frank's blog

“To Do Good, You First Have To Do Something.”

Posted in inspiration, pioneers, Quotes Of The Day by aldorf on August 2, 2011

[Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia]

I recommend reading his book Let My People Go Surfing” 

“Straddling” Bus – How Commute Changes In Near Future

Posted in architecture by aldorf on August 3, 2010

A big concern on top of urban transportation planner’s mind is how to speed up the traffic: putting more buses on the road will jam the roads even worse and deteriorate the air; building more subway is costly and time consuming. Well, here is an cheaper, greener and fast alternative to lighten their mind up a bit: the straddling bus, first exhibited on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year. In the near future, the model is to be put into pilot use in Beijing’s Mentougou District (bjnews).

Vodpod videos no longer available.


What you can see from the video is traffic jams, what you can hear is noise, and there is also invisible air pollution. At present, there are mainly 4 types of public transits in China: subway, light-rail train, BRT, and normal bus. They have advantages and disadvantages, for example, subway costs a lot and takes long time to build; BRT takes up road spaces and produces noises as well as pollution to the air. How to develop environmental-friendly public transportation? Straddling bus provides a solution. Let’s watch a demonstration.

The straddling bus combines the advantages of BRT, it is also a substitution for BRT and subway in the future. As you all know, the majority vehicle on the road is car, the shortest vehicle is also car. Normally our overpass is 4.5-5.5 m high. The highlight innovation of straddling bus is that it runs above car and under overpass. Its biggest strength is saving road spaces, efficient and high in capacity. It can reduce up to 25-30% traffic jams on main routes. Running at an average 40 km/h, it can take 1200 people at a time, which means 300 passengers per cart.

Another strength of straddling bus is its short construction life cycle: only 1 year to build 40 km. Whereas building 40-km subway will take 3 years at best. Also the straddling bus will not need the large parking lot that normal buses demand. It can park at its own stop without affecting the passage of cars. This is what the interior looks like: it has huge skylight that will eliminate passengers’ sense of depression when enter.

There are two parts in building the straddling bus. One is remodeling the road, the other is building station platforms. Two ways to remodel the road: we can go with laying rails on both sides of car lane, which save 30% energy; or we can paint two white lines on both sides and use auto-pilot technology in the bus, which will follow the lines and run stable.

There are also two ways in dealing with station platform. One is to load/unload through the sides; the other is using the built-in ladder so that passengers can go up and to the overpass through the ceiling door.

Straddling bus is completely powered by municipal electricity and solar energy system. In terms of electricity, the setting is called relay direct current electrification. The bus itself is electrical conductor, two rails built on top to allow the charging post to run along with the bus, the next charging post will be on the rails before the earlier one leaves, that is why we call it relay charging. It is new invention, not available yet in other places.

The set here is super capacitor, a device that can charge, discharge and store electricity quickly. The power it stores during the stop can support the bus till the next stop where another round of charging takes place, achieving zero toxic gas throughout the process.

About the ultrasonic waves put forth from the end of the bus, that is to keep those high cars or trucks away from entering the tunnel. Using laser ray to scan, cars get too close to the passage will activate the alarm on the bus end. Inside the bus, there are turning lights that indicate a the bus is intending to make a turn to warn the cars inside. Also radar scanning system is embedded on the walls to warn cars from getting too close to the bus wheels.

Nowadays many big cities have remodeled their traffic signaling system, to prioritize public buses, that is to say when a bus reaches a crossing, red light on the other side of the fork will turn on automatically to give buses the right of way. Our straddling bus can learn from this BRT method. The car can make the turn with the bus if that is the direction it wants to go too; if not, the red light will be on to stop the cars beneath while the bus take the turn.

The bus is 6 m in width and 4-4.5 m high. How will people get off the bus if an accident happens to such a huge bus? Here I introduce the most advanced escaping system in the world. In the case of fire or other emergencies, the escaping door will open automatically. I believe many of you have been on a plane. Planes are equipped with inflated ladder so people can slide down on it in emergency. I put the escaping concept into the straddling bus. It is the fastest way to escape.

