Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Community Powerdown session 5

Cycled to the class tonight which was lucky as it was on transport. It's been good to get back on my bike after hardly being able to cycle the last couple of years. If you know how much I like cycling you know how tough that's been. So the reading was Community Transport and Mobility by Graham Lightfoot. Ok but felt that it didn't address international transport much at all, perhaps on the assumption that with the end of oil there won't be any, but there can still be sailing ships and long-distance travel, and I for one definitely don't want to live in a world where we're unconnected to other parts of the globe. That would also be totally at odds with thousands of year s of human history - people seem to forget that traders and pilgrims in particular travelled thousands of miles at all times in the last few millennia - we found plenty of ways, albeit slower, before the advent of oil. It will be different not gone. There was some discussion in the article about Ireland's car usage - very car dependent but not that many cars apparently, and long journeys taken more often - is this a good thing or not? Would think that taking longer journeys and using the car often is perhaps better than just having a car that isn't used. Obviously the emissions are more but the wastage is less? The best discussion so far during the course - everyone joined in and had plenty to say. Lots came up: changing attitudes when people want things like out of town supermarkets and shopping centres that suck life from the town or village centre, comparing this to the media that claims to give people what they want but actually shapes it. Nitrous oxide is apparently 310 times worse than C02 carbon dioxide. Having the correct pressure in your car tyres which most people do not have at least in the UK saves a colossal amount of CO2 a year. Are people going to give up their cars for a seat on public transport that is like something from the Inquisition, or to stand on a crowded bus that may not show up for ages and could take anything from 20 minutes to 1 and a half hours for a commute, as one participant experienced daily. Have to look at how full public transport eg trains are in order to reduce their fuel per passenger mile, which of course planes are worst at. Servicing your car is another way to increase its energy efficiency. Flexi time at work reducing congestion at peak times. The astonishing film of Bogota, Colombia and how it had introduced an enormous amount of cycling, protected lanes, no cars on certain days. The Mayor being interviewed, and how difficult it would be to turn this back after only a few years. The walking bus where kids walk together to school, supervised by a parent, picking up more kids on the way. A recent Garda report that showed a 12% increase in pedestrian deaths - I think 60 so far this year compared to 57 last year. THat 98.3% of Irish freight is moved by HGVs - no other European country has anything like this amount (according to another participant). Do we want an underground Metro, with the tunneling and energy that would require, instead of electrified buses or other methods? How to move people away from the comfort and quality of their cars. What about businesses moving goods, it's not all about passengers, which again the article focussed on. 'Induced traffic' is the technical term for the phenomenon that when you build roads more cars come to fill them - I still don't understand this as surely there is a limit to the number of cars in an area. Although I think the US has more cars than people. And that includes children. Friction between steel rails and wheels on trains less than rubber tyres on tarmac - thought of magnetic highspeed trains in Japan that don't touch the rails at all. What about university residences - some people at the course travelled for college whereas if everyone lived closer or on campus that would change things. Do we want that cultural shift? Meanwhlie we need more info on actual usage of transport eg buses etc. Check out the film The High Cost of Low Price about Walmart, and Who Killed the Electric Car. The clip about Bogota was on Contested Streets. I suggested people look at the simulation of a pedestrianised Dublin city centre from a recent conference, Making Dublin the capital of Ireland, about transport in the city, and some of the presentations about public health effects of driving, increasing cycling in Dublin and what other similar cities like Copenhagen have done.



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