Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

I have left Twitter

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This is in case there are people who might wonder where I went after I said I was finished with Twitter – because obviously I can’t Tweet about that. And also to get more people who I know onto Mastodon – which is currently swamped – with people who are looking for an alternative to Twitter.

Once upon a time I decided to start blogging and I went to events that explained how you went about that. The most frequent advice was to establish a presence on Facebook and Twitter so that you could build readership for the blog. I left Facebook some time ago. That means I no longer know what my niece is baking. Becky’s cakes are well worth enjoying – but at this distance that won’t happen very often. Leaving Facebook means I lost touch with some relatives. And one or two people who I thought were “friends”. Maybe acquaintances would be more accurate.

This blog has been neglected mostly because I got bored writing the same thing. So much less appears now about issues like why free transit is not a Good Idea, and why Light Rail is actually not a very helpful way to understand the the needs of public transport. But it is still, I think, a viable way to have space where I can voice my opinions and experience – and control the response to that.

Many people now are moving away from Twitter and showing up on Mastodon. I had accounts on both. I will not close the Twitter account because I do not want someone else to assume my identity there. There are many people called Stephen Rees. I am going to control that on social media for as long as I can. In the same way as I am willing to pay for stephenrees.blog.

Today someone called Jennifer tooted

“Today, Elon stated that hate speech is allowed on Twitter now and will not be removed.

“It will be pushed lower with the algorithm

“His absolutist free speech views have already turned it into a cesspool of nastiness.”

That was, for me, the last straw. I have been a the target of hate speech for most of my life. I was a target because my father was a Jew. I was a target because I have “a toffee accent”. I was a target because I am an older white male. I was a target because I was intelligent and had a postgraduate degree. I was a target because I had “just stepped off the boat”. I was a target because I behaved as though women were equals to men. And so on.

For the last few years Tweetdeck has resided as the first tab on my browser window. I could watch what was being posted while the thing I was actually looking at was Flickr, or Freecell or a jigsaw puzzle. That won’t happen with Mastodon as it is over on the right somewhere past GMail.

Canada has made hate speech a crime. That was the Right Thing to do. Elon Musk is a billionaire. But that is by inheritance not skill or effort. He is an idiot. Just like Zuckerman. Or Trump. Powerful but wholly unqualified – for almost anything.

If you want to stay in contact you can find me here – now and again – and at @StephenRees@mas.to

It is perfectly possible that I will stay on Mastodon but look for a better match on “instance”. I am in no hurry to move right now. I am following the advice of Tony Bourdain to get out of my comfort zone.

I am also continuing to post and comment on pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/

Thank you for reading.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 18, 2022 at 7:19 pm

Posted in personal thoughts

Tagged with

My new plug-in hybrid

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Toyota Prius Prime

A month ago I took delivery of a new Toyota Prius Prime. This blog post is about my experience of becoming an EV driver. I can say that since although this car does have an internal combustion engine it has hardly burned any fossil fuel at all since I acquired it. I would have liked to buy an electric car, but the condo where I live is not allowing new EV owners to charge their vehicles. Some people have been using the existing receptacles in the garage – originally intended for owners to be able to plug in a vacuum cleaner now and then. There are very few of these 110v outlets and only a few could be used without either employing long extension “cords” or blocking someone else’s car in. These people are now paying a monthly fee, but the strata council is not allowing any additional users stating that they need to have a plan, since the building went up in 1974 and was never designed to accommodate EVs. The threat is that somehow these cars will overload the system. Actually the threat is very low if you consider that most people would be charging overnight – the cars are smart enough to be programmed that way – at times when everyone is fast asleep and not using much power.

My New Prius Prime

The reason I could afford to buy a new car is the impact of the pandemic on my budget. We have not been anywhere or done anything very much for the last three years. So the money we would have spent on travel, eating out or other entertainments like the theatre stayed in the bank account. I have been trying to find ways of putting that to good use, but since the beginning of this year the markets have been negative, and investing has mostly been at a loss. My Yaris wasn’t costing me very much, as we tend to walk, use transit or EVO for local trips, but attempts to get comfortable with Modo (who now have a Prius parked near our place) did not work out very well.

