Better World Club

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Does This Website Make Our Heads Look Big?

Send Us Your Feedback on the New!

And Search for a Chance to Win a Free Membership While You're at It

Better World Club has the services you want -- like 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance for your cars, motorcycles, RVs, AND bicycles; maps and trip routings; and insurance -- and we're constantly striving to ensure that the Better World Club experience reflects a picture of, well, a better world.

On January 18, we launched the newest version of, which includes not only a handsome new redesign (and you'd tell us the truth if you didn't think so, right?) but also a number of new features developed with the needs and convenience of our members in mind.

Our homepage now features links to news articles on energy, the environment, and progressive transportation (including, of course, links to select pieces from Kicking Asphalt). The new homepage also makes it easier for members to renew their memberships and to locate discount information for hotels and rental cars -- and for all of the other great discounts available to Better World Club members.

But enough about what we think. We want your opinions, too! So, what do you think of the new site? What questions or issues would you like to see featured in one of our surveys? (We'll be publishing results in Kicking Asphalt, by the way. Now if we could only get something similar going for our spouses we could save some money on all that counseling.) What do you like? Dislike? Does the new banner suit our complexion? Contact us!

Don't worry. There's something in it for you! Although we know that our members (and future members) are the kindest and most generous people out there, we thought we should do something just as kind and generous to thank everyone for praising the new site. We've posted a special code in BOLD RED at one of the pages that will stay active at the site until 10:30 a.m. PST on Friday, March 28. Email us with the code before that date and time and you'll be entered to win a free Premium membership in Better World Club. (Hint: it's not at the member site or in any archived newsletter article.) One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entrants. Your opinions on the site won't affect your chances of winning, so go ahead and tell us what you really think.

Like what you see and can't wait to hear if you've won? Join now! Already a member? Visit our new homepage for easy access to updating your member profile, member discounts, and more!

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New Discount on Budget and Penske Moving Trucks

Moving? Yeah, we figured it would only be a matter of time until you got run out of town. We can't help you back into the good graces of your neighbors after what happened, but we can get you a discount on your moving truck at not one, but TWO truck rental companies.

Better World Club members get a 15% discount at Budget Truck Rental. Log in to the member section of our website for discount code and reservation phone number information.

Better World Club members get a 10% discount at Penske Truck Rental. Log in to the member section of our website for discount code and reservation phone number information.

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Get Out! Get Out Now!

Get Out in a Hurry with

Spring is right around the corner. But maybe you're just too fed up with the snow to wait for it and want to get somewhere warm before all the spring breakers show up. Or, maybe you're jealous of all the ski trip photos your friends up north and out east keep posting to the internet and want a piece of the action for yourself before the season's over. In either case, is a great resource for down to the wire deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals.

Search a specific destination, or let the site recommend you a package. Searches also include informative and entertaining blurbs on history and attractions at your destination. Need to get out now? Try

Have more than a minute? Try our spiffy multi-purpose booking engine.

''Trailblazers for Good''

Is Your Roadside Assistance Green?

by Michelle Martini,

National brands for roadside assistance promise to be quick and helpful, but a new one is also promising to be green. Better World Club offers bike and car roadside assistance in speedy fashion, plus they give 1% of revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Spring Break! WOOOO!

Get Them There Safely With a Trip Routing From BWC...After That it's up to You

Congratulations. You finally got that last kid to college. And now it's time for that final hurdle before adult responsibility: spring break. You may not be able to chaperone everything that happens once everyone arrives at wherever it is they're going this year, but you can make sure that your child gets there quickly and safely with a custom trip routing.

Better World Club's trip planning service includes state by state driving directions with maps, narrative routing instructions, points of interest, and mileage guides for routes anywhere in the United States or Canada (if your kid's going abroad, it's all up to you). Members can order trip routings at the member section of our website. Heck, after this is over, you might need to take a trip of your own.

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Recall Troubles Over for Toyota?

NHTSA Finds No Electronic Malfunction Responsible for Unintended Acceleration

Then Toyota Voluntarily Recalls 2 Million More Vehicles for Possible Acceleration Problem...Huh?

On February 8, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the results of its ten month study on possible electronic malfunctions that may have caused the unintended acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles, which resulted in the recall of millions of Toyotas worldwide since 2009. The study, conducted by NASA engineers, found no electronic defects that could have caused the acceleration incidents reported by Toyota customers.

