Thursday, July 15, 2010

But, what about the beer?

Munich Victualmarkt Feb08-08
Beer from wooden keg, der Pshorr, Munich, from my flickr Munich photos.

Monocle recently ranked Munich the world's most livable city. I love Munich and I think that the Monocle video presents a very nice view of the city.

I was particularly struck by the comments from BMW's head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk. In the video he says Munich doesn't take energy from you (the way living in many cities does) but gives you energy (about 3 minutes into the video). I remember thinking something similar when I first visited in the 1980s ... waiting for the U-Bahn, which was clean, fast and reliable as clockwork, I thought how nice it must be not to have to worry about public transport ... a real difference from most big cities. This frees up energy for creativity.

My only complaint about the Monocle video is that it did not mention beer, and, for me at least, the beer in Munich tastes better than anywhere in the world. My posts and recommendations for Munich.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Watching Scorpio in Vienna

Scorpio Vienna Kino unter Sternen Karlsplatz 10july10-16
Scorpio: Chase scene through Vienna Karlsplatz U-Bahn station.

On Saturday I went to the Kino unter Sternen (movies under the stars) on Vienna's Karlsplatz. The program is being held at Karlsplatz this year (in addition to the regular Kino unter Sternen at the Augarten) because the Wien Museum has a great exhibition called Wien im Film on right now.

The Kino unter Sternen is showing a whole series of films made (at least partially) in Vienna. Scorpio was particularly good because the big chase scene was filmed at the Karlsplatz U-Bahn station when it was under construction during the 1970s. Sorry the photo is out of focus. More photos on my flickr photos tagged Scorpio Vienna Kino untern Sternen. More photos are available from the flickr user Kino unter Sternen including one of the Wiener Beschwerdechor (Vienna Complaining Choir) singing before the July 3 movie - see if you can find me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Swiss International Air Lines: Minding the network (SFO 1)

JFK Landing Jun07 - 11

Swiss Airlines just started a blog about flying and their operations. The first post was Swiss International Air Lines: Minding the network (SFO 1) is about scheduling flights. It was quite fascinating.

Another great source of information on flying is Patrick Smith's Salon column "Ask the Pilot". Patrick even answered one of my questions (about how flights are controlled over areas where there is no radar coverage, e.g. over the Atlantic Ocean). His explanations are clear and I really enjoy the fact that he says exactly what is on his mind (see some of his columns on security!).

The second Swiss Blog was on preparations for starting service in San Francisco. Of course I asked if they were making any special arrangements for "cows who come to San Francisco with flowers in their horns" but no response yet!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cali Columbia's Bus Rapid Transit System Film

Here's a film from current TV on Cali Columbia's new bus rapid transit system which is called MIO. It's a nice film illustrating many of the benefits of BRT. At one point a user complains that she likes the older minibuses better - because the new system is too crowded! Not sure if that's really a negative ... a few more buses might solve the problem.

For a slightly less serious look at South American BRT systems check out my music video parody: The Bus From Curitiba on YouTube.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Urban Track Final Conference 2010

 Czech Pendolino train in Prague main station.

I went to the Urban Track Project final conference in Prague because I am helping the Wiener Linien (Vienna’s public transport operator) on a research project intended to better understand the motivation for implementing good maintenance procedures. The conference presented results of the four year research project on how to design and build better urban rail (streetcars, metro, subway, etc.) track work. Several of the presentations were about how to design slab track to reduce noise and vibration.

Since I am more of a planner than engineer a couple of the less track-engineering presentations were more interesting for me. These were on: green track, rehabilitation processes and socio-economic impacts of rehabilitation projects.

Brussels Public Transport 25apr10-06

Green Tram Tracks on Avenue Louise in Brussels (from my flickr photos)

The Green Tram Tracks, The Advantages of Implementing Vegetation Systems in Tram Tracks presentation was by Henrikje Schreiter from the Institute of Agricultural and Urban Ecological Projects (IASP) in Berlin. She described her phd dissertation on the benefits of using a specific plant species (Sedum, which is a succulant plant) for green tracks. In summary, there are a lot of benefits including water retention, reducing noise (small, but something), reducing airborne particles and just creating a nice visual environment. She discussed lots of the practical reasons why Sedum is a good choice (e.g no need for mowing) and how you actually build these systems (e.g. building them so that emergency vehicles can drive over them).