The bus can save up to 860 ton of fuel per year, reducing 2,640 ton of carbon emission. Presently we have passed the first stage demonstration and will get through all of the technical invalidation by the end of August. Beijing’s Mentougou District is carrying out a eco-community project, it has already planned out 186 km for our straddling bus. Construction will begin at year end. (via chinahush)

Best Design – Mode Folding Bicycle

Posted in design by aldorf on July 5, 2010

Winner of an iF Gold Award. Designed for Pacific Cycles by Mark Sanders. The man behind the Strida Bike. Now folding bikes really become an option. The bike has a special handle so you can wheel it around much like airport luggage. With its green credentials and compact shape, Sanders says, the features and “uncluttered aesthetic offer a radical new image of what a bicycle can be.”

Scrap The Phone Book

Posted in ideas, Media by aldorf on June 20, 2010

“I can’t remember the last time I used a phone book.”

The Yellow Pages industry dropped 540 million printed directories this year. That’s more than one per person. With the Internet available literally in our hands, is this acceptable?

If you are in the U.S., here is a link to be removed from the printed directory mailing list of Yellow Pages

What is Geoengineering?

Posted in ideas, your take on... by aldorf on June 13, 2010

It’s human manipulation of the climate. Scientist believe it could be a way of slowing down global warming while efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue. Cloud whitening is one example. Geo engineers are proposing to use off-shore vessels to pump sea spray into the atmosphere. The salt particles in the spray would in theory help to form brighter clouds that reflect more sunlight back into space, thus having a cooling effect on climate. Unfortunately scientists from the University of Leeds and the Finnish Meteorological Institute found that generate brighter clouds may actually hinder natural cloud formation in some areas.

Start-Up Young Urban Farmers Helps Manage Your Backyard Veggies

Posted in architecture, food, ideas by aldorf on May 31, 2010

Toronto-based startup, Young Urban Farmers, are changing the way urbanites eat, one backyard at a time. Fresh university graduates Chris Wong, Nancy Huynh, and Jing Loh noticed an underserved market in terms of people looking to set up vegetable gardens but not knowing where to start. They threw together a business plan, went door-to-door marketing (in addition to social media use) to garner attention, and now, the green-friendly small business is really starting to take off. (via The Globe and Mail)

Earth Day 2010: Pedestrians Generate Their Own Street Lighting

Posted in architecture, ideas by aldorf on April 22, 2010

Toulouse, in south-east France, is experimenting a new pedestrian crossing system.

The local authorities have set up a temporary pavement made from eight suspended Plexiglas slabs. The vibration caused by walking on the plates sets off a series of vertical and micro movements which are converted into electricity. That is enough to generate up to 50 watts, sufficient to illuminate a set of LEDs and a street light.

The system is supplied by the Dutch company, Sustainable Dance Club who gained their reputation by setting up anexperimental energy-generating dance floor where part of the lighting was supplied by the movement of the dancers themselves.

Ben & Jerry’s Board Member Terry Mollner on the Sweetness of a Values-Led Business

Posted in ideas by aldorf on January 27, 2010

Ecosia – Green Search Engine

Posted in ideas, web by aldorf on January 23, 2010

Fight global warming by searching the Internet, what a great idea! The Ecosia search engine is based on technology from Yahoo and Bing, which will provide the search results and sponsored links for the site. But unlike conventional search engines, the company has pledged to donate at least 80 per cent of the income it generates from sponsored links to WWF Rainforest Protection Projects in Brazil’s Amazonas region. “An average internet user can protect about 2,000 square metres of rainforest every year by using Ecosia – this is about the size of an ice hockey field. If only one per cent of global internet users accessed Ecosia for their web searches, we could save a rainforest area as big as Switzerland each year” said a spokesman for WWF.

The Leaf, Zero Emission Car by Nissan

Posted in ideas by aldorf on January 6, 2010

The Leaf will go for 100 miles in standard driving conditions on a single charge of the lithium-ion battery that powers the engine, at a cost of $0.90 per recharge. It is said to accelerate like a V6. Production of the Leaf at Smyrna, USA, is not expected to start until 2012. Read more about it on Huffington Post.

%d bloggers like this: