March 3, 2011

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AAA Watch
No News is Good News?

Not When You're Waiting on AAA's Public and Government Affairs Office

Massachusetts Trail Advocate Ignored after Requesting Meeting on Transportation Funding

Give Tom Michelman, President of the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, credit for patience. He didn't send one email to Lloyd Albert, Senior VP of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Southern New England (AAA SNE), but a long series of them between November 2010 and January of this year.

And what kind of response did he receive? Almost none.

Michelman never did receive a response to his request for a meeting to discuss AAA SNE's position on multi-modal transportation funding as it is currently provided for through the Highway Transportation Fund (HTF).

In our October 2010 edition of Kicking Asphalt, we reported on a proposal by the president and CEO of AAA Mid-Atlantic to eliminate funding for walking, bicycling, and mass transportation infrastructure from the HTF. In response to the AAA proposal, the DC based Rails to Trails Conservancy launched a petition drive to encourage AAA National to distance itself from Mid-Atlantic and support a transportation funding program that included funding for more than just roadways.

Michelman sent his initial request to meet with Albert of AAA SNE shortly after Rails to Trails had received an ambiguous response to a letter it sent to AAA National President Robert Darbelnet

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In The News
"Trailblazers for Good"

Is Your Roadside Assistance Green?

by Michelle Martini,

National brands for roadside assistance promise to be quick and helpful, but a new one is also promising to be green. Better World Club offers bike and car roadside assistance in speedy fashion, plus they give 1% of revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy.

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Member Alert
Spring Break! WOOOO!

Get Them There Safely With a Trip Routing From BWC...After That it's up to You

Congratulations. You finally got that last kid to college. And now it's time for that final hurdle before adult responsibility: spring break. You may not be able to chaperone everything that happens once everyone arrives at wherever it is they're going this year, but you can make sure that your child gets there quickly and safely with a custom trip routing.

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Tell Us the Truth: Does This Website Redesign Make Our Heads Look Too Big?

Send Us Your Feedback on the New!

And Search for a Chance to Win a Free Membership While You're at It

Better World Club has the services you want -- like 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance for your cars, motorcycles, RVs, AND bicycles; maps and trip routings; and insurance -- and we're constantly striving to ensure that the Better World Club experience reflects a picture of, well, a better world.

On January 18, we launched the newest version of, which includes not only a handsome new redesign (and you'd tell us the truth if you didn't think so, right?) but also a number of new features developed with the needs and convenience of our members in mind.

Our homepage now features links to news articles on energy, the environment, and progressive transportation (including, of course, links to select pieces from Kicking Asphalt). The new homepage also makes it easier for members to renew their memberships and to locate discount information for hotels and rental cars -- and for all of the other great discounts available to Better World Club members.

But enough about what we think. We want your opinions, too! So, what do you think of the new site? What questions or issues would you like to see featured in one of our surveys? (We'll be publishing results in Kicking Asphalt, by the way. Now if we could only get something similar going for our spouses we could save some money on all that counseling.) What do you like? Dislike? Does the new banner suit our complexion? Contact us!

Don't worry. There's something in it for you! Although we know that our members (and future members) are the kindest and most generous people out there, we thought we should do something just as kind and generous to thank everyone for praising the new site. We've posted a special code in BOLD RED at one of the pages that will stay active at the site until 10:30 a.m. PST on Friday, March 28. Email us with the code before that date and time and you'll be entered to win a free Premium membership in Better World Club. (Hint: it's not at the member site or in any archived newsletter article.) One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entrants. Your opinions on the site won't affect your chances of winning, so go ahead and tell us what you really think.

Like what you see and can't wait to hear if you've won? Join now! Already a member? Visit our new homepage for easy access to updating your member profile, member discounts, and more!

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Read Last Issue's Top Story:

- 100% of BWC Staff Surveyed Agree That You Should Take Our Membership Survey

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New Member Discount on Budget and Penske Moving Truck Rentals!

