The next big idea in renewable energy might be right below our feet and under our tires. Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has an interesting vision for the future of America’s roadways and it involves turning each one into its own powerhouse, the Associate Press reported last week.
While the millions of miles of U.S. roads work each day to transport people and goods, Brusaw came up with a new way to put them to work by replacing asphalt with solar panels. Brusaw’s invention involves hexagon-shaped panels that can replace traditional road surfaces and at the same time they function as normal highways, they can also use energy from the sun to create electricity.
The AP said the panels are quite durable and “can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity;” a seriously need when considering our traditional highways span mountains, valley, deserts and all sorts of terrain and weather. The product is already in use at Brusaw’s company headquarters in Idaho, where it’s parking lot is comprised of 108 panels that vehicles have driving on without damage, according to AP.
Brusaw’s company estimates that if every road was covered with solar panels, it would produce three times more electricity than the U.S. consumes each year. The company also highlights the added benefit of construction and engineering jobs to install the panels nationwide.
Solar roads could provide more services than just roadway and energy production though. The AP reports the panels are heated, which would melt ice and reduce hazards in colder climates, and each panel has LED lights that can be used to configure parking lots, lane lines, or notify drivers of upcoming hazards, reducing the need to repaint and re-asphalt roadways.
For Brusaw, the applications are endless and his company would like to see the panels installed not just on roadways, but bike paths, driveways, tarmacs and parking lots as well.
Getting into the spirit of biking might be as easy as turning on your smartphone. An organization called My City Bikes has now launched 14 different smartphone apps all aimed at providing a simple and user-friendly tool for bicyclists.
Courtesy of MyCityBikes.org
Sara Villalobos with My City Bikes said the goal of the project is to make bicycling accessible to everyone in each city they create an app for.
“Biking is a simple pleasure (and) it’s something that almost everyone learns how to do in childhood,” she told me in an interview for KTAR in Phoenix. “But especially as we grow into adults a lot of people get away from it and it’s such a simple activity, but it can have such a profound, great effect on one’s own health and also on the community overall.”
Villalobos said they partnered with local bike shops in each city to create a comprehensive application for users that provides information such as routes, local repair shops and beginner bike tips.
“It’s a place where you can find trails throughout the city and in and around the area,” she said, “as well as road routes that you can get commuter bikes lanes, where you can bike safely from here to there and get to school or get to work on your bike.”
In places such as Phoenix, where hot and arid climates present health risks to riders, Villalobos said a useful tool in the application is a heat monitor to help people keep track of how much water they should be drinking based on the current temperature and how much they’re exercising.
The app is available for free on Android and Apple smartphones.
To find out if My City Bikes has an app in your area, visit MyCityBikes.org
It’s quite rare when citizens are begging police officers to hand out more speeding tickets. But that’s exactly what happened this week at a citizen comment meeting in Chicago about how to fix up a seven-mile stretch of Lake Shore Drive, according to the Sun-Times.
Ctizens urged police to start dealing with an out of control speeding situation, the Sun-Times reports. Staggering numbers of drivers along the drive are speeding as they enter and exit the city. According to the Sun-Times, “During the week, 95 percent of drivers headed out of the city and 78 percent of the those traveling into the city are speeding — some by as much as 30 mph over the 40 mph speed limit.”
That has encouraged even residents of the area to ask for more enforcement of speed along Lake Shore Drive.
“Get those cops out there and give tons of tickets,’’ said resident Steve Kungis to the Sun-Times. “It’s a revenue pool right there, just waiting to happen.’’ Continue reading
Who says only motorists can show up in style? Valets are no longer only for cars. They are becoming an increasingly popular method of accommodating bicyclists at large events.
Here are just a few of the places where cyclists can show up and check their bikes.
- St. Louis has taken the luxury, convenience and style of car valets and offered the service for bicyclists heading to the state fair over Independence Day weekend. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes the service is like a coat check for cycles: “A fairgoer can hand over his or her bike to a valet, get a claim ticket and the valet will watch the bike until the owner picks it up.” Its all part of a plan to encourage alternative transportation and while it might not seem like an essential commodity, bike valets certainly beat the $30 cost of parking at the event.
