Tuesday, November 30, 2010

72 Hours to Secure Michigan Rail Funds; Call Now to Get Senate On Board

Senator Bishop: Let's roll!
As you may have heard, Michigan received $161 million in federal rail funds last month to speed up the Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac train corridor traversed by Amtrak's Wolverine. To take these first steps towards world-class rail service, however, the Michigan Legislature needs to approve a $35 million local match before closing shop on Thursday, December 2.

That sounds simple enough. Our state needs all the help it can get, and a guaranteed four-fold federal return on state investment is a darn good deal. The Michigan House has already passed the bill to provide state funds. Unfortunately, with only three days left, it's still unclear whether the Republican-controlled Senate will even vote on it.

That's why we need to call Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop today. Urge Bishop to allow a vote this week on the rail funding bill, HB 6484. Naturally, we'd appreciate if Bishop would support the bill as well. Bishop's number is 517-373-2417.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

European Carmakers Branch Into Bikes; Will Big Three Follow?

Will BMW become "BBW?" London Evening Standard
As recently reported in the London Evening Standard, European automobile manufacturers are venturing into a surprising new market: two-wheeled transportation.

BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Cooper are all starting to sell bicycles under their brands, some engineered in-house and some developed under contract with other companies. While the automakers are probably getting into bikes with an eye to enhancing brand image (think eco-chic), they also have a more immediate goal in mind: cashing in on the burgeoning urban bicycle commuter market.

"Since cycling is growing in popularity and we had the engineering know-how behind us, we decided to start making bikes," Cooper chairman (and bicyclist) Mike Cooper told the Standard. For Peugeot, the move  represents a return to the company's origins as a late 19th-century bike manufacturer.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Election Leaves Hope for Michigan Transport, Despite Derailment Elsewhere

Keep Ypsi Rollin' cruised to victory at the polls Tuesday
"Not bad," said Richard Murphy, co-organizer of a campaign to preserve Ann Arbor Transit Authority bus service in Ypsilanti, as the final vote count rolled in Tuesday night at the Tap Room on Michigan Avenue. Citizens - almost three-fourths of them - had given Ypsilanti the first dedicated funding source for buses in the city's 178-year history.

For advocates of sweeping change in our transportation systems, as for other advocates of social, environmental and economic reform, the Nov. 2 election gave little reason for rejoicing. Among other things, it foreclosed U.S. action on global warming for the next two years, and the victory of Republican governor candidates in Ohio and Wisconsin may stop high-speed rail there. The loss of Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar came as a particular blow for bicyclists and advocates of federal transportation reform. But in Michigan, the picture is slightly different.

If the new political landscape here is not remarkably rosy for transportation reform, it's also, in Murphy's words, not bad. Relative to the rest of the country, that's pretty good. Still, we need to push Governor-elect Rick Snyder to convert his moderate commitments to transport reform into immediate, decisive action.