi of Tomorrow was selected by taxi operators and users. People who use cab services want this vehicle!

The good news is the people will most likely get what they want; even with the opposition mass production of Nissan NV200 began in August at Nissan’s assembly plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. That is a good indication that the vehicles will soon hit the roads. As October 28th approaches keep your eyes open in NYC, your next ride could be in a Taxi of Tomorrow.

Source: NYTimes.com

This article, All New Non-Hybrid Taxis In NY Will Be The NV200, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-PostCleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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Renewable Energy cost reductions of 50% since 2008

by Silvio Marcacci

That renewable energy is becoming more cost-competitive with fossil fuels isn’t news — as technology improves and more clean power generation comes online, electricity without emissions gets cheaper.

But one new analysis reveals just how shockingly cheap it’s gotten.

The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind and solar sources in America has fallen by more than 50% over the past four years, according to Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis 7.0, recently released by global financial advisor and asset manager firm Lazard Freres & Co.

Lazard’s analysis compared the LCOE for various renewable energy technologies to fossil fuels on a cost per megawatt hour (MWh) basis, including factors like US federal tax subsidies, fuel costs, geography, and capital costs.

Unsubsidized LCOE for US energy
Unsubsidized LCOE for US energy graph via Lazard

Utility-Scale Solar, Wind Lead LCOE Charge

The LCOE analysis shows that even during one of the most turbulent times in recent memory for renewables, the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy continue to spur technological innovations and utility-scale deployments across the globe.

According to the analysis, utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) and leading types of wind energy are leading the surge — the LCOE of both power sources has fallen by more than 50% since 2008. Lazard estimates that utility-scale solar PV is now a competitive source of peak energy compared to fossil fuel power in many parts of the world without subsidies.

In fact, Lazard finds certain forms of renewable energy generation are now cost-competitive with many fossil fuel generation sources at an unsubsidized LCOE, even before factoring in externalities like pollution or transmission costs.

Specifically, solar PV and wind energy both fall within the range of $68-$104 per MWh, making them extremely competitive with baseload power from coal ($65-$145 per MWh), nuclear ($86-$122 per MWh), and integrated gasification combined cycle ($95-$154 per MWh).

Financial Incentives, Energy Storage Could Boost Fortunes

The LCOE of electricity from those renewable energy sources falls even further when US federal tax subsidies are included in the equation. Lazard realistically admits incentives are key to pushing renewables toward grid parity without subsidies, but finds wind ($23-$85 per MWh) and thin-film utility scale solar PV ($51-$78 per MWh) especially competitive.

LCOE for US energy with tax subsidies
LCOE for US energy with tax subsidies chart via Lazard

While wind is progressing quite well — generally speaking — against fossil fuel generation in Lazard’s analysis, it could get much cheaper much faster in the near future when combined with energy storage. The report cites numerous examples of existing battery storage combining with off-peak wind production to demonstrate value in load shifting and peak power applications.

And while utility-scale solar PV leads the LCOE charge, rooftop solar PV remains expensive by comparison — a trend evident in recent summaries of the US market. Ironically, Lazard says this may be attributable to the generous combination of multiple levels of tax incentives, which distort resource planning by excluding externalities in long-term outlooks.

Power generation rates for US metro areas
Power generation rates for US metro areas chart via Lazard

Interestingly enough, solar is becoming an economically viable peaking generation source in many geographic regions of the US. This trend is especially apparent in transmission-constrained metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Lazard estimates solar could become even more competitive as prices continues to fall, but the observation is somewhat muddled by factors like system reliability, stranded costs of distributed generation for existing systems, and social costs/externalities of rate increases.

“Increasingly Prevalent” Renewable Energy Use

But the most promising potential for the future of renewable energy sources may be their value as distributed small-scale generation. Lazard estimates that the expensive capital construction costs of fossil fuel generation boost their LCOE when utilities consider future resource planning across an integrated system, and make them less cost-competitive — without even considering externalities.

US energy capital cost comparison
US energy capital cost comparison chart via Lazard

Lazard concedes that the future of renewable energy is far from set though, and still faces significant challenges like establishing long-term financing structures in the face of falling subsidy levels, excess manufacturing capacity, and the globalization of markets.

