As there’s been a lot of discussion about population density here I figure this post from good ol’ Cap’nTransit is on the money. Yes this is my view too, you think more density is needed? Well build the transit and the density will follow [all else being equal], foolish to try to wait for some ideal density then meet that demand with infrastructure. Transit supply is causative. Or as the Cap’n says: ‘The population density to support my ass’

Here are two interesting posts on Twitter and Transit. One beautiful the other more for the quants. Both instructive.

The second is via Atlantic Cities where there is also this argument for High Speed Rail in the Union’s most populous State, California. Newt of the GOP has been banging on about the US heading back to the moon in some kind of pissing contest with China, but frankly if they can’t even get a train to run from SF to LA and any decent speed I think he’ed better dodge that race. *Note for Geoff: These arguments here for HSR are intended as a metaphor for local arguments for urban transit, not as a literal argument for HSR in NZ. Same things apply, land use transformations, economic return not a financial one etc, but at a vastly different scale.

More from the States on gas prices [as they call them] and what to do, and for once this doesn’t involve bombing somewhere else or other wise frackin’ it all up.

Closer to home; no round up from me will be complete without at least a passing note on resource supply issues. As we head to the exciting singularity of peak damn near everything it’s good to see some people have their heads up. Here’s an introductory note from across the ditch, what I especially like about this is that it states a view that I also have, namely that it could just be that a world with less freely available oil may well be a lot better in a number of ways; once we’ve made the adjustment. Like London after the peasoup smog and mountains of horse-shit. I’m also guessing less isolation, more localiasation, more human interaction, less alienation. Perhaps more meaningful lives. Perhaps.

There’s also this guy, Denis Tegg, I know nothing about him but he has been manfully plugging away on this issue in NZ for a while and here he is bringing an important shelved report to the surface. I say manfully because there is a really creepy silence on this issue and Climate Change in the mainstream media and in government in NZ. It’s like if we don’t mention these problems they’ll just go away.

Look away Actoids! Here’s a well reasoned piece on the attractions and limitations of neoliberalism. It’s short too. Relevant how? Transit like our cities need long term planning, by elected bodies. The market is a great tool, but a lousy master, and an even worse god. As I think we’ve just seen.

Those interested in the strange ways that change can happen will like this. Why the US Marine Corp may well lead the US into a solar future.

Back to transit, and more personally; I have new wheels, yay! and loving it, but won’t be going to these extremes to protect them. No.

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13 comments

      1. And hub gears, I’m a huge fan. Built both my last two bikes with them.

        A question with the belt drive though, you can’t open one like a chain so there must be a slot through the frame somewhere right?

        1. I’m just the pilot, not the engineer, but no you can’t open it, have to to take the wheel or the pedals off to remove the belt, short of braking it. In my case this is an issue for the team at Cyco.

  1. “The second is via Atlantic Cities where there is also this argument for High Speed Rail in the Union’s most populous State, California.”

    Apparently the business case for the high speed line between San Francisco and Los Angeles is based on 41 million trips between the two cities each year. That’s 112,000 each day. There are currently 2.7 passengers who fly between the two cities each year. The business case is a fantasy, and the estimated costs are getting close to $US100 billion.

      1. Yes, of course I read it. It is written by someone who can’t spot figures that have been pulled out of a hat and have no relationship to reality. The business case also assumes an average speed for the trip of over 300km/hr, including the time waiting at intermediate stations and traveling through the huge SF and LA conurbations. That’s a hell of a lot faster than the French or Japanese manage.

        Even the California “legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal watchdog” thinks the business case is a crock:

        “Among the concerns expressed in a new report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office is that the state High-Speed Rail Authority failed to adequately consider what happens if few people ride the new trains, opening a potentially huge funding gap. Eric Thronson, a fiscal and policy analyst for the office, called a risk assessment in the business plan “incomplete and inappropriate for a project of this magnitude.” Thronson warned that there is no backup plan to keep the rail system solvent if it fails to draw 41 million people yearly. A bond measure approved by voters to help pay for the train network prohibits public funds from being spent on operating costs.”

        http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/highspeed-rail-plan-flawed-says-legislatures-financial-analyst.html

        It’s all immaterial though. California’s state budget is poked and they’re cutting things like school spending. The chances that they’re actually stump up $100 billion are close to zero. Even getting feasibility studies under way requires large contributions from the federal government.

    1. Yeah if there are indeed less than 3 people flying each day the HSR does seem like overkill.

      Some of those cities Fresno, Modesto, Stockton and Bakersfield in between add up to over a million people. Then there are collectively over 20 million other people at the LA and SF ends. 41 million trips is only 1 return annual trip for everyone living within an hour of a station. It doesn’t seem that far fetched to me.

  2. “That’s a hell of a lot faster than the French or Japanese manage.”

    …but slower than the Chinese manage.

    One assumes if they get serious about HSR in the States they will build their brand new routes to current best-practice, and not decades-old-practice. The Australian evaluations are all based around a top speed of 400km/h and average speeds including stops well into the 300s. I think that’s perfectly reasonably for lines a decade or three away.

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