Minneapolitans may be known for their humility, but they are seriously proud of their city. If you come to town to find out what's so high-tech about the place,
the mayor will pick you up in his gas-electric hybrid car and personally drive you around. (Well, he did it for me, anyway.) R.T. Rybak, the hyperkinetic, triathalon-running, cross-country-skiing, 49-year-old mayor of Minneapolis, drives his city-owned Toyota Prius, points out landmarks, and simultaneously gives me a historic overview.
The car is no self-righteous prop. Even as traffic congestion has increased
during Rybak's tenure, Minneapolis has be- come one of the first cities in the nation to bring emissions down below the levels prescribed by the Kyoto Protocol. Vehicle emissions are still increasing, but greenhouse-gas emissions from other sources have been reduced 15 percent in the past decade, by making buildings, factories and streetlights more energy-efficient and by increasing recycling. Rybak is also encouraging more, and greener, mass transit. The city's transit commission is testing hybrid buses that will cut emissions even further.