What’s the Actual Solution for Sustainable Suburban Travel?

Considering most people’s commutes and daily errands are easily eBike compatible distances, even in big countries like the US. It’s quite obvious that we’re utterly failing in tackling our desperate climate and air pollution crises.

Not only would it be far cheaper to incentivise cycling and eBikes, electric kick scooters etc, but we would get rid of traffic, be healthier and happier. We’d take an immense amount of strain off of health services (who as we’ve heard, are overstretched and struggling).

It’s so bloody obvious, and yet we’re having to campaign for segregated bike routes. Why should we campaign for common sense? Why the fuck should anyone do that?

It’s becoming clear to me that electric vehicles of the non-autonomous variety are not going to solve much. We can’t get them into widespread use quickly enough when we consider how quickly the climate crisis is accelerating.

We can’t wait until 2025 for the other manufacturers to make EVs in significant volumes. Tesla are different because every car they’re building can instantly transition into being a RoboTaxi. No other car can, so they are effectively useless. And that’s new EVs. Let alone new fossil cars (including hybrids).

We also have a ridiculous situation with the sizes of cars ever increasing, the roads staying them same, while still encouraging people to cycle. Anyone think that makes sense? I talked to people at work about commuting by bike. They thought I was mad. When I asked if they would do it if there were traffic free routes, they said they would. It doesn’t get more clear than that.

The British Cycling survey that I participated in and that was just released showed that even ‘hardcore’ road cyclists don’t feel safe on the roads. How can you expect people to take up cycling for the first time in that kind of environment? I took several years off from cycling when I was younger. When I returned to cycling, I remember I was scared and had to slowly build my confidence back, starting on quiet roads. And I was an experienced rider with years of road riding in my past. So I can’t even imagine how it would feel to a complete novice.

So what do we do? For a start, instantly transition into spending all money that would be allocated to new roads into new or upgraded micro mobility infrastructure. Instead of simply patching up potholes so they can quickly wear out again, use the opportunity to redesign the entire road layout and incorporate cycling into areas previously thought too narrow. Make more one way systems in towns and cities. If the cars are autonomous, they’re not going to get confused and annoyed like us stupid humans anyway (if you’re anything like me). And if you’ve got half the road dedicated to micro mobility, then chances are we’re going to choose bike or scooter anyway.

We also need to improve public transport with electric buses. We need good quality cycle hire schemes for when you’re not at home and don’t have your own bike with you. Then of course there’s trains, trams, subways, high speed trains built alongside motorways (so they don’t destroy the countryside further).

Something you see in Denmark and Japan especially are bicycle “multi storey car parks”. Secure, paid bike parks in all urban areas, business parks etc that treat bicycles as real vehicles. Not cheap, disposable, rusty pieces of junk. These are essential in my view. People will probably scoff, but like I said, why should you campaign for common sense? When things have been proven in other countries, you just go ahead and implement it yourself.

We also need to reduce our populations to sustainable levels with common sense proposals to do so. We need to build up rather than out in our cities. We can’t all live in big, detached houses filled with crap we don’t need. We need to embrace tunnels more than we do now. I don’t agree with everything The Boring Company is doing but generally they are on the right track. Hyperloop is the holy grail when it comes to allowing us a way to continue global tourism into the long term without destroying the planet. But we don’t know how far away that is, and I’m getting away from the suburban focus of this post.

There are so many aspects of sustainability that go far beyond just transport. Maybe I’ll get into them in another post. But for now, please let me know if you have any other ideas for local transport. I might have missed something obvious.

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How to Save NASCAR (In My Opinion)

NASCAR hasn’t been doing so well in recent times, and something needs to change. I don’t think NASCAR itself has any clue what the reason is, which is evident in the fact that they haven’t changed anything other than introducing stage racing (which is not helpful in my view). Here’s what I think should change as soon as possible in order to give the sport a sustainable future, financially and environmentally.

  • Shorten the races by more than half what they are now, perhaps two thirds the distance.
  • Remove stage racing because of the shorter race
  • Different cars which are production based, lighter, as electric as possible. Whether that’s hybrid, REX or full EV.
  • Semi-automatic paddle shift or sequential stick shift.
  • More driving tech and driver adjustments that can be made on the fly.
  • Modern racing steering wheels like Super GT rather than old fashioned removable ones with no buttons.
  • Get new manufacturers to come in. Hopefully these rules will entice them.
  • Less repeating oval races and more road courses in their place. (COTA, Daytona Roval?)

