public transportation


I was recounting in the last post about a “handicapped” workshop that had an amazing experiential component to it. There were 4 common ailments included that everyone got to try out: being blind (which I have described), being in a wheelchair which was kind of boring but boy has that changed since 1977, having an arm amputated and being deaf. Like I said the wheelchair experience was just rolling around in this large open space. They did not want us to take them outside because we could break them or we could be hurt ourselves. They did give each of us a cautious trip down some stairs at the door to the outside. There were three of them and it was creepy. My grandma was in a wheelchair so I did it better than most.

They had an extra attraction called being a child, which I will talk about tomorrow. So here is a wheelchair lift.

http://www.freedomliftsystems.com/WheelchairAccessibleVerticalPlatformLifts.asp?gclid=CKKJ0f_7jbMCFdEWMgodawoAjg

Wheelchair Platform Lifts

A simple and inexpensive wheelchair porch lift uses less space and is often a much more attractive and affordable solution than the alternative of installing a ramp.

These reliable vertical lifts can be installed outdoors or indoors and are designed to be completely resistant to the harshest weather conditions.

Wheelchair platform lifts for residential and commercial installations are easily installed and have a lifting range from 28″ up to as much as 12 feet (144″).

Our systems are an economical way to offer home / building accessibility.

Twenty years of manufacturing experience has resulted in the most durable and economical solution for wheelchair platform lift access in North America.

We will help you have a successful project, starting with offering four categories of wheelchair platform lifts.

Residential lifts for home use provides an attractive and practical solution for making your home accessible for a wheelchair user.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I usually do a series of car posts every year, and maybe this is the time to do it. I know starting on a Friday is kind of obtuse but heh it gives me a couple of days to look at cools sites and cars before I do another post. These are hybrids but the real moves have been in all electric.

Five Hybrid Concept Cars We REALLY Want To Drive

Jun 22, 2012

Every now and then, we allow our thoughts to drift here at GreenCarReports.

Naturally, we’re thinking forward rather than back, and often to the cars we might be driving around in five or ten years time.

We’ve compiled a list of five concept cars seen at auto shows over the last year or so. All are hybrids, and all showcase exciting new visions of styling and technology that could well hit the roads in the near future.

Hyundai i-Oniq

Given the meteoric rise of Korean brands Hyundai and Kia over the last few decades, it’s only right that they should play a part in our future too. The i-Oniq concept car, revealed at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show back in March, is a sleek, two-door range-extended hybrid.

Though the styling evokes images of a huge engine under the hood, the concept uses a tiny 1.0-liter 3-cylinder unit, supplying power to a 107-horsepower electric motor when its 75-mile battery range is depleted. We’re pretty confident that 75 miles would cover most of our day-to-day driving, but that little gasoline engine would provide a useful extra 360 miles.

And you know what? It looks pretty good too.

 

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That is one of 5. Go there and read. Pretty pictures too. More next week.

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Might as well end the week with a kick off for the next. Earth Day is Sunday, but Springfield can’t seem to get its act together on the actual day. But at least people celebrate it. Happy weekend everyone.

http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/10_things_we_ve_learned_about_the_earth_since_last_earth_day

April 19, 2012

10 Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since Last Earth Day

Sunday is the 42nd celebration of Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to help educate people about environmental issues and demonstrate public support for a conservationist agenda. With that in mind, we decided it was the right time to recap the most surprising, awe-inspiring and alarming things that we have learned about the Earth and the environment since last year’s holiday:

1. Undiscovered species are still out there: Countless discoveries over the past year reminded us that, despite centuries of research, the planet still has plenty of surprise species in store. Among the many finds include seven new forest mice species in the Philippines, a “psychedelic” gecko in Vietnam and a new type of dolphin in AustraliaA new analysis released last August, billed as the most accurate ever, estimated that a total of 8.7 million different species of life exist on earth.

