UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

June 25, 2018 by  
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Amsterdam residents and visitors alike may soon see the city from sweeping new heights. Dutch architectural practice UNStudio has unveiled designs for the IJbaan Cable Car, a “future-proof” public transit system connecting Amsterdam West with Amsterdam Noord / NDSM. The cable car will span a little less than a mile (1 1/2 kilometers) and can be easily expanded in the future if needed. The IJBaan Cable Car was commissioned by the IJbaan Foundation (Stichting IJbaan), a grassroots citizens’ movement initially started in 2015 as a crowdfunding campaign led by Bas Dekker and Willem Wessels. Now supported by the Municipality of Amsterdam, the initiative aims to “create a new connection across the IJ bay by the 750th anniversary of Amsterdam in 2025.” The all-electric public transport system will create transport hubs and destinations. Designed as a new architectural icon, the cable car system consists of two stations—NDSM Marina on the North and Minervahaven to the South—and three supporting pylons with varying heights. Inspired by the city’s industrial past, the slender and sculptural towers will not be visible from Amsterdam’s famed canal ring so as to abide by UNESCO World Heritage height limitations. The system will take 4.6 minutes to complete a full journey at an average speed of 13.42 miles per hour. The passenger cabins can accommodate 32 to 37 passengers, while bicycle cabins can hold four to six bicycles . Related: Sleep inside this giant crane turned into luxury digs in Amsterdam “A cable car is an extremely sustainable public transport system,” says UNStudio founder and principal architect Ben van Berkel. “It is a very fast and green way of traveling, which is attractive for cyclists, commuters, students, residents and visitors. In Amsterdam you see a growing need for connections across the IJ, with the new metro and bridges. The city is growing enormously and such an ‘air bridge’ contributes to the development of the entire region. Transport by air also relieves the increasing pressure on traffic and the existing transport network on the ground. It is not only efficient but also fun. People are going to see and experience their city in a whole new way.” + UNStudio Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs future-proof cable car for Amsterdam

How to make American cities bike-friendly

June 19, 2018 by  
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If you live in a city, riding a bike can be a great option to get you where you need to go. More and more people are opting for bicycles instead of cars, but most American cities are lagging behind when it comes to offering safe roads for bicyclists. Many cities ban cyclists from riding on the sidewalk and expect them to share the road with passing cars. What can we do to encourage American cities to be more bicycle-friendly? America’s best cycling cities Not all cities fall short when it comes to bike-friendly roads — some of the best cycling cities in the world are right here at home. Atlanta took some of its unused urban railways and created “The BeltLine,”  a 22-mile-long loop for pedestrians and bicyclists. City planners are extending it another five miles in the coming year, and more than a million people have used it since its opening. Chicago has dedicated bike routes to help keep cyclists safe and out of the way of passing drivers. Baltimore has an electric-assisted bike-sharing program to make it easier for riders to navigate the sometimes-hilly terrain. Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike Moving away from car dependence Most people don’t think twice about hopping in a car and driving to work, even if work is only a few miles down the road. We need to change our underlying infrastructure to move away from car-dependent transportation. That’s not to say we all need to stop driving our cars — people who commute long distances, carry cargo or transport other passengers will find it difficult or impossible to do these things on a bicycle. Infrastructure changes give cities more control over traffic — both vehicles and bicycles — and allow them to separate or prioritize one or the other, depending on the conditions. Just adding bike lanes to the sides of existing roads isn’t enough — nor is expecting bicyclists to share the road with nothing to separate them from motorized vehicles. Related: 6 cycling accessories every bike commuter needs Separating cars and bikes When it comes down to it, a bicycle is never going to win in a fight with a car. In 2015, more than 800 cyclists were killed in accidents with vehicles. That’s more than two accidents every single day. The easiest way to prevent these collisions is to keep cars and bikes separate. Bike lanes with planters or plastic bollards provide a barrier between cyclists and drivers and may help keep people safe. Cities can install a temporary setup for a reasonable amount of money to study how well it works, and if it turns out to be a good option for the city, city planners and officials can move forward from there. Learn from cycling cities When transitioning American cities to be safer for cyclists, planners can turn to cities around the world for inspiration.  Europe has great ideas when it comes to making cities more cycling-friendly. For the Netherlands recently opened an 11-mile cycling highway that connects the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen. This is a “fast path” for bicycling commuters between the two cities. There are slower roadside paths as well for intercity travel. It isn’t just the infrastructure that the Netherlands has changed — it’s the “ psychology of the commute .” By giving cyclists a direct and convenient route that keeps them separate from cars, it has allowed more people to ride bikes. The bicycling highway has even encouraged people to reconsider transportation for their regional trips. Cycling is one of the best things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint , so it’s important to make crowded cities safer for people who choose to leave their cars at home and opt to use bicycles. It’s better for your health and better for the environment, as long as we can keep cyclists safe during their daily commutes. City planners should stop thinking about cars and start focusing on public transportation and cycling as the primary forms of transportation for their citizens. Via  Atlanta ,  Biz Journals ,  Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center ,  Wired  and  CityLab Images via Vishal Banik , Paul Krueger (1 , 2) , Daniel Lobo  and Jonny Kennaugh