There is a BC Hydro EV charging station on Arbutus Street near 41st Avenue. Unfortunately this high powered rapid charger (DC Fast 50KW) does not have the connector my car needs (J1772 30km/hr 6.2kW). The nearest one is at the EasyPark lot on Yew at 41st – where there is a parking fee to be paid while charging. Down in Kits there are 3 public charging points on Arbutus next to the Kits Beach park. Another is restricted to Modo. While parking there is free it is mostly fully occupied during the day.

To get to use these points you need a smartphone (or member card) from Flo or Chargepoint. Their apps also provide information about availability, and the use of power while charging. The car itself tends of overestimate how long a charge will take. For example, most recently it had only 10% charge available and expected the full charge to take over 6 hours. It actually managed it in two.

The Prius also has its own app which tells me I have 460 km on the odometer. So far I have spent $31.40 on 50.3 kWh. It came with a full charge of course as well as a full tank of gas. The best value was a parking lot at White Rock which is 45km from where we live and at the edge of the EV range. The electricity was free: the parking wasn’t. We were able to use electricity for the round trip – which included the A/C. The Yaris used to get around 7 litres per 100km so at current pump rates that would be $77.60 – but mostly I am pleased that some significant amount of CO2 was not emitted ( 1 L of gasoline produces 2.3 kg of CO2) .

The one thing I find disappointing – and this is a feature of every hybrid I have driven – is that when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down as if it were an internal combustion engine dragging. This is not necessary in an EV. I was very pleased to note that this maker is going to take coasting seriously as a way to save energy. Good.

A couple of points I think are worth noting. The map that Flo and Chargepoint uses includes charging stations that are not actually available publicly. I have taken this up with them and should have been corrected by now. We spent some time trying to figure out how to access stations which were inside locked private garages at condos. They both tried to blame the map providers, but of course they can only rely on the data given them. I have also had an issue with the EV station at Oakridge Mall. It is available publicly and was working when I tried to use it but my phone was out of cell tower range (inside a concrete reinforced parking structure) or WiFi. In theory the chargepoint should have treated my phone as a credit card – but in case I have a similar problem in future I have ordered a Flo card as a back up. I have also had an issue at Kits Beach but then I was not running late on an appointment and spoke to a representative on the phone – and they started the charge for me remotely.

It is also not actually necessary for condos to spend money on installing charge point machines. The car comes with a suitable cable with a standard three pin plug on on end and a J1772 on the other. It includes a fairly hefty intermediate device which means that if the receptacle is old and loose that charging may not work when unattended. The rate for use can be calculated and agreed as an addition to the other strata fees.

Perhaps next time we go to Richmond we will be able to use this new charge point at Garry Point

EV Charging station
Explanation

Written by Stephen Rees

October 10, 2022 at 3:19 pm

Posted in electric cars

2nd International Road Safety Symposium – Oct 31 to Nov 1, 2022

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On behalf of co-hosts Prof. Tarek Sayed and Megan Oakey, UBC and the BC Center for Disease Control are excited to announce the 2022 2nd International Road Safety Symposium to be held in Downtown Vancouver.

The two days will cover:

International Expert Presentations followed by discussions on:

  • Road safety challenges and opportunities in the smart mobility era
  • Cycling Safety – Now and Into the Future
  • Equity and Road Safety
  • Autonomous Vehicle Safety
  • Advances in Autonomous Vehicles

Interactive Attendee Panel Discussions:

  • Road Safety and Reconciliation
  • Improving Active Road User Safety
  • Successful Safety Initiatives in BC
  • How big data analytics is shaping the future of safety initiatives and auto insurance
  • Understanding the Impact of Advanced Vehicle Technology on Safety

Keynote Speaker:

  • Honourable Bowinn Ma, P.Eng., MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale; Minister of State for Infrastructure

Our distinguished line-up of international experts include:

  • Dr. Johnathon Ehsani – Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Susan Handy – Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Alain Kornhauser – Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Princeton University
  • Dr. Tarek Sayed – Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. John Scanlon – Senior Safety Research Engineer, Severity and Safety Impact Team, Waymo

Panelists:

  • Tony Churchill – Leader Traffic Safety, City of Calgary
  • Dr. Marie-Soleil Cloutier – Professor, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Dr. Karim El-Basyouny – Associate Professor, University of Alberta
  • Clark Lim – Principal, Acuere Consulting
  • Kenedee Ludwar – Executive Director of Traffic and Highway Safety Engineering, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Michele Martin – Seniors Business Insights Advisor, ICBC
  • Dr. Chris Monsere – Professor, Portland State University
  • Lucy Sager – CEO, All Nations Driving Academy
  • Rafael Villarreal – Manager – Transportation Division, City of Surrey
  • Chad Williams – Senior Transportation Planning Engineer, City of Kelowna
  • Dr. Meghan Winters – Professor, Simon Fraser University

October 31 – November 1, 2022 at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel (1180 W Hastings St).

