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Transport

References are indicated thus: ⁽¹⁾ refers to note 1 at the bottom of this page
For those of you unfamiliar with the words 'lorry' and 'lorries' this means the same as 'truck' and 'trucks' respectively

The following is CalQlata's summary of the most important issues facing national and international commuting and freight transport systems today⁽¹⁾

The Plan

A cohesive national transport strategy needs to be planned to optimise efficiency, space, speed, pollution, safety and cost effectiveness and to make it readily available to all.

For example, whilst most countries are similarly guilty, the UK's national transport system was never planned and therefore has no cohesion, which is why it doesn't work very well.

Without a plan, nothing done will ever be effective or efficient. If you have a plan, however, and work to it, even if you can't afford to complete it all at once at least what you install will not need to be replaced (only updated).

Optimisation

Very few transport systems (or sub-systems) operate together seamlessly, nor are they best suited to all purposes: e.g. pleasure, passenger, freight, national, international, etc. It would be preferable to separate their operation and allocate the most appropriate vehicle and network to each service. For example:

Non-powered wheeled vehicles (bicycle, rickshaw, etc.)
Over relatively flat terrain in densely packed cities rickshaws can be a viable system for those fit enough to operate them
Bicycles can be used very successfully for short distance travel but should be provided with a completely separate road network to that used for powered vehicles

Powered wheeled vehicles (train, trams, bus, lorry, car, motorbike, etc.)
Trains, trams, etc. should be completely separated from road networks as they operate on different principles
Trams should operate on underground and/or overhead rail systems
Trains are best suited to freight than passenger transport (see hover-train below)
City buses should be reduced in size and where possible replaced with trams (see above)
Whilst freight transport (e.g. lorries) could use the same road network as passenger vehicles, they should be separated from each other as much as possible
As lorries create the most damage to road systems, their size and use should be minimised

Non-powered air transport (parachute, balloon, glider, etc.)
The practical usability of parachute and glider is extremely limited at present and hot-air balloons are really only suitable for pleasure activities over short distances (see CalQlata's Buoyancy calculator and technical help page)

Powered air transport (hover-train, airplane, balloon, etc.)
The hover-train is the only viable form of long-distance overland passenger transport, bar none.
Airplanes are most suitable for long-distance overseas passenger and urgent freight transportation.
With technology available today, airships could be used much more safely than they were in the past for slower short distance overland freight transport (see CalQlata's Buoyancy calculator and technical help page)

Non-powered-water transport (rowing boat, sail boat, raft, etc.)
All these forms of transport are suitable for pleasure activities only

Powered-water transport (ship, power-boat, barge, amphicar, etc.)
Small power-boats are suitable as river-taxis and large power-boats are suitable for river buses. Ships are most suited for overseas non-urgent freight and short-distance passenger transport (ferries).
Supply ships should be used to transport goods between coastal towns in countries with long and active coastlines such as east and west USA, Chile, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia, etc. Trains, canals and nocturnally operating lorries (for shortest distances) should be used for the final stage of the journey, which should always be the shortest possible distance.
Canal barges are best suited for overland non-urgent freight transport.
Today's amphicars are suitable for pleasure activities only.

Issues

To date, most (if not all) transport systems are developed independently, without integration into a cohesive programme. This normally means that each time a new system is re-commissioned (e.g. national passenger) it will inevitably clash with other systems (e.g. national freight). It can also lead to duplication of facilities, cost and land-space requirements.

If a nation's infrastructures (not only transport) remain under government control, allowing private companies to operate only the related services, there should be no conflict of interest with regard to their use.

The creation of a cohesive and efficient transport system needs to be planned by a group of impartial individuals that have no vested interest other than its use.

Road Networks

Whilst the incredible efforts made by the motoring manufacturers have massively improved vehicle efficiency, safety, etc., excessive traffic control, poor design, inadequate maintenance and unsuitable signs are preventing a corresponding improvement in the number of road accidents.

Roads are expensive to build and maintain. Their use should therefore be limited to those to whom it is most suited.

Roads should be user friendly. Safety, speed, flexibility, etc. should be maximised, and frustration, fear, congestion, etc. minimised.

Non-dedicated road users (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) should be kept off powered vehicle roads as much as possible. All road users (including cyclists, pedestrians, maintenance operators, etc.) should accept similar levels of responsibility for their use of the network.

Accident black spots are attributable to bad road design, not poor driving, and should be treated as such.

As far as possible, lorries and cars should be separated. For example: lorry access to the road network could be limited to between 00:00 and 05:00 and only between port and delivery site (see Powered wheeled vehicles above).

Road safety should be improved by reducing or removing obstacles, e.g.: 'STOP' signs, kerbside obstacles, speed bumps, permanently operating traffic lights, congestion zones, bus lanes, accident black-spots, speed limits, excessive city sign-posting, etc.

Traffic flow and driver stress both generally improve as a result of reduced control, as opposed to increased control.