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Estonia will soon offer free public transportation

June 8, 2018 by  
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Estonia started providing free public transportation for local residents in 2013 in the capital city, Tallinn, but now  CityLab has reported that the nation has set its sights even higher: it plans to offer free state-run bus travel around the country starting on July 1. According to HuffPost, this move will be the biggest national free public transportation plan in the entire world. The plan doesn’t mean Estonians won’t ever have to buy bus tickets again, but rather that state-run bus travel in rural municipalities will be free. Citizens will also have to pay for  train travel, but tickets for the state-owned rail network will be less expensive thanks to enhanced subsidies. Tallinn’s free public transit policies — there city residents can ride buses, trains, trolleys, and trams fare-free — will not extend to other cities, and the offer will only be good for Estonians, not tourists. The Estonian government will devote around $15 million in taxpayer money to the bus system. Related: Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution The move could offer democratization of mobility for people in Estonia. Tallinn European Union office head Allan Alaküla told HuffPost that free public transportation enables low-income groups “to look for and take jobs in a wider area than they would be able to access by walking.” Delft University of Technology assistant professor of transport and planning Oded Cats studied Tallinn’s fareless plan in its first year. His study uncovered mixed evidence of free trips helping low-income locals. Those people did become more mobile, but the study didn’t find an indication job opportunities improved. The study uncovered a 14 percent increase in public transit use and a 10 percent drop in car trips , although the average distance traveled in a car went up. The study discovered the increase in public transportation use was mainly due to extra trips from people who were already riding the system or people who walked in the past. Alaküla told HuffPost, “We hope it gives people a reason to use their car less, or not use their car at all on working days. In Tallinn we have taken several measures to reduce car usage along with free public transport — special bus lanes, more bike racks to encourage cycling , and we have also raised on-street parking fees and reduced parking places.” Via CityLab and HuffPost Images via Depositphotos

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

June 1, 2018 by  
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Even as the U.S. turns away from clean energy, California continues to charge ahead. Empowering the largest investment in the U.S.  by the electric industry to transform a transportation system, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a collective budget of $738 million for four utility companies to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” This move, required by a 2015 clean energy law in California, marks an important step toward developing comprehensive infrastructure to switch transportation from fossil fuels to clean electric power. The unprecedented investment follows the recent approval of 15 pilot programs that, with a collective budget of $43 million, aim to electrify transit buses , school buses, cranes, agricultural trucks, delivery trucks, airport equipment and other vehicles. The pilot programs will run over the course of a year, while the major initiative will unfold over several years. These programs specifically look to benefit communities that have historically suffered under hazardous levels of air pollution, a public health threat that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will alleviate. The initiative will fund, among other things, new charging stations, related infrastructure and services for installing new charging stations in homes. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires These new initiatives in California have received broad support from stakeholders in the state, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and the Sierra Club. Although the link between transportation and utility companies may traditionally seem weak, the Commission under California state law determined that the electric vehicle programs serve the utility customer’s interests by offering more reliable, less expensive service. With its most recent investment in the future of transportation, California seems poised to be a leader in clean energy for many years to come. Via NRDC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

