April 13, 2012

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AAA Watch
AAA Decrees New Version of 3-Foot Rule "Not Objectionable"

Now That It Removes an Exception Specifically Intended to Appease Motorists. Wait, What?

Are you sick of hearing about California's 3-foot rule yet? We have to admit, we're getting a little tired of tripping over those bottles of champagne we thought we'd be broaching back in 2011. The original bill had three main intentions: to define the "safe passing distance" for cars overtaking bicycles (3 feet); to permit cars to cross a double line in order to safely pass a cyclist; and to make an exception that, if a car is unable to allow 3 feet when passing a bike, it may still pass provided that it slow to 15 mph. The latter was intended as a concession to narrow, congested urban roads, and specifically catered to drivers who had no opportunity to pass in the oncoming lane. AAA and Governor Brown both objected to the idea that cars might have to slow down, citing the possibility of rear-end collisons or traffic jams. So State Senator Lowenthal has proposed a new bill, SB 1464, with language identical to the original...except without the exception allowing cars to pass closer than 3 ft. Mysteriously, Jim Brown of the California Bike Coalition asserts that AAA finds the new language "not objectionable."

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In The News
Better World Club: An Auto Club For Environmentalists
by Jackie Cassidy for Common Ground Magazine

Auto clubs have been around since drivers were still dreaming of paved highways. They defend the rights of motorists, provide resources for travelers, and offer an array of emergency roadside services. Millions of people trust AAA, AARP, Allstate, and others to keep them safe and informed while driving - especially those of us whose parents and grandparents relied on the same companies. Like other kinds of insurance, membership in an auto club is intended to give you guaranteed help during an emergency. It's also intended to provide drivers with peace of mind.

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Member Alert
Ask Us For Maps!

Hey folks: our office is so full of maps that we're worried about attracting a dangerous swarm of cartographers. Start thinking about taking summer road trips! Plan that long-overdue visit to Great Aunt Betty in Vermont! We have city, state, province and territory maps that cover the entire US and Canada; maps of National Parks (to go with the National Park Passes you can order through our member site); even waterproof maps of Hawaii so you can drip salt water all over them in the car. Check out the complete list by logging in and clicking on the Map Order link.
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Better World to Reward Ecologically-Friendly Towing Companies

Staff Writer Hates to Stereotype, But Secretly Hopes to Find Drivers Decked Out in Fair Trade Organic Coveralls

Let's be blunt: we believe that businesses should promote social and environmental responsibility. We also believe we can change the corporate status quo by being consumer advocates, partnering with like-minded businesses, and recognizing the gumption of businesspeople who rise above their competitors to fundamentally change the way their industry works.

In keeping with that mission, Better World Club is working with one of our towing networks to identify and reward green roadside service providers. We're asking towers questions about the efficiency of their fleets, the technology they use to improve dispatching efficiency, their investment in alternative fuels, and the ways that they recycle.

Participants have the chance to win a cash prize, and the company with the most environmentally-friendly service will receive a "Greenest of the Towing Industry" award, which includes a $1000 bio-diesel prize, at the Florida Tow Show in Orlando this spring.

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Better World Club Donates to Business for Democracy

Take Advantage of Your Member Discounts

We provide hundreds of discounts for products, services, hotels and car rentals - many of which are green! Click here to log on and take a look.

Williamsburg Environmental Group

Since they put it so eloquently, we'll let them speak for themselves. WEG is "a full-service environmental consulting and engineering firm that serves both the public and private sectors in providing simple, cost-effective solutions to today's complex environmental problems. We offer specialized environmental services in the areas of ecology, environmental planning, water resources, ecology, stream assessment and restoration, landscape architecture, golf course planning, construction administration, and regulatory support." WEG is also certified as a "Small, Women- and Minority-owned Business" by the state of Virginia, and Better World is proud to welcome them as partners.

