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Backwards Budgeting, City Love, and Dangerous Hybrids

Highlights from around the Network today: Political posturing jeopardizes transportation progress, love is in the (city) air, and hybrid cars pose a greater risk to pedestrians and cyclists. Here's your Valentine's Day roundup.

House Republicans' Budget Favors Wasteful Status Quo over Proven Innovations: Deron Lovaas at the NRDC's Switchboard reports that House Republicans are taking aim at reforms enacted by the Obama administration without regard for their merits. The Republican budget calls for maintaining spending levels for highways and bridges, "programs where money is simple-mindedly shoveled out by formula to state government bureaucracies with no regard to potential return on investments, performance of investments, or merit," Lovaas writes. Meanwhile, innovative programs like the Obama Administration's TIGER grants, which nurture competition among government entities and focus on performance outcomes, would be curtailed. "If we want government to be more effective, if we want to avoid big, wasteful project mistakes, then this program design should be copied, not chopped," Lovaas writes. "One thing's certain -- the House Republican budget-meisters have set a mighty low bar with their transportation proposal; it shouldn't be too hard to come up with something smarter and less wasteful."

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Finding Love in the City: Urban Indy argues that urban settings are the best place to look for love. By their very nature, cities offer the possibility of chance encounters with all kinds of individuals. That's why many media outlets will be cataloging the best cities to look for love this holiday, blogger Graeme Sharpe says. "The city offers many advantages to the aspiring lover that can’t be found in low-density, sprawl neighborhoods, even those with large populations. This is because urban areas help people meet in unique ways and help keep those contacts relevant." Plus, Graeme and Urban Indy readers share their tales of urban romance: sharing apartment walls, bonding over historic buildings and other stories about amorous urbanists.

Hybrid Cars More Dangerous to Pedestrians and Cyclists: Straight Outta Suburbia focuses on a new report [PDF] from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that hybrid vehicles were involved in "significantly" more collisions than vehicles with internal combustion engines, under certain circumstances. Some car companies, including Nissan, have begun seeking engineering solutions to the problem, including innovations like an artificial sound system. But better planning for less car dependent cities is the safest solution, the blog notes. "It's very difficult to get a handle on the problems caused by cars just by trying to improve the cars themselves. One solution (hybrid drive train) can create another problem (higher pedestrian and cyclist risk)."

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