However, renewable energy’s role in America’s energy mix is likely to continue growing despite these challenges, concludes the analysis.

“We find that alternative energy technologies are complementary to conventional generation technologies, and believe that their use will be increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons.”

This article, Analysis: 50% Reduction In Cost Of Renewable Energy Since 2008, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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What is Mike Bloomberg doing to New York City? Greening it!

by John Brian Shannon

Aside from his full-time duties as the Mayor of the largest city in the United States, his tireless work on the C40 Cities initiative, and countless other good causes and charities, Mayor Mike apparently spends much of his time transforming run-down parts of the city into artistic and park-like settings for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.

pic_northpark1
A rendering of the renovated Empire Stores and the theater at the historic Tobacco Warehouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image courtesy of mikebloomberg.com

For over a century the East River was rows upon rows of chemical plants, coal or oil-fired power plants, fish processing plants, ugly warehouse buildings and the Navy Yard. Which, in a rapidly growing city, was perfectly normal business for a couple of centuries…

But Mike Bloomberg decided that part of his mandate was to turn those obscenely ugly and heavily-contaminated landscapes into beautiful park settings for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors to NYC.

Let me be the first to say that Mayor Bloomberg has shown amazing vision and leadership — and combined with his contact list of angel investors — vision and leadership has turned into reality, and if anything seems to be gathering momentum.

pic_northpark2
A rendering of the new Empire Stores Rooftop at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image courtesy of mikebloomberg.com

This artist rendering shows what the view will be like from the rooftop of the first image in this article.

It just shows what can be done when a visionary and determined person gains political office. Many such projects have begun, are presently in-progress, or have already completed, during the stewardship of Mike Bloomberg.

From obscenely contaminated, ugly and dangerous industrial wastelands, to world class, open city spaces which are a joy for all who visit. What’s not to like?

“All across the waterfront, we are reclaiming and renewing areas that have long been abandoned or neglected, and Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse are the latest examples of that work,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These redevelopment plans will bring even more new life and excitement to the DUMBO waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving residents and visitors more places to work, shop, dine, and experience the arts.”

“Much like the recently announced John Street development deal, these plans represent yet another critical step toward securing the long-term financial stability of Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Chairman Robert K. Steel. “This investment will ensure additional office, retail and cultural space that will strengthen this public-private partnership while adding additional park amenities that will promote healthy economic development in Dumbo, an already burgeoning arts and technology hub.”

“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a prime example of our city’s commitment to sustainable design and development,” said Veronica M. White, Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “The transformation of these formerly vacant stores will open up usable space for the community, and help to ensure that the park will continue to be well maintained for years to come.”

“This is an historic moment for Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “In addition to securing the park’s financial stability, these long vacant warehouses allow us to recognize the important part our park plays in the history of the Brooklyn waterfront. We are also thrilled to be moving forward on re-energizing the Tobacco Warehouse and integrating even more new parkland into the northern portion of the park. The development of Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse will be a boon to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the larger DUMBO community, creating a new “it” space and showcasing some of the best that Brooklyn has to offer locals and out-of-towners alike. I hope this project will result in much-needed commercial space for Brooklyn’s growing creative economy. I am further pleased to see that St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I have long been investment proud to support, will benefit from this agreement with a quality performance space for artists and arts-lovers alike. Truly this promises to help all of Brooklyn prosper and reinforce our borough’s pre-eminence in the creative and technological arenas.”

pic_northpark3
A rendering of the new Tobacco Warehouse theater, managed by St. Ann’s Warehouse, at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image courtesy of mikebloomberg.com

The Tobacco Warehouse Theater and surrounding area is a good example of an unwanted building turned into a useful and welcome space.

“Having activated found spaces for cultural use in Brooklyn since we began in 1980, we are excited to be able to do so once more—this time making a permanent home for the arts and community events in one of the city’s most awe-inspiring locales,” said St. Ann’s Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman. “We look forward to transforming the Tobacco Warehouse into a welcoming place where artists, audience members, city residents and visitors can gather all year long.”