On February 24, Toyota announced the recall of over 2 million more vehicles for an accelerator pedal design flaw that it has cited as the source of unintended acceleration problems since its initial recall. Department of Transportation regulators then stated that the recall announcement ended their investigation into the sufficiency of Toyota's response to the unintended acceleration problem.

So the NHTSA and Toyota are finally friends again. With this most recent recall, it seems like all parties involved might be willing to put the past behind them. But why has it taken so long: both for Toyota to announce its first recall after being notified of acceleration problems in its vehicles and for the Department of Transportation to investigate the source of problems about which it has been aware for at least as long?

Nearly a year ago we wondered if our vehicle regulatory system hadn't fallen into a rut and whether it needed a new Nader. Well, it would seem -- at least for the time being -- that Toyota's acceleration woes have been reason enough for the Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the relationship between automakers and its regulators.

The NHTSA didn't find any flaws in Toyota's electronic systems, but that it needed to enlist the support of NASA experts should have been an eye opener as regards the speed with which automotive technology has outpaced the ability of regulators to effectively monitor the industry and enforce appropriate regulations.

Thankfully, the NHTSA has now decided to propose rules that would require brake override systems and the installation of event data recorders in all passenger vehicles by the end of 2011. It will also broaden its research on the security of electronic control systems in general and will also research the placement and design of accelerator and brake pedals to reduce potential misapplication by drivers.

As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in his agency's announcement, ''The record number of voluntary recalls initiated by automakers last year is also very good news, and shows that we can work cooperatively with industry to protect consumers.'' Hopefully the lessons learned from the Toyota recall by both the government and the automotive industry will continue to shape the interaction of those two groups in an era of more and better technological innovations.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood can eat his cake, but he should keep some around to have for later as well.

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No News is Good News?

Not When You're Waiting on AAA's Public and Government Affairs Office

Massachusetts Trail Advocate Ignored after Requesting Meeting on Transportation Funding

Give Tom Michelman, President of the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, credit for patience. He didn't send one email to Lloyd Albert, Senior VP of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Southern New England (AAA SNE), but a long series of them between November 2010 and January of this year.

And what kind of response did he receive? Almost none.

Michelman never did receive a response to his request for a meeting to discuss AAA SNE's position on multi-modal transportation funding as it is currently provided for through the Highway Transportation Fund (HTF).

In our October 2010 edition of Kicking Asphalt, we reported on a proposal by the president and CEO of AAA Mid-Atlantic to eliminate funding for walking, bicycling, and mass transportation infrastructure from the HTF. In response to the AAA proposal, the DC based Rails to Trails Conservancy launched a petition drive to encourage AAA National to distance itself from Mid-Atlantic and support a transportation funding program that included funding for more than just roadways.

Michelman sent his initial request to meet with Albert of AAA SNE shortly after Rails to Trails had received an ambiguous response to a letter it sent to AAA National President Robert Darbelnet. As president of a large and active rail trail advocacy group, Michelman hoped to sit down with a representative from his local AAA region and clarify that organization's position on the HTF issue.

In his first -- and only -- response to Michelman, Lloyd Albert indicated only that, "AAA supports growing the overall transportation program, funded through user fees, to ensure we can meet the transportation challenges of the 21st Century," without commenting on Michelman's request for a meeting.

Michelman followed up, "asking that AAA SNE support keeping the Transportation Enhancement program in place as is," regardless of what the positions of AAA National or Mid-Atlantic might be. He also restated his desire to speak with a representative from AAA SNE either by phone or in person, acknowledging the possibility that AAA SNE's position might be more nuanced.

That message, sent at the end of November, met with no response, as did two other emails, the second of which questioned how a system of user fees would logically and effectively be structured to exact funds from walkers or cyclists. Michelman aptly observed that, "the public can’t choose some of the modes of a multi-modal system (bikeways and pedestrian bridges) without that infrastructure being funded," and that (in words we couldn't have chosen better ourselves), "the AAA stance is, unless [Albert] can argue logically otherwise, disingenuous."

It would seem that neither AAA Southern New England nor AAA National has any intention of openly supporting the continued funding of multi-modal transportation infrastructure from the Highway Transportation -- or of partnering with the rail trail movement and its many supporters. From here, the fight against the exclusion of all but automobiles from the HTF will continue in the Congress, and Better World Club welcomes the opportunity to partner with Rails to Trails and rail trail groups like the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in ensuring the funding of walking, bicycling, and public transportation infrastructure both now and into the future.

And in the meantime, if they're looking for roadside assistance without all of AAA's highway lobby baggage, we can probably recommend a reliable alternative.

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