The IASP is holding a seminar on the subject of green tracks (German) – who knew that Berlin has been using green tracks since the early 1900s? – on 20 September 2010 (before the Innotrans Exhibition). The seminar is in German, but I may try to go and can do some translation of interesting presentations.

Several speakers talked about rehabilitation of tram tracks. As visitors to my website and YouTube channel know, tram track rehabilitation is a subject close to my heart! Speakers described a replacement project in Bremen where the tram service was only stopped for a weekend (although roadway traffic on the adjoining lanes was stopped for four weeks) for a traditional tram track replacement project, and one in Karlsruhe, where the city took about three weeks to install pre-fabricated track slabs in a historic district.

The contrast between the two projects was quite interesting. In Bremen the goal was to minimize service disruption and in Karlsruhe the goal was to install historic-looking track as efficiently as possible. In the project area Karlsruhe’s track is set in cobble stone pavement, so the prefabricated sections had a cobble stone surface. Also interesting was the fact that the work was done under the catenary lines – which made it difficult to maneuver cranes and lifting equipment. Both projects were partly funded by the Urban Track project and lots of practical lessons were learned.

The final presentation I will talk about was by Marjolein de Jong from Hasselt University in Belgium. The presentation was on evaluating the socio-economic impacts of tram track rehabilitation projects. What I found so interesting about her research was how systematically she identified the potential impacts and her findings regarding various potential staging strategies. When I talked to her later she said, well it’s just impact analysis 101, but I think it’s important because it starts to develop an organized framework for thinking about some of the problems planners face when considering rehabilitation programs.

More information about the UrbanTrack project is available at the UITP website.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tour de France - Brussels

I was in Brussels on Monday for a meeting of the High Speed Regions group. As it happened the Tour de France was traveling through Brussels - a block from our meeting location - on Monday too, so I had time to watch the racers go by.

Unfortunately it was right at the start of the day's race, so the riders were going quite slowly and were all in a pack. Well actually mostly team packs. It was funny because the streets were blocked for hours but the race took about 30 seconds to go by (and, they were going slowly!). Also odd is that there were probably more cars, trucks, motorcycles etc. going by than bikes. More photos on my flickr photos Tour de France Brussels.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Die Prinzen: Mein Fahrrad - My Bike

I just heard the song "Mein Farrad" (My Bicycle) by Die Prinzen on the radio. It's a very catchy tune and the words are lots of fun. I thought I would translate it for my English speaking bicycle friends, so here goes:

The other day I was going 120 (kph)
Riding round town on my bike
And as usual I could only hope
The police wouldn't catch-up to me
Because they'd give me a ticket
And take me to the station
And my poor little bike
Would be left all alone out front
Oh how I love my bike
Although I really don't know why
To her I'll always be faithful
In contrast to my wife
Never will I leave her
Never will I give her away
Because we fly together on the clouds
And understand each other perfectly

Every grandpa drives his Opel
Every monkey drives his Ford
Every idiot drives his Porsche
Every asshole drives his Audi Sport
Every crazy man drives his Manta
Every complete idiot his Jaguar
Only connoisseurs are cycling
And they're always faster there

My bike is surely not purple
That's not my color at all
And it's certainly not brown
Because I can't stand brown
No, mine is painted blue
From head to toe that shade
Blue's the perfect color for me
Because sometimes I'm blue too

Every grandpa drives his Opel
Every monkey drives his Ford
Every idiot drives his Porsche
Every asshole drives his Audi Sport
Every crazy man drives his Manta
Every complete idiot his Jaguar
Only connoisseurs are cycling
And they're always faster there!

I took a few liberties with the lyrics, but I hope it does justice to the great song! Feel free to add improvements to the comments.