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to realize our longstanding dream to rebuild the Tobacco Warehouse as a home for St. Ann’s Warehouse,” said Joseph S. Steinberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Ann’s Warehouse.

“St. Ann’s Warehouse is one New York City’s most exciting performing arts organizations dedicated to bringing cutting-edge work from all over the world to adventurous audiences,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin. “We are delighted that with today’s vote the Tobacco Warehouse will be an iconic home for the organization, artists and visitors. We also look forward to opening new exhibition space that will be an exciting new destination to learn about the borough’s dynamic past, present and future.”

pic_northpark4
A map showing all elements of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image courtesy of mikebloomberg.com

The Prime Developer of the project is Midtown Equities. Midtown Equities is a privately held real estate investment and development company that is headquartered in New York. With a portfolio of more than 100 properties in the retail, office, residential, industrial and hospitality sectors, the firm actively acquires, develops and leases properties ranging from urban redevelopment projects to commercial centers. With a focus on prime retail properties, Midtown Equities maintains holdings in urban markets including New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as abroad.

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Making Solar Affordable To Those Who Cant Afford

By Katie Valentine – Special to JBS News

Originally published on Climate Progress.

Rick Lopez said he felt like he’d won the lottery.

Lopez, a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran and Denver, CO resident, had a 3-kilowatt solar system installed on his house by a group of volunteers on Wednesday, completely free of charge. The project was initiated by GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization whose story was highlighted in the Denver Post this week. Lopez’s new system should provide power for 60 to 100 percent of his home’s electricity, and will save him hundreds of dollars in electricity costs each year.

“We would never have been able to do this on our own,” Rick’s wife Roberta Lopez told the Denver Business Journal. “We take it as a blessing.”

California-based GRID Alternatives installs solar systems on low-income households in California, Colorado and soon, in New York and New Jersey. The organization has installed 3,500 solar systems in California so far, projects that according to the organization have saved the homeowners $80 million in energy costs and will result in the reduction of 250,000 tons of greenhouse gasses over their lifetimes.

Once the solar system is installed, the homeowner pays GRID two cents for every kilowatt-hour that the solar panels produce, which typically results in energy bill savings of 80 percent. If the system produces all the household’s energy, a homeowner in Colorado would pay just $13 per month to GRID, compared to the state’s average $75.67 electricity bill.

“It’s really just a huge relief for those families,” Julian Foley, GRID Alternative’s communication manager told Denver Westword. “They can spend money on other things they need… That’s spending money that goes back to the community.”

And the free installation is key — though the price of installing solar in the U.S. has fallen to record lows, it’s still out of reach for many Americans. The solar systems GRID installs can cost up to $17,000, but grants bring the cost down to about $5,000.

GRID depends on volunteers to complete the installations, a setup which, along with donated equipment and corporate backing, helps make the organization’s work possible. But job trainees also work on installations — the organization partners with local community colleges and organizations like Veterans Green Jobs to provide job training for the clean energy sector. Through these partnerships, the organization also finds people who are eligible to receive free solar systems — those at an income level of 80 percent or below their area’s median level.

In California, the work GRID does also gets state funding through the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH). The program provides up-front rebates for low-income families who want to install solar systems, and GRID is the program manager for SASH’s $108 million in funds. The program will run until December 2015 or until the funding runs out — and as the demand for SASH and its counterpart, the Multi-family Affordable Solar Homes Program, which provides rebates for affordable housing projects, grows, the second scenario is looking more realistic. A bill has been taken up in the California Assembly to extend funding of the program to 2021.

Though it might be one of the most extensive, GRID isn’t the only group that aims to bring clean energy and energy efficiency to low-income Americans. Washington, D.C. provides a low-income option for its renewable energy incentive program, and in New York City, Enterprise Community Partners is building super-efficient affordable housing buildings — a new 197-unit development New York City is LEED and Energy Star certified and has 214-kilowatt solar system on its roof. A New York state program provides free insulation, draft reduction, high efficiency lighting and appliance upgrades to low-income residents, and Vermont has a similar program.

This article, Making Solar Affordable To Those Who Can’t Afford, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.