iHitch is to hitchhiking that CouchSurfing is to hotels. iHitch is just an idea, but key technologies (GPS phones, GPS in cars, Web2.0) are coming available in critical mass that could transform 'hitchhiking' into a mainstream, safe, reliable and cheap form of transportation. Some metro area carpool websites have already successfully started down this road.
Bicycles are the most efficient mode of transportation; walking is a distant second, followed by crowded vans and motorcycles, with everything else being relatively equal. This may change soon. WSJ online jokingly tests a new plug-in electric bike versus a standard racing model.
The Boys and the Subway A father's artistic account of his sons' love of the NYC subway system.
The Great NYC Commuter Race! A short by Streetfilms about Transportation Alternatives' annual event that pits a cyclist against a car and a straphanger in a race to Union Square from Fort Greene. Guess who wins?
Too much traffic? Can't find parking? Choking on smog? Worried about climate change? Gas prices too high, but you still have to drive? Send your city planner a link to the Online Encyclopedia of Transportation Demand Management strategies. [more inside]
Two visualization projects: All of the streets in the lower 48 United States: an image of 26 million individual road segments. No other features (such as outlines or geographic features) have been added to this image. And zipdecode, a unique map of US zipcodes.
How far away from work do you live? How much of your pay gets used up to get you to and from work, get you around town, and pay for where you live? As gas and food prices continue to rise, "affordability" has become a more critical notion for everyday Americans. The Center for Neighborhood Technology developed their Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which aims to help better inform renters and owners about the relationship of transportation options to where one lives.
I know a man who once went to Sioux City, not one of the world’s leading destinations, precisely because he had never been there before. More than a decade later he still talks about the experience, from the Sergeant Floyd obelisk to the dog track of North Sioux and the meat packing plant converted to a shopping mall. The same impulse explains a non-specialist’s reading a history of Byzantine iconography or a survey of Australian wildlife. Both offer a break in daily life and an enlargement of our sense of wonder and possibility. That awareness can provide a sense of transcendence, and connection, or even the spark of divine discontent that leads people to change their lives.Reading as Vacation, an essay by J. D. Smith and Subway Reader, pictures of people who read while using public transportation.
According to the breathless headline in the New York Times, it was "THE WORST STORM THE CITY HAS EVER KNOWN. BUSINESS AND TRAVEL COMPLETELY SUSPENDED. NEW-YORK HELPLESS IN A TORNADO OF WIND AND SNOW WHICH PARALYZED ALL INDUSTRY, ISOLATED THE CITY FROM THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, CAUSED MANY ACCIDENTS AND GREAT DISCOMFORT, AND EXPOSED IT TO MANY DANGERS." It became known as The Great Blizzard of 1888, and it occurred on this date, March 12, 1888. [more inside]
The Tata Nano (pic) is a car that costs less new than the amount I've spent on gas during single car trips, recently announced to the auto market in India. The Chery QQ ^, successful , widely exported, and recognized as the Hostage Taker's Vehicle of Choice by China Car Times, is the runner-up for the world's cheapest car but is still approximately twice as expensive. Yes indeed, the price of gas is not going to come back down. So much for my coast-to-coast road trips. [more inside]
TheDataWeb - a network of online data libraries on topics including census data, economic data, health data, income and unemployment data, population data, labor data, cancer data, crime and transportation data, family dynamics, vital statistics data
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of mankind" - H.G. Wells
Bike Hacks! Bored with your generic two-wheeler? Check out this collection of funky bicycle modifications. My favorite is the grocery cart.
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way. The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
There and Back Again: The Soul of the Commuter How long is your commute? Is it worth the personal and social cost? Nick Paumgarten in this week's New Yorker on the bargains Americans strike between their work lives and home lives.
“We work, we do not steal” is what the Rickshaw Wallahs have to say about it, whose means of livelihood the Kolkata assembly plans to ban soon, but hasn’t figured out an alternate source of income for yet. Meanwhile, the good old rickshaw has been finding a new home abroad, albeit one of a more novel nature. (More on the state of Transportaion in India, and a World Bank perspective on the facilities provided by the subcontinent. Plus, some more images of the Rickshaw.)
