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Posts tagged "transportation"
Asker evforija Asks:
Self-driving cars are the ultimate self-indulgence.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Seriously! I appreciate innovation in its many forms, but this seems like a colossal waste of engineering know-how and R&D resources. Grinds my gears as the kids say… m




Driving directions between two houses in Florida (specifically, a suburb of Orlando) that share a back garden fence: “7.0 mi17 mins”. Via Eric C, via Eric Fisher.


It’s a more complex problem than just low density, but an easier one to fix. The suburbs need a retrofit.

Brilliant. Hammers home my earlier post questioning the value of investing in self-driving cars in that 1) it’s not our cars, it’s our infrastructure that needs a make over and 2) suburbs are the worst.

Why is there a push for self-driving cars? I get monkeying around with technology - there are new things to discover, it’s fun and educational, and of course R&D leads to great products that make our lives easier.

But I am having such a hard time understanding why we need self-driving cars. Our cities and highways are not going away. After all, we’re too dumb to even stripe roads for bike lanes, which require the cheapest tech of all: paint applied by a guy in an orange vest. In this context, self-driving cars seems like a misuse (even abuse) of R&D funds.

To me, self-driving cars seems like the wrong answer to a very old problem: transportation and travel still require very old technologies - e.g., a system of crude roads and fragile highways. Why do we need self-driving cars considering that our cities and towns can barely fill pot holes?


RobotCar is working with Nissan to find a way to make the Leaf EV drive itself for way less money than what Google pumps into its self-driving cars. How does it work?

There’s a new-fangled gadget in town. So far I’ve seen parked here - a Nissan Leaf, some Chevy Volts, and what looked to be a Toyota Prius Wagon?

"Quaker Steak & Lube" Greenville, South Carolina. I took a quick trip to visit family. They live near this, thing.


Roads Cover 4.8 square miles of Manhattan

Howler and Yoon, winners of the Audi Urban Future Award image a NYC where roads become soccer fields and solar panels.

(via capitalnewyork)

Good read on why Russians use dashcams. Bottom line: To record evidence for courts.

The Russian courts don’t like verbal claims. They do, however, like to send people to jail for battery and property destruction if there’s definite video proof. That is why there’s a new, growing crop of dash-cam videos featuring would-be face-beaters backing away to the shouts of “You’re on camera, f@cker! I’m calling the cops!”

Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law.

Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old–the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.

And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the “accident,” the offending driver–often an elderly lady–is confronted by a crowd of “witnesses,” psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.

And then, sometimes, someone will jump under your car at a crossing, laying on the asphalt, simulating a badly hurt pedestrian waiting for that cop conveniently parked nearby. This dramatic extortion scheme was common, until the Age of the Dash-cam. Oh, and there are such juicy, triumphant tales about of would-be extortion victims turning the scheme around and telling the cast members to pay them money or they’re going to jail for this little performance! Don’t try it.

While those lucky enough to traverse the Russian roads with an American or other Western passport are hassled less, the Russian Highway Patrol is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes. Dash-cams won’t protect you from being extorted for cash, because your ass shouldn’t have been speeding. It will however keep you safer from drunks in uniform, false accusations and unreasonable bribe hikes.

More at Animal New York

We pile our snow in the street cuz that’s how we roll. That goofy, architectural identity-crisis is our City Hall, where I worked in the planning department for a few years mentored by this guy… (pic via a FB friend).

Asker rareharvest Asks:
ha, just attempted to find the listing for my city's next budget meeting, and after five solid minutes of searching through their website, I found the budget&finance section which listed lots of PDF's of information, but nothing at all about meetings. Well done, Prescott.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi rareharvest,

You’re referring to my little challenge in this post to find your local government’s next budget meeting and agenda. Thanks for trying and writing me back!

Local government processes do not cater well to the residents they claim to serve. Some cities do, don’t get me wrong! But overall, most government websites bury and hide the most basic of services and local laws. You can take my challenge to find a meeting a bit further - try to find out how to slap a solar panel on to your roof (good luck).

Software developers repackaged their existing products and rebranded them as a tech-service called “Smart Cities.” Like I wrote earlier, IBM and others claim they have the ultimate solution - a magic bullet - that will help resolve the simplest of local government issues, such as finding your city’s calendar of events and streamlining the permitting process (they make bolder claims, but don’t get me started).

What strikes me most is that rareharvest’s experience is not uncommon.

In fact, I’d argue that government websites and bureaucracies are often times in direct contradiction to the community’s governing charter. A charter is a town or city’s “constitution.” It’s a document that lays out how your city will function and was probably written over a hundred years ago. It covers budgets, elections, growth, conservation, “health and welfare” of residents, etc. Your charter outlines how your government is formed and the services it will allow and provide. They’re surprisingly similar to the U.S. Constitution.

Anyway, Smart Cities overpromises and underdelivers. The upside is that cities, residents, and companies recognize that there needs to be a better way to manage our communities, and Smart Cities is a bridge to a more efficient, less frustrating bureaucracy. 




NYC bus and subway commuters are greeted—inexplicably—by cheering crowds. There, wouldn’t that make your morning ride to work better?

(via Gothamist)

People are awesome! High-five if you’ve ridden the A C E…

(via wnyc)

Great catch by bike-transportation tumblrer CityMaus on how USA Today weirdly focused on how a good celebrities should act, rather than a celebrity’s good acts.