- In Oregon, the Center for Appropriate Transportation provides bike valet service for various events. The system uses volunteers to park bikes and set up the parking area. At large events where parking prices can be at a premium, organizations such as the Center for Appropriate Transportation costs only between $140-$450 a day to run its bike valet service at events. Beside the convenience of having a valet, the constantly monitored parking also provides an added level of security for bicyclists who might be concerned about leaving their bike somewhere.
- Portland is also home to the largest daily bike valet service in the United States. It is free and runs five days a week for commuters. Besides adding security and convenience, Go By Park provides bike repairs that can be performed while commuters are away.
Switzerland is in the midst of a pilot program testing some of the fastest charging batteries on the planet.
These batteries aren’t being put in cell phones or computers, but being testing in fully electric buses. These buses have several advantages both in performance and cosmetics.
Most electric buses are powered through a series of cable lines running through cities, which the TOSA, or Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation pilot project, could make obsolete, according to CNET. Continue reading
Courtesy of Popular Science
People will be out this weekend enjoying the holiday, and they literally can breathe easier. New satellite images from NASA show a drastic decrease in air pollution across the United States over the last decade.
Popular Science published the images last week. They focus on a pollutant called nitrogen dioxide that can cause respiratory problems and help form more ozone, “which is an irritant and pollutant at ground level.”
According to the images from NASA, it’s believed the improvement in air quality is from the improvement of fuel efficiency in cars and the scaling back of pollutants from coal power plants. Popular Science writes the reduction in pollutions goes all the way back to the 1990s after the Clean Air Act Amendment, but since 2000 there has been a roughly 50 percent decrease in levels of nitrogen dioxide.
Courtesy of Popular Science
The harshest levels of nitrogen dioxide are still centered over the major metropolitan areas of the country, where roughly 142 million people in U.S. live, according to Popular Science.
On the heels of large Uber protests across Europe, The Atlantic reports the mayors of Atlanta and New Orleans believe Uber will eventually beat out the taxi companies. There’s one more thing the two mayors agree on: it will be a long and bitter battle between the two.
Calling it a 15-round fight, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he thinks Uber will eventually force taxi companies to alter their business model. Reed told The Atlantic, “In the interim, they’re going to flat out fight it out … because the taxicab industry is so old and staid and never had real competition, and now it’s being forced to innovate.”
The only reservation Reed seemed to express about Uber is its rapid growth and the question of where the company, and its quality, will be a few years down the road.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu echoed similar concerns about the company’s political skills, but called Uber’s business model superior to taxi companies. Continue reading
Not all passports are created equal. A recent report from MoveHub took a look at the various passports from around the world, and how many visa-free or visa on arrival countries each passport cab access. MoveHub gathered the data into a infographic that you can use to measure your passport. (And see how your favorite World Cup country compares.)
Boulder Bike Story from Bikes Belong on Vimeo.
As biking continues to grow in popularity, a new report is adding to the list of reasons why cities should step up their efforts to accommodate cyclists. Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver found that as more bikes hit the streets the number of collisions goes down.
The study focused on Boulder, Colo., because of its high biking population and because the city has been performing bike counts for more than a decade. Wesley Marshall, an assistant professor of civil engineer at CU Denver, told Curbing Cars that once intersections began seeing upwards of 200 bicyclists a day, the number of collisions began to drop.
“It’s interesting because you see the same affect with other modes of transportation too,” said Marshall, a co-author of the study. “If you have more cars going through, it is sort of safer per car.”
It may seem counter intuitive that as an intersection has more moving parts, the number of incidents would go down. While the CU Denver study did not look into the reasons why incidents were reduced, Marshall provided some possible explanations.
“If you’re in a city that has bikers everywhere, as a driver you expect to see them,” he said. Continue reading
Parking Craters: Scourge of American Downtowns from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.
It might be one of the most common answers people give when asked what their city’s downtown needs: more parking.
But there is a price cities pay in trying to accommodate the thousands of cars that come in and out of downtown cores around the country everyday. Parking lots have high costs to a city’s landscape, architecture, management and environment. It’s a concept called a parking crater. This is when an urban parking lot is placed in the middle of a downtown core, leaving a crater-like hole in a city’s landscape.