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

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Member Special
Integrity Auto is a repair facility located in New Tripoli, PA. They are involved with the Extreme Green Business Initiative, a partnership which encourages independent shop owners to find new ways to improve and reduce their use of toxic substances. They're also offering a 10% discount to Better World Club members. Log in to the member section of our website to take advantage of the discount.
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Washington Watch
All High Gas Prices are Not the Same

Who's Getting the Money Makes a Difference.

Why Can't the Obama Administration Explain This?

Republicans are fond of attacking the Obama Administration for today's price of gasoline, which is averaging just about $4.00 per gallon.

Apparently, Secretary of Energy Chu and the President made some incriminating comments a number of years ago indicating that high gas prices weren't the worst thing in the world.

But all high gas prices are not the same. Oil-based products have some real flaws that only higher prices can mitigate.

We are subject to the whims of OPEC - and the "C" could stand for "Cartel" rather than "Countries." This means that the market is not setting the price. We should be actively trying to break the cartel by using less oil. Rising gas prices are a step toward doing so, by making alternatives more price competitive.

Fossil fuels create pollution and other "externalities"and the market doesn't force the oil companies to clean them up. Taxes can be used to clean them.

Then there's global warming/weirding. We need to reduce our gasoline usage if we are going to climatically calm the planet.

Given these facts, it is "market oriented" to have the full cost of fossil fuels like gasoline reflected in the marketplace. This could be done through a carbon tax. Or by cap-and-dividend, which would use part of the tax to clean up pollution and return the rest of it to the American taxpayers. But with the price higher, alternative fuels would become more desirable.

This is a far cry from where the dollars from today's oil purchases are going: into the hands of the cartel, the oil companies, and speculators.
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TravelCool Website of the Month
Don't Hitchhike With Strangers: Take a Roadtrip with New Friends

Ridejoy is a brand-new ride-sharing site with a whole lot of heart. The developers are passionate about their role in promoting collaborative consumption, and they have come up with a service that takes the hassle and uncertainty out of sharing a vehicle with strangers. Their users log in via Facebook, which they say is "a great way to show people you're a real person and not just some crazy person. Plus, when people use their real names they're more likely to be nice on the internet." Ridejoy's posting system prompts drivers to list their preferred departure time, number of available seats, and the cost of sharing gas: both riders and drivers are able to view information from each other's profiles (you get to choose what others see) so there's less fear of being stuck with an axe murderer - or a polka aficionado. Ridejoy currently serves the West Coast, but will soon be nation-wide.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Tops the Greenest Car List for 2012
by Leslie Guevarra

Making its debut in the U.S. market, the all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV has knocked the Honda Civic Natural Gas car from its eight-year reign as No. 1 on the annual Greenest Vehicles List compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy....With a combined city and highway fuel economy of 112 miles per gallon equivalent, the Mitsubishi subcompact fared the best among the 12 cars that made the Greenest List. It scored 58 out of a possible 100 points -- the highest tally ever -- in a list that for the first time is dominated by hybrids.

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Ford Focus Electric
by Nick Chambers

Many electric car companies are still trying to compensate for "glorified golf car syndrome." It's a kind of inferiority complex that pushes them to produce ultra-hip, spectacularly innovative, or screaming fast electric vehiclesand to brand them as revolutionaryeven though it drives the cost up and out of range for most consumers. What about folks who simply want an affordable, dressed-down, highway-capable family sedan that runs on electric drive technology that's been proven to work for 100 years?

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Next-Generation 2012 Smart ForTwo Electric Car Delayed
by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Earlier this year Daimler unveiled the third generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Offering much improved acceleration, range and charging capabilities on the previous generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, it has the potential to be the first truly highway-capable all-electric Smart we've seen.

In September, Smart's sister company Daimler said the car would be available in 30 worldwide markets by spring 2012. Now that date has been pulled back to September 2012.

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Toyota Prius plug-in eligible for California rebate, EPA mileage figures released
by Davey G. Johnson

Three years ago, Toyota bragged that the prototype plug-in versions of the Prius were regularly nailing 65 mpg in real-world combined electric-gasoline operation. With the production model about to drop, the company has released the official EPA figures: 95 mpg-e during fully electric operation and 50 mpg combined during normal hybrid use.

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