Friday, 28 September 2007

Filling Station of the Future

Just to keep me going on the transport issue, I was shown a glimpse of the future in Vienna. I saw in real life what I had only read about and dreamt of. The Zero Carbon Britain report mentions a future where transportation is electric, electricity is renewable, hence mobility is CO2-free and there it was, accidentally stumbled upon while I was walking around the city.
About 18 sq.m of PV cells, mounted on a platform moving on two axis to make most of the available sunlight, very much like sunflowers. The captured energy is transformed into electricity and store in a large battery (I think we are still a couple of years away from small ones), which is used to charge up 20 electric motorbikes overnight. These babes do 0 – 80 km/h in 6.8 seconds and with the stored power of the sun can go 100km before they need another drink of gold.
At the present, the stand was a demonstration only. You could take the bike for a test-drive or ride with one of the available pilots. Unfortunately, I got there too late and couldn’t do either.
I was told they will go for sale next year and bikes will be a hefty €9,000. But hey, want inexpensive zero-carbon transport? Then go for foot and pedal power!

To find out more:

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Bike Valet in Cambridge

Today I received the wonderful news that the Bike Valet service went really well in Cambridge. The city is well-known for its student population and consequently is quite bike-friendly.
The manager Dawn told me customers were very impressed with the service! They also re-used some of the A-boards and made signs which were paraded around town.
They even pimped a customer's wheelchair! Cambridge's Green Helper Kalvin puts his heart into every task and has been doing some great work. They are even thinking of doing a re-run of the bike valet service! Hope other shops had a good day, as well!
Here is their day in pictures:

Friday, 21 September 2007

The smell of a traffic-free world

I've been meaning to write about trasnport for a while, since the lovely days spent at Climate Camp. But, as usual, my natural procrastinating tendency keeps putting it off until a pile of events threatens to bury me under and I feel the slightly forceful inspiration to go over a theme. This seems to happen all too often.
The said pile of transported-related events started at the Camp and stacked up to a 28-hour train journey to Budapest. These lines were hand-written on a night train (and typed at a hotel in Budapest) somewhere half way between Koln and Vienna.
At some point between these two events, I got knocked off my bike by a car and at Lush, we started a two-week public transport campaign to coincide with the launch of the new enviro commuter's must-have: Go Green solid perfume and body spray. The cherry on the icing was the not-so-sweet presentation, in London, of IPCC's working group 2 findings and their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.
I'll break these events into individual posts for the sake of clarity and so people can read what interests them only.
In case you this is the only post you read, I'll go into the advertising bit first.

To celebrate the launch of the new fragrance and reward customers that choose pedal power over cars, we're giving a £1 discount on Go Green fragrance if you show us your bike (helmet might convince the sales assistant) or valid public transport ticket/oyster card. But better than the discount is our bike valet service this Saturday, September 22nd.

Go Green

Take your bike to the shop and have it pampered and looked after while you shop. Wouldn't it be fabulous if we, cyclists, got that kind of treatment everywhere? Extra services apart, Go Green is a superb fragrance. It gives you a refreshing and uplifting feeling for when you get off that sweaty, packed train or head for a meeting after pedaling miles.
It was inspired by Rebecca Lush, a long-standing and influential transport activist, who runs Road Block (now part of Campaign for Better Transport - former Transport 2000). They give support to groups against road expansion and lobby for the improvement of public transport services.
Transport is not a very sexy topic to talk about, especially because everyone loves their car and are not too keen to give it up. Through Charity Pot, we have been brave and funded quite a few groups against road and airport expansion. Cars and planes, to me, are the emblem of individual convenience at the expense of society.
What's more, private cars are responsible for 13% of UK's carbon emissions and, just like air travel, are a source rapidly growing and being heavily overlooked. To make matters worse, 25% of car journeys are under two miles, a distance easily covered by skates, skateboards, bikes, rickshaws, feet, bus, tram, stilts, space hoppers, etc. We don't really need 1.5 tonnes of steel, plastic and rubber with 200 horsepower to cover two miles. Imagine two hundred horses on the streets every time every one of us went to buy bread in the corner shop! (This logic works for visual purposes only...)