Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Motorcycle Miles

'transportation for the masses'

While motorcycling 4,800 km. to PEI and Halifax recently I had time to think about the machine I was on, the transportation network I was using and the price of fuel to get from, e.g., Pictou to Bible Hill, Nove Scotia (over $1.40 per litre). I thought, a switch - one day soon maybe - to a smaller bike would be more affordable in the long run (re gas usage and insurance-wise), Canada has more roads than it can properly afford and maintain, and $1.50 is definitely around the corner.

No doubt, as fuel costs continue to rise, talks about small, quick, economical commuting machines like Yamaha's Tricity (three-wheeled motorcycle, link to Gizmag) will become more common, as will the presence of cheaper E-cars with enough battery-power to easily get a person to work and back (w detour for groceries included). Though I think the time and energy spent on the search for cheaper alternatives for individual transport will not benefit the majority of people in the long term as much as improvements to mass transit, fuel prices will likely have to double before we collectively, and seriously, put our eye on that ball. I mean, encouraging people to give up their love of cars is like asking them to give up their right arm, or asking a pet owner to eat their dog for supper when food supplies run low. Focus on 'transportation for the masses' will not occur until the fuel cost/situation is most extreme. 

 ["Even on the water, the mass transit is available but..."]

["...the majority prefer pleasure crafts built for the individula"]

Even then many communities will run into Gordian knots related to transportation - some we can anticipate, others unexpected.

For example, when some communities eventually realize moving people and goods by rail is cheaper by the pound than other methods, they'll recall the rail lines to their town were removed years ago. And trolley lines that once linked residential and industrial sections of their city are either long gone or lie buried under 12 inches of tarmac or concrete. (Nothing says 'bad planning' or 'short-term thinking' like having to dig up and dust off - or totally rebuild - what was likely the best transportation system of all time).

["I stand next to the old Trans-Canada to view the new TC. Which is better?"]

On a related note, I read the following recently in an article that highlighted the difficulties of building apartments in downtown London and creating a compact city:

   London could be in the throes of a residential high-rise
   building boom downtown. The only thing missing? The land.

   A commercial realtor says, "The challenge is finding willing
   sellers. We have been tasked to buy land for apartment
   buildings and we have trouble."

[July 4, London Free Press]

   Farhi Holdings Corp., for example owns 72 buildings and
   20 parking lots. Owner Shmuel Farhi says he needs the parking
   space for his tenants. "If I get a tenant that needs 60 spaces,
   I need parking to put them there."
In other words, as some cities attempt to become more compact and less car-reliant for every need, they will find parking spaces blocking their way. (Is that a Catch-22 or Catch-44?)

Fuel woes will eventually get most of us thinking about cheaper commuting and better city design (putting homes/apartments closer to the workplace), and bring us face to face with some holes we've dug for ourselves. 

Interesting days ahead.

["A good design?"]

Speedy link to more Motorcycle Miles

Photos GH

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