June 10, 2010

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In The News
Colorado Auto Shop Pitches Re-refined Oil Changes

BWC President Mitch Rofsky Weighs In

It's Certainly No Cruder Than Recycled Toilet Paper

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Gas-Saving Tips
The Recession's Not Over Yet!

Save Gas by Downsizing and Cutting Back on Bling

- Smaller vehicles are inherently more fuel efficient. Plus, smaller cars are now being made with more interior space and include safety features to better protect passengers in collisions with larger vehicles. See our archived newsletters for BWC's high mileage reviews. (See below for this month's.)

- It's fun to pimp your ride, but if your new wheels and tires are wider (or have a wider tread) than the stock set, they might decrease your fuel efficiency. Keep your stock wheels and tires available for long trips.

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Top Story
To AAA Mid-Atlantic, Bikes Mean "War!" ...On Motorists

AAA National Says They Didn't Mean It. . .

Meanwhile, DC Plans for Bike Lanes on Pennsylvania Ave Look Increasingly Like AAA's

On June 8th, the Washington DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced its new plan for the bike lanes set to open on the one mile stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue NW from the White House to the Capitol building ("the Promenade of Presidents"). Under DDOT's original plan, the leftmost traffic lanes on either side of the road were to form a wide bicycle corridor down the center of the Avenue, with bicyclists traveling in opposite directions separated by a median, and cyclists separated from motor vehicle traffic by a buffer zone. But that was all before the "War."

In a May 3rd press release, AAA Mid-Atlantic took a strong stance against DDOT's plan, insisting that the removal of two lanes of car traffic would lead to too much congestion in the heart of the capital to justify the opening of the bike lanes. The release recommended that "lane closures...be approached with extreme caution to avoid excessive traffic delays and the diversion of motorists into neighborhood streets." We can't be 100% sure, but maybe it was AAA Mid-Atlantic's fear of even further delays that caused them to recommend the removal of speed bumps from those same neighborhoods. (Or maybe they just need to get their stories straight on neighborhood safety.)

Shortly after that press release, AAA Mid-Atlantic Managing Director of Public Affairs Lon Anderson released his own statement complaining about the DC government's "war on motorists."

Apparently, that worried AAA's national public affairs office, which then made an attempt to distance AAA national from the statements of Mid-Atlantic by reiterating their "share the road" message. Even so, it looks like AAA Mid-Atlantic, which did back down to pressure from national and issue a release on bike safety, has won this first battle (even if they're the only ones who seem to think they're fighting a war).

DDOT's new plan has restored the left lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue to motorists, and bike lanes will be in the median. As a result, the bike lanes will be significantly narrowed in some places, with no physical barrier between cyclists riding in opposite directions. And in others places, there will no longer be a buffer between cyclists and motor vehicle traffic. Strange, considering that DDOT's principal justification for amending its plan was its concern for cyclists' safety, which was echoed by AAA spokespeople. (Apparently a wide bike lane would look too much like any other lane for a motorist not to just drive into it.) What's more, because bike lanes will be in the median, it's likely that cyclists will now come into contact with pedestrians waiting for crossing signals in the safe zones at the center of the road.

DDOT denies having given in to pressure from AAA -- or anyone else, but its readiness to return Pennsylvania Avenue's contested left lanes to DC's motorists in the name of safety seems a little too conveniently in line with the position espoused by AAA in its yellow press.

Ironically, the results of the same poll used by AAA Mid-Atlantic to justify its claim of bike lanes drawing the "ire of motorists" give good reason to think that expanded bike lanes would in fact lessen congestion. From AAA Mid-Atlantic's initial press release: "20 percent of surveyed AAA members in the District said the changes would compel them to become regular bicycle commuters." Considering that not nearly that percentage of DC commuters currently travel by bike, that's a potentially huge number of people getting out of their cars and onto their bikes. Complete Story

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Intex Solutions

Sustainable Commercial Carpet and Textile Care

Intex Solutions is a leading company in the care of commercial carpets and other interior finishes. Intex is based in Los Angeles and has served the corporate and retail sectors for over 30 years, maximizing the appearance and life of interior surfaces while providing care in an environmentally responsible manner.

Intex seeks to set a standard for small businesses in environmentally responsible practices. Their proprietary EcoTex system achieves superior cleaning quality and conserves valuable water resources while protecting human health and the environment. Its primary cleaning agent, EcoTex H, has already earned the cleaning industry's highest environmental credential, the Green Seal Certification. What's more, Intex cleans CO 2 OL by offsetting any climate-changing gas released by its normal energy usage during cleaning with a donation to the Carbon Fund. Complete Story

Do you need fleet roadside assistance coverage? Learn more about our fleet program at our fleet roadside assistance page.
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Washington Watch
Corrections - Last Washington Watch:

Hey, If You're Going to Use That Drill, How About Some Novocaine?

In the April 20th issue of Kicking Asphalt, we published a piece by former BWC employee and Greenpeace organizer Michael Schultz defending President Obama's decision to increase drilling off the U.S. Coast.

The title of the article read, "Hey, If You're Going to Use That Drill, How About Some Novocaine? Or Is Obama's Policy One That An Environmentalist Can Love?"

Of course, this preceded the British Petroleum oil spill that is now a major crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

The editors of Kicking Asphalt wish to inform our readers that the words "Only A Crazy" were inadvertently left out of the headline before the word "Environmentalist." The headline should have read: "Or is Obama's Policy One That Only A Crazy Environmentalist Can Love."

. . .the word "Masochistic" might also have been accidentally dropped.

