April 27, 2009

CampusBike Sharing Programme

Launched yesterday in Ca 'dei Carraresi shows linked to the Provincial Environment Day. Four exhibitions: the Public Bicycle ", historical photos on bicycle, school and the world" Project Environment ". Present President of the Province of Treviso, Leonardo Muraro, the Provincial Environmental Policies, Ubaldo Fanton, and Iuav teacher who has followed the project, Carlo Gaino.

A container of events and initiatives to raise awareness and inform people to culture and the environment, which in this second edition has seen the membership of 64 municipalities of the territory. In particular, this exhibition presents the bike-sharing project built and promoted by the Province in collaboration with the IUAV Venice. This is a pilot project of bicycle rental in the city to move freely and not be tied to the use of the car. The goal of the province is to sensitize people to the use of sustainable half what bicycles. There are 11 municipalities that have joined during the project. But Ca 'dei Carraresi addition to panels of IUAV with drawings of the prototype bike racks and will host the exhibition dedicated to photographs that have historical protagonists as always the two wheels and two exhibitions of work carried out by schools in projects environment, "said the President of the Province of Treviso, Leonardo Muraro.

"That of bike sharing is an important project for the area because it helps to establish a culture of sustainable mobility. In much of Europe, and France in particular, the initiative is already consolidated and, outside the metro and bus stations, it is easy to see the public rack for tourists and people in general. Brand Trevigiana in trying out the project in Treviso, which has provided 20 places to 100 places, Conegliano Veneto Mogliano and with 10 places and Castelfranco Veneto with 16 places. It was not easy to start with this project, we have been involved since the district trevigiano bicycle to get a project done entirely at home, but we have met with some suspicion. Yet thanks to the collaboration with IUAV we got to have the prototype of the bicycle that will be realized and distributed, now on display at the exhibition "the councilor said Fanton.

"We worked hard, trying to create an original product and functional - said Carlo Gaino - fully designed and built in Italy.There must be synergy between the world of creativity and business, otherwise it is impossible to develop the ideas of young designers. "These bikes are a great product."

See "Public Bicycle"
At last the opportunity to see, concretely realized, 2 prototypes of the bicycle and the rack to serve as "parking" for a bike and an interface to the public, who will have access to various information and services from the same point. The projects stem from the work of the students in design at the University of Treviso Iuav of Venice for the new system of bike-sharing, which will be tested by the Province of Treviso in cooperation with 11 municipalities, including the provincial capital.

The establishment runs all project phases, from initial design up to the prototypes in collaboration with some companies in the District of Cycling. The bike-sharing is a new service that will allow all citizens to move into city centers, and not only through the use of bicycles "out there" that can be taken and repositioned as desired in any of several shelters located in various places of the city.

Produced in collaboration with FAST (Photo Archives of the Province of Treviso) show exposes the historical images on the means of transport of the past, with particular attention to mobility in cycling in the countryside and the city of Treviso in the past.

Treviso, 25 September 2008

April 23, 2009

Their Kingdom for a Bike: It’s Polo on Two Wheels

From New York Times

you do not have to be a king to play polo. You do not need a 300-yard grass field, a long-handled mallet or a helmet. In fact, you do not even need a horse.

On asphalt courts and parking lots in cities throughout the country, bike messengers, bike-shop employees and assorted cycling enthusiasts are playing bicycle polo. The game dates to the 1800s, but it is being transformed from its prim beginnings to a rough-and-tumble sport as it mixes with bike-messenger culture.

Urban players ride fixed-gear bikes, the kind messengers often use to zip through traffic and dodge pedestrians. They set up orange cones in lieu of goal posts and knock around street-hockey balls. Because wooden mallets often break when hit against concrete, players make their own mallets, attaching a handle from an old ski pole or golf club to a piece of industrial-strength piping.

In downtown New York, on a court shaped like a large asphalt bowl, a group meets every Sunday for pickup games. When Doug Dalrymple, a former bike messenger who now is a food deliveryman, started playing last summer, 10 players regularly showed up, he said. The number has at least doubled since then, with many more 20- and 30-somethings going to watch.