June 1, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong is the biggest trading hub for shark fins in the world. Although they’ve taken steps to halt illegal trading, conservation group Sea Shepherd recently uncovered a shipment with fins from endangered sharks that arrived via a Singapore Airlines flight for a Hong Kong dried seafood company. Sea Shepherd said the fins came from whale sharks and possibly oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered shark fins arrived in a 2,150-pound shipment marked ‘Dry Seafood’ for Win Lee Fung Ltd . The shipment came from Colombo, Sri Lanka by way of Singapore. Singapore Airlines bans shark fin cargo and said they’d sent a reminder to all stations to administer sampling checks on shipments with such a label. They also said they blacklisted the shipper. Sea Shepherd Asia director Gary Stokes told Reuters , “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so [it] didn’t flag any alarms.” Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Shark fins can be imported in Hong Kong, but for species listed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), there must be a permit. The species discovered in the shipment were CITES Appendix 2 species and were concealed among legal fins. Sea Shepherd said smugglers operate by utilizing a vague description — and as Hong Kong Customs is barely able to check 1 percent of containers arriving in the territory, a shipment with a label like ‘Dry Seafood’ could easily escape notice. “Sea Shepherd Global have asked the Hong Kong Government for a mandatory use of the international Harmonized Shipping Codes for all wildlife products at time of booking for any goods destined to Hong Kong,” Sea Shepherd said in its statement. “Only then would Hong Kong Customs and [Agricultural, Fishers & Conservation Department] stand a fighting chance to have more effective inspections on containers when they know the contents before they arrive.” As of now, shark fin smugglers only have to declare what was in a shipment 14 days after it has arrived in Hong Kong or pay a penalty of around $10. The World Wildlife Fund said around 100 million sharks could be killed every year, and they’re frequently targeted for their fins. + Sea Shepherd Via Reuters Images courtesy of Sea Shepherd Global

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Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

May 11, 2018 by  
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Another day, another genius marketing idea from Elon Musk . In an Instagram post , Musk announced that he plans to offer free rides in The Boring Company’s first tunnel — which he described as “almost done.” Musk went on to say: “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 10, 2018 at 6:49pm PDT The Boring Company will offer rides in the tunnel under the Los Angeles , California area “pending final regulatory approvals” in a few months. Elon Musk thanked people who have been involved in the project, and said “Strong support from public, elected officials and regulators is critical to success.” As he often does, Musk answered a few questions about the project on Twitter. He said the company has already started working on a route between New York and Washington, D.C., and that they hope to start work on a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019. Musk explained that one would be a true Hyperloop with “pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels,” and that passengers on that route would be able to travel faster than if they were on a jetliner. Related: Boring Company confirms plans to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing bricks When one Twitter user requested a stop near Vandenburg, an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County from which SpaceX launches rockets, Musk responded , “A cool thing about the design is that’s easy to incorporate branch loops to serve small to mid-size cities without slowing down the main loop at all.” The Boring Company’s frequently asked questions page says the initial test tunnel is in Hawthorne, California. According to the Los Angeles Times , in April the City Council’s public works committee unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a 2.7-mile tunnel. The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 9, 2018 by  
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The deadly virus Ebola has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A new outbreak of Ebola stuck the northwest town of Bikoro with 21 suspected cases of the virus. Out of five samples sent to the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) , only two were positive for Ebola. In 1976, the first case of Ebola was documented in the DRC, and there has been nine outbreaks of the virus since then. The unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 infected 28,000, killed 11,000 and shocked the world. However, the virus ‘s latest reemergence in the DRC is no reason to panic. Previous outbreaks in the DRC have been contained thanks in part to the country’s vast, largely inaccessible land area, which inhibits travel and trade between towns. The DRC’s last Ebola outbreak occurred in the village of Likati in 2017, however the virus was contained within forty-two days. Related: Ebola mutated to become even deadlier during recent outbreak Led by Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the first scientist to document Ebola, the INRB is experienced in responding to Ebola outbreaks. “We’re advanced in public health ,” an epidemiologist at the INRB told the Atlantic . “If you compare us with Europe or the U.S., eh, but here in Africa, we are high. We have experience.” Early monitoring and reporting is key to success. “We have a surveillance system that works,” Kinshasa School of Public Health leader Emile Okitolonda said. “Here, nurses know that if they see a suspected case, they report it.” The INRB will also receive expert assistance from the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières in responding to Ebola. The primary challenge in the DRC is a lack of resources – a problem that may be exacerbated by President Trump ‘s recent request to cut $252 million in funding for international Ebola relief. Congress must decide within 45 days whether to act on Trump’s request. If they do nothing, as they are wont to do, the funding will remain in place. + INRB Via The Atlantic Images via Wikimedia Commons and Depositphotos

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Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

