Setting Up •
What America Should Learn
- Fuel-efficient cars
We have seen a handful of gas-guzzling SUVs
here, but by and large the cars in Europe are much smaller than American
vehicles. They have smaller versions of the American minivan, which
friends have dubbed “minivan wannabees.” These seat 5 and have a bit of
cargo space in the back. Clean diesel cars and buses are very popular;
buses in Strasbourg proudly claim to be equiped with catalytic converters.
On high ozone days, the speed limit on highways is automatically dropped
20 km/hr to reduce pollution.
The Smart car shown here behind Brennan is just the most extreme case of a
tiny, fuel-efficient car. These are ideal for parking in cities, and
you’d think that they wouldn’t dare venture out on the highway, but we
have seen them going over 60 mph.
- Parking advisories
- Towns and cities with central underground parking
facilities have electronic signs that are constantly updated with the
number of available parking spots at the various garages, along with
arrows indicating how to proceed to the garages. Makes it rather efficient
to get to an available parking spot.
- Public transportation
- Of course, Southern California is as
backwards as they come here. Still, the Paris Métro is excellent. You are
never more than about 500 m from a Métro stop, and if you are willing to
throw in the bus system, too, the public transportation system is
- Car-free zones
- Strasbourg has a large section downtown that is
free from automobile traffic. It is a pleasure strolling around the
center of town, which is packed with shops, cafés, and restaurants on the
ground level, and apartments above.
- Mobile credit-card readers
- Every restaurant and shop in France
takes Visa, both as a debit and a credit card. Waiters bring a small
battery-powered card reader to the table to permit you to type in your
security code, in the case of a debit transaction, or prints out the
necessary paperwork, for a credit transaction. Evidently, these have been
popular for over 5 years. Why haven’t they made it to the States???
This page was last modified on Sat, Aug 18, 2001.