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Talk:Sustainable transport

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Feasible distance in the chart?[edit]

What is the distances based upon? Is it only approximation? Or is it in fact a time based estimate, on how long a person can manage walking in one hour or carry a grocery bag?

I think that a person can walk up to 8-10 km within two hours. and it is possible to bicycle up to 25 km within three hours. With proper bags (with ergonomical handles, or a backpack) or appropriately packaged cargo on the back of the bike or on top of a skateboard, it is possible to carry several big grocery bags, but at a lower speed and a bit shorter range.

If without better options any distance to walk is convenient, it just takes a little longer time. --Yeahvle

  • Well on reasonable roads, and terrain that's not too hilly, and with a well-maintained bike, its certainly possible for a person of fairly average fitness to cycle 20km in an hour actually. A fit rider could maintain 30km/hr for 2 hours on a road bike. Admittedly traffic lights periodically will slow you down in urban locations though, so perhaps 15km/hr is a more conservative estimate. --PatSunter (talk) 14:09, 6 February 2014 (PST)

Concern about car getting better "infrastructure investment" rating than rail in table[edit]

I am concerned that "car" gets a green dot rating for infrastructure investment in the table, compared to rail getting 2 red dots, and metro/urban rail getting 3 red dots.

In an urbanised setting and looking at the big-picture I think this is at minimum a problematic oversimpliciation, and quite possibly quite wrong.

Yes - building railways is by no means cheap.

But the cost of "car" as a transport mode is not just an individual family buying a 2nd-hand car for $10,000 - it is part of a whole auto-industrial complex that implies expensive asphalted roads, a global network of oil production and refining, large amounts of land dedicated to parking, etc. And in any moderately large city there is a strong tendency towards building very expensive high-capacity road infrastructure like freeways, the very thing that a good urban rail system would significantly reduce the need for.

Not to mention the high 'externalities' of car transport in terms of injuries and fatalities, air pollution, reduced street amenity, and even in relatively affluent countries like the USA and Australia, in contribution to obesity via encouraging a sedentary lifestyle.

Therefore I suggest at least a footnote to this effect in the table, and possibly re-considering the ratings.

For pro-public transport people, there is a very legitimate discussion about whether the cost of rail is justified compared to bus-based transport, especially in developing countries, and how "BRT" (Bus-rapid transport) can bridge this gap. Perhaps this table should encourage this kind of focus a little more too.

-- PatSunter, 8 October 2012

Thanks PatSunter. The table definitely needs more work, and can be corrected. I think KVDP has done most of the work on the table, but the main point to note is that this is open for anyone to edit. (Unfortunately a table like this is too daunting for most people to try to edit, so we need to figure out another way to organize this info.) Your other comments about externalities are also very relevant - do you want to BOLD and add them to the article? Even in exactly the same form, to be copyedited later...
Ultimately we'd be aiming to have justification for each entry in the table - that sounds like something that your project could help with, Patrick. --Chriswaterguy 22:46, 7 October 2012 (PDT)

-- Thanks Chris - I added a note as suggested. Agree, medium-term would be good to add references to support different entries in that table, and I'd be happy to help out with this as part of my PhD work. -- PatSunter, 14 Nov 2012

Note by PatSunter on table[edit]

I moved the issue on the table here, the table can be reworked, but the notes aren't very useful at the article, they make it look amateuristic. KVDP 02:48, 10 May 2013 (PDT)

PatSunter is an expert in the subject. I suggest you discuss your concerns here before claiming that you know that his edits within his professional sphere of knowledge are 'unhelpful' or 'amateurish'. Joeturner 02:58, 10 May 2013 (PDT)
Having reviewed the page, I have to say that I don't understand the table - what is the relevance of the red and green spots? Do multiple red spots mean 'really bad'? and multiple green ones 'really good' (if so, where is the key?)? Are you seriously suggesting that a car is faster than an airship - or an aeroplane is more safe than a coach? Where did you get this information from? How are you making these judgements? Joeturner 03:12, 10 May 2013 (PDT)

Note: While this table may be a useful starting guide, please also bear in mind several caveats of the difficulty of quantifying modes of transport for a direct comparison. 2 particular issues are highlighted below

  1. Regarding 'cost', there is the issue of direct 'cost' to the user in terms of e.g. buying a vehicle and paying for maintenance, versus the indirect costs paid by the larger society, and ultimately subsidised by e.g. taxation. Whilst the "infrastructure investment" heading tries to capture some of this issue, in the case of the automobile particularly this is challenging as "infrastructure" involves not just roads but arguably a global network of oil rigs, steel mines and rubber plantations, refineries, shipping, a network of petrol stations, etc. Whilst bicycles and other modes do draw on the same global infrastructure, the automobile drives it to a far greater degree.
  2. Secondly, the "cost" of any mode of transport involves negative externalities. Whilst some of these are included in the table below in the "Environmental, aesthetic and social impacts" column, again especially for car based transport these are now understood to be very broad - I.E. "social" impacts needs to include the very high cost of millions of car-related road deaths and trauma - as well as in affluent societies, we are now identifying the link between a car-based lifestyle and increasing rates of obesity and related illnesses.

In my opinion, the table does need revising in light of these, particularly in relation to the relative comparison of the car to bikes and various rail modes. PatSunter, 14 Nov 2012

Image (Energy Use of transport)[edit]

Following may be of use in article:

Horsepower required for various speeds.png
  • Cheers KVDP. As the link behind that graph says, the increasing power needed at speed in this calculation is due to air resistance. The fact that trains only have a small frontal area affected by air resistance compared to their long length is why they are so much more efficient than cars when fully loaded with passengers or freight (as well as having a lower rolling resistance of metal wheels on rails compared to rubber on roads). There is good coverage of energy usage of different transport modes in the book 'Sustainable Energy - without the hot air', by David MacKay, in the Transport Section.