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Posts Tagged "transportation"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Over 100 Years Later, an Old Invention Takes a New Spin

pedespeed

In many parts of the U.S. and here in New York City, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing above-normal temperatures, and the sunshine has brought hibernating city-dwellers outdoors to soak up the warm rays while enjoying a number of activities—jogging, playing basketball, riding bicycles, or just lounging on park benches. Over the weekend, I was [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

After 136 Years of Overcrowding, Straphangers Still Look for Relief

extra seat on train

If you live or work in a city, chances are you’ve ridden public transportation during rush hours. And, if you ride public transportation during rush hours, chances are you’ve found yourself without a seat the entire trip. While overcrowding on subways and buses may seem like a modern day burden, the problem was troublesome enough [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Conveying a solution to mass transit

Railway sidewalk imagined

I’m sure you’ve all been to an airport and seen the moving walkways that look like flattened escalators. Some people take them as an excuse to not walk whereas others use them as an opportunity to speed up their walking time. Now, imagine this same concept in transportation perched a story off the ground on [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Heavy traffic calls for “super-streets”

Proposed Super Street

If you’ve ever commuted through New York City during rush hour, you’ve probably experienced stress-inducing traffic, over-stuffed subway cars, or delays that don’t care if you’ve given yourself an extra half hour. In 1924 the New York metropolitan area’s population was already large enough to get the Transit Commission thinking of ways to accommodate future [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

The Army in the air

Before there were B-52s and F-15s, there were balloons. The issue from November 13, 1909, reported on the status of aeronautics in the U.S. military, which at the time was under the control of the Signal Corps, a branch in charge of the transfer of information and intelligence. According to the article, the United States [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

The Story of Grand Central Station and the Taming of the Crowd

Grand Central Terminal waiting room, c. 1904. | Public domain.

“Left or right?” he asked me as we watched the commuter train approach. A group of people nearby moved into position to line up with the door, all likely thinking the same thing: How do I get a seat? “Left,” I said. “These people are going to go right.” He looked at me for a [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

On My Shelf: Autophobia (A Review)

Autophobia: Love and Hate in the Automotive Age | Brian Ladd | University of Chicago Press | 236 pages | $15.00 (Softcover) It’s an experience not at all unfamiliar to many of us: the flush of a first meeting, a growing attraction, a desire to spend every waking moment together, to visit new places and [...]

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But Seriously...

21st Century Horse-Drawn Carriages

stagecoach_concord

This was a great little Thanksgiving treat. Granted, it’s basically a commercial which is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a commercial, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. David Schendel is an old San Francisco friend of mine, a filmmaker whose award-winning documentary “Yank Tanks” – about classic American cars in Cuba – aired on PBS [...]

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Expeditions

Getting to Antarctica–Or not

Editor’s Note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the first of her updates on the effort as part of Scientific American.com‘s In-depth Report on "The Future of the Poles." CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND (11/16/08)–Things have improved since the days of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Aw nuts: Plan to save endangered squirrels scuttled as too expensive

Mount Graham Red Squirrel

How much is too much to spend on saving an endangered species? In the case of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) $1.25 million seems to be the breaking point. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently announced it would spend that much to protect the squirrels from cars near two dangerous [...]

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Observations

We Could Make Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Real

hyperloop-pod

At some point cloaked in the (recent) mists of time, Elon Musk took over the mantle of leading U.S. visionary, as is the prerogative apparently of our technology billionaires. That’s in no small part because his current crop of companies—SolarCity, SpaceX and Tesla—all began to thrive. But it’s also because the South African native turned [...]

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Observations

Are Pipelines Safer Than Railroads for Carrying Oil?

lac-megantic-explosion-from-space

The glut of new oil in North America has been accompanied by a boom in moving that petroleum by train. Railway traffic of crude oil in tankers has more than doubled in volume since 2011—and such transport led to tragedy in the early hours of July 6. At least 13 people were killed in the [...]

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Observations

How Pedestrian-Friendly Are We, Really?

In a busy intersection in Manhattan, taxis outnumber cars and pedestrians

Cars don’t kill people. People do. That’s the premise of a New York Times article that was published this week about pedestrian safety in New York City. With thousands of people flocking to New York City’s International Auto Show this week, the time is ripe to ask: Just how far have we come in making [...]

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Observations

Obama to Announce $2-Billion Plan to Get U.S. Cars off Gasoline

President Barack Obama visiting at  Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, California, 2009

This afternoon, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to direct our cars, trucks and buses to a realm that doesn’t include gas stations. During a visit to Argonne National Laboratory, he will call for $2-billion energy security trust fund dedicated to research to boost automobile efficiency, enhance battery technology and expand the use of biofuels, [...]

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Observations

Imagination + a Little Movie Magic = a Volkswagen Hover Car Silently Navigating City Streets [Video]

Volkswagen,hover car,magnetic

A year ago, Volkswagen in China launched a marketing campaign called The People’s Car Project (PCP), which invited Chinese customers to submit ideas for cars of the future. Participants were able to tinker with designs on a Web site that Volkswagen set up for that purpose, or they could upload their own designs. Wang Jia, [...]

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Observations

Bullet Train Crash and Bus Fire in China Raise Questions about Transit Safety

China bullet trains

A crash involving two trains and a fire aboard a long-distance bus in China caused a total of 80 deaths in a two-day period late last week, raising questions about that nation’s safety culture. The high-speed train crash occurred July 23 when a moving train rear-ended a stopped train in Wenzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang [...]

