|By Steve Balogh in Peak Oil, Transportation | July 20, 2010|
|By Steve Balogh in Green Living, Transportation | February 17, 2010|
[ed note:] This post was sent to us by Tammy Roberts, from West Yorkshire, UK:
Iâ€™M GIVING UP MY CAR
I didnâ€™t learn to drive until I was 30.Â Up until that point, I hadnâ€™t seen the point of having a car or even having the ability to drive, as public transport was convenient enough.Â However, 2 months before my 30th birthday, I moved to Plymouth for a new job and for the first time, I discovered how difficult it was to do my outreach work without a driving license â€“ my job covered the whole of Devon and Cornwall.Â Within 6 months, I passed my driving test and around 4 months later, I bought my first car â€“ my beloved Fiat Tipo.Â Yes, it was cheap and a bit of a banger and had all the quirks and faults that are found on most Italian cars (itâ€™s a standing joke on Top Gear), but I loved it nonetheless!Â And, my goodness, did I love the freedom that being a car owner gave me!Â I was off to the beach at weekends and I drove back home to Yorkshire once a month to visit family and friends.Â No more sharing my personal space on a 7 hour train journey, and trying to carry my own weight in luggage.Â It was fantastic!Â I even moved back to Yorkshire with my car full of my belongings, with a friend following behind, his car equally laden with my stuff.Â I could not believe that I hadnâ€™t learned to drive sooner and found that I needed my car for work more and more as I moved from job to jobÂ When I had my son, 4 years ago, having a car was a bonus.Â I remember a childhood of long bus journeys to shopping destinations with my mum, gran and my sister and it was so nice to be able to jump in the car with William in his baby seat and set off on day trips or to visit friends.
Now my son is almost 4 and I no longer need my car for my job.Â I also only travel 1 mile to work now, instead of 24 each way that was my daily commute in a previous job.Â Yes, the car is convenient for popping to the gym or supermarket, but itâ€™s no longer a necessity and, with the cost of tax, insurance and increasing petrol prices, itâ€™s no longer a commodity that I can afford.Â And so I made the decision to get rid of the car.Â My sonâ€™s school is 10 minutes walk from our house, we have a supermarket within a 20 minute walk, and the walk to work takes about 40 minutes, although there are plenty of buses from our village too.Â Luckily, this has coincided with my parentsâ€™ need for a new car and, as my car is 8 years younger than theirs, so the decision was to ultimately benefit them too.
Itâ€™s scary though â€“ I have to admit.Â As lifestyle changes go, this is a biggy! How will I just pop to the rubbish tip to do my recycling, or drive to Aberdeen or Plymouth to visit friends for a break?Â Itâ€™s daunting to think that my freedom will be limited and I will, once again, be reliant on buses and trains for all my transport needs.Â Â However, I will lose weight and get fit from doing more walking, have more of my disposable income at my disposal and help the environment â€“ what could be simpler?Â I canâ€™t ride a bike, as I never had a bike when I was young.Â Perhaps, Iâ€™ll learn now, side by side with my son…….
[ed note: any other GG readers out there who've gone car-less?Â I'm sure that Tammy isn't going it alone.Â Great job Tammy!Â I hope you keep us informed of your progress.]
|By Michael d'Estries in Energy, Transportation | January 3, 2010|
2010 will most likely go down as the year electric cars were (once again) made available to the public through Big Auto. Both Nissan and Chevy have plans to release the Leaf and Volt respectively — and both focus on getting energy from being plugged in. (Although the Volt can charge its battery utilizing its small “range-extender engine”, but then what’s the point of having an electric car?)
If you’ve got the deep pockets for one, the most conventional way of charging the vehicle will be to simply plug it into an ordinary wall socket. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take up to 16 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. If you’re in a hurry, however, the best thing to have on-hand in the garage is a “quick charger” — which pushes a much more considerable amount of juice to your car. Instead of 8 hours, you can now have a fully charged Volt in under 2.5 hours.
Unfortunately, having a quick charger installed in your garage is not something just anyone can do. From CNN Money,
“The equipment has to be fully approved, installed by a competent professional, and in most cases, a city or state inspector will have to approve it all.”
In some instances, users had to jump through hoops that amounted to a month or more of waiting for the right installer/inspector to visit their home. “But the broader market of car buyers are likely to be turned off by any additional hassles”, said Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor of Intellichoice.com to CNN. “They all become detriments to making the sale,” he said. “That’s the type of thing that slows it down going into the mainstream.”
Companies like Nissan and Chevy are attempting to alleviate such potential issues by working with city and state governments now — so that later in 2010, when new customers attempt to order quick chargers and get them inspected, they’re not met with blank stares. As Sebastian Blanco, editor of Autobloggreen added, “Little setbacks will not be enough to hold back the tide of people who really want these cars.”
|By Michael d'Estries in Bicycles, Transportation | October 12, 2009|
How’s this for a unique and eco-friendly way to get from the funeral home to your final resting place? Wade Lind, owner of Sunset Hills Cemetery in Eugene, Oregon came up with the “bike hearst” as an option for those really looking to limit their impact once they’ve passed on. Let’s hope there aren’t many hills along the way.
