Transport is a big problem, at the personal (how will I get to work?), economic (How much is it costing to move all these people around) and environmental levels (What damage is all this movement causing?). A few interesting links:
New suburbanism is a new way of solving the environmental crisis, an alternative to ‘new urbanism’ (which basically means creating more dense urban areas). The problem with the concept is that the underlying principles (which are really assumptions) are mainly wrong. You cannot support a global population of ten billion people on this planet if they are all spread all over the place, have an attachment to their living places, are not subsistence farmers and have to travel to congregate at work or school on a regular basis.
However, there is one thing we can learn from new suburbanism.Â According to the author,
Personal transportation devicesÂ areÂ tantalizingly closeÂ to becoming ultra safeÂ conveyances thatÂ can driveÂ on full autopilotÂ and have zero environmental footprint, and we are within a few decades at most of having abundant clean energy. The age of the personal driving machineÂ has just begun.
It is true to say that driving technology has only begun. But it is just not true that autopilot cars are ‘tantalizingly close’ or even close at all. There is simply not a lot of practical research going on in the area of self-driving cars. But the new suburbanists are right, there should be. Road transport is here to stay and we need to work hard on making it comfortable and efficient.
A company that is doing something practical to provide cars with a smaller environmental footprint is Better Place. These guys are gearing up to roll out the infrastructure to make electric cars a reality. We should be doing this in Ireland. There are only a thousand or so petrol stations in Ireland and it would be relatively cheap to make our road network run on electricity.