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Observations

Why Electric Cars Will Fail…and Have Already Triumphed

tesla-roadster

To press the "accelerator" on a Tesla Roadster 2.5 is to get an intimation of life as a race car driver. In perhaps the signature display of an electric car’s appeal to gearheads, the Roadster instantly applies more than 300 amps of electric current to deliver 288 horsepower worth of acceleration—it’s called instant torque, 273 [...]

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Observations

Obama’s State of the Union: The facts about high-speed rail in the U.S.

California, transportation,railroad

President Obama made several references to the development of high-speed railways in the U.S., during his State of the Union Address, and stated that one of his administration’s goals is to, within 25 years, "give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail." In support of this goal—which would go a long way toward alleviating [...]

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Observations

New maps show how 1889 Russian flu rode the rails to circle the globe in months

spread russian 1889 flu pandemic global h1n1

Many people assume that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic spread rapidly across the globe largely due to the sheer number of people hopping onto planes. But more than 120 years ago, trains and ships alone sped the transmission of the 1889 "Russian" flu so that it reached the U.S. 70 days after the virus’ first peak [...]

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Plugged In

Did Congestion Charging Just Go Viral?

Congestion charging point in Stockholm. Image courtesy of Transport Styrelsen.

What is congestion charging? Congestion charging or pricing is the practice of setting up cordon tolls around the city on a large-scale to charge entrants for entering during peak hours. Ideally, this is done in an automatic fashion with cameras registering your license plate and directly billing you. This is different from low emissions zones, [...]

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Plugged In

Top 10 (Transport) Sights in Paris

Image courtesy: Kathleen Sullivan

Few tourists travel explicitly to see a city’s or country’s mode of transportation, but I dare say that besides transport nerds such as myself, there are examples which qualify as must-see, including Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed train, Lisbon’s old tram system, and the streetcars of New Orleans, among others. While Paris is most recently known for [...]

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Plugged In

Fuel/Cost Savings of Improving Fuel Economy from 12->15 mpg = 30->60 mpg

Fuel economy is not as straight-forward as you might think. Image courtesy: fragallo

Consumer tip-of-the-day: increasing efficiency of fuel economy on a miles-per-gallon scale is not linear, as more miles-per-gallon (mpg) are initially better for your wallet and the planet than you might expect, and eventually trail off with diminishing returns. Last week, a friend pointed out a good blog post by Nicholas Chase and the Energy Information [...]

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Plugged In

Battleship Barcelona: When Child-Like Simplicity Saves the Day

Barcelona's new bus system is based on its century-old grid pattern streets. Copyright: Tali Trigg.

I am one of those people who always thought Barcelona would be my favorite city in the world. I visited several times, and though the weather, design, and food leave you wanting little else, there was always something about the sheer number of tourists (besides myself) and traffic that put me off the whole experience. [...]

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Plugged In

Map Monday: 50+ Shades of Air Pollution

One-fourth of the world is breathing unsafe air. Courtesy of Hsu et al/The Atlantic

In today’s installment of Map Monday, I wanted to focus on air pollution as mapped by Hsu et al and The Atlantic. Go to this link to see the full interactive map, which details air pollution by country and city. Below, I have copied in a global snapshot with some perhaps unsurprising shades of pollution [...]

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Plugged In

Map Monday: Economic Importance of Transport

Economic Importance of Transport. Courtesy of Simran Khosla of GlobalPost. Source: CIA Factbook.

Like most people, I am a sucker for a good map. To indulge in this nerdity, I am launching an occasional Map Monday series, beginning with one by Simran Khosla of GlobalPost who used the CIA Factbook to put together an excellent map detailing every country’s highest-valued export. Everyone will draw a different conclusion from [...]

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Plugged In

Who Wants a Driver’s License?

Child playing with car. Source: freeimages.

In the last post I presented results from my poll on the importance of cars to your everyday life. The results suggest, simply put, that its importance is sliding downwards. Yet, are we seeing this outside the US and elsewhere in similar countries? And if so, is it not just because of the global economic [...]

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Plugged In

SciAm Readers Prioritize MP3s Over MPGs

According to Zipcar, 43% of Millenials have used social networking to replace a car drive. Image courtesy of: www.nonprofithub.org

Thank you for your input as no less than 100 readers were kind enough to participate in my not-so-scientific survey of what is least important to them, when given a choice to give up one item ranging between a TV, vehicle, laptop/tablet, and a smartphone. I know my Social Science Surveys professor from grad school [...]

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Plugged In

Full Frontal Nerdity

Tali_EV_London-200x200

I was once caught staring at energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins’ pocket protector, and without blinking he said, “Yes, it’s full frontal nerdity.” There was something refreshing about that sentiment, so let me similarly make my intentions clear: in joining SciAm Blogs, I hope to bring you some unnoticed news and engage you on a [...]

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Plugged In

Guest Post: The Biggest (missed) Environmental News Story of 2013

800px-Beijing_traffic_jam

Beijing announcement illustrates the shortcomings of how we look at the future of the global transportation system By Tali Trigg On November 7th 2013, the Beijing city government announced sweeping changes to car ownership in the near future [1] that fundamentally shifted the future outlook for the city’s and perhaps the country’s transportation system. This [...]

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