USA Today has reported that LeBron James rides his bicycle to and from his basketball games. This article made the headlines on the USA Today website because of how abnormal it is in America for a rich and famous basketball star to use a bicycle for transportation.

Instead of explaining the real reasons LeBron rides his bicycle to games, the article highlights how unusual LeBron is. It sounds patronizing and almost seems to be mocking James:

LeBron James, environment MVP.

The Miami Heat star reduces his carbon footprint the same way a 12-year-old might, by riding his bicycle to basketball games. The 6-9, 250-pound three-time NBA MVP has been doing this for a while now, taking advantage of South Florida’s warm climes (sic). But that still doesn’t make it any less unusual.

“He’s a different animal,” teammate Dwyane Wade told Fox Sports’ Chris Tomasson on Tuesday. “He’s a different beast. What can you say?”

LeBron probably rides his bicycle to games because he likely gets there faster than he would if he were stuck in traffic. It’s probably more therapeutic for him than being stressed out behind the wheel, and it probably clears his mind and relaxes him before and after his basketball games.

But the USA Today article didn’t acknowledge these benefits. Instead, James is an outcast. He’s doing something that only a 12-year-old would do.

I don’t fault the USA Today reporter for his portrayal of James. He was probably trying to be playful rather than patronizing. But the portrayal of James as an outcast only further reinforces the belief that bicycles aren’t truly a viable mode of transportation. This perception is systemic in our society because we have become so dependent on motor vehicles.

Perhaps 20 years from now an article entitled “NBA Player Drives Car To Games” will make headlines because it will be so abnormal and old-fashioned to drive an automobile to the game.

theurbancountry, 19.12.12.

We’ll be seeing more of these aging-cities stories in the coming years. And the push-back from city and local governments will make the infrastructure issues even worse. A study will be conducted (or several studies), and it will show that cities are under-prepared to deal with the variety of climate impacts. The solutions are expensive, and benefits are difficult to quantify in the public’s mind.

This piece in the Toronto Star outlines a recent study that concludes the city’s roads and sewer systems are vulnerable to increased environmental impacts. Some members of the city council didn’t like what the study found, and they parade the usual tropes to avoid action - that investing in infrastructure based on science will kill jobs, the climate models are wrong, that climate science is incomplete, etc.

A study commissioned by the city predicts heavier rain storms, but less snow in 2040. How will the city adapt its outdated infrastructure?

Toronto must overhaul its aging infrastructure to adapt to dramatic new climate change projections — a process that could cost billions — say some councillors and environmentalists.

But some fear the city is not taking the matter seriously enough, as the chair of the Parks and Environment Committee remains skeptical of the projections.

A study commissioned by the city and set to be discussed Tuesday by the parks committee predicts temperatures about 4.4 degrees warmer and a marked increase in extreme storms by 2040.

“If people are concerned about a crumbling Gardiner, this study makes it look like a teeny, tiny pothole,” said Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “If we’re not paying attention, it will literally be catastrophic.”

The study, called “Toronto’s Future Weather and Climate Driver Study,” foresees Toronto’s climate 30 years in the future as marked by fewer but more intense storms, less snow in the winter and increased heat and humidity in the summer.

Torontonians have already braved three of the worst storms in the city’s recorded history in the past 12 years, and sweltered through the earliest known heat wave on June 19, 2012.

The city’s roads, sewers, storm drains and electrical grids were simply not built to withstand the new climate, said Councillor Gord Perks, a member of the committee.

“If you took Toronto and put it in another part of the world, our infrastructure would be wrong for that weather. This is the same kind of problem,” he said.

He said the study means the city has “billions of dollars of work to do,” including expanding the capacity of sewers and re-engineering green spaces to accommodate ponds of rainwater.

Toronto Star


World’s First Electric Car Ferry Recharges in 10 Minutes |

The world’s first battery electric car ferry is under development in Norway. It’s capable of carrying 120 cars and 360 passengers, and it can fully recharge in just 10 minutes.

Called ZeroCat, the 260-foot ferry will enter passenger service in 2015 on a route between Lavik and Oppedal. The ferry’s electric powertrain was designed by Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand with battery technology from Siemens, and it will be run by ferry operator Norled.

Instead of a 2,000-hp diesel engine — which powers the current ferry and sucks up over 264,000 gallons of fuel each year — ZeroCat features an 800 kW battery that weighs 11 tons and drives two screws. Though the battery is quite heavy, the ship only weighs half as much as a conventional catamaran ferry, thanks to twin hulls made of aluminum. Those hulls are a slim design, which further increases efficiency, with Siemens estimating the ferry will need only 400 kW to cruise at 10 knots.

Can’t wait to ride in it. I should be in Norway early fall…

Update: Sharp eyed tumblr ricanontherun noticed the ship is flying under what seems to be the Puerto Rico state flag. Norled is a subsidiary of a larger transportation company called DSD, based in Norway. The flag is the same, but has a slightly italicized effect, slanting the star and stripes. As far as I can tell, DSD has been flying the flag since 1903. Unclear the legal issues. It’s possible DSD registers in PR. Anyone?


People struggle through floodwaters in Jakarta’s central business district on January 17, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thousands of Indonesians were displaced and the capital was covered in many key areas in over a meter of water after days of heavy rain.

[Credit : Ed Wray/Getty Images]