Today is Ride to Work Day, part of National Motorcycle Week. I rode to work this morning from the Ace Cafe as one of the MCI’s Bike Squads. Riding to work is great, it gets the brain up and running better than any caffeine injection – you’ve got to be thinking three times faster than your wheels so that, like some sort of traffic grand master, you can predict what moves everyone else is going to make several plays in advance, in order not to be there when that taxi u-turns without warning into one of your many potential paths. So when you get to your desk, you’re already wide awake and ready for the day.
And as predicted by the RAC Foundation last month, riding to work saved me 50% on my normal travel time – 30 mins instead of an hour by tube and bus.
But there’s a cloud on the horizon – the riding in part is great, but finding somewhere safe to leave 2 metres of Triumph remains a challenge. The popularity of motorcycling in London has soared since the introduction of the C-charge and the 7 July public transport bombings – but the number of spaces provided by the councils hasn’t kept pace. So unless you’re in with the lark, your chances of finding enough tarmac are slim:-
And the lack of space leads to an expectation that the next person along can shuffle your bike along a bit if they need to. Now, no-one touches my bike except me (and the volunteers who help me pick it up when I drop it – thanks, all!) so this particular piece of parking etiquette causes me great anxiety!
Westminster Council announced at the beginning of the year that they were giving thought to providing more motorcycle spaces. It would give 2-wheel commuting a big boost if they press ahead with redesignating some bays as a matter of urgency. And if the new spaces have built-in ground anchors, even better.
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Automated tailgating (known as platooning) could be used to cut pollution and improve safety according to research published in Inderscience’s International Journal of Environment and Pollution.
Tailgating, where people do not leave adequate stopping distances between their own vehicle and the car infront is a significant safety problem on UK roads especially on motorways . However, from an environmental view point, in heavy traffic conditions safe distances means more tailgate turbulence and increased drag on individual vehicles, leading to lower fuel efficiency (According to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India).
Safety has to come above environmental concerns, but technology could help achieve both aims through automating the distance between cars. Tests in this area find that cars moving in the same direction separated by a meter or so would reduce drag and sensors can be added to vehicles to make such small separation distances possible. Lowering the drag experienced on a car platoon not only lowers the average fuel consumption as it also reduces the overall noise heard by drivers and other road users.
In a world dominated by the motor car both safety and environmental concerns are of paramount importance and technology, which automates the most efficient distance between vehicles in a safe way appears to be a win win situation. However, the Foundation has been concerned about automating too many driving tasks and taking responsibility away from the driver and will watch developments such as this with interest.
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Transport and the design of transport and street infrastructure is directly linked with property prices according to new research from CABE.
Property prices have increased by a record 8.9% over the past 12 months and even modest changes in street quality were found to add at least 5% to the price of homes or retail rents.
The research looks at the market values that could be created by improving the design of 10 London case study high streets. Many different street qualities were included in the assessment including design features such as dropped kerbs, high-quality materials, crossing points and good lighting; good maintenance, low levels of litter and graffiti, and clean pavements; and quality of place, including public spaces, not too much traffic, and a sense of security.
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