To join us, go to the registration page here:

https://bit.ly/ubcroadsafety2022

 Location: 

Coast Coal Harbour Hotel 

1180 W Hastings St. 

Vancouver, BC, Canada 

Cost: 

Early Bird: $350 (until Sep 30) 

Regular: $450 

Student: $200 

Written by Stephen Rees

September 29, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Transportation

Partnership will expand area served by Richmond, BC clean energy system

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It is not often these days that I post anything at all to this blog. Generally speaking the news – especially about the climate crisis – is pretty bad. So to get a Press Release about a good news story in the general vicinity – I no longer live in Richmond, but I do go there quite a bit – caught my attention. It is also a public private partnership that usually is a model that I am uncomfortable with, but even so here is the Canada News Wire release in full as received.

Canada Infrastructure Bank, Lulu Island Energy Company and Corix achieve financial close on $175 million district energy investment

RICHMOND, BC, Sept. 26, 2022 /CNW/ – The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Lulu Island Energy Company (LIEC) and Corix Infrastructure Inc. (Corix) have achieved financial close on a district energy expansion project in the City of Richmond, British Columbia.

Under the agreement, the CIB will provide $175 million in financing for the LIEC City Centre District Energy Utility project. It will enable expansion to more than 170 new residential and mixed-use commercial development sites in the area by 2050, using low-carbon heat recovered from the Gilbert Road regional sewer system.

When complete, the project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tonnes by 2050, with the amount of connected space to the district energy system increasing 10–fold to 50 million square feet.

The LIEC is a municipal corporation wholly owned by the City of Richmond. It was established to implement and operate district energy utility systems in Richmond’s City Centre area in British Columbia’s Metro Vancouver region.

The CIB financing will enable the district energy expansion which will drive economic benefits through new construction work and deliver an expanded sustainable energy network which will reduce the operating costs of property owners.

Corix will provide expertise in district energy management and be responsible for the design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the City Centre system. Corix has been LIEC’s partner since 2014 in the delivery of the Oval Village District Energy Utility under a previous agreement.

District energy systems leverage proven technology to create a long-term reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy distribution network. Through a system of underground pipes, energy stored in water from central energy plants is transported to buildings, alleviating the need for separate heating and cooling systems in connected buildings. 

This financing will support the City of Richmond, an award-winning leader in district energy systems, in meeting its Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) 2050 goals to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in community GHG emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.  The project also supports the City’s goal to provide low-carbon energy services to customers that is competitive with conventional heating and cooling costs.

Endorsements

We are proud to invest $175 million to help create a green energy network which will benefit businesses, institutions and residents of the City of Richmond for generations to come. Our investment will help Richmond meet its ambitious climate change goals and create spin off economic benefits in one of British Columbia’s largest cities.
Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank

The benefits of this expansion will be realized not only by the residents and businesses connected to the utility, but the entire community as it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated one million tonnes when completed. District energy is a key pillar for achieving Richmond’s short- and long-term community greenhouse gas emission reduction goals as well as the delivery of efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy for the community.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie, City of Richmond

We are thrilled to be building upon the success of the Oval Village District Energy Utility project and our partnership with Lulu Island Energy Company which has spanned nearly a decade. The closing of the City Centre District Energy Utility project marks a major achievement in demonstrating how Public Private Partnerships can be used as an effective tool in leveraging financing and transformational strategies to deliver affordable, low-carbon infrastructure for consumers.
Lisa Sparrow, President and CEO, Corix Group of Companies

Quick Facts

  • The project is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 34,000 tonnes per year, when compared to conventional heating and cooling systems used today.
  • District energy is a component of the City of Richmond’s climate change strategy toward the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP).
  • Corix is a leading provider of sustainable energy infrastructure solutions across Canada and the U.S.
  • The CIB seeks to invest up to $5 billion into clean energy projects which are in the public interest and support Canadian sustainable economic growth.
  • All CIB investments are subject to approval by its Board of Directors

