Tag Archives: transportation

Segway’s got its own hoverboard

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The $798 Segway MiniPRO is a scaled-down version of the full mallcop.

I keep an eye on these personal scooters and hoverboards, because I’m looking for an alternative to the car that’s not too expensive, and also fun, and practical. The alternatives I’ve seen — including this one — fit two of those criteria at best.

A bicycle would be perfect if we lived in another neighborhood, but we have too many hills. An electric bicycle might be a good option, but they’re too expensive.

Self-Driving Cars Will Improve Our Cities. If They Don’t Ruin Them

Without planning, self-driving cars could increase congestion, widespread unemployment, and reduce tax revenue, says Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase on Backchannel.

Most of what has been written about self-driving or automated vehicles (often abbreviated as AVs) focuses on subjects like their technical aspects, the regulatory battles to license them, or the fascinating but remote dilemma of a self-driving car being forced to choose between holding its course and hitting grandma, or swerving into a troop of boy scouts. There’s relatively little discussion of the speed and scope of change, the impacts that go well beyond the auto industry, or the roadmap to unlocking the enormous upside potential if we actively guide the trajectory of their adoption.

We’re at a fork on that roadmap. One direction leads to a productive new century where cities are more sustainable, livable, equitable, and just.

But if we take the wrong turn, we’re at a dead end. Cities are already complex and chaotic places in which to live and work. If we allow the introduction of automated vehicles to be guided by existing regulations we’ll end up with more congestion, millions of unemployed drivers, and a huge deficit in how we fund our transportation infrastructure. We will also miss an opportunity to fix transportation’s hereto intractable reliance on liquid fossil fuels (and their associated pollution).

Right now, we’re not even alert to how crucial the choices are. In fact, we’re falling asleep at the wheel. Most people in charge of shaping cities — mayors, transportation planners, developers, and lawmakers — haven’t realized what is about to hit them and the speed at which it is coming. They continue to build as if the future is like the present.

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LAS VEGAS — Cisco Live — In the middle of a virtual reality demo of the Internet of Things for transportation, my smartwatch buzzed my wrist with a notification from the real world. Later, I got into a spirited disagreement with a woman from a company called Gupshup about how much personality chatbots should have.

“We’re living the future!” I thought, and used my pocket computer, connected to a global wireless network, to instantly shared the insight with thousands of friends all over the world.

We’re almost never amazed anymore by technology miracles like IoT, chatbots and wireless networks. We take them for granted. And yet, as Yvette Kanouff, SVP/GM service provider business for Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), observed at a Thursday session here, it’s up to service providers to deliver the bandwidth to make it all go. “It’s wonderful for the world to talk about how everything, everywhere is going to be connected, but the pressure is on us to provide the bandwidth and make it work,” she said.

Cisco Live is the company’s annual conference for its enterprise customers. Light Reading was there with its trusty camera. Here’s some of what we saw.

More photos: Cisco Live in Pics: Who Needs Flying Cars?

Me on Light Reading.

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Aerial view of Tel Aviv bus station.

The White Elephant of Tel Aviv – 99% Invisible:

At 2.5 million square feet, the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station was the product of a grand vision to build an indoor micro-metropolis. Its expansive plans featured a shopping mall with thousands of stores, services and entertainment offerings. The structure even came to house a (now deserted) subterranean theater, originally meant to entertain people waiting for their bus.

Even the design didn’t make sense – the largest bus station in the world in a medium-sized city – just 412,000 people even today, about a populous as Minneapolis. But it was just after Israel’s triumph in the 1967 war, and the country was thinking big.

This vision gave way to a darker reality, resulting in what reporter Yochai Maital describes as “a derelict eight-story behemoth and modern day Tower of Babel, which mirrors much of modern Israeli history, with its grand vision and messy implementation.”

The layout is intentionally confusing, inspired by Jerusalem’s Old City. “The architect wanted the building to look and feel like a system of small alleyways, disorienting but cozy and familiar.” Even people who work there sometimes get lost. Much of the building has been abandoned, built to accommodate an order of magnitude more passengers than it actually gets.

Its architects envisioned the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station as a climate-controlled “city under a roof” and, in a way, that is what it has become: it has a lot of things that work, but it also contains those sad, scary and derelict places found in any urban environment.

 

New bike-share stations soft-pedal San Diego

New bike-share station locations unveiled last week reinforce traditional ideas about where people might want to pedal to in San Diego: beaches, downtown and North Park’s craft beer corridor.

There’s less emphasis, though, on the places where people might be riding from – the communities where more people lack cars and would be likelier to use bikes.

New Bike-Share Station Locations Soft-Pedal City Heights | Voice of San Diego

My only objection — and it’s a big one — to the neighborhood where we live is that it’s not walkable. Oh, I walk every day for exercise but that’s very different from being able to walk for coffee or lunch. Because we’re located at the top of a hill, bikes aren’t really practical for transportation either. Nor is public transportation. I’ve occasionally looked into alternative transportation, such as ebikes, but they’ve never looked reasonable. I got really excited by the Segway rumors back in the day, but of course that turned out to be a whole Paul-Blart-Mall-Cop thing.

We’ve even discussed moving somewhere else to be somewhere more walkable.