Livestock's Long Shadow, a new UN FAO report (full report) says livestock (cows, pig, sheep, etc.) generate more CO2 than all forms of transportation (cars, planes, etc) combined, with the worlds live stock expected to double by 2050.
Beautiful Subways --worldwide--from palatial to postmodern, folksy to brutalist (pee smells not included--and don't miss Tehran's)
Although bicycles could be worse for the environment then cars, (pdf) a new motor that could replace the front wheel of a bike could accelerate that trend.
The Northern Territories & Provinces of Canada have a unique winter trucking program that is unparalleled in the world. In the harsh environment of -30 to -70 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, (not counting any wind chill factor) men build highways of ice into the Arctic tundra.
So it actually happened. Not going anywhere tomorrow? The last time the MTA went on strike in New York was 1980. This time, one would hope there are plans already in place to cope with what will no doubt be an awful morning for millions, though the information seems dated already. Perhaps ths might be a good opportunity to share any tips and information about the situation. [newsfilter, of course]
Rotel (German) is a way to travel the world and go off the beaten track without leaving the comfort of your... bus. Some of the buses are in two parts, so the accommodation trailer can be left behind for day trips, and some are four-wheel drive, to go off-road. More pics: Algeria, Mongolia, Argentina, Serengeti. Those goofy buses remind me of the Red Couch. More inside.
The Air Car. A car that runs on compressed air. While not a new idea, or unique, the MDI car can reach a speed of 68 mph and has a claimed range of roughly 124 miles. To recharge the tank, the car reportedly needs to be plugged into the grid for 3 to 4 hours or attached to an air pump in a gas station for only 2 minutes. Is the wind of the future about to break? Will this technology pass gas as our urban fuel of choice?
You thought the US had all the frivolous lawsuits? You thought that Russian astrologer had the "stupidest lawsuit ever" award all sewn up? Think again. French bus service Transports Schiocchet Excursions is suing a group of ten women who carpool to work every day, alleging unfair competition with their bus line. Among TSE's demands: confiscation of the defendants' cars. Groklaw has more, including excerpts from an interview in French which tosses around the delicious term "covoiturage".
The Electric Unicycle makes transportation a breeze: "You lean forward to accelerate, lean backwards to brake, and gyrate your arms wildly to turn." (Invented by the man who thought his own homemade Segway had one wheel too many)
After an American car company recreates its legendary 1960's Ferrari-beating race car, the first $150,000 2005 production car sells at a charity event for $400,000 over sticker price, (to a Microsoft-enriched individual, of course) and many months later, dealers are still asking up to $200,000 over sticker, or at least $150,000 over sticker. The "experts" at Edmunds say the car is selling for about $100,000 over sticker (seeing their "True Market Value" requires a few clicks from this page), and the widespread belief is that these admittedly amazing cars are virtually impossible to find and all selling for at least $100,000 over sticker. But using publicly available data, including completed eBay auctions and public documents, this non-commercial site shows the truth to be very different than the hype.
Pakistani buses and their artwork
[some images have large file sizes. continue scrolling down for artwork on Pakistani trucks]
[some images have large file sizes. continue scrolling down for artwork on Pakistani trucks]
London Underground Warning - very bad language and 750k but well crafted critique of the state of the transport system in London.
Fabulous images of the Moscow Metro underground, also known as "the people's palaces". Click "M"s on the entry map to view gorgeous (often architecturally surreal) panoramic images, and visit the picture gallery for sweet details. Via Jorgen at Viewropa.
"Like New York City's MTA, SEPTA has a tourist-friendly pass that for $5.50 allows for 24 hours of riding across the entire system. On Saturday, the 4th of December 2004, I tried to fit as much into one day as I could. . . get your pass ready, we're boarding."
No bicycling in NYC without a license? That's right, a new law -- apparently the first of its kind in the nation -- proposed this week by bike-bashing Bronx Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano, will carry serious fines and even jail sentences for violators who ride unregistered bicycles on city streets. And yes, there will be a $25 per bike registration fee. Way to encourage alternative transport in this crowded, congested, polluted town. What next? Licenses for rollerblades, skateboards, wheelchairs? How about my running shoes -- during peak traffic they're faster and more hazardous to fellow city dwellers than my beat up old Trek, any day.
