Tag Archives | Transportation

In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars

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ACEA, COLIPED, via NPR

Could it happen in the United States, at least in dense urban areas? NPR reports on the exploding bicycle sales in Europe:

We know that Europeans love their bicycles — think Amsterdam or Paris. Denmark even has highways specifically for cyclists.

Indeed, earlier this month, NPR’s Lauren Frayer reported that Spain, which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country.

But it’s becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in Italy than cars — for the first time since World War II.

This prompted us to look at the figures across the 27 member states of the European Union for both cars and bicycles. New-car registrations for Cyprus and Malta weren’t available, so we took them out of the comparison.

Here’s what we found: Bicycle sales outpaced new-car sales last year in every one of those countries, except Belgium and Luxembourg.

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Two Lectures and One Interview: Eric R. Kandel on learning, memory, and individuality; Elon Musk on the Future of Energy and Transport; and Ladar Levison on Lavabit

via chycho

Two lectures and one interview well worth the watch:


I. Eric R. Kandel: The Molecular Biology of Memory Storage and the Biological Basis of Individuality
In my opinion and those of many others, the root cause of our society’s ills is how we deal with education, and the following lecture by Eric Kandel emphasizes this point. The argument is made that evolving, learning, memory; our humanity should be looked upon in a holistic manner. That our genes do not necessarily decide who we become; our culture, our methods of learning and teaching, our setting is what decides our individuality, and we, in large part, are in control of our future.


II. Elon Musk: the Future of Energy & Transport
Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have been all the rage lately, and rightfully so considering Tesla just blew away their quarterly earnings and Musk just revealed details of Hyperloop (pdf), a “hypothetical mode of high-speed transportation” which he has proposed.… Read the rest

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Why Walking Is Political

Commuters-on-railway-stat-008Via the Guardian, Will Self argues for the symbolic, basic importance of walking as a force against corporate and state control:

Put bluntly: deprived of mechanized means of locomotion – the car, the bus, the train – and without the aid of technology, the majority of urbanites, who constitute the vast majority of Britons, neither know where they are, nor are capable of getting somewhere else under their own power.

Year on year, the number of journeys taken on foot declines – indeed, on current projections walking will have died out altogether as a means of transport by the middle of this century. Now we are alienated from the physical reality of our cities.

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Nevada To Issue Red Licence Plates For Robot Drivers

robohjStarting this year, check the plates color to know whether the driver of another vehicle is human, or other. Singularity Hub reports:

Other states like Hawaii, Florida, and Oklahoma may follow Nevada’s example, paving the way for robot cars to operate all across the United States.

An extended campaign in Nevada by Google has led to a new host of provisions which will allow automated cars to legally drive in the state. Starting March 1st, 2012 innovators like Google can officially apply for a new kind of robot driver’s license. Automated vehicles will be able to travel the same streets and highways as human drivers, with only a red license plate marking them as robots. Once research on those automated cars is complete (which may take years), the Nevada Department of Motorized Vehicles will issue them a neon green license plate – an indication that the robot drivers are good to go.

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Dynasphere, Forgotten Vehicle Of The Future

Could the Dynasphere have replaced the car? Probably not, but it’s still fun to dream of an alternate world in which it did. Via the Museum of RetroTechnology:

The Dynasphere was invented Dr. J. H. Purves. In the picture below, the son of the inventor is at the controls, and apparently having some difficulties in steering; leaning this monowheel to one side is clearly not going to be easy. The Dynosphere was reported to have reached 30 mph on this run…[and] was said to have weighed 1000 pounds. One eye-witness states: “As a lad one day in the 1930s I went to the beach and saw a man trying to drive a huge wheel across the sands. It wasn’t very successful and wobbled about … I have always wondered what it was or whether I imagined it.”

dynawheel

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The True Cost of Commuting

I-80

Photo: Minesweeper (CC)

Via Mr. Money Mustache:

It was a beautiful evening in my neighborhood, and I was enjoying one of my giant homebrews on a deck chair I had placed in the middle of the street, as part of a nearby block’s Annual Street Party.

I was talking to a couple I had just met, and the topic turned to the beauty of the neighborhood. “Wow, I didn’t even realize this area was here”, the guy said, “It’s beautiful and old and the trees are giant and all of families hang out together outside as if it were still 1950!”. “Yeah”, said his wife, “We should really move here!”.

Then the discussion turned to the comparatively affordable housing, and the other benefits of living in my particular town. By the end of it, these people were verbally working out the details of a potential move within just a few months.

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General Motors’ Anti-Bicycling Advertising Campaign

The League of American Bicyclists highlights a fascinatingly awful, recent (now aborted) ad campaign from General Motors, commanding college students, “Reality sucks. Stop pedaling…start driving”. Yes — tune out the world, stop exercising, go into debt buying a $20,000 pickup truck:

If you are a student looking to add tens of thousands of dollars of long term debt, care little about the environment, and want pay through the nose for insurance, gas, and parking…GM has got a perfect deal for you. Bonus: it’ll make you fat and unhealthy! All you have to do is give up that dorky bicycle that’s easy to use, practically free, gets you some exercise and is actually fun to ride.

In case you were wondering, GM has a fine-sounding corporate responsibility statement: “As a responsible corporate citizen, General Motors is dedicated to protecting human health, natural resources and the global environment.”

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GOP Hopes To Slash Funding For Mass Transit, Biking, Walking

3524633909_f20d047323What’s the wave of the future of transportation? Highways! At least that’s the case according to our Republican-controlled Congress, who are eager to wipe out federal funding of public transit and bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure with a new six-year transportation bill. Streetsblog writes:

There has been speculation for months now that the House Republicans’ transportation bill proposal would be terrible for transit, biking, and walking. And sure enough, John Mica didn’t disappoint. The proposed bill, which has a working title of “A New Direction,” is decidedly pro-highway and anti- just about everything else.

The chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday released a six-year reauthorization proposal that would slash overall transportation funding 33 percent and eliminate dedicated funds for biking and walking.

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What Walkable Los Angeles Would Look Like

Suppose Los Angeles were like Paris, New York, et cetera, with dense, narrow, two-lane streets rather than wide, barren five-lane ones? Artist David Yoon conducted a “fantasy urban makeover in photographs” to show exactly this. On Narrow Streets LA, click on (actual) shots of Japantown, Santa Monica, Downtown, Melrose Avenue (below, real on left and photoshopped on right), and tons of other locations to reveal the far more pleasing, charming, and inviting narrowed versions — a fantastical vision of the non-car-dominated Los Angeles that never was but could have been:

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Less than 50 Years of Oil Left, HSBC Warns

Mad MaxRecently John Collins Rudolf reported in the New York Times:

The world may have no more than half a century of oil left at current rates of consumption, while surging demand from the developing world threatens to create “very significant price rises” before substitutes like biofuels can serve as viable alternatives, the British bank HSBC warns in a new report.

“We’re confident that there are around 50 years of oil left,” Karen Ward, the bank’s senior global economist, said in an interview on CNBC.

The bank, the world’s second largest in assets, further cautioned that growth trends in developing countries like China could put as many as one billion more cars on the road by midcentury. “That’s tremendous pressure on oil to power all those resources,” Ms. Ward said.

Substitutes, such as biofuels and synthetic oil from coal, could fill the gap if conventional supplies fall short, but only if average oil prices exceed $150 per barrel, the report notes.

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