Learn More:

Canada Infrastructure Bank
Lulu Island Energy Company
City of Richmond
Corix

SOURCE Canada Infrastructure Bank

© 2022 CNW Group Ltd, all rights reserved
© 2022 Groupe CNW Ltée, tous droits réservés

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2022 at 8:46 am

My T Shirt Collection

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Inspired by a Tweet from the New Yorker

“Haruki Murakami bought a Ramones shirt from a secondhand store in Kyoto, but he can’t bring himself to wear it outside. “There are some limits when you’re over 70,” he writes.”

He also owns a T shirt from Heinz that says “I put ketchup on my ketchup”

I don’t recognise more limits on what I wear now that I’m over 70

Most of these have a story behind them, but one I did not photograph – because it is plain white – isn’t mine. It was one my son left behind after a visit when Air Canada lost his bag and gave him a tee shirt and other overnight essentials. Then they found the bag, and none of essentials were used or returned.

Mona Beana

Souvenir from our 2015 transpacific cruise

There are lots of pictures of the cruise on Flickr

A movie I helped crowdfund

https://www.bewareofimages.com/

Back when I started blogging – this was conference swag

The back of the shirt above lists the sponsors, most of whom are still in business.

Fused Network

May 15, 2018  Vancouver-based technology accelerator Wavefront has ceased operations”

BCTIA now known as BC Tech

Agentic Humans Online seems to be defunct

2Paths Absolute Software Work[at]Play all extant

Sept 5, 2020 — The BC-based mobile commerce platform, Mobify, announced on Friday that it would be acquired by Salesforce

I can’t find kontent creative group, but Incentive Access Group still appears to be active in Surrey, as does TopProducer (real estate software)

But on Sept 4, 2019  FCV Technologies, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based information and technology company, filed for bankruptcy 

Appnovation technologies is still active Backbone Systems now seems to be http://www.cyclonesystems.ca/

https://www.discoveryparks.com/

An unsuccessful environmentalist campaign
A gift from my sister
The front is very plain but the back is what I like
The beer was pretty good too

Aug 14, 2018 Durango Brewing Co. abruptly closed its taproom in Durango

An Ontario craft brewery that did not survive. I think this shirt came free with a twofour
I would like to think that I bought this there but I suspect it was a later purchase

I don’t have one for the University of Nottingham (HINT!)

I have yet to do this
Nicely understated – no prizes for guessing right

Though I think it is worth noting here that while I admire the long and gloried history of the Irish brewer’s advertising campaigns, there are a lot more and better stouts these days.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 7, 2022 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: “Everything for Everyone”

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An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 by M. E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi

Published by Common Notions 2022

ISBN: 978-1-94217-358-8

There are times now when I feel that humanity – indeed all life on this planet – does not have much of a future. We have been lurching into a climate crisis, preferring the lies of the fossil fuel industry and their tame politicians over what scientists have been trying to tell us. At the same time our political systems seem to be visibly collapsing, with voters preferring to elect posturing fools and other populists over people who are at least in some contact with reality. We may not even live long enough to witness the end of the climate crisis as nuclear war – which once seemed to have been contained as an unthinkable option – now seems to be distinctly possible.

This book sets out an alternative possibility and is written in the past tense about what could happen in the near future. I was born in 1949 and I have already outlived my parents and my older brother, and do not expect to be around for any of these events, if I am lucky. And I cannot say that the possible future described here will be free of pain, and distress and quite a lot of death and destruction before things start getting sorted out. The future envisaged here does not include money. It also gets rid, mostly, of fascists and demagogues – and the exceedingly wealthy. Space travel is recovered from the billionaires and will become just another available service to the people once they have finished building the space elevator. Lots of species – and entire ecosystems – have been destroyed but efforts are underway if not at restoration at least in re-creation of new ones. Most people will live in communes, sharing everything including childcare and working only a few hours here and there on housekeeping and counselling and other essentials. Food is mostly eaten communally too, though a few eccentrics are able to live alone. There are lots of meetings and discussions. There are also many more genders than two. Or if you prefer, none at all. Religion, it seems, continues. People remain attached if they want to but it does not seem that religionists are allowed to make decisions for everyone any more.