NYC Critical Mass ride dampened by heavy police presence Critical Mass, A peaceful demonstration that takes place on the last friday of the month at hundreds of cities around the world. The gathering of hundreds to thousands of cyclists to stress the importance of nonpolluting transportation alternatives and promote the cycling community. Last night's critical mass was faced with a very heavy police presence (including 3 helicopters that followed the cyclists on the route). I was there and the police were peaceful, but perhaps necessary and the helicopters were just intimidating. The whole aura assumed there was going to be some type of crime. There type of people that take part in Critical Mass are generally the opposite of violent. It felt violating to be followed around, by not one, but three helicopters and hundreds of officers on scooters. The Critical Mass was being treated as if we just shot up a building or robbed a bank. The whole thing was stupid, and people got arrested for stupid reasons. Thanks NYPD the Judge said we could be there. 33, 47, whatever, it was too many.
Cat Stevens on NatSec watchlist. "A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said... Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. 'He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,' Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday."
Jesus Boots perfected! NYT: In the last 150 years, Americans have patented about 100 water-walking inventions. The first, in 1858, was by H. R. Rowlands, who lived in Boston, not far from where Mr. Rosen resides, in Newton, Mass. Most of the subsequent patents, Mr. Rosen said, are iterations of that same idea. "Unfortunately," Mr. Rosen observed, "none of them actually work."
New permeable pavement systems allow water to seep into and through the roadway surface, reducing run-off and recharging aquifers.
Having just returned to Paradise for a little visit, I am reminded just how cool this little place is (not that I needed much reminding *whimper*), and am looking for touristy things to do here without a car. While I was on my way up on the Pacific Surfliner train, a fellow rider told me about Santa Barbara Car Free. Awesome! Also props to CalTrans' alliance with Amtrak in California. The trains and service and overall quality of the passenger rail system is quite a bit different from what I've experienced thus far of the stuff handled by Amtrak alone.
Danny's Land: a blog of amusement park, ride theory and oddball transportation links.
Ping Pong Pang Pong ... (MIDI file). Archives of public transport departure chimes and announcements. From Japan, MIDI files [+] [+] (via Boingboing) and live recordings [+] [+] of various elaborate tunes (no I don't speak Japanese, just keep clicking the blue links until you hit an MP3!). European recordings [+]. The very excellent Shonen Knife used a sample of the Osaka subway chimes in their rockin' cover version of the Carpenter's 'Top of the World.' (WFMU archive here, click "Hear the show", song starts with Osaka chimes at approximately 15:23)
Neato Next Generation Truck Stops IANAT (I am not a trucker), so I had no idea trucks could just plug into truck stops complete with air conditioning, power, internet, satellite TV, etc. And the bonus is that these facilities are environmentally friendly since the truck doesn't have to be left running all night.
1.26 million people killed every year on the road or from subsequent injuries... ..Four Qld road deaths in 5 hours. 42,815 people died in 2002 in automobile crashes in the United States. Shouldn't these facts give us the resolve to explore a better solution to our transportation needs? I do not see the national debate that these deaths would evoke if the cause was different. Why are we numb to this?
R.I.P. Bay Area Transit Information Page, 1994-2003. The site, started by two Berkeley students, provided quick access to transit information in the San Francisco Bay Area, who later received funding for their efforts in 1996. Instead, it gets replaced by this abomination of web design. On the other hand, it is very unusual for a web site to keep the same user interface over the span of almost a decade. Already, there have been user interface rants, complaints about not finding information, sarcastic commentary, and a brief eulogy delivered from one of the original creators, and it hasn't even been the first day. Is content over style dead or are information sites like this (flash) the wave of the future?
One of my joys of going on vacation is to get off the interstate and collect a bit of an old historic road. In California over the weekend we managed to grab a bit of Hwy. 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway past nature preserves, resorts and neighborhoods. Another goal is to do all of U.S. 50, the initial stages of which were reportedly surveyed by George Washington during his tour in the British Army. Wired has a nice article about how a journalist and a photographer ignored the advice of a Federal Highway Administration spokesperson to take a trip down Route 1 from Maine to Florida.