“My first game was like learning to ride a bike again,” said Corey Hilliard, a messenger who started playing four years ago. “You have to hold a mallet, the handlebars, follow the ball and be able to change direction quickly. It’s almost like the pinnacle of intense cycling.”

Hilliard’s team and others from the United States and Canada will compete in the East Side Polo Invite this weekend at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Lower Manhattan. The tournament will be composed of 10-minute games and will feature social events like a bike prom. Hilliard’s team is called the Broad Street Bullies. Dalrymple’s is the Ratkillers.

On a recent Sunday, the two teams played an unofficial preview match, the three players on each team positioned at the far ends of the court. They rested their mallets on the ground and slid their feet onto the pedals. After a cry from the sideline of “Three, two, one ... Go,” the teams raced for the ball in the center of the court.

Hilliard, the only player who wore protective gear — his sticker-covered helmet and white sunglasses obscuring most of his face — came away with the ball. But Dalrymple cut off his path as he plowed toward the goal. Hilliard whacked the ball through the wheels of Dalrymple’s bike, and their mallets tangled. Hilliard’s snapped in half.

“Mallet, mallet, mallet,” Hilliard yelled, and a player on the sideline tossed him a new one.

Contact is allowed in urban bike polo. The rules of the game — which are few — have been adapted from equestrian polo to work in the small spaces available in big cities. The most important rule is that the players’ feet cannot touch the ground.

If a player’s foot touches down, he must ride to the sideline and touch an orange traffic cone with his mallet before returning. “It’s kind of like a power play in hockey,” Hilliard said.

The United States Bicycle Polo Association promotes a grass-court version of bike polo in which collisions are discouraged. The organization’s director, John S. Kennedy, said there were competing stories regarding the origin of the sport.

“The legend is that the British government sent a bunch of bikes to a ruler in India,” Kennedy said. “He gave them to his stable boys, who had always wanted to play polo but couldn’t afford it. They cut down mallets and started playing.”

As the story goes, British soldiers stationed in India took the game back to Britain, where it became so popular that it was played as a demonstration sport at the 1908 Olympics in London. According to Kennedy, bike polo has enjoyed several bursts of popularity through the years.

“I hear from people all the time, ‘We played with croquet mallets or hockey sticks and we thought we invented the sport until we found your Web site,’ ” he said.

Dalrymple said, “For people who love bikes, who work on their bikes, it’s just another way to live the biker’s lifestyle.”

Back on the court, Dalrymple charged toward Adam Staudt, a 27-year-old messenger who had broken away with the ball. Staudt lifted his mallet, hoping to strike for a goal in the split-second window of opportunity. But before he could make contact, Dalrymple knocked the ball away from behind. As Staudt leaned his bike to try to recover the ball, Dalrymple’s mallet got stuck in his spinning spokes. Staudt was sent flying onto the pavement.

“They’re really, really physical,” he said.

The Ratkillers won the game, but the competition may be different at the East Side Polo Invite. Dalrymple said that he expected teams from others cities to show off moves he had never seen.

“It’s not like baseball or soccer or tennis where it’s homogenized,” he said. “Bicycle polo lives in bubbles, and it leaves a lot of the interpretation up to the player. The guys in D.C. might play a totally different way than the guys in Philly. It’ll be interesting to see how the different styles compete.”

April 22, 2009

The tricky transition to two wheels

The Government recently announced plans to increase the number of cyclists on our streets four-fold by 2020 – but what changes need to be made to encourage more people on to bicycles, FIONA McCANN .

IT’S GOOD for the environment. It’s good for your health. More people are doing it than ever before. So how come cycling in Ireland is still such a hard slog?

The Government on Monday launched the National Cycle Policy Framework, with the aim of increasing the number of people in Ireland who cycle every day from 35,000 now to 160,000 in 2020. Recent figures released by Dublin City Council reveal the number of cyclists is steadily climbing, with 8 per cent more on the road last year compared to 2007, and a total increase of 30 per cent between 2003 and 2008.