If these changes don’t work then NASCAR would likely have no future, or a very small future compared to being a mainstream sport for so long. But if they keep going as they are, then it appears that they have no future anyway. It’s time for bold action. NASCAR brought in fuel injection, digital drivers displays and so on, but those changes were long overdue and quite small in the grand scheme of things. They now need to take giant leaps if they want the sport to survive and thrive in the coming decade.

I’m not sure what to think about the Honda E Prototye

The Honda Urban EV, now E Prototype, soon to be something else, has been the subject of my infatuation since it was first revealed. But it’s always been tinged with negativity because it shows that Honda are still refusing to accept that EVs are anything more than urban runabouts, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.

I know that many EV fans don’t like this car and don’t get why it’s cool. I can understand that point of view, but I also take issue with it. While I am frustrated with Honda and others and their approaches, there’s nothing wrong with this type of car. It’s not a Zoe competitor as some have suggested. It’s a special, premium, unique car for people who want something out of the ordinary. It’s a future design classic. It’s a car that makes people happy when they see it.

The other aspect I take issue with is criticism of the range of the car. Let’s be clear, a compliance car like the Fiat 500e this is not. It has double the range, it has CCS charging (even if it’s just 50 that’s still fantastic). Whether Honda are in the wrong in their general EV strategy is another topic. If you take this car by itself, there’s nothing wrong with it. It has around 125 miles of real range according to WLTP (which I consider pretty accurate to how I drive). That’s a lot. Combining that with CCS and it’s a capable car for what the majority of people are going to need.

EV drivers move on from their first 80 mile EV to a Kona or something, and they forget that those cars work well. They worked for local driving especially, even when there was barely any charging infrastructure. Now they’re incredible vehicles with so much utility. They get better every day as the charging network grows and gets more reliable. People who buy a second hand first gen EV now are purchasing a ticket to motoring bliss compared to buying any other used car.

What Happens Now After The IPCC Report?

There’s going to be more news coverage on climate. There will be far less tolerance of denialism and more pressure on governments to act. But will anything change quickly? Probably not.

I think governments like ours in the U.K. will maybe do something positive. Some small gesture to shut us environmentalists up, or attempt to. But they will not change tack and immediately shut down coal plants, stop pushing fracking, scrap nuclear power station plans and start building onshore wind and battery storage.

They won’t acknowledge the climate crisis as a crisis and act accordingly. The only way that could happen would be if everyone gets together to put them under pressure. But that hasn’t been the case so far and there aren’t many signs of that changing quickly enough to make a big enough impact.

I talk to quite a few people at work about climate, and Brexit, and US politics etc. They’re all left leaning people around my age or less. And only one of them voted in the EU referendum or prior general elections. They complain about how Brexit will likely screw everything up, make things more expensive, damage our environment even more, and have no real positive impact at all. But they didn’t make their opinion count at the polling station.

It’s incredibly frustrating to know how different the result could have been. I don’t believe for a second that there are any leave voters that didn’t vote. But remain voters on the other hand. We are talking about a huge number that didn’t turn up for Britain.

When right wingers talk about the will of the people, they don’t mention this. They don’t mention the fact that the electorate is not a static thing. The people who will vote in a second referendum are not the same as the people who voted in 2016.

But going back to climate change. I think that the net is closing in on the deniers. The corrupt governments of the world cannot continue to run amok in the way they have done. Every year, every month, every day even, the world is going more progressive. And their days in power are numbered. It might not seem like it with the Kavanaugh travesty, the horrific front runner in Brazil’s election etc. But we are getting there.

Now that we have a very clear idea of what the state of play is, and what needs to be done, thanks to the IPCC report. It makes it much easier to hold governments to account. So every year, we’ll know exactly what has been done and who’s failing to address the crisis. The scientists can single out bad governments.

The issue is that we’re extremely short on time. By the time the next one of these reports comes out, what will it say? Get off your fucking asses and do something right now? That seems honestly not too far from reality. Such is the madness of the plight we’re in. You see these reports, and you get energised. You go outside and see everyone just driving around in their big SUVs, and you’re perplexed. Have these people seen the same report as me?

We just have to be patient, and wait for the next, even more dire warning. Because people truly do not get it. STILL. THEY DO NOT COMPREHEND THIS CRISIS.