Segway sales shoot up

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read each week as she weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

These days, Hollywood is green, and it’s not just because all the stars drive hybrid cars. The 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival, which started last week and runs through the end of June, partnered with green company NBC Universal for opening and closing night festivities. Attendees are encouraged to recycle all paper, plastic, wood and glass, and organizers used eco-friendly inks and recycled paper for printed materials. Nevermind that Aunt Ruth has been using recycled paper for years, and Hollywood acts like it was born yesterday. Catering features organically grown produce purchased from farms within a 150-mile radius. Energy comes from biodiesel-fueled generators. Carbon emissions from the festival will be offset by TerraPass, which funds clean-energy and carbon-reduction projects, including wind power and landfill gas capture. Aunt Ruth couldn’t have planned a greener film festival herself!

It sounds good in theory: legislation that promotes sustainable communities. Senate Bill 375, introduced by Sen. Darrell Steinberg—a friend of the environmental movement—requires regional-transportation planning agencies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions by developing transportation models that create “preferred growth scenarios,” which implement such sustainable measures as infill, mixed-used and transit-oriented development. But Ruth spoke to an environmental justice bigwig from Los Angeles who expressed concern about California Environmental Quality Act streamlining written into the bill. CEQA requires development projects to submit documentation about the cumulative environmental impact of a project on the local community, and it’s one of the most important tools environmental-justice advocates have at their disposal. S.B. 375, as it currently stands, would exempt certain projects from CEQA review.

As gas prices go up, up, up, Auntie Ruth isn’t surprised to see more pedestrians and bikers around town. What she didn’t expect to see, at least in her lifetime, was every other person riding around on Segways! The sales of Segways have risen to an all-time high. The awkward, two-wheeled, electric scooters top out at 12.5 mph and get up to 25 miles per charge. Of course, at the cost of $5,000 each, Aunt Ruth is pretty sure that not everyone will run out and buy one. While she supports almost anything that doesn’t run on gasoline, it might be cheaper, and a little safer, to invest in a nice bicycle.