Yet the amount of bicycle journeys taken in Dublin amounts to 3 per cent of total trips, whether by car, bus or tram. This compares with 30 per cent in Amsterdam.

So why aren’t more of us on two wheels? It can’t be the expense, given that bicycles are cheaper than cars or public transport, and even more so following the incentive in last winter’s Budget offering tax relief on purchases of bicycles up to €1,000. Admittedly the weather is less than ideal, but Dublin is relatively low on steep inclines, and covers a small enough geographical area to make for ideal cycling. Yet if the Government is serious about increasing the numbers on bicycles more than four-fold, the first question to ask is: what’s stopping us from getting on our bikes now?

“Our biggest barrier to getting people cycling is perception of risk,” says Ciaran Fallon, Dublin City Council’s new cycling officer, the first of his kind in Ireland. “What we want to do is make cycling safer and make it feel safer.”

CYCLE LANES SEEM like a good place to start. According to Fallon, there are already 209km of bicyle lanes in Dublin alone, though a quarter of those are shared with buses. The problem is, they’re often on the roads that least require them, have an alarming tendency to disappear without warning and are prone to potholes, which can wreak havoc on a cyclist’s sensitive areas. Having to share them with double decker buses renders them largely ineffectual.

“They’re not ideal bedfellows,” agrees Fallon of buses and bikes. “There are lots of difficulties, in the sense that buses are stopping very regularly and they’re awkward for cyclists.” The Government’s new policy promises to retrofit roads and bus lanes to accommodate cycling lanes, but it’s no mean feat in a city like Dublin.

“In an ideal world you would segregate the lanes and give everyone their own space,” says Fallon. “But we’re dealing with a road pattern that evolved without planning, so we have to work with what we have. If we want cycling to grow in the city, we must reallocate road space for cycling.”

Fine sentiments and a welcome initiative from the Government, but cycle lanes won’t solve all the problems facing those braving it by bicycle. And Dublin is only the start. According to Shane Foran, regional spokesman for the cycling campaign group Cyclists.ie, the problems facing cyclists are countrywide. “Certainly in Galway the purpose of cycling facilities is to benefit motorists rather than cyclists,” says Foran. “The cycle lanes that are being put in are dangerous, do make cycling inconvenient, and do make cycling unattractive.”

GETTING TO AND FROM your chosen destination by bicycle can be difficult enough, but finding a place to park is often close to impossible. In Dublin, the few available parking spots are almost always already taken on any given day, nearby fences are festooned with “Bicycles will be removed” signs, and there’s usually already a bike or two wrapped around a nearby tree or knocked to the ground. This, Fallon says, is about to change – the council has plans to increase parking facilities for bicycles by 20 per cent by the end of the year. Not only that, but the location of the new parking stands will be decided by cyclists, or indeed anyone who cares to add their suggestions to the forthcoming website Dublin.ie/cycling.

“People can click on it and tell us where they want the cycle stands to go, and we’ll aggregate those points and see where the demand is,” says Fallon. Part of the National Cycle Policy Framework also includes a provision for new secure bicycle parks in bus and train stations, as well as adapting trains and buses to carry bicycles.

Such initiatives are welcome and much needed, as are plans to reduce speed limits in certain urban areas and around schools, and to provide shared bicycle schemes. Yet they’re unlikely to resolve the biggest problem faced by cyclists: motorists.

“The real problem [for cyclists] is their fellow citizens in cars,” says Fallon. “Most drivers are careful and courteous, but a minority are careless and a really small minority are reckless.” It’s the minority that make some cyclists feel that taking to the roads is taking their lives into their hands. How to deal with drivers who simply don’t look, or notice, cyclists on the city roads? One solution is to educate potential drivers about how to behave around cyclists, while at the same time ensuring cyclists – currently not required to undergo any formal training before they take to the roads – are trained to use the roads correctly, an initiative outlined in the National Cycle Policy Framework.

