[ed note:] This post was sent to us by Tammy Roberts, from West Yorkshire, UK:
I’M GIVING UP MY CAR
I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30. Up until that point, I hadn’t seen the point of having a car or even having the ability to drive, as public transport was convenient enough. 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 – my job covered the whole of Devon and Cornwall. Within 6 months, I passed my driving test and around 4 months later, I bought my first car – my beloved Fiat Tipo. Yes, it was cheap and a bit of a banger and had all the quirks and faults that are found on most Italian cars (it’s a standing joke on Top Gear), but I loved it nonetheless! And, my goodness, did I love the freedom that being a car owner gave me! I was off to the beach at weekends and I drove back home to Yorkshire once a month to visit family and friends. No more sharing my personal space on a 7 hour train journey, and trying to carry my own weight in luggage. It was fantastic! 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. I could not believe that I hadn’t learned to drive sooner and found that I needed my car for work more and more as I moved from job to job When I had my son, 4 years ago, having a car was a bonus. 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.
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.
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.
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?
I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — 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 — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.
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.
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!
A new ship from Celebrity Cruises, currently about 80% complete, is being built with eco-friendly technology and design in ever phase of construction. Personally, I find cruises to be one of the most wasteful and benign ways to travel — but they’re not going away, and this development is welcome.
The company actually designed the hull of the ship first — a radical departure from conventional cruise ship construction where things are generally created “top down,” with passenger space configured first, then the hull constructed to fit that space. As a result, the hull is one of the most fuel-efficient possible and the rest of the ship was configured to work around it.
There will also be 80 solar panels on board to power small things such as elevators. The company acknowledges that solar is not currently a cost-effective addition, but add that as prices decrease, the infrastructure will be in place on board to carry more photovoltaics. The hope is that over time, the ship will utilize more clean energy in its consumption.
It’s difficult to imagine a person not having heard the old axiom “Buy low, sell high”, and it is prudent advice when you are making financial decisions. It’s the second part of that adage that might warrant a look at our strategy for infrastructure improvement in this country. If you are looking to make the maximum amount of money by selling something you want to sell that something when it’s at its highest value. I wonder then, is it time for our government to sell its infrastructure? You know, since the effects of Peak Oil are beginning to make themselves felt, the value of the infrastructure developed to serve cars running on cheap oil will decline each year into the future; starting soon. Selling high might mean selling soon.
Now, I don’t think we should sell all of it, by any means. We should keep the ports and the train lines, but is now a good time to start selling our roads, highways and airports? There has been news recently of other governments selling their infrastructure, and considering the value of these items in an energy scarce future I would contend that their value will never be higher. In fact, there is already plenty of news about airlines facing massive losses. (And starting to charge for baggage, pillows and normal drinks) How valuable will an airport be if we don’t have airlines? Or what if the ones we do have are marginally profitable? I say it’s better to sell now while the full force of Peak Oil hasn’t quite made itself felt.
Back in April, I began an exercise in driving less and driving with fuel economy in mind. What I learned surprised me. Simple, obvious steps made the most difference. I drive a 98 Oldsmobile Alero and before I began, I was getting about 27 MPG, now I am up to 34 MPG. That’s a 7 MPG savings, using simple steps anyone can do.There are groceries, banks and just about everything I need within walking distance from work, so as a rule, I drive to work, then I drive home and that’s it. I occasionally drive to run some errands (there is only so much walking one can do on a lunch hour).
I began turning off the car at train crossings, or when stuck in a traffic jam, but the biggest jump occurred after slowing down to 60 MPH. I went from 29 MPG to 34 MPG. That’s huge.
Also, I rode my bicycle over 120 miles in June, and I’m well on my way to matching that for July. That’s trips to the hardware store, bank, goodwill, and beer runs (all within about 3 miles of my house). At 34 MPG, bicycling alone has saved 3 1/2 gallons of gas, or almost a 1/3 of a tank. That’s amazing!
Both presidential candidates have stumped for a new “green” economy. To me this smells of the supposed transformation to the “information economy” touted only a decade ago. Fortune had this to say on June 30th:
What senators McCain and Obama believe about U.S. energy policy matters – hugely. To fight global warming, the next President will oversee the transition to a new, green economy , which will result in one of the biggest business transformations of the 21st century and potentially one of the largest transfers of wealth since the creation of the income tax.