By on December 24, 2010

The California legislature’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) blasted a public-private partnership deal between the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and investors for the development of Doyle Drive. The plan was to give a private company, Golden Link, a 30-year lease on this vital southern route to the Golden Gate Bridge to perform needed renovation to the route. The state would pay the consortium $173 million for finishing the road, followed by $28.5 million in “availability payments” each year the road is open.

(Read More…)

By on September 20, 2010

Discovered by Discover Magazine, this “speed bump” in a Vancouver BC parking garage is the creepiest application of the “trompe-l’œil speedbump” technology to date. Apparently,

the girl’s elongated form appears to rise from the ground as cars approach, reaching 3D realism at around 100 feet, and then returning to 2D distortion once cars pass that ideal viewing distance. Its designers created the image to give drivers who travel at the street’s recommended 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour) enough time to stop before hitting Pavement Patty–acknowledging the spectacle before they continue to safely roll over her.

By on September 5, 2010

If you think China’s auto growth is scary, then you find yourself in rare agreement with China’s central government. China’s 30 (!) major (!) auto makers had a production capacity of 13.59m vehicles by the end of 2009. Chinese bought 13.64m units. This year, it will be much more. By July, Chinese had already made and Chinese had already bought more than 10m units, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Chinese buy more than just cars. They have bought (well, leased) enough land, buildings and machinery in order to more than double car output by 2015. With the current expansion and investment plans exercised, China will have production capacity for a mind-blowing 31.24m units by the end of 2015. That according to Chen Bin, head of industrial coordination at the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s economic regulation agency.That’s more than six (!) times the U.S. production in 2009, and three times the U.S. auto production in the heydays of 2007. You are not the only one to get worried now. Even China’s NDRC thinks that might be a bit much. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2010

Japan appears to be serious about EVs. Evidence: Japan’s increased focus on chargers. The hard part of EVs is not to build them. The tough issue is where to charge them. And how quickly. Whether you live in Manhattan or Tokyo: As a city dweller, you hardly can put a charging station on the street or into the underground parking garage. The average suburbanite in Tokyo already has a hard time just finding a parking space (proof required if you want to buy a car). A charging station? What charging station? So the Japanese are busy building them. No wonder: 67 percent of the Japanese live in cities. (In the U.S.A. it’s even more: 82 percent.)  Who’s leading the charge for chargers? (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2010

Worried about the high MSRPs on most of the electric vehicles scheduled for launch over the next year? Don’t forget to include the cost of buying and installing a home charging station. Nissan reckons the charger for its Leaf will cost about $2,200, including a home electrical inspection [er, that's a medical marijuana grow...] and installation. Oh, and it won’t be Nissan coming into your home: Aerovironment, a firm otherwise best known for its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, has the contract to supply and install the Leaf’s charger. Coulomb Technologies supplies the home charger for Ford’s first EV, the Transit Connect EV, and according to Automotive News [sub], they’re partnering with Ford to give chargers away to the first 2,000 buyers of the electric-drive delivery van. But, as usual with good news in the EV sector, the charger giveaway is actually being funded by tax dollars…

(Read More…)

By on May 4, 2010

Did you ever arrive in a foreign country, and the plug of your battery-depleted cell phone did not fit? Or worse, it did fit, and the charger went up in smoke? That’s nothing compared to the impending EV disaster. Buy an EV, and you will find yourself between the battle lines of plugs, voltages, and technologies. Imagine the horror: Guided by your GPS, you limp into a charging station on the last watts in your battery, and their round plug doesn’t fit your square socket. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2010

Ah, the amount of ingenuity electric cars trigger. They need to get charged. Cheaply. They need to get rid of the bad rap that creating electricity isn’t the environmentally friendliest endeavor on this planet. So what about wind power? Comes with its own set of problems. Mitsubishi and the Tokyo Institute of Technology got together and devised a method to use excess wind power to charge electric vehicles while saving the power company gobs of money, a.k.a. the dreaded capex problem. The result? A true wind-wind situation! (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2010

Move over! A Tokyo taxi.

Forget about the crafty Japanese starving off any attempt of honest American companies to penetrate the Japanese market. A true blue American company, founded by true blue American venture capital, goes right for the heart of Japan: Tokyo’s taxi market. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2010

Japan appears to get extremely serious about all-electric cars. What stands in the way of their success? Apart from the price (we’ll get to that later:) It’s the infrastructure, stupid. Fabricating, fuelling, and fixing an ICE-powered car is supported by an infrastructure that had more than 100 years to grow. Keeping a plug-in running needs an infrastructure to guarantee mobility away from the charger at home. Japan’s Environment Ministry teams up with Nissan, Sumitomo, and other companies to build the infrastructure for electric vehicles, reports The Nikkei [sub]. (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2010

The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.

Having spent most of his tenure chiding distracted drivers and hunting down demon-possessed Toyotas, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appears to be over the whole car thing. The policy statement above was just one element of his push to put bicycling and other car alternatives on an equal footing to cars in transportation planning, which he recently announced at the National Bike Summit.

(Read More…)

By on January 21, 2010

Country road, take me home...

The first public-private partnership toll road established as a not-for-profit corporation has gone bust. The Connector 2000 Association, which operates a sixteen-mile, four-lane toll road linking Interstates 85 and 385 in southern Greenville County, South Carolina, announced last week that it was in default on its financial obligations.

“Traffic on the Southern Connector was inadequate to permit the association to collect sufficient toll revenues to pay debt service on the bonds which came due January 1, 2010,” a Connector 2000 Association statement explained. “The association has been advised that the trustee has made no payment of any such debt service. An event of default currently exists… The association is actively negotiating the restructuring of its bonded indebtedness with the trustee, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), and certain owners of large blocks of the bonds.”

(Read More…)

By on January 15, 2010

The fix is in?

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Wednesday that he would re-write funding guidelines to dispense with rigid cost-benefit analysis when deciding which transit programs should receive funds. Under the previous system, because motorists provided the majority of the funding through the gas tax, money was allocated to cost-effective transit programs that promised the greatest overall reduction in traffic congestion. In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, LaHood explained that the objective criteria will be replaced by a set of goals.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2009

The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge near the Hoover Dam

Feast your eyes on these images of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge being constructed over the Colorado River near Hoover Dam. Sure, it cost taxpayers $160m, but just look at it. America may have lost its way in terms of auto manufacturing, but we’ve never stopped being the greatest country to explore by car. [Hat Tip: Dean Huston]
(Read More…)

By on November 24, 2009

It's like diverging diamonds of traffic... man. (courtesy: NPR)

Ever been stuck behind acres of traffic waiting for a left turn signal to enter a freeway? If so, you know it’s one of the more annoying traffic scenarios out there. But a crazy scheme called “diverging diamonds” might just be the fix. NPR has a widget that makes it a lot easier to understand, as well as this memorable response:

Some folks say, ‘It’s crazy. Why did they put it in? Wrecks gonna happen. Why did they do that to us?’

[Hat Tip: Richard Chen]

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