The adoption of better systems from other countries should be given priority over domestic systems that don't work as well. E.g.: turning right at red traffic lights, unrestricted autobahns, yellow flashing lights outside school entrances operating only during open and closure times, etc.

Bicycle (and rickshaw) Lanes

It should be possible for fit young people to operate rickshaw (type) vehicles for delivery of packages and/or people. There are no real overheads and no fuel bills and it should be fully accepted that they can charge the same fare as a normal taxi (greater profit for the operator).

In very densely packed cities like New York, Paris and London that have extensive underground systems and road networks it should be possible to reserve a large number of their roads for bicycle (and/or Rickshaw) use only. If these roads are selected thoughtfully it should be possible for cyclists and motorists to get right across the city with minimal interaction. However, when using the powered-vehicle road network, cyclists should be mindful of the fact that they are 'visitors'.

Taxi Lanes

Taxis should not be provided with different or better access to the motor vehicle road network as they are less fuel efficient and less environmentally friendly than private cars.

Taxis tend to be large cars with large and/or diesel engines. They generally travel with a single passenger (who may otherwise be the driver of a private car) in one direction and subsequently drive around empty; or occupy a parking place that could be used by a private car; or return to a taxi-hub without a passenger.

Private cars normally travel to a destination and then park until the next journey.

Bus Lanes

Inner-city buses are not normally sized according to their need at any given time of day, as such a large number of them run virtually empty and emit more pollution per passenger mile than most of today's private cars.

Intercity buses tend to be a great deal more energy and pollution efficient than inner-city buses but they should have their catalytic converters and exhaust filters replaced more regularly⁽²⁾

Inner-city buses should not be provided with different or better access to the motor vehicle road network as they are less fuel efficient and less environmentally friendly than private cars.

Speed Limits

Speed limits, imposed as they are today, have very little to do with road safety (see Speeding vs Safety). Given this fact, there can be no technical argument to justify their continued use in their current form.

Enforcing speed limits diverts the attention of our police forces from their principal duties making them unpopular, making their interface with the public very difficult.

Speed limits increase costs, congestion, pollution, driver stress and frustration. Almost 3,000 accidents a year on UK roads may be directly attributable to speed cameras⁽⁴⁾.

Mobile speed cameras often cause drivers to brake unnecessarily and dangerously as a natural reaction, even if they aren't speeding.

Variable-speed and average speed limit systems increase pollution, congestion & stress and reduce safety⁽⁵⁾

Road maintenance speed limits do nothing for safety in areas where no workers are present.

Maintaining speed limits runs counter to safety logic as the driver's concentration is not on the road and surrounding area.

Road Signs

Directional and informative road signs should be designed to work together and according to a driver's ability to use them safely.

Information and Traffic Control

There is an excess of information and control road signs in most towns and cities today. So much so that many cannot be read, ingested and understood in the time necessary for a driver to take the necessary action in the time available.

In most cases reducing and/or removing traffic control road-signs makes roads much safer.

Road signs should not be installed without due consideration to other signs in the area.

The number of different pictorial information road signs needs to be reduced in order to maximise understanding.

Street names should be clearly located at every junction.

Direction

Every sign should include a compass point direction for the road you are on and the one you are about to take.

Each direction on every sign should point to the nearest well-known city in that direction.

Every junction should have a direction sign.

All direction signs should be continued at every junction until the final destination is reached.

Canals

Canal barges could be an extremely cost effective method of freight transport. They could be operated remotely and run virtually fuel free if fitted with tiny engines, solar and wind power and dynamic positioning

Once reinstated, canals could be maintained at a much lower cost than the road network.

Shipping Lanes

Any country with an extensive coastline would relieve roads and thereby improve saftey and congestion by using supply ships to transport goods to ports closest to the point of delivery.

Given the ability of satellites to accurately read the earth's seabed profile, it should be possible to generate a high-resolution global digital map of the seabed and make it available to every ship afloat. Along with radar, dynamic positioning, GPS and proper maintenance/certification, the ocean's shipping lanes should be accident free!

Fuel

The fuel we use in vehicles today should be selected on the basis of maximising efficiency and minimising pollution. This is not the case today as is evident from: e.g. the extensive use of diesel engines and encouragement in the use of batteries in cars in town cars and the lack of effort on the hydrogen fuel cell

Notes

  1. Pleasure transport systems are subject to personal preference and therefore indefinable
  2. Sooty exhaust fumes is the norm for buses today showing that their exhaust filters are clogged yet few nations include toxic carcinogens in the annual vehicle checks
  3. More than 50 years ago, cars had: no seatbelts, no airbags, no crumple zones, crossply tyres, no traction control, drum brakes, a solid steering column, no NCAP testing, etc.
  4. There is no evidence to show that speed cameras reduce accidents. Where they have been repositioned to increase revenue, accidents in the previous location have not increased. Whereas, in the UK (for example) speed cameras have frequently been cited as the cause of accidents
  5. Average speed limits bunch cars together increasing the risk of a single accident turning into a multiple pile-up (see also Brakes and Tyres)
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