There are descriptions over how these changes came about which seem to point to the inevitability of wars and other conflicts but not, apparently the mutually assured destruction that nuclear deterrence has been based on. And, this being America there are an awful lot of guns out there now which we can’t just magic away.

The fact that I won’t be here for most of this actually isn’t much of a comfort, because I have children and an extended family. Of course I am concerned about them – and their offspring. I have done my planning and made my preferences clear – but once I am gone even that is now beyond my control. There is a lot here, in this book, that makes me very uncomfortable and nervous, since in my experience sensible collective decision making seems to be one of the most difficult things we have to do – and there are many decisions which I have seen made which were, to say the least, suboptimal. So while I hope they are right and the will of the people turns out to be a better path, I still fear that the rich and powerful are not going to give up easily. Any more than the people who harbour dangerous delusions and misapprehensions will relinquish them readily.

So while the overall tone of the book is positive I have to say that it is also made very clear that this is not a foregone conclusion and the predicted outcome depends on a large number of unpredictable factors. On the other hand it is very readable and it did not take a great deal of effort to get through. There are other books that I have requested to review where I didn’t get beyond the first chapter, so I think it is fair to say that I do recommend that if you share anxieties about pandemics, and climate change, and international tensions, this will provide food for thought. A better future is possible, just – I am afraid – not very likely if present trends continue. And living through upheavals isn’t going to be all fun and frolics either.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 5, 2022 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Pizza for Ukraine

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A guest post

Thanks again for your support for https://pizzaForUkraine.com/.   Someday, they’re going to tell stories about all this.  

Feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested; it helps enormously.  Feel free to share with your local pizza proprietors, too; perhaps we can strike up a partnership! 

We’ve passed 2150 pizzas.

In Kharkiv, pizza delivery has become even more worrisome and nerve-wracking than ever, as Russian missiles continue to arrive. They appear at unpredictable places and intervals, although the 4AM wake-up call from Belgorod is a persistent — and deeply disturbing — feature of daily life in Kharkiv.  The pizza crew wears body armor all the time and takes every precaution, and the kitchen folk are spending more time than they’d like in the basement when shells fall nearby.

The  streets and roads are a mess, and the Apocalypse Van is frequently needed for urgent, long-distance transport. But the pizza crew has managed to stage some really big deliveries using regular cars.  Here’s a weekend event staged in cooperation with the Kharkiv Judo Club.

Driving  around Kharkiv has some special challenges!

Here’s a really big delivery to a town at the edge of the Kharkiv region that’s hosting some 5000 people whose homes have been destroyed. Quite a big effort for a town of 500!  The local school, used as a shelter, is full, so now villagers are taking families into their homes.

We’ve also been sending some pizzas to Kharkiv hospitals (where everyone is too busy), emergency crews, and checkpoints.  Right now, the pizza crew is planning a big trip to one of the burned out housing blocks in Kharkiv where people still live, despite all the damage and debris.

Individually, we perhaps cannot bring peace or victory, or even warm and dry homes for half a million people. But we can send pizza. It’s not nothing.  Thanks.

Mark Bernstein 

Eastgate Systems, Inc

Written by Stephen Rees

July 28, 2022 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Ukraine

Book Review: “Elizabeth Finch” by Julian Barnes

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To be published by Random House on August 16

I was lucky enough to see the email from NetGalley when it came in and immediately requested the book since there were only to be 200 readers.

Julian Barnes has written twenty four previous books and I have read most of them, so as soon as I could open it I started reading it – and read it straight through in a couple of hours. It is written as a memoir by a man at the end of his life recalling being enraptured by a woman at an adult education course, whose method of teaching both challenges and fascinates him. He goes to all her lectures, fails to deliver the one required essay at the end, but then he is the king of unfinished projects – but they continue to meet, for lunch on a regular basis. Later he tries to memorialize her, and thus himself, but to do that he has to deal with the history she was teaching. I must admit that I had never heard of Julian the Apostate – but I suppose for Julian Barnes he must have had good reason to learn all about him. So in reading this book there is quite a lot of both real and imagined history. It turns out that there really was a Venetian painter called Carpaccio – so that wasn’t what I initially thought. It makes me wonder if there really was an Elizabeth Finch. No, but there are already many reviews on line.