We apologize for any confusion.

Go to article.

Update from Michael Shultz, former Greenpeace employee

Obviously, the oil spill in the gulf changed my opinions a bit. If an opinion isn't subject to change when circumstances warrant, then it's not a very well thought-out opinion. This was the first major offshore oil problem in the US since 1969. But the effects could be devastating enough to change our public perception and open the way to new solutions to our energy problems. CompleteStory
TravelCool! Website of the Month

Local Volcano Acting Up?

Find Out if That Ash Cloud Will Affect Your Flight Before You Head to the Airport

Eyjafjallajokull may not be in your neck of the woods, but who's to say when the long dormant volcano in your (proverbial) backyard will start spewing huge plumes of ash into the sky disrupting flight schedules across your entire side of the continent? At least you needn't worry about wasting time waiting at the airport for a delayed or canceled flight.

FlightArrivals.com is a comprehensive, independent source of arrival and departure information. The site makes flight statuses searchable by flight number, airport, or by flights between two airports -- which makes more sense at the site than it sounds like it should. FlightArrivals.com also provides airport maps and information on routes, airlines, and seating, all available through a short series of clicks. Complete Story.

If You Liked That Site...

Be sure to take a peek at our 'Bodacious Page of Travel Links and Resources.'

BWC Alternative Fuel Report
Good News for Corn! Bad News for the Rest of Us

Biofuel Prices Rise Across the Country…Except, that is, for Ethanol




























We hate to be the herald of bad news, but c'mon, you should really be expecting this by now. It's nearly summer, and fuel prices are on the rise in every region. (Just in time for your vacation, yeah, but don't we go through this every year?) B20 and B99 prices are up on average $0.25 and $0.50 since March. CNG prices rose about $0.05 nationwide.

Only ethanol managed to buck the trend. E85 prices dropped on average $0.09 since our last report. Your minivan may run on biodiesel, but have some compassion.
Corn producers have been feeling the heat lately, and maybe falling ethanol prices will help stir up some demand. (Or maybe we're onto some sort of conspiracy here.)




































In any case, there's a silver lining for everyone planning to power their vacations on gas: According to an AP report, gasoline prices have likely peaked for the summer, meaning they should stay near or below the $3.00 mark. Both gasoline and diesel prices are down about $0.20 since before the Memorial Day holiday. Complete Story

Do you have an unnatural interest in fuel prices? Are you a fan of tables filled with important looking numbers? If so, we recommend finding a healthier hobby ( like following the swallows back to San Juan Capistrano). Or you can feed your fetish by checking out BWC's previous Alternative Fuel Report, " An Irishman Walks Into A Gas Station," published in the March 17th issue of 'Kicking Asphalt.'

BWC High-Mileage Review
The Little Engine That Very Nearly Almost Could

Thoughts on the not Unappealing 2010 Kia Rio

The newest Kia Rio will definitely get you up and over a hill. . .and that without your even chanting "I think I can." It's a solid compact sedan that will get you where you're going without breaking the bank (or even cracking it) – and in some measure of style as well. The 2010 model has undergone a new redesign that is in keeping with Kia's mission to market affordable cars that don't look like economy vehicles. The base model, however, is markedly Spartan both inside and out, so consumers looking for extra styling elements should opt for the more expensive LX or SX trims. (It's also necessary to choose the LX or SX version for amenities like power steering and air-conditioning that most consumers now expect to find standard, and versions equipped with anti-lock breaks can be hard to find.)

And, while the Rio gets great gas mileage and delivers a smooth, quiet ride, it's slow to accelerate and doesn't handle particularly well. Those aren't uncommon characteristics for an entry-level compact car, but the Kia Rio also ranks lower in side crash test ratings than other small cars with similar profiles, like, say, the 2010 Honda Fit we reviewed in our last edition of Kicking Asphalt Insurance. So, it might be easy to pass on the Rio for a similarly equipped car of similar size, even if there's a difference in price.

Kia's long-term, comprehensive warranty, though, does help the 2010 Rio stand out somewhat from the field. As far as dependability and perceived quality go, the Rio – and Kia in general – definitely have the competition beat there.

In general, the 2010 Rio isn't a bad ride. It's inexpensive, gets good mileage, comes with a great warranty, and doesn't necessarily look like your decision to buy one was a downgrade. The Rio certainly isn't a "can't." It will get you where you're going and back again, but you might have to pay more for the features that make the trip more pleasant.

Complete Story

Recall Information
May 2010 Recalls

You can check out the complete List of May Recalls, or go directly to a particular manufacturer:

Big Dog / BRP / Chrysler / DTNA / Eaton / EZ Loader / Fabtech / Farber Specialty Vehicles / FCP Groton / Fleetwood / Ford / General Motors / Kustom Fit / Lamborghini / Load Rite / Main Mobility / Max-Trac / Mobility Works / Newmar / Nissan / Skyline / Subaru / Suzuki Thule / Toyota / UFI Filters / Volvo / Wildcat

Lemon Information
The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt

Better World Club's "Lemon Information" highlights consumer complaints against a different car model each month. We are not editorializing or claiming that these cars are necessarily lemons. Instead, we are merely providing information and ask readers to form their own opinions.

Component: Steering
Complaint: Vehicle veers left. Defect was addressed by GM recall of which customer was notified one week before the defect resulted in a crash (12,000 miles).

Component: Power train: automatic transmission: lever and linkage: column shift
Complaint: Customer attempted to back out of a parking space but the accelerator did not respond. She applied more pressure and the car accelerated quickly, resulting in a crash.

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