2. Global warming is already driving up food prices: While many fear that climate change will someday reduce crop yields and cause food prices to rise, a study published last May in Science indicates that this troubling trend has already gotten started. The models used suggest that reduced global yields of wheat and corn are related to global warming. Although the effects are relatively small so far, they may cause severe problems in the future, as climate patterns continue to change and food demand increases.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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People traditionally do not think of their car or other forms of personal transportation as part of their residential energy package but I think it only makes sense. In between gas and insurance along or electricity now, they can be some of the most expensive things in your life. And it is a big part of of your carbon footprint. This would sure make a differenced.

http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/fold_up_car_of_the_future_unveiled_at_eu

Fold-up car of the future unveiled at EU

January 24, 2012

A tiny revolutionary fold-up car designed in Spain’s Basque country as the answer to urban stress and pollution was unveiled Tuesday before hitting European cities in 2013.

A tiny revolutionary fold-up car designed in Spain’s Basque country as the answer to urban stress and pollution was unveiled Tuesday before hitting European cities in 2013.

The “Hiriko”, the Basque word for “urban”, is an electric two-seater with no doors whose motor is located in the wheels and which folds up like a child’s collapsible buggy, or stroller, for easy parking.

Dreamt up by Boston’s MIT-Media lab, the concept was developed by a consortium of seven small Basque firms under the name Hiriko Driving Mobility, with a prototype unveiled by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Demonstrating for journalists, Barroso clambered in through the fold-up front windscreen of the 1.5-metre-long car.

“European ideas usually are developed in the United States. This time an American idea is being made in Europe,” consortium spokesman Gorka Espiau told AFP.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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This is an excellent website for more info about green highways. I like their inclusion of the entire roadway’s impact on the surrounding environment. Though I wish they would include a discussion of  landscapes that require no mowing and the inclusion of indigenous plants.

http://www.greenhighwayspartnership.org/index.php

BACKGROUND

The Green Highways Partnership (GHP) is dedicated to transforming the relationship between the environment and transportation infrastructure.  In its nationwide review of green transportation infrastructure, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation found the GHP to be “the primary federal vehicle for encouraging the use of green transportation infrastructure by state and local governments and private industry.”  Such a finding says that this effort is not only unique to the nation, but is the only one of its type serving this critical purpose recognized by Congress.

“All of the Federal Government’s greatest achievements in the last half century involved significant amounts of collaboration across sectors.”

Dr. John Bryson, U.MN-
On exercising government leadership through collaboration.

The Partnership
The GHP serves as a voluntary public-private collaborative that advances environmental stewardship in transportation planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance while balancing economic and social objectives. The Green Highways Partnership is supported by an ever growing list of dedicated and experienced partners. However, the partnership would like to recognize the following partners for their considerable financial and staff support:

Greenhighways Partnership EPA Logo Greenhighways Partnership Department of Transportation logo Greenhighways Partnership State Highway Administrator logo

The GHP was initiated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) out of a realization that building safe, sound transportation systems and protecting and sustaining a clean and healthy environment were not mutually exclusive, particularly in light of their common denominator, serving the “public good.”

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More tomorrow.

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This is a guest post. I concur with it. I can’t post the whole thing here because it is a little long. Please go to the website listed below and read the rest.

http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/construction/green-roads-construction-are-constractors-our-roadbloc-1070711/

Green Roads Construction: Are Contractors Our Roadblock?

by Derek SingletonERP Analyst, Software Advice
Jul 07, 2011

The buzz of innovative ideas on how to build cheaper, greener roads is all around us. These ideas range from using scrap construction materials and rubber tires to using recycled glass to reduce our reliance on asphalt. While these brainstorms are laudable, they’ve yet to prove themselves in a total life-cycle analysis.

The green construction practices that have a demonstrated track record can’t gain traction because of an archaic contractor bidding process. And herein lies the problem. A problem that we can no longer afford to ignore given the sheer cost and impact of our highway system.

“Our roads are everywhere. Anywhere you turn, you’re automatically on a road. We can’t get away from them. We step outside of our house and we’re on a road. If we go to a National Park, we take a road. People don’t realize this but [building roads] is one of the highest impact things we do.” – Shane Stathert, Think Green Roads

The need for lower impact roads is a pressing economic issue. Each year, we spend roughly 7 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on transportation infrastructure. For fiscal year 2010, that amounted to nearly $1 trillion. A key input to these costs is the amount of asphalt we use. But the costs don’t end there.