To find out more about Sunset Hills, jump here.
|By Michael d'Estries in Bicycles, Green Products, Transportation | September 28, 2009|
It’s been several months now since I’ve had the opportunity to test out the iZip Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle — and the enthusiasm present with my first impressions has certainly not waned.
As I mentioned earlier, living in Ithaca, NY means having to negotiate several steep inclines to get to work. Most bikers around here either find alternative windy roads that slowly make their way to the top — or walk their bike up the tougher sections. Either way, when you’re dressed to impress, sweating your balls off is one thing you want to try and avoid. This in mind, ever since hybrid-electric bikes hit the scene, I’ve been eying them as a means to avoid roundabouts and just hit these hills straight on. iZip offers a bunch of different bikes to handle such scenarios and I was fortunate enough to be given one to test drive.
If you’re not familiar with how hybrid-electric bikes function, here’s a bit of a recap from my first post:
The IZIP instead is an electric-assist â€” giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off â€” or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the â€ś+â€ť button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the â€ś-â€ť button. Itâ€™s as simple as that â€” and believe me, you still get a workout.
In my rides to work, I generally kept the power button on high — which even on flat portions of the trip, never seem to interfere with normal pedaling. As soon as I hit those nasty inclines, however, I could hear the electric motor kick on and the exertion normally needed to huff and puff greatly reduced. The electric-assist can’t overcome huge inclines, however, — so on some of my trips, I avoided the monster hills and took side streets. This strategy seemed to favor the technology and the assist definitely got me to my destination much faster than normal — and with less sweat.
|By Michael d'Estries in Bicycles, Energy, Green Living, Hybrids, Transportation | July 16, 2009|
If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?
|By Eric Spitzfaden in Conservation, Energy, Transportation | June 9, 2009|
Environmental Research Web recently posted “Calculating the real carbon footprint of vehicles“, an article by Mikhail V Chester and Arpad Horvath of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, which looks at the environmental impact of various forms of transportation (Planes, Trains, Buses and Automobiles) over their entire lifetime, to determine overall greenhouse gasses and energy used.Â The study includes vehicle manufacture, infrastructure, fuel, delivery of fuel and operation of the vehicle.
The energy usage numbers were simplified into MJ/PKT, mega-joules per passenger-kilometer-traveled. When looked at this way, many passengers riding a single vehicle, even if relatively inefficient, actually use less fuel each.Â 2 people riding an SUV (.9 MJ/PKT) can use less energy, per passenger, than 5 riders in a standard city bus (4 MJ/PKT); however, the numbers change once the bus is full (.5 MJ/PKT). Large Jet aircraft (1.4 MJ/PKT) compare quite favorably, simply because of how many passengers they can carry.
My take-away from the article is that finding ways to share rides, rather than simply focusing on miles-per-gallon, can go along way toward conservation.
A PDF of the complete report can be downloaded from IOP Electronic Journals here.Â What’s your take?
|By Michael d'Estries in Bicycles, Tech Innovations, Transportation | May 21, 2009|
Google’s Street View fleet has a new low-tech edition: the Google Trike. For those not familiar with the street capture technology, it’s a feature on Google Maps that allows you to view actual images of a street location — in 360 degrees. Beyond the fascinating technology that puts this all together — what’s even more impressive is the army of employees out there on the roads of America (and almost every other country) taking panoramic snapshots using the Google camera vehicles.
Of course, cars (thankfully) aren’t allowed to go everywhere. But that hasn’t stopped Google. The search engine giant has instead hacked a trike to carry the necessary equipment to get the digital deed done. From Autobloggreen,
The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of “a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry,” says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a “specially trained super fit” rider. Google’s new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they’ll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks.
We imagine one would definitely have to be “superfit” to lug these things around — but a great design effort on the part of Google nonetheless to overcome vehicular limitations.
|By Michael d'Estries in Green Living, Transportation | May 6, 2009|
In what’s surely the most expensive freebie I’ve ever heard of, a development in France is offering a free Tesla Roadster in ever driveway for every person that purchases one of their new luxury green villas. Since my French is terrible, I’m going to rely on the folks over at Autobloggreen to shed some light on the details:
Although its exact location is not yet known, it’s rumored to be not far away from Paris and it will be outfitted with all kinds of amenities, from a heliport to green technologies such as solar panels, geotermal units and biologic waste water management. However, sinte the estate market is not exactly at its peak, the sellers have decided to offer an little additional bait to potential buyers: a Tesla Roadster in the garage for those who choose the “green package.” If nothing else, this confirms to us these houses are not going to be cheap.
No kidding — but a sweet deal for the mega-rich nonetheless.
|By Michael d'Estries in Bicycles, Green Products, Transportation | April 8, 2009|
While baskets are the eternal favorites for lugging things around with your bike — there may be times when you’d like those groceries or books to be a bit more contained. That, or you just need some additional space. Either way, these travel bags from Detours are a fantastic option — and with a very green characteristic: they’re made from recycled juice packs.
Each bag is made up of about 100 juice packs — with the company quick to add that no two bags are alike. Each features a bathtub rubber bottom, wide mouth, removable rain cover, reflective tail-light tabs on both ends, and will hold about 15lbs of your stuff. The only caveat is to beware placing sharp objects inside your Toocan — as the pouches can rip and tear up the seam. Otherwise, the company says the bag will last many years and then when done, you can just recycle it!
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