The Independent State of Samoa has just 200,000 citizens, but you can be sure many are a little less than placid today. They are undergoing a shift that few nations have done; one that may be as jarring as when Jekyll changes to Hyde. They are about to change lanes. In a big way. [more inside]
The funicular railway is a kind of cable-based railway that gives me great joy because of its peculiar shape and its uselessness for doing anything other than what it does. A funicular carriage is generally stairstepped or terraced, so you can't repurpose these cars for other uses. They generally work in a particular way, too, as pairs: one goes up the mountain, one comes down the mountain! Maybe this kind of glee is why they seem to be especially popular in Japan today, where they can be taken to many popular sightseeing areas--but a fair number of funicular railway riders are probably there for the journey, not the destination. [more inside]
Since 1870, the Hatton Ferry in Hatton, VA, has been helping people and vehicles cross the James River - under pole power [ferry is cable-assisted, and poling starts at 3:42]. Before the nation was connected by a network of bridges, pole barges like this were a common means of transportation across smaller waterways. Hatton Ferry is thought to be the very last working survivor of those thousands of the pole-driven ferries; but today, due to DOT budget constraints, it may go out of existence. [more inside]
On Sunday New York City closed two of the busiest sections of perhaps the most famous street in the U.S. to traffic and created pedestrian plazas in the "Crossroads of the World" (and also in Herald Square) [brief plan / NYCDOT detailed plan]. [more inside]
...the Department of Transportation will not keep secret the data we collect on birds striking airplanes. - Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of TransportationFrom the dreaded mourning dove to the nefarious Canada goose to the humble armadillo, the FAA's recently released National Wildlife Strike Database ON-LINE contains information on aircraft/wildlife strikes from over 100,000 reported incidents between 1990 and 2008. [more inside]
Meta-efficiency is the analysis of efficiency at a more comprehensive level. Metaefficient Review assesses products considering not only their energy efficiency but also the embodied energy, toxicity, affordability, and usability. [more inside]
I like watching videos of people riding fixed gear bikes in the city: Empire, MashSF, Macaframa, Fast Friday, Bootleg Sessions, Lucas Brunelle's crazy vids (linked on MeFi before). Don't like videos? Try Fixed Gear Magazine (pdf of vol 1 and vol 2) or CogMag (dead tree mag, but excerpts from each issue are on their site).
NextBus uses GPS to tell you the predicted time of the next bus. Google maps show buses in real time, and you can get updates on your phone/PDA. The coverage is limited to certain agencies within the US, so these other sites might be useful: Hopstop covers subways and buses in NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, DC, and more. (mobile version) Google Transit has many US metro areas in addition to Canada, Europe, and Japan. (previously) Many more locations inside. [more inside]
Running Like Wildfire — Imagine a national disaster that stopped 99% of American transportation in its tracks; shut down the country; halted shipping and trade; hobbled counter-insurgency operations, and helped Boston burn down. It spread from Canada southward to Cuba and westward to the Pacific, crippling all that Americans took for granted: their cities and towns; their supplies of food and consumer goods; their jobs, businesses, and the national economy. Such was the Great Epizootic of 1872.
The Future Generator at the London Transport Museum is a forecasting look at the effect of transport on climate change in London. But you can get a sense of history as well. The museum's collection originated in the 1920s, when the London General Omnibus Company decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus for future generations. They moved to the present location in 1980. Londoners can take a trip back in time on the Metropolitan line and enjoy a special day out in Metro-land as two historic electric trains run special excursions on Sunday 14 September 2008. [more inside]
Destined for display at this year's Burning Man, a very impressive quadricycle is out and about in an early appearance. (via) [more inside]
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."