A typical two-lane mile stretch of highway uses roughly 25,000 tons of crushed stone, which is what makes aggregate (the base layer for roads) one of the most mined materials in the world. Then there’s the CO2 emissions. The 32,300 lane miles of road the United States paves every year emits millions of tons of CO2. Here’s a conservative estimate.

Constructing a single-lane mile of road emits 1,200 tons of CO2. If we assume every mile of road built is single-laned (yeah right, not in America) then building our roads emits 38,760,000 tons of CO2 every year. That’s the same as the annual energy use of 6 million homes. Seriously, 6 million, stop and think about that for a second.

Needless to say, these exorbitant costs – both fiscal and environmental – left many in the industry wondering: how can we reduce expense and still maintain the quality of road construction? Thus, the green road construction movement was born.

Recycled Materials: A Reliable Aggregate Alternative?

With 94 percent of paved roads covered in asphalt, the first obvious target was determining how excessive use of asphalt could be reduced to minimize economic and environmental impacts. One idea that’s gaining a lot of attention in the green construction movement is the use of recycled materials for aggregate.

The logic is simple: pick a material with a good consistency that would normally sit in a landfill, grind it up and you’ve got an aggregate substitute or aggregate base. Popular fillers and aggregate replacements include rubber tires, roofing shingles and even glass.

Using recycled material for aggregate in this way not only saves money, but it also makes use of a material that would otherwise remain unused. A single lane mile of road constructed with rubber tires will use roughly 2,000 tires and save as much as $50,000. It also diverts rubber tires from landfills where they’d otherwise pile up and present a fire hazard or act as a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

But putting what would otherwise be considered trash into our roads raises a healthy amount of skepticism. What happens when the roads break apart? Is it safe for plastics, rubber and used construction material to be exposed to the elements? What if these wash into our water system?

There is a dearth of research on the environmental costs of using such recycled materials for aggregate or mixing them with asphalt. And using recycled rubber is one of the most promoted ways to green a road today. Both the Green Highway Partnership and National Asphalt Association tout recycled rubber as an environmentally safe and viable alternative.

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More tomorrow

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So what? You can drive yourself to the airport and then take off?

http://www.tgdaily.com/hardware-features/57051-flying-car-cleared-for-use-on-us-roads

Flying car cleared for use on US roads

Posted on Jul 6th 2011 by Emma Woollacott
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The Terrafugia flying car is now legal for use on the roads, following a grant of special exemptions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

 

One exemption allows the Transition to use tires that are appropriately rated for highway speeds and vehicle weight, but which aren’t normally permitted on for multi-purpose vehicles. It means the vehicle can have the same tires as were used successfully in flight and drive tests in 2009.

The vehicle’s also allowed to have its own type of windscreen, with Terrafugia arguing that traditional laminated automotive safety glass could fracture in such a way as to obscure the vision of the pilot in the event of a bird impact.

Instead, it’s allowed to use polycarbonate materials which are just as protective, it says, but which won’t shatter or craze.

Last summer, the Transition was given initial approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and  granted an additional 110 pounds weight allowance.

The company says all it needs to do now is carry out a testing program before the Transition starts shipping. It’s planning extensive analysis and crash testing to make sure it reaches safety standards.

After that, it says, the Transition could be available as early as the end of this year, costing around $200,000. You can reserve one for a deposit of $10,000, here.

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http://www.terrafugia.com/

Kind of looks like the batmobile when its wings are folded up.

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More tomorrow.

