August 9, 2011

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AAA Watch
California Safe Passing Bill Given a Pass by Assembly Transportation Committee...Against Strong Opposition by both California AAA Affiliates

The Automobile Clubs of California Still Don't Think that Bicyclists Need 3 Feet

At the end of June, the Transportation Committee of the California State Assembly approved Senate Bill 910, a bill that would amend the California Vehicle Code to require drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing from behind.

When drivers could not provide that safe passing distance, they would be required to slow to within 15 mph of a bicyclist's speed. The approval of the bill by 8 to 5 in the committee was fiercely contested by the California State Automobile Association and the Automobile Club of Southern California (the AAA affiliates for northern and southern California, respectively).

As we reported in early June, a month after SB 910 had been approved by the Transportation Committee of the California Senate, AAA Northern California had objected to the bill's stipulation that drivers be required to slow down when a three foot passing distance couldn't be maintained. AAA Southern California joined the fight in contesting the bill in Transportation Committee hearings in the Assembly.

The auto clubs proposed making the three feet optional, which would have nullified the effect of the bill, the intent of which was to clarify for safety's sake the vague provisions of the California Vehicle Code for how drivers should pass bicyclists. Three feet is already the distance recommended by the California DMV in the California Driver's Handbook.

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In The News
"Towing Your Dead Car: Who Ya Gonna Call?"

(Guesses? Anyone?)

by Susan Ladika, Fox Business

"Better World Club offers a 'green' alternative, providing auto roadside assistance, as well as service to bicyclists, and gives membership discounts to hybrid, biodiesel and electric car owners."

And don't forget: "With roadside assistance provided by some auto insurance companies, you run the risk that a call for service can boost your insurance rates. It's an auto insurance claim, after all."

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Member Alert
Time is Money! And Money is Money!

Don't Waste Either by Making Sure to Let us Know if You Might Need a Tow When You Call for a Jumpstart!

If you find yourself stuck somewhere with a car that won't start, you can always count on Better World to get you back on the road. But don't take a chance when calling for a jump. If you aren't sure whether a simple jumpstart will do you or if you might need a tow, make sure to indicate that when you call for assistance.

If you tell one of our dispatchers that you only need a jumpstart, we may only send you a service vehicle with jumper cables. If the jump you get is unsuccessful, you'll have to call back and request a tow, which will count as another one of your four service calls for your current membership year.

With that result, you'll end up wasting both your time and your money. Don't take the chance! If you think you might need a tow, let us know!

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Improve Your Karma with BWC's New "Good Car-ma" Program

Perform Positive Actions and Better World Will Improve Your Car-mic Condition

And When We Improve Your Material Condition, We Hope to Improve Your Spiritual One as Well

(Just Remember Us in Your Prayers, or Meditations...or Whatever)

Have you bought a carbon credit to offset your driving this year? Purchased Better World auto insurance? Let your friends know about Better World Club? Maintained your car so you didn't need to use our emergency roadside assistance?

Well, and as you've probably already come to recognize (we love our members, after all), Better World Club isn't only there for you when you're stuck on the side of the road. Now, in our infinite benevolence, we've developed a new rewards program that will literally help you "Improve Your Car-ma."

We're proud to announce that members will now be earning Better World Club Good Car-ma for a variety of activities related to Better World Club services and associated travel.

Starting right away, members will build Good Car-ma by referring new members, purchasing insurance policies, purchasing carbon offsets, or booking travel through the public booking engine at the Better World Club website. Members will also get Good Car-ma for going entire membership years without calling for roadside assistance. That's right: things you're doing already. (Well, some of you, anyway.)

We'll keep members up to date on their Good Car-ma levels at the member section of the website. (That way you can gauge whether or not you think you should let yourself test drive that Lamborghini.)

Then, once you're satisfied with the positivity that you've contributed to the socially responsible transportation cosmos, you can cash in on a variety of rewards! Currently, Good Car-ma can be exchanged for free associate memberships, free national park passes, carbon offsets, and even free memberships. The complete list of rewards, which includes the Good Car-ma values necessary to redeem them, is also available at the member site. Be sure to check back often, as we'll be expanding and updating the rewards list as the program unfolds. You can review a list of the rewards you've redeemed in the past here.

How much Good Car-ma will you need to be able to redeem each reward? Find out here. More questions? Check out the Good Car-ma FAQ page. We'll be expanding that, too, as we collect feedback from members on the program. (It probably also wouldn't hurt if you read our Good Car-ma Terms and Conditions.)

Feeling better? More balanced? We hoped so. It's no use being so hard on yourself all the time anyway. But don't take your Better World Good Car-ma as license to start taking your private jet for all of your trips or to lose control on the road -- it's not going to pay your bail. (Have you heard of bad karma? Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky may be becoming more familiar with it after suggesting that he might start using Good Car-ma to pay the staff.)

Check out the rewards that you can get for building your Good Car-ma now!