Moving? Yeah, we figured it would only be a matter of time until you got run out of town. We can't help you back into the good graces of your neighbors after what happened, but we can get you a discount on your moving truck at not one, but TWO truck rental companies.

Better World Club members get a 15% discount at Budget Truck Rental. Log in to the member section of our website for discount code and reservation phone number information.

Better World Club members get a 10% discount at Penske Truck Rental. Log in to the member section of our website for discount code and reservation phone number information.

Looking for coverage for your company's or organization's fleet? Contact us!

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Washington Watch
NHTSA Finds No Electronic Malfunction Responsible for Unintended Acceleration in Toyotas

Then Toyota Voluntarily Recalls 2 Million More Vehicles for Possible Acceleration Problem


On February 8, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the results of its ten month study on possible electronic malfunctions that may have caused the unintended acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles, which resulted in the recall of millions of Toyotas worldwide since 2009. The study, conducted by NASA engineers, found no electronic defects that could have caused the acceleration incidents reported by Toyota customers.

On February 24, Toyota announced the recall of over 2 million more vehicles for an accelerator pedal design flaw that it has cited as the source of unintended acceleration problems since its initial recall. Department of Transportation regulators then stated that the recall announcement ended their investigation into the sufficiency of Toyota's response to the unintended acceleration problem.

So the NHTSA and Toyota are finally friends again. With this most recent recall, it seems like all parties involved might be willing to put the past behind them. But why has it taken so long: both for Toyota to announce its first recall after being notified of acceleration problems in its vehicles and for the Department of Transportation to investigate the source of problems about which it has been aware for at least as long?

Nearly a year ago we wondered if our vehicle regulatory system hadn't fallen into a rut and whether it needed a new Nader. Well, it would seem -- at least for the time being -- that Toyota's acceleration woes have been reason enough for the Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the relationship between automakers and its regulators.

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TravelCool Website of the Month
Get Out! Get Out Now!

Get Out in a Hurry with

Spring is right around the corner. But maybe you're just too fed up with the snow to wait for it and want to get somewhere warm before all the spring breakers show up. Or, maybe you're jealous of all the ski trip photos your friends up north and out east keep posting to the internet and want a piece of the action for yourself before the season's over. In either case, is a great resource for down to the wire deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals.

Search a specific destination, or let the site recommend you a package. Searches also include informative and entertaining blurbs on history and attractions at your destination. Need to get out now? Try

Have more than a minute? Try our spiffy multi-purpose booking engine.

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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?
The Clean Air Act's incredible economic benefits

by Laurie Johnson,

The stock market's too risky. The housing bubble popped. Looking for an incredibly strong, reliable investment? Look no further than the Clean Air Act.

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Nations React to Rising Oil Costs: Spain Lowers Speed Limit, US Whines

by Brian Merchant,

Once again, oil prices are rising around the world. Yes, the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East is jacking up global prices, but it's becoming more and more apparent that the trend is certain to continue. After all, even Saudi Arabia's own experts -- who sit on the world's largest oil stores -- admit that they drastically overestimated their supplies. Russia, whose huge economy depends on oil, is forging into dangerous arctic waters to drill. It's getting clearer: good ol' peak oil is nigh. And some nations, like Spain, are already moving to react to a new, oil strapped world -- for one thing, the country is lowering its speed limit. Other nations -- guess who? -- aren't doing anything.

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Can you imagine paying a voluntary gas tax? Some already do

by Sebastian Blanco,

If you've got the money to buy an electric car, would you be willing to pay a voluntary gas tax? How about if you're an avid biker, and are using public roads without buying much gas should you chip in to keep those roads in good repair? Or what if you just want to remind yourself that what you're pumping into your car isn't exactly good for the environment?

Questions like these have been raised and answered by a group of concerned citizens in Harrisonburg, VA since late 2000. Called the Voluntary Gas Tax campaign where people donate a bit of money for every gallon of gas they use the idea is to rethink how much we rely on petroleum, and to make clear that, "the price of gasoline and other oil products does not reflect the actual costs that our global community incurs as a result of our dependence on oil."

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