Nothing beats the convenience of "personal transportation" - a car - at least when the road isn't congested. But cars make cities more dangerous, noisy, and polluted, and usually the road is congested. Tiny, 2-seat "ultra-small vehicles" (USVs) powered by electricity, and communicating with one another, with the road, and with objects to be avoided (such as people) can be far safer, can have efficiency equivalent to better than 100 mpg, with no emissions, and with a much-reduced requirement for parking space. Read "Reinventing the Automobile" by Mitchell et. al. for a convincing argument that our cities and our world could both be better if urban transportation were based on these little cars.
What is missing from that book is an answer to the question, "Why would I, who can easily afford a full-size car and the fuel to run it, want to also own a smaller, wimpier car, with shorter range?" Roger Davidheiser provides a compelling answer. The "Third Generation Roadway," as he describes it, is an elevated, electrified track that can whisk USVs around cities, or between cities. Within a city, this is faster than a car driving on existing roads because you don't stop at stoplights - the elevated tracks cross at different levels. It's faster than any public transit because it's available when and where you want it - it's waiting in your garage, and drives on regular roads for the first and last mile or so of any trip. On major tracks, aligned with existing freeways, the USVs draw power from the roadway, and travel close together in convoys, cutting wind resistance and achieving speed and fuel efficiency. If USVs were the cheapest, safest and fastest way to get to work and around the city, most people would take them for most urban trips.Read more ›
I wish everyone living in or around big cities and for whom traffic is a problem would read this book. All city planners and big city politicians should read this book as well as our congressional representatives.
Rapid efficient transportation is important for the United States, as it is for all countries. Unfortunately, over the years parts of our transportation system have become saturated, bogging down and thus very inefficient and frustrating for the users.
Our transportation system has evolved over the years in this country. When this country was settled years ago, the ocean and the rivers provided the fastest and most efficient method of transportation. The roads were non existent (a path in some cases) or just bad. Private parties built and maintained turnpikes and ferries and charged for their use. Goods like corn and wheat could not be moved very far unless on a river or the ocean. Wagon transportation was slow and thus very expensive. When the Erie Canal got built in upstate New York, it was a real boon to transportation, and made a tremendous drop in the cost of moving goods east and west in up state. Steamboats were introduced onto the main rivers and were a transportation boon. Railroads were a tremendous breakthrough in the 1800s in the USA and other countries as they provided rapid and much cheaper transportation wherever they ran.
The invention of the automobile at the start of the 20th century, made a demand for roads across the countryside. The roads got paved in general, but were usually only two lanes, one in each direction. Some improvements were made, but not all of the federal or important state highways were improved.Read more ›