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Astrum Solar, A Different Solar Company

"See a Sunny Day in a Whole New Way®"

Around the country, more and more people are becoming ready to take bigger steps toward addressing rising energy costs and reducing their carbon footprints. They're ready to go beyond recycling and using energy efficient lighting and appliances. They're ready to take renewable energy into their own hands -- and into their homes. And Astrum Solar is there to guide them and make the transition to solar power affordable and enjoyable.

Astrum Solar's goal is for its customers to get the most out of their solar panels: the most energy generated, the most return on their investments, the most beneficial environmental impact, and the most joy each time they see a sunny day. What's more, Astrum customers get to share in the personal rewards of going from energy consumers to clean energy producers.

The Astrum website includes a solar calculator that gets you real pricing for the installation of solar panels at your home in minutes and also describes all of the rebates and incentives available to residents of the states in which Astrum currently works.

Better World Club is proud to provide fleet roadside assistance for Astrum Solar vehicles throughout Astrum's current operating area of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington DC, and to do our part to help Astrum spread solar power to as many roofs across America as possible.

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Washington Watch
Business Believes That Taxes Can't Be Used to Close the Federal Deficit?

Not So Fast! The American Sustainable Business Council -- and BWC -- Weigh In

The federal government passed a preliminary plan for cutting the deficit and avoided a default on its debt.

But then S&P downgraded its rating for U.S. Treasury bonds. While stating that it was making no recommendation on the mix of spending cuts and tax increases in the current plan, the S&P statement does say that, "Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the [debt ceiling] act.".

So, S&P thinks the Republicans won't make the tax adjustments necessary to reduce the deficit in the long term. What will it mean for our economic future if deficit reduction only focuses on spending cuts? The informed consensus seems to be that it could very well have significantly negative effects on job growth and an already slow economy.

In the lead up to the passage of the current plan, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) asked Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky to draft a letter to House Speaker John Boehner recommending "tax adjustments and the elimination of unproductive subsidies" as parts of a comprehensive deficit reduction package.

The reforms suggested by the ASBC would have reduced the federal deficit by $2.75 trillion, about $600 billion more over the next ten years than the plan recently enacted by the government.

The letter outlined a plan by which increased tax revenues could stimulate productivity and job creation, highlighting that tax increases during both the Reagan and Clinton administrations coincided with reductions in unemployment.

Key to the plan was the closing of tax loopholes like overseas tax havens and the institution of a graduated Alternative Minimum Tax for corporations earning over $100 million annually.

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The American Sustainable Business Council is a growing coalition of business networks and businesses committed to advancing a new vision, framework, and policies that support a vibrant, equitable, and sustainable economy. Find out more at the ASBC website.
TravelCool Website of the Month
Breakaway Adventures
Don't Just Get Away, Break Away -- From Dull Travel

Make Your Next Vacation One to Remember with a Walking or Cycling Tour from Breakaway Adventures

Don't worry. The name doesn't mean you'll be doing sprints, although a tour organized by Breakaway will definitely get you away from the pack. And that's because Breakaway Adventure tours are arranged to help participants explore the heart of the country they're visiting, in their own way and at their own pace, with guided or independent options.

Every Breakaway tour introduces an interesting and unspoiled corner of the world. Plus, there are options for adventurers at every fitness level -- the softies and the adrenaline junkies -- from woodland rambles to challenging mountain and ridge walking and cycling.

Ready to plan your adventure? Book online or request a brochure.

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Be sure to take a peek at our ' Bodacious Page of Travel Links and Resources.' Our travel links page sports a crazy HUGE number of links, so if you're planning some travel this is a great resource.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Idaho company gets $750,000 for solar parking lot

by John Miller, Bloomberg Businessweek

A northern Idaho company that aims to transform U.S. highways into a vast energy-producing network is getting $750,000 from the federal government for the next phase of its project: A solar parking lot capable of sending electricity back to the power grid.

Solar Roadways, of Sagle, announced Wednesday it won a Small Business Innovation Research grant for its project from the Federal Highway Administration.

Company founders Scott and Julie Brusaw plan to use the cash to create a prototype parking lot for testing. But their real dream is for a road system built of 12-foot-by-12-foot solar panels rather than traditional asphalt.

Complete Story

Suspended Arctic scientist to be questioned over research contracts

by Suzanne Goldenberg,

A government investigation of a leading Arctic scientist has moved on from his five-year-old paper on drowning polar bears to a current study on how the animals are coping with changing ice conditions.

Charles Monnett, who was suspended on 18 July from his job as a government wildlife biologist, received an official letter on Monday indicating he would face questioning on his oversight of research contracts.

Until his suspension, Monnett oversaw $50m (£30.6m) in research contracts – among them a study conducted by scientists from the University of Alberta on how polar bears were responding to their changing habitat.

Complete Story

Erasable E-paper Can Be Printed, Erased, Reprinted Over 250 Times

by Jaymi Heimbuch,

Researchers have created a new e-paper can be printed and erased over and over again, and they hope it can be a reusable solution for the posters and signs printed by the millions for bus stop ads and store front displays.

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