July 22, 2010

Transportation is a public health issue

Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults
A recent report here in Ireland revealed that in over 55% of pregnant women giving birth last year at one of the primary maternity hospitals in the country were overweight (43%) or clinically obese (13%). Hot on the heels of these shocking statistics we are looking at the correlation of public health and tranport, something that the United States in only getting to grips with in recent years.

In the United States of Obesity, transportation is a public health issue. As profiled in the recently released report from the Trust for America's Health, "F as in Fat", obesity rates continue to rise across the US, increasing the risk of serious health problems like diabetes and hypertension. To solve the obesity epidemic, the data suggest, Americans need to rethink their dependence on the automobile.

July 19, 2010

Designated Driving

Last week, we had an terrible tragedy in Ireland with the loss of 8 people in a head-on collision on the Inisowen peninsula in Northern Donegal. While it appears that the driver may have been driving too fast, what was even more worrying was that 7 out of the 8 young men who piled into that one car were killed instantly, with just the driver surviving. They had been watching the world cup final in a local pub after which they took, seemingly the wise decision to leave their cars at the pub and take a lift home. However, in the seemingly absence of an adequate taxi service, what are the alternatives? How could this tragedy have been avoided, and more importantly, not repeated in the future? Below are some examples of successful companies based in urban centers in the UK and the US who are offering an alternative service; the chauffeur driver who drives you and your car home.

July 16, 2010

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

This is a fantastic video made by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. from Streetfilms.org. The video, filmed in Copenhagen during the recent Velo-City 2010 conference, documents the reflections on Copenhagen's cycling culture from various North American cycling advocates.

In my opinion, I dislike the way Copenhageners go on about their city being 'the best cycle city in the world'. It's an attitude that buys into this madness whereby every city needs a tagline, needs to be #1 at something....anything. For example, Dublin at the moment in preparing a bid to become the World Design Capital in 2013. Now I visited Helsinki last summer, which will be World Design Capital in 2012, and it has a huge design history and even a design district in the city centre. Dublin has none of this and I don't understand why it would want to become World Design Capital only other than for the sake of the title.

So, in conclusion, I believe that what we need to do is think about smart cities. How smart is my city? What is my city's equivalent to an IQ? A smart city is one that combines the three i's; intellect integrated with infrastructure. Yes, Copenhagen is a super smart city and yes please tell us about how super smart you are, because you know what, we all can't be the world's best cycle city so stop telling us you are.

July 12, 2010

Bicycle Cargo

July 9, 2010

Copenhagen Cycling Superhighways

This is a great news video from current.tv's series on 'Urban Mobility- Rethinking Transportation in an Urban Environment.

Voted the world's most livable city in 2008, Copenhagen embraces bicycle culture as part of daily life with nearly 40 % of residents riding a bike to work. Blogs and fashion photos are dedicated to bike style, and throughout the city you'll find bicycle bars on sidewalks so riders can rest their feet; green lights that change early for cyclists; and even friendly signs greeting "Hi Cyclist!"

It's no wonder then that Copenhagen is innovating new ways of creating a bike-friendly city with a system of as many as 15 extra-wide, segregated bike routes connecting the suburbs to the center of the city. Technological advances will soon follow, so commuters can detect other riders on the routes, and help them to assemble into pelotons or "bike buses." These groups could in turn emit signals that trip traffic lights in their favor, resulting in a "green wave" of bicycle momentum.

July 8, 2010

Airborne Personal Mobility Innovation

On the dawn after the first night-flight of a solar plane, we've decided to take a look at the innovative concepts currently in development by Nasa and others. With real life working flying cars and jetpacks, for anyone thats a fan of The Jetsons or Rocketeer, this one is definitely for you!

July 7, 2010

Chicago Cycle Culture

Lone cyclist passes Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.

July 6, 2010

Piano Stairs

”Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and feel better” is something we often hear or read in the Sunday papers. Few people actually follow that advice. This Fun Theory initiative answers the question, Can we get more people to take the stairs over the escalator by making it fun to do? Yes we can! Lets make the stairs a giant piano and see what happens!

Rewarding Speed Limit Signs

Above is a video from Kevin Richardson (USA) who was the fun theory award winner for 2009/2010 with his initiative 'Rewarding Speed Limit Signs'. The initiative answers the question, how can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do? The idea here is capture on camera the people who keep to the speed limit. They would have their photos taken and registration numbers recorded and entered into a lottery. Winners would recieve cash prizes and be notified by post. Better still, the winnig pot would come from the people who were caught speeding.

Subway slide

Here’s a cool video of a Berlin subway staircase that was transformed into a slide. Watch it above.

IBM conducts Commuter Pain Survey

“If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.”
- Doug Larson

The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic.

IBM conducted a survey of adult drivers in twenty major cities around the world – repeating similar surveys done in the U.S. alone in May 2008 and August 2009. This survey, intended to gather drivers’ opinions about local traffic and related issues, was conducted in native languages in Amsterdam, Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Houston, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow, Montreal, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Stockholm and Toronto.There were 8,192 responses in the final data set – at least 400 from each city.