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Underwater Homes And Bike Valets: The Latest In Housing & Transport

Vegas Tops in Submerged Cities

The latest dip in the U.S. housing market begs the question of how many homeowners are underwater. U.S. home prices in the first part of this year reached new lows, following the dead-cat bounce of 2010.

The website Zillow.com also found that “negative equity” in homes reached a new high. Negative equity is geek-speak meaning houses that are financially underwater; the homeowner owes more for the house than it’s worth.

Nationally, Zillow says 28.4 percent for single-family homes are underwater. San Diego does a bit better than average with a 26 percent figure. The housing market that’s worst off is Las Vegas, where 85 percent of homes are worth less than their owners owe for them.

All Priuses will be Plug-Ins, or Maybe Not

A few days ago Green.autoblog reported Toyota Priuses would all come with plug-in capability, starting in 2014. A plug-in hybrid does basically the same as a Chevy Volt. Plug it in overnight and you can drive it gas-free for a few miles before the charge is gone and the hybrid engine takes over.

This “fact” of Toyota’s intent was first reported in Japan’s Nikkei newspaper. But Toyota now says Nikkei got it wrong. An environmental communications manager at Toyota told Plugin Cars, “The report is not accurate… There is no formal plan to make all Priuses plug-in by 2014.”

Too bad. It was a good story while it lasted. One review said the plug-in Prius will go about 14 miles on battery alone. Chevy claims the Volt will go 40 miles on a battery, but some reviews call that an exaggeration.

Get a Guy to Park Your Bike in Santa Monica

I was reading an online description of the 20th Annual Santa Monica Festival, and how it embraced biking as the preferred was of getting around. You’d expect that kind of thing in such a politically-correct place. But the thing that caught my eye was a photo showing a team of valets parking bikes.

Valet bike parking is something that’s described as “a common feature at Santa Monica events.” Valet parking of cars I’d believe. But bikes?? Do they want to make sure all the bikes at an event are in nice neat rows? Do they really want to spare bikers the inconvenience of finding a tree or post they can lean their bike up against? Your guess is good enough.

Comments

Avatar for user 'kneel28'

kneel28 | May 12, 2011 at 5:42 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

Re: bike valet...

The point of a bike valet is to have a staffed, monitored area where people can safely leave their bikes at festivals and other high-traffic events. It's useful when the number of bikes being parked exceeds the number of racks available. Leaning your bike against a tree or post is not sufficient to deter thieves, as these objects don't support the use of high-security U-shaped locks and are not clustered close enough together for an attendant to watch them.

With someone always on hand to watch the bikes and pass out claim tickets, people can use their bikes to get to these high-traffic events without worrying that they'll get stolen. It's not "politically correct"; it's simply a way of removing an impediment to people using their bikes to get around. And it makes good economic sense to boot --- the city provides a bike valet in front of a popular row of bars and restaurants every weekend to handle a crush of bikes that would normally overwhelm the supply of racks. The bike valet area is always close to full, and enables a lot more people to patronize the businesses than would otherwise be the case.

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Avatar for user 'Tom Fudge'

Tom Fudge, KPBS Staff | May 13, 2011 at 8:44 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

Well... now I know!

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