May 9, 2018 by  
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Taking your adventure off-road—and even off-grid —is now easier than ever thanks to the all-terrain Topo trailer. Escapod recently launched the off-road-specific teardrop trailer, which clocks in at 1,200 pounds dry weight and is crafted from the ground up in Warship, Utah. The Topo features a minimalist and stylish weatherproof build with a hand-welded, powder-coated steel tube frame and lightweight aluminum cladding. Built to last, the four-season Topo is constructed from a durable pressure-treated frame with 1.5-inch insulation . The trailer is elevated on 17-inch Mickey Thompson wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Trailrunner AT Tires, resulting in a standard ground clearance of 18 inches. To tackle even the most technical of terrain, the trailer also comes with independent suspension rated to 3,500 pounds. For extra functionality, Rhino Rack crossbars and a Sunseeker Awning are installed on top. In contrast with the rugged exterior, the interior is a warm cocoon of pre-finished birch ply , equipped with four cabinets, three cubbies, and a closed compartment behind the sleeping space, which is furnished with a 5-inch memory-foam queen mattress. Despite its compact quarters, the Topo feels expansive thanks to a 9-by-41-inch stargazer window and the two glazed doors on either side. There’s also room for food prep with counter space in the rear. The LEDs , USB ports, 3-speed fan, and optional water pump run off a 12v series 27 deep-cycle RV battery. The Escapod Topo starts at $13,800 and can easily be customized with tempting add-ons—like the solar array or shower—or with special request equipment. Interested buyers not quite ready to take the plunge will also be pleased to know that the team will soon offer rentals in Utah, with more details to be revealed on their website . + Escapod Via New Atlas

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Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

May 4, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s made headlines with its electric Semi truck — but Anheuser-Busch is betting big on their competitor, the Nikola Motor Company . The beer company placed an order for as many as 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks just days after Nikola sued Tesla for patent infringement. Nikola says their zero emissions trucks boast a 500- to 1,200-mile range – plenty to haul Anheuser-Busch’s beer around the country. Anheuser-Busch’s goal is to convert its dedicated long-haul fleet over to renewably-powered vehicles by 2025. 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks could help them reach that goal. Nikola said their trucks could be integrated into the brewing company’s fleet in 2020. Features of the truck include the ability to refuel in around 20 minutes, and a surround viewing system for improved safety. Nikola could charge around $400,000 on average for their trucks, which are as yet in the prototype phase, according to Reuters . Related: Self-driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run The trucks could help the beer company attain sustainability goals; Nikola said, “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent — equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.” Nikola says on their website they plan to create the world’s largest hydrogen network, and CEO Trevor Milton said they’re excited to partner with Anheuser-Busch to bring this network to the United States. He said in the statement, “By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly nine billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.” Reuters described that last statement as a not-so-veiled jab at Tesla — people have questioned the Tesla Semi’s cost, range, and payload. The expected base prices for Tesla’s Semi are $150,000 for a 300-mile-range truck or $180,000 for a 500-mile-range truck. Anheuser-Busch did place 40 reservations for the Tesla Semi. Although Nikola and Tesla are both named after inventor Nikola Tesla, the companies aren’t exactly on good terms — Nikola recently sued Tesla over design patent infringements. Elon Musk referred to the allegation as a “laughable lawsuit.” + Nikola Motor Company Via Reuters and Mashable Images via Nikola Motor Company

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

May 4, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, after you’re done partying on the strip, you’ll be able to hail an autonomous ride with Lyft. The ride sharing company is bringing thirty self-driving cars to the streets of Las Vegas in partnership with developer Aptiv . The new initiative will offer the public the option of hailing a self-driving car using Lyft’s app. For those concerned about the interaction between robot and human drivers, trials show that the Aptiv-designed vehicles are more than capable of maneuvering the often chaotic traffic of Las Vegas. This move follows Lyft’s test run of its self-driving cars at the Computer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, which was limited to a relatively small number of people. Lyft’s Vegas self-driving fleet will most likely consist of Aptiv-augmented BMWs that use nine LiDARs , 10 radars, a trifocal camera, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and advanced GPS to safely navigate the roads. However, the vehicles will be limited to specific routes on which they may drive, at least initially. Each vehicle will also be operated by highly-trained safety drivers. More testing and data collection is needed before Lyft, or any other company, can operate a fully functional self-driving vehicle system on public roads. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Aptiv and Lyft have agreed to a multiyear collaboration, which both companies agree is a major step forward for their businesses. “With Aptiv’s autonomous driving technology deployed throughout Las Vegas and broadly accessible through the Lyft app, a wide range of consumers will be able to share the experience of autonomous vehicles in a complex urban environment,” said Aptiv president and CEO Kevin Clark in a statement . “More importantly, the resulting knowledge and data will allow us to further refine our autonomous driving capabilities and strengthen our portfolio of industry-leading active safety solutions.” Via Engadget Images via Lyft and John F. Martin /Aptiv

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Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

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