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I should have made the topic of this meditation explicit yesterday. What effect would the absence of fossil fuels have on major sectors of our society? Some people think society would collapse other people think it would mutate. I think it would slow down but not change much. So I started thinking about the transportation sector. Yesterday the topic was walking, and today’s topic is water transport. It maybe academic but walking may have happened after swimming. That is the true upright bipedal walking. Some monkeys love to swim and swimming is the original transportation system. Going back to our talks about Abraham Lincoln. Two of the most important events in Abe’s life were boat rides. The first barge he took to New Orleans got stuck on the dam at New Salem and the people there helped him get the boat free. When his family decided to move to a farm in Southern Illinois he paddled to New Salem to start his adult life. Finally he took another barge to New Orleans where he bought his first horse. Now this next “history” believes that travel by boat started much later in man’s evolution than I do. I believe that boating could be as old as 20,000 or 40,000 years old. Nonetheless it is a good discussion of the sequence.

http://www.essortment.com/history-transportation-21230.html

As man overcame the boundaries of land travel, his curiosity about the world around him increased. To his aid, man had developed a means of traveling on water even before he had domesticated the horse. The origin of the dugout boat is one of history’s great mysteries. Historians are unable to pinpoint when or where the very first water vessel was set afloat, and even speculate that it might have been purely an accident the first time. But, however it happened, the addition of the boat changed the face of transportation. Boats allowed man to, for the first time ever, cross bodies of water without getting wet.

Over time, the simple boat evolved to include a large square of cloth mounted on a central pole. This cloth, called a sail, would turn the boat into a sail-propelled ship. This new addition gave man the ability to use waterways as a means of swift travel from one place to another, and even to travel against the current of rivers. However, the evolution of water travel didn’t stop with the sail. Ships would eventually take on a sleekness as they increased in size. Before long, they would add oars and rudders, then deck covers. By Greek and Roman times, ships had grown clunky shipboard towers, as well, which developed, over time, into the Medieval stern- and forecastles. By the late Medieval era, these castles were built solid, as a part of the ship’s basic structure. Then, by the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration which followed, ships had gained tiers of rigging and sails, becoming sleek and speedy.

Then, in the 1800s, ships began to shed their sails on the rivers once again. The advent of automation was changing transportation forever. The very first automation in ships was the cumbersome paddlewheel. Due to their bulky form and inability to turn easily, paddlewheel boats were confined to river travel, where they would experience calmer currents and need less manueverablity.

After the paddlewheel came the steamship. These vessels used coal or wood, burned to heat water, which in turn created the steam pressure used to work the pistons which moved the ship. The steamship was to enjoy a long and trusted run on both rivers and seas. Then, in 1912, the first diesel-powered ship, the Danish Selandia, was launched. That diesel engine design was to become the industrial and military standard until after World War II.

Then, in 1958, the first nuclear powered ship was launched. However, nuclear power was soon discarded by industry as too expensive and risky, though it would continue to find use in the military community.

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More tomorrow.

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People today do not understand walking as transportation at all. When anthropoligists say that humans “spread” from South Africa to Asian and Europe what they really mean is walked. I love Abraham Lincoln stories. The legends have it that Abe used to walk to Springfield to borrow law books from his friend and mentor Tod Stuart whose office in Springfield he walked to. As the crow flies or as humans walk this was a 20 mile trip but he probably did not make this trip in one day, though he probably could have if he took off at first light or before. He likely walked in one day, partied the night away and walked back the next day. There were several since abandoned communities along the way that he probably stopped at as well including the twice revived Clayville stage coach stop.  People would have thought nothing of it. He would not been alone on the trail. There would have been fresh fruit to eat on the way in season. At noon he may have swam in the Sangamon. Abe was no stranger to walking. The year before he moved to New Salem he rode a river boat barge loaded with goods from Decatur Il. to New Orleans and walked back.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walking

Walking

This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. The talk page may contain suggestions. (February 2009)
 

Simple Walk-Cycle

Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an ‘inverted pendulum’ gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. This applies regardless of the number of limbs – even arthropods with six, eight or more limbs.

In humans and other bipeds, walking is generally distinguished from running in that only one foot at a time leaves contact with the ground and there is a period of double-support. In contrast, running begins when both feet are off the ground with each step. This distinction has the status of a formal requirement in competitive walking events. For quadrupedal species, there are numerous gaits which may be termed walking or running, and distinctions based upon the presence or absence of a suspended phase or the number of feet in contact any time do not yield mechanically correct classification[1]. The most effective method to distinguish walking from running is measurement via a force plate, but definitions based on the percent of the stride in which a foot is in contact with the ground (averaged across all feet) of greater than 50% contact corresponds well with identification of ‘inverted pendulum’ mechanics via force plate measurements for animals with any number of limbs[1].