As Foran sees it, “there needs to be acknowledgement that the roads infrastructure is there for the entire community and not just as a private race track for those who have bought motorised transport”. According to both Foran and Fallon, the single biggest thing that can be done to increase safety for cyclists on Irish roads is to get on your bicycle. “There’s a thing called the safety-in-numbers effect, which argues that the more cyclists a motorist encounters, the more cautious they become in the presence of cyclists,” says Foran. “The rate of accidents among cyclists will go down as the number of cyclists increases.”

THOUGH THIS MAY not resolve the conflicts that arise from motorists and cyclists sharing the roads, it’ll certainly sway things in the favour of the pedal-pushing cohort, and might go some way towards making Ireland more cycle friendly, especially given how far we lag behind our European counterparts, say in Amsterdam, where the motorist is automatically deemed at fault in the case of an accident involving a car and a bicycle, or Copenhagen, where more than a third of commuters cycle to work every day.

We even fall behind US cities such as Portland, Oregon, where a reported 3.5 per cent of commuters cycle to work. In fact, such is the popularity of cycling in that city that one lawmaker even proposed introducing a registration fees for cyclists, though without success to date. Is that what the future holds for Irish cyclists? Not if Fallon has anything to do with it. “My thinking is, when I see a cyclist on the road, they’re freeing up road space for other motorists, they’re reducing congestion, and they’re reducing pollution,” he says. “There’s a case for paying them rather than penalising them.”

Test run: my journey to work

LIGHTS ON? Check. Helmet? Check (despite some research that suggests it might do me more harm than good). I head out along Oxmantown Road through the side streets of Stoneybatter, most of which have no cycle lanes, but boast little traffic and plenty of room for bicycles.

A passing car pushes me towards the kerb, and forces me to negotiate a ramp that I suspect causes me more discomfort to roll over than the driver in his car seat, but I’m not complaining. Yet.

Once onto Manor Street, I’m in a bus lane, and a bus overtakes me to pull in ahead. Do I stop behind and wait in the exhaust fumes or try to overtake it again? I choose the latter and sweep around the bus without incident (if you discount the broken glass).

Turning the corner onto North King Street, things get hairy. It’s one-way traffic but feeding in two different directions. I end up on the left hand side of the right lane, cycling a wobbly line as cars whizz by on both sides. The knowledge that I’m relying on the oncoming driver’s visibility is scary, but on the curve into Queen Street I see a bicycle lane. Hurray! Except it ends about 500m later, just where the road narrows and a bit of space would come in handy. Traffic is heavy, and cars press to the kerb, too close to pass until I turn onto Arran Quay, which is one long cycle lane of joy, if you discount the buses and taxis. There’s even a fellow cyclist or two, and it finally feels like there’s a place for us.

That is until the road markings at Church Street confuse the issue, with the emergence of a third lane for left-turning vehicles. There’s a bus idling there without an indicator on, so it’s anyone’s guess what the driver’s intentions are. Reminded that 75 per cent of fatalities involving cyclists are caused by heavy vehicles turning left, I bide my time behind the bus.

Lights change, we’re off, and the bus is ahead, pulling in just past the Four Courts to offload passengers. I go to pass it on the outside, but the driver decides to move out as I approach, clearly unaware of my presence, and I’m forced to brake and swerve back in behind it.

I continue to O’Connell Bridge, where in order to turn right I have to get across three lanes of heavy traffic. Putting one hand out to indicate is all very well, but I have to steer as well. A motorist pauses to let me cross in front, and I become better disposed towards cars again. The good cheer lasts until I cross on to D’Olier Street and then it’s bus havoc again, and a mystery as to where a cyclist is supposed to be.

I finally make it to the left turn on to Townsend Street, where the road narrows again and I am forced to suck up bus exhausts as I wait for the lights to change before I reach the Irish Times building.

