31 January 2008
Airport on stilts
Brian Micklethwait

Weirdness blogger deputy dog doesn’t do capital letters, but on the plus side collects strange structures and circumstances.  His latest weirdness is Funchal Airport, in Madeira, which is mostly not on the ground, but up in the air on pillars.  Lots of pillars.  It was on the ground, but was too short for comfort, and this was how they made it longer, apparently.  Underneath, there’s a big car park, which makes sense.

DD has photos of this, but the best photo of it that I found was this, on Flickr:


Whenever you find an interesting object, it’s worth looking for it on Flickr, I find.

This elaborate contraption - which looks rather like an aircraft carrier, I think – illustrates what an economic impact aviation can have on a region.  This is the trouble they are prepared to go to just to have airplanes serving them satisfactorily.  See also: Heathrow.

15 October 2007
Wheels with a difference
Brian Micklethwait

During the summer I took a break from all blogging, but I have now resumed, chez moi and at Samizdata.  And I now resume here, with apologies for my prolonged absence, with a link to the transport gizmo that has most impressed me during the last few months.  I refer to the Nissan Pivo2.

You can’t understand the significance of this vehicle from still photos.  You have to see the video.  So, here it is:

Don’t let its Teletubby looks and that annoying monkey head computer fool you.  This remarkable vehicle embodies one of the most important advances in motoring, and especially in parking, that I have seen since the car itself was invented.

Just in case you didn’t get the video to work, or if you rely on words to find your way to interesting postings, I refer to the swivelling wheels.  These wheels are what every incompetent parker has always wanted.  You can just put it next to where you want to park it, and then tell it to swivel its wheels through ninety degrees.  Then you move sideways into the parking slot.  Even if other motorists park right next to you and leave you with only an inch of clearance at both ends, it’s no problem.  Swivel, sidle.  Swivel again, and drive away.  Brilliant.

I “designed” this vehicle in my head forty years ago, and my version looked uncannily like the Pivo2 does.

I’m guessing that what makes this concept possible is that small electric motors have got more powerful lately, to the point where you can have one for each wheel, plus another to swivel each wheel.  Plus, I’m guessing that car batteries are getting better all the time.  Or maybe Nissan just reckons that this is the way things are headed, and they want to be ready when they’ve got there.  But: don’t really know.  Comments?

13 June 2007
G-Wiz G-Wiz
Brian Micklethwait

Spotted by David Tebbutt on June 5th, blogged by David Tebbutt June 6th, spotted by me there yesterday, and blogged here today.  Two cars in one parking space:


This car really is called G-WizBoris has more on the subject.

24 April 2007
How Will Shakespeare got his start minding the horses
Brian Micklethwait

Did you know that today is Shakespeare’s birthday?  Well, it is.

Recently I’ve been reading William Shakespeare: His Life and Work by Anthony Holden.  Very good.  In this, Holden quotes (pp. 87-88) Ben Johnson’s description of Shakespeare’s first theatrical job when he first arrived in London.  He held the horses.  And very well, apparently, although Johnson’s account is anything but first hand.

When Shakespeare fled to London . . . his first expedient was to wait at the door of the playhouse, and hold the horses of those that had no servants, that they might be ready again after the performance.  In this office he became so conspicuous for his care and readiness, that in a short time every man as he alighted called for Will. Shakespeare, and scarcely any other waiter was trusted with a horse while Will. Shakespeare could be had.  This was the first dawn of better fortune.  Shakespeare finding more horses put into his hand than he could hold, hired boys to wait under his inspection, who, when Will. Shakespeare was summoned, were immediately to present themselves, I am Shakespeare’s boy, Sir.  In time Shakespeare found higher employment, but as long as the practice of riding to the playhouse continued, the waiters that held the horses retained the appellation of Shakespeare’s Boys.

If he ever appeared on the Michael Parkinson show, that’s what Shakespeare would probably be made to talk about.

05 April 2007
Cheaper parking = more jams
Patrick Crozier

Donald Shoup in the New York Times:

In a recent survey conducted by Bruce Schaller in the SoHo district in Manhattan, 28 percent of drivers interviewed while they were stopped at traffic lights said they were searching for curb parking.

They’re searching for curb parking because it is much cheaper than garage parking.  It is not set at the market rate and so the roads end up clogged.  Another reason to be against price control

(Hat-tip: Peter Gordon)

07 March 2007
Robot videos
Brian Micklethwait

Okay, so far, it won’t go so far.  But this certainly seems fraught with transport possibilities.  Thankyou engadget

It just seems so much smoother and more itself, if you know what I mean. As opposed, say, to this (video here) which just mimics a person, very badly.  It’s the hydraulic leg extending which makes the difference, I think.

And while rootling around some more at engadget, I found this, where there is video of a robot car parking system in New York that I got interested in a while back.

Plus, I just clicked on engadget’s complete transport archive, for the first time.  Can’t think why I never did that before.  Rich pickings.  Plus lots of black boxes to tell moron motorists where they are.

01 February 2007
Cars – parking them by robot and towing them with a motorbike
Brian Micklethwait

Some are trainspotters.  I am a carparkspotter.  Well, virtually speaking, and provided they are interesting, which they mostly aren’t of course.

See this, today, which links to this, and also back to this, also by me, from 2003.  I agree with myself completely.

In other car news, here is a YouTube snippet about a motor bike which will tow broken down cars.  My first thought was, yes, it can get to the car quickly, by wizzing through traffic jams like a motor bike, but once it has hooked itself to the car it becomes as wide as a car and is stuck in the same jam with everyone else.

But then I thought, what if the immobility of the car it is seeing to is what caused the traffic jam, and as soon as it gets to the car and hooks it up and starts to move, the traffic jam as a whole starts moving again, and the motorbike with it?  So it does actually make quite a lot of sense.

I’d love to tell you how I got to “Motorpasion”, which is the Spanish or Portuguese or whatever for “Motorpassion”, but I can’t remember.

07 December 2006
Clamped in Camden
Jackie D
Clamped in Camden

I took this photo several months ago, when I was working in St Gile’s Circus. One day, we heard an almighty racket coming from outside the office, and it turned out that this nimrod had tried to drive away with a clamp on his tyre. He kept trying for several minutes, generating lots of smoke and horrific noise - and I don’t just mean the abuse that several people were shouting at him. Finally, he and his mates grabbed all their belongings out of the car and simply walked away, leaving it to block Flitcroft Street (which is actually more of an alley than a street).

Traffic wardens are, of course, all over this area like Rod Stewart on a leggy blonde. But when this car, creating an actual disruption and problematic blockage, cropped up, it took three days for Camden to haul it away.

27 October 2006
Higher parking charges for gas guzzlers. To help stop global warming they say. Where does one start? I suppose by saying that there are some perfectly easy ways of dealing with global warming and this isn't one of them.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Parking