William Vickrey, emeritus professor at Columbia University and pioneer of
peak-load pricing, died Friday, October 11, three days after winning the Nobel
Prize in Economics. Vickrey, who was 82, suffered a heart attack while
driving. His untimely death robs road-pricing advocates of an energetic ally
with a powerful bully pulpit.
Vickrey's work helped
persuade electric utilities in Britain and the US to charge premium fees for
peak usage and to offer off-peak discounts, in order to allocate costs
efficiently and defray costly new capacity. Highway congestion pricing in
Singapore and Southern California also owes much to Vickrey.
-Mobilizing the Region
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The World Health Organization recommends that preventing traffic accidents
become an international health priority. The reason? By 2020, the toll of life
and limb on the road will rank as the third greatest cause of death and
disability worldwide (in second place in developing countries). The report
also says the situation will get worse before it improves, because mortality
rates per vehicle tend to be greatest when motorization is proceeding most
rapidly, as it is today in much of the world.
In California, the Bank of America together with citizens' groups and a state
agency, has called for an about face away from auto-dependent suburban
development. "Unchecked sprawl,"
its report finds, "has shifted from an engine of California's growth to a
force that threatens to inhibit growth and degrade our quality of life."
The Asphalt Farm
Forty-five years ago, Los Angeles was the top-producing farm county in the
United States. Today, 70 percent of its land is devoted to cars. The same fate
is in store for California's Central Valley, the country's richest
agricultural area, unless policies change, says the American Farmland Trust.
It projects annual losses resulting from urban sprawl of $3 billion in
agricultural sales and local government deficits of $1 billion. A more compact
growth pattern would halve the losses and turn the deficits into small
The Mommy Lane
A study of British cities found that for reasons of both crime and
infrastructure (not wholly unrelated), the number of children who could walk
to school alone fell from 80 percent in 1970 to 8 percent last year.
Meanwhile, National Travel Survey data indicate that nearly a fifth of
rush-hour traffic is parents driving children to school.
-Local Transport Today
Automakers and gasoline producers topped the list of big spenders on Capitol
Hill in the first six months of 1996. The Ford Motor Company, who doled out
$3.48 million in the first half of the year to make them number one, has 15
lobbyists to sway Congress on legislation including the Clean Air Act. Next in
line at the cash machine were Tenneco, Inc., an auto parts and gas pipelines
manufacturer, followed by the Atlantic Richfield Company and Amoco.
Traffic Calming Works
YORK, England: The city of York has implemented a powerful traffic calming
plan. Here are the results, as measured by the difference between 1981-1985
-Local Transport Today
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