Conservative UK Press Covers How to Fund Services
|September 5, 2012||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under News|
In Bike-Friendly Copenhagen, Highways For Cyclists
by Eleanor Beardsley and by Robert Watts
In Bike-Friendly Copenhagen, Highways For Cyclists
Every day, one-third of the people of Copenhagen ride their bikes to work or school. Collectively, they cycle more than 750,000 miles daily, enough to make it to the moon and back. And city officials want even more people to commute, and over longer distances.
So a network of 26 new bike routes, dubbed “the cycling superhighway,” is being built to link the surrounding suburbs to Copenhagen.
Lars Gaardhoj, an official with the Copenhagen capital region, says the routes will be straight and direct.
“It will be very fast for people who use their bike,” he says. “This is new because traditionally cycle paths have been placed where there is space for them and the cars didn’t run. So now the bike is going to challenge the car.”
The first highway, to the busy suburb of Albertslund some 10 miles outside the city, was completed in April.
One of the first things you learn about these bike lanes is that you have to move in fast. This is not leisurely biking — this is serious stuff in Copenhagen.
It’s a parallel world of transportation: You’ve got the cars on the roads and the people on their bikes. There are thousands and thousands of people on their bikes here in this city.
Biker Cona Endelgo says he used to drive his car to work, but biking is better. “It gives you more exercise and motion, and it’s more free, and it’s quicker. When I pass the harbor, I wave to the cars,” he says.
Each mile of bike highway will cost about $1 million. The project is to be financed by the city of Copenhagen and 21 local governments. And in a country where both right- and left-leaning politicians regularly ride bikes to work, it has bilateral support.
Several innovations are being tested, like “green wave” technology, which times traffic lights to suit bikers. If you maintain a certain pace, you can ride all the way through into the city without stopping. There are also footrests with bars to lean on at traffic lights, and a bike pump every mile in case you have a flat.
Outside the city, the pace is slower and people talk to each other as they ride. Jacob Messen, 33, is on his way to a water park with his kids. He says support for the project runs deep.
“Bicycles are a very essential element in most people’s lives in Denmark,” he says. “We have them as small infants and all the way up through the ages.”
He’s not kidding. Another rider, 83-year-old Soulva Jensen, is using the highway to visit her daughter in a neighboring town.
“The trains are too much trouble at the moment, so I thought it was easier to take the bike,” she says.
Once the highway network is completed, an estimated 15,000 additional people will switch from driving to biking. And that, say officials, will have a direct impact on the environment, public health and finances. The bike highway alone is expected to save Copenhagen’s health care system some $60 million a year.
JJS: Many assume that a region’s infrastructure favors cars because people favor cars. While that may be partly true, it’s also true that cars never had to pay their way and were always subsidized — cars never paid for their pollution and the cost for roads came out of the general fund. But if drivers had to pay for both the damage their exhaust, oily runoff, and noise does and pay for the land taken for roads, then cities and regions would look a lot different — more like Copenhagen but even better!
It’s not just drivers that should pay for the land they take but all land users. Land is our common heritage and its value is something people generate in common. Recovering that value is a major reform that got coverage from the conservative British press.
Conservative UK Press Covers a Fair Tax
Senior Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg is backing plans for a new annual property tax that would cost homeowners in prosperous areas thousands of pounds a year.
The “land value tax” also has support from Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and Ed Davey, the Environment Secretary.
“A land value tax is ultimately where many in our party would like to go -– particularly as it as a tax on wealth, not income,” a senior Liberal Democrat source said. “Will it be Government policy? We’ll have to wait and see -– we are in a Coalition.”
The tax — also known as the “recurring property charge” — is being promoted by a Lib Dem pressure group called Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform (Alter). The president of Alter is Chris Huhne, the former Environment Secretary who will next month stand trial for perverting the course of justice over a speeding ticket.
The land value tax is one of many new levies floated in a tax consultation document to be discussed at the Liberal Democrats Brighton conference.
JJS: Where owners must pay a land tax or land dues, there they don’t speculate in land; one sees much fewer vacant lots and abandoned buildings. Instead, cities infill, leaving room for separate bike paths. And the land dues can be made easily affordable by paying residents a share of recovered rents each month or year, sort of like how Aspen CO pays working families a housing stipend from one version of the land tax (more on that elsewhere here).
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