I have to admit that I do have quite a few books that I have started but failed to get involved enough to care about. It is not often when I start and finish a book at one sitting. It is 192 pages. It is also quite difficult to not reveal too much by writing about it. What I do think is that this will be another winner for Barnes. And since it is now probably too late for you to get in on the “first 200” list you will have to wait for August. But it will be worth it.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 15, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Fiction

Computer Recycling for a Good Cause

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The following press release arrived this morning from CNW.
I have not heard of this organisation before and have not used their services. In Vancouver you can take your unwanted computers to the Free Geek Community Technology Centre at 1820 Pandora Street

The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) is calling out to all businesses and individuals to donate their unwanted computers and laptops to help them fill requests from charitable organizations and individuals in need. Recycling computers? Recycling laptops? Most recycling companies and associations simply want to destroy and melt down your old technology. www.era.ca actually fixes, reuses and helps the communities Canada wide access low cost technology.

CALGARY, AB, July 2, 2022 /CNW/ – The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 to address the growing problem of e-waste and the increasing ‘digital divide’. ERA has offers simple solutions to help individuals and organizations prevent operational equipment from premature destruction. With a focus on recovery, refurbishment and reuse, ERA continuously supplies charitable groups with donated IT equipment while securely managing the retiring IT assets of organizations and individuals across Canada.

“We are proud to provide charities, non-profits, schools and care facilities all across Canada with the computers they require for their programs. This gives them access to reliable technology while allowing them to apply their resources to what they’re good at, developing programs to help Canadians struggling with poverty, health concerns or are otherwise experiencing misfortune,” said Bojan Paduh Founder and CEO of ERA.

AB: Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters needs 100 laptops & 40 desktop computers
BC: More Than A Roof Housing Society needs 30 laptops & 15 printers
ON: Goodwill Industries needs 95 laptops
QC: Sarker Hope Foundation needs 50 laptops & 10 desktop computers
SK: Blaine Lake Composite School needs 50 laptops
MB: Altered Minds Inc needs 50 laptops & 65 desktop computers

Help ERA by booking a pickup of your unwanted devices through our online form on https://www.era.ca

Have only a few items and want us to get them next day? ERA offers shipping labels for free pickup from anywhere in Canada. Goto https://www.era.ca to donate now

SOURCE Electronic Recycling Association

Written by Stephen Rees

July 2, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Transportation

Annals of Aeronautics

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This is a blog. That is a contraction of Web Log – a record of the sites on the internet that I have been visiting. Today there are three stories all about ways we may fly in the future. They share some common features – regenerating old technologies, and using electricity to power aircraft. But they are all quite different. Except that in my life time each one of these ideas – in different forms – has popped up more than once. For example, when I went to and from Nottingham during my university days, the train took me past the hangars at Cardington. I would like to be able to say I saw airships flying but that wouldn’t be true. Though I have seen the Goodyear “blimps” now and again. That name is a travesty. It was originally applied to the tethered balloons used in London during WWII to try to force luftwaffe bombers to fly higher (and thus be more inaccurate). The Goodyear airships are true dirigibles (balloons you can steer) just like zeppelins.

The only real question I think is about the probability that these things will actually fly commercially.

The most likely, I think is the Hawaiian version of the flying boat. Unlike the effort here to refit existing floatplanes with electric motors, these aircraft are based on the aeronautics of the cormorant – to be seen every day across the Burrard inlet. By flying low and close to the water – but not actually touching it – a great deal of energy is saved. Quite how this can be turned into a commercial service around the Hawaiian islands remains to be seen. Presumably, this new type of aircraft will be able to rise quickly to get over the top of those who stick to their own preferred seaways.

I think that Sergey Brin may be the more likely to get approvals since the changes he proposes to make Zeppelins are designed to take advantage of our much better understanding of the physics of lighter than air flight, strength of materials science, and what the challenges were that lead to the rapid demise of airships both military and commercial.

I like the idea of cruising in an airship (see the works of Cory Doctorow for what he thinks might happen). The appeal of the giant flying cruise ship – not so much.

For one thing it relies on nuclear energy – always a bit of a problem in my mind – but more especially in this case since it has to be both “small” and fusion powered. As far as I know, there is not yet anything like a feasible fusion power plant.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 27, 2022 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Air Travel