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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Climate Showcase: Increasing the use of electric cars and bicycles

Cars and Bicycles

Increasing the use of electric cars and bicycles to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants

The Houston Advanced Research Center is playing a key role in an unfolding municipal program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants through a trio of transportation projects designed to increase the use of electric cars and bicycles.

The Environmental Protection Agency provided a major boost to the effort last week when it announced a $423,069 grant to the city of Houston. The city’s program is part of the EPA’s nationwide Climate Showcase Cities initiative.

HARC prepared the Climate Showcase grant application for the city and will be involved in all three parts of the program as they are implemented, said David Hitchcock, HARC’s director of Sustainable Transportation Programs.

The three components of Houston’s Climate Showcase effort will involve:

  • Installing charging stations for electric vehicles, to be used by city and commercial or residential vehicles.
  • Launching a bike-share program.
  • Improving the city’s existing bicycle infrastructure with solar-powered LED lights on bike paths to enhance safety.

This program is aimed at reducing vehicles emissions of greenhouse gases while building multiple stakeholder partnerships and achieving broader, additional benefits related to the environment, economy and public health, said Jennifer Ronk, a research scientist at HARC.

“HARC has worked with the city to create electric-vehicle and bikeshare working groups to identify barriers and solutions to widespread adoption of these technologies,” Ronk said.

“The projects will also include the installation of electric-vehicle charging stations and a bike-share kiosk to demonstrate the technologies. HARC will evaluate the successes and challenges of these demonstrations and present recommendations for further program improvement.”

Involvement with Houston’s Climate Showcase projects is part of HARC’s broader effort to foster sustainable transportation. The HARC programs include a hydrogen education project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Texas Future Fuels project funded by the Energy Foundation, the GRIDBot electric-vehicle charging project and others.

A more detailed report on HARC’s work with the Climate Showcase initiative will be provided in an upcoming article in @HARC Newsletter.