Plans to continue around Westland Row and across the canal to compare the behaviour of drivers and the presence of cycle lanes on both sides of the river are abandoned: I’ve inhaled enough bus fumes for one day.

Cycling stats

35,000 The number of people who cycle daily in Ireland

3 Percentage of total daily journeys in Ireland that are taken by bicycle

209 Kilometres of bicycle lanes in Dublin

25 Percentage of bicycle lanes that are shared with buses

1.9 Percentage of adults that use a bike to go to work, according to the 2006 Census

Maps of Dublin’s bicycle lane network are available at www.dto.ie/ctbl

April 15, 2009

Berlin Reloaded....

April 7, 2009

GM and Segway Join Forces to Reinvent Urban Transportation

NEW YORK - General Motors Corp. and Segway today demonstrated a new type of vehicle that could change the way we move around in cities.

Dubbed Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), GM and Segway are developing an electrically powered, two-seat prototype vehicle that has only two wheels. It could allow people to travel around cities more quickly, safely, quietly and cleanly - and at a lower total cost. The vehicle also enables design creativity, fashion, fun and social networking.

GM and Segway announced their collaboration, while demonstrating the Project P.U.M.A. prototype in New York City this morning.

"Project P.U.M.A. represents a unique solution to moving about and interacting in cities, where more than half of the world's people live," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, and strategic planning. "Imagine small, nimble electric vehicles that know where other moving objects are and avoid running into them. Now, connect those vehicles in an Internet-like web and you can greatly enhance the ability of people to move through cities, find places to park and connect to their social and business networks."

Trends indicate that urbanization is growing, and with that comes increased congestion and more competition for parking. Cities around the world are actively looking for solutions to alleviate congestion and pollution. Project P.U.M.A. addresses those concerns. It combines several technologies demonstrated by GM and Segway, including electric drive and batteries; dynamic stabilization (two-wheel balancing); all-electronic acceleration, steering and braking; vehicle-to-vehicle communications; and autonomous driving and parking. Those technologies integrate in Project P.U.M.A. to increase mobility freedom, while also enabling energy efficiency, zero emissions, enhanced safety, seamless connectivity and reduced congestion in cities.

"We are excited to be working together to demonstrate a dramatically different approach to urban mobility," said Jim Norrod, CEO of Segway Inc. "There's an emotional connection you get when using Segway products. The Project P.U.M.A. prototype vehicle embodies this through the combination of advanced technologies that Segway and GM bring to the table to complete the connection between the rider, environment, and others."

Project P.U.M.A. vehicles will also allow designers to create new fashion trends for cars, and to focus on the passion and emotion that people express through their vehicles while creating solutions that anticipate the future needs of urban customers.

The Project P.U.M.A. prototype vehicle integrates a lithium-ion battery, digital smart energy management, two-wheel balancing, dual electric wheel motors, and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity. The result is an advanced and functional concept that demonstrates the capabilities of technology that exists today.

Built to carry two or more passengers, it can travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph), with a range up to 35 miles (56 km) between recharges.

Since the introduction of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT), Segway has established itself as the leader in the small electric vehicle space. Its approach to congestion and environmental challenges is balanced with a strong understanding of the functional needs of its customers, enabling them to do more with less. Segway has delivered more than 60,000 lithium-ion batteries to the market.

GM has been a leader in "connected vehicle" technologies since it introduced OnStar in 1996. Today, this on-board communications package connects six million subscribers in North America to OnStar safety and security services. GM has also pioneered vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems and transponder technology. These and additional connected vehicle technologies could ultimately enable vehicles that don't crash and drive themselves.

"Imagine moving about cities in a vehicle fashioned to your taste, that's fun to drive and ride in, that safely takes you where you want to go, and "connects" you to friends and family, while using clean, renewable energy, producing zero vehicle tailpipe emissions, and without the stress of traffic jams," said Burns. "And imagine doing this for one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today's automobile. This is what Project P.U.M.A. is capable of delivering."

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world's largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.