An average human child achieves independent walking ability around 11 months old.[2] The word walk is descended from the Old English wealcan “to roll”.

Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness, the average human walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour (km/h), or about 3.1 miles per hour (mph). Specific studies have found pedestrian walking speeds ranging from 4.51 km/h to 4.75 km/h for older individuals to 5.32 km/h to 5.43 km/h for younger individuals.[3][4] A pedestrian is a person who is walking on a road, pavement or path.

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050916074420.htm

The Mechanics Of Foot Travel: With So Many Silly Gaits To Choose From, Why Have We Adopted So Few?

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2005) — Despite having the bones and muscles to perform a variety of gaits, human beings have developed an overwhelming preference for just two: walking and running. Now, computer analysis that allows simulation of infinite two-legged locomotions has shown our favored modes of bi-pedal travel use the least amount of energy.

Indeed, in an article published in the current online edition of the British journal Nature, Cornell engineers Andy Ruina and Manoj Srinivasan compare the mechanics of walking and running with “many other strange and unpractised gaits.” They used a set of computer models that simulated physical measurements such as leg length, force, body velocity and trajectory, forward speed and work.

“We wish to find how a person can get from one place to another with the least muscle work,” they report. “Why do people not walk or even run with a smooth level gait, like a waiter holding two cups brim-full of boiling coffee?”

The engineers’ computer simulations conclude that walking is simply most energy efficient for travel at low speeds, and running is best at higher speeds. And, they report, a third walk-run gait is optimal for intermediate speeds, even though humans do not appear to take advantage of it.

The findings help to explain why the possible–but preposterous–gaits in the Monty Python sketch, “Ministry of the Silly Walks,” have never caught on in human locomotion. The researchers add that extensions of this work might improve the design of prosthetic devices and energy-efficient bipedal robots.

 

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More horsing around tomorrow.

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It is so basic – save money on energy and there is more to spend on other things.

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http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/02/paul_krugman_co.html

Friday, February 23, 2007

Paul Krugman: Colorless Green Ideas

Now that the scientific debate over global warming is all but over, Paul Krugman looks at what we can do limit greenhouse gas emissions:

Colorless Green Ideas, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: The factual debate about whether global warming is real is, or at least should be, over. The question now is what to do about it.

Aside from a few dead-enders on the political right, climate change skeptics seem to be making a seamless transition from denial to fatalism. In the past, they rejected the science. Now, with the scientific evidence pretty much irrefutable, they insist that it doesn’t matter because any serious attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions is politically and economically impossible.

Behind this claim lies the assumption, … that any substantial cut in energy use would require a drastic change in the way we live. To be fair, some people in the conservation movement seem to share that assumption.

But the assumption is false. Let me tell you about … an advanced economy that has managed to combine rising living standards with a substantial decline in per capita energy consumption, and managed to keep total carbon dioxide emissions more or less flat for two decades, even as both its economy and its population grew rapidly. And it achieved all this without fundamentally changing a lifestyle centered on automobiles and single-family houses.

The name of the economy? California.

There’s nothing heroic about California’s energy policy… [T]he state has adopted … conservation measures that are … the kind of drab, colorless stuff that excites only real policy wonks. Yet the cumulative effect has been impressive…

The energy divergence between California and the rest of the United States dates from the 1970s. Both the nation and the state initially engaged in significant energy conservation after that decade’s energy crisis. But conservation in most of America soon stalled…

In California, by contrast, the state continued to push policies designed to encourage conservation, especially of electricity. And these policies worked.

People in California have always used a bit less energy … because of the mild climate. But the difference has grown much larger since the 1970s. Today, the average Californian uses about a third less total energy than the average American, uses less than 60 percent as much electricity, and … emit[s] only about 55 percent as much carbon dioxide.

How did the state do it? In some cases conservation was mandated directly, through energy efficiency standards for appliances and rules governing new construction. Also, regulated power companies were given new incentives to promote conservation…

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More tomorrow.

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