• In many parts of Italy there simply is no more room to use cars decently, regardless of their cost or emissions. For this reason, a few days ago I translated into Italian a beautiful post on the Frugal Urban blog about the benefits of car sharing in Ottawa. A few days later, the announcement of those translations on a mailing list prompted Damiano C. to write on that same list about his car sharing experience in Rome.
  • I live in a city where basic smart metering will become the norm in a few months, in a country that is drowning in car but wants to produce more of them, just greener. That’s why two distinct pieces of news really caught my attention last week. What are smart meters and electric cars? “Smart meters” are electric meters that can monitor and report to your power utility, more or less in real time, how much power you are using, when and (if they know which kind of appliance is connected to each power outlet) even how.
  • This spring I got in less than 24 hours two distinct bits of news. Each of them was important in and by itself, but getting them almost simultaneously made them much more impressive. At least, they made me think a lot, and confirmed the importance of some questions about car manufacturing in Italy that I had already asked months earlier. On the morning of May 12th, 2010, I read on Italian Newspaper La Repubblica that:
  • It’s weird how things that seem completely unrelated are, in fact, more or less connected. On February 5th, 2010, just five days after the traffic ban in Milan, with caused a storm of discussions, an absolutely unusual event, that is some inches of snow falling in full winter, created even more chaos than usual on the streets of Milan and all the surrounding area. During that afternoon, the speakers of Caterpillar (a popular talk-show on a national radio station asked to all Milan citizens who were listening inside their cars to call and tell how long they had already been blocked in the streets and how long they thought they would still remain there.
  • On January 31st, 2010, Milan and a few neighbor areas declared a total traffic ban to reduce air pollution. Since such measures are already used in other countries or may be adopted in the coming years, the protests and questions raised in that occasion are useful to think about the real usefulness of traffic bans in general.On that day, several smaller cities around Milan did not declare traffic bans, many citizens and local administrators publicly declared that traffic bans are simply useless or, at least, discriminatory and proposed in the wrong way to citizens.
  • Walkability is a characteristic of homes and apartments that all their owners, or everybody considering (even in these times) buying a new house should know and think about. In practice, walkability measures how easy it is to live in a place without being forced to own a car, or at least to use it for everything, even buying some bread, every day. One of the ways to measure the walkability of an address is to assign a score between 0 and 100 to it, called “walkshed index”.