Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

New MiEV in San Francisco Driveway

Monday, March 14th, 2011
New MiEV in driveway in SF

New MiEV in driveway in SF

It’s becoming a regular occurrence. One of us comes down early in the morning and we spy a new electric vehicle in the driveway of Plug In America and solar guru Marc Gellar. This time, we got to check out the new MiEV from Mitsubishi. This international version (slightly smaller than the US version) looks to be the perfect size for San Francisco or any city commute.

The MiEV looks somewhat larger than the Smart car but seems to be a better size in terms of size and comfort. It contains four seats, and even if four tall people can’t squeeze in, it sure can fit a few bags of groceries. Marc mentioned that it offers a surprising amount of giddyap, and also told us that it can go about 80 miles between charges which is enough to visit to the East Bay and back.

Of course, price gets everyones’ attention and the MiEV. We heard that  Mitsubishi dealer in San Rafael will have these electric puppies available in November and should come in less than $20K mark with the federal credits.

The one thing that that gets us is on the back of the car it states “40 years of EV development”. So, what have they been doing for the last 39 years? Waiting for gas that’s $5 a gallon.

Nisson Leaf Electric Car Sits In Driveway

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
New Nisson Leaf

New Nisson Leaf

Stay calm. It’s not every day that we get the photo op of a new 100% electric Leaf in someone’s actual driveway. Yes, one of our neighbors who happen to be a knowledgeable electric car guy for Plug In America always seems to use his driveway for a showcase of the newest electric cars.

A few weeks ago he had a Volt sitting there. From time to time he’ll have electric bikes and motorcycles offering tourists and locals in the Lower Haight something sustainable to gawk at.

It’s great to see electric cars on the streets and driveways and out of the showrooms. Hopefully, we’ll see more charging stations out in the cities because without more charging stations people won’t cross over from their gas guzzler. We’re just hoping that some time soon we’ll see charging stations replace gas stations (e.g. A Better Place) and also that he’ll give us ride in his new wheels.

Tour de Fat – Beer and Bikes in San Francisco

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Wanted to post for Eco Monday but had too much beer and biking over the recent weekend for us to stick to our schedule. Fortunately, the Tour de Fat stuck to its (or is it their) schedule.

In all honesty, a few of us made but we completely missed the festive ride but we did make it in time to celebrate the beer and bike happenings in Golden Gate Park. Let it be known that happiness reined not just because Mother Nature cooperated with a balmy 85 degrees and the cold New Belgium beer poured freely but because the stages where Mucca Pazza (like the Stanford marching band on acid or steroids) and other performed came via solar energy. The festival pretty much marks on off the grid show which makes the merriment even more merry.

On this day, bikes ruled. It might have seemed odd for some to see a young lady go up on stage an sign way the pink slip to her Toyota Corolla for for a spanking new bike courtesy of New Belgium. Some may think that isn’t a fair trade when the lady mentioned how she only drove her car in order to avoid parking tickets, we think that she may have gotten the better end of the deal.

If more festivals had this smarts to play off the grid and promoting sustainable transportation then we would all be happy to purchase just one more beer.

Photo courtesy SFbike

Great Plastic Adventure Completes Journey

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Plastiki arrival in Sydney

Plastiki arrival in Sydney

It seemed like just a short while ago that David De Rothschild set sail from San Francisco aboard his boat made of 12,500 plastic PET bottles, the Plastiki touched base in the planned destination of Sydney the other day.

De Rothschild and his crew completed the historic expedition in four legs: San Francisco – Kiribati – Western Samoa – New Caledonia before reaching the Australian Coast (Mooloolaba) on Monday 19 July and continuing on to Sydney. The innovative catamaran carrying a crew of six made its trip without major incident.

De Rothschild’s inspiration for this journey came after reading the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) report ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’. His journey included sailing through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

While most cruise ships maintain poor to awful records of creating pollution the Plastiki set out to educate people about the use and misuse of plastic bottles. The Plastiki which uses core principles of “cradle-to-cradle” design and biomimicry receives 68% of her buoyancy from 12,500 reclaimed plastic soft drink bottles and the super structure is made of a unique recyclable plastic material made from a self-reinforcing PET called Seretex.

Hopefully more people will put down their two liter plastic soda bottles to realize how much plastic we overuse in our throwaway society and how we can move toward inspired ideas as a sustainable alternative.

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi Creates Buzz at Churchill Club

Monday, July 19th, 2010
Shai Agassi and Mark Johnson

Shai Agassi and Mark Johnson

Sometimes when walking into a room you can just feel the buzz and in this case the buzz came from the talk of electric cars and batteries by Better Place CEO Shai Agassi. We actually heard about this guy sometime ago with his vision to make zero emission vehicles a worldwide standard. Seeing Agassi in person at the Churchill Club event on July 15, moderated by Mark Johnson of Innosight, offered insight into Agassi’s thinking and business model of his company and infrastructure that will allow the electric car to move from back of the bus status into a major transportation option.

Americans simply don’t want to give up their $20,000 pollution emitting cars due to convenience. Americans don’t consider the $40 of black gold that they fork out each week to fill their tanks. Add that amount up versus the price of a rechargeable electric battery and the car expense seems less prohibitive. In terms of car expense, Agassi mentions that when the electric car is priced like a 3-year old gas car, then we will hit a tipping point. The cost to recharge batteries is based on “cheap electricity” like charging a battery in the middle of the night, so the costs are less. Even before the BP disaster, the cost to extract oil keeps rising and costs 20 times more to get than any other energy source.

Agassi made an interesting technology analogy where in the past we used snail mail, then moved to faxes, then to email and similarly we went from gas cars to hybrids and now we won’t move back to gas cars but forward to more technology driven electric cars. Agassi claims that each year batteries have improved eight percent so eventually we wont need (battery) switch stations.

Of course, the US and the moribund US automakers will take a wait and see attitude. Renault has put forth 15 percent of its R&D budget to work on the electric cars. The last company chief who put 15% of the R &D to a non-existing product was Steve Jobs (Ipod, Ipad). Agassi whose switch stations now dot Israel and Denmark said that the electric car versus the end of using oil would be a huge factor that determines the survival of the US dollar and US economy. If we can get crawl out form the oil wells and at least offer the same oil type incentives (subsidies) to people like Agassi and the electric car industry, then America and other counties will definitely find themselves in a Better Place.

Maker Faire Draws Sustainable, Inspiring Inventors and Artists

Monday, May 24th, 2010
Mousetrap at Makers Faire

Mousetrap at Maker Faire

Unbelievable but true but this past weekend marked the first time that we attended the Maker Faire. True, in terms of numbers, we only stand a few behind those Makers who’ve made it there since its inception. Our Green posse scurried from the ingenious to downright crazy exhibits. For us Maker virgins, Donna our unofficial group leader for the day, mentioned that people might place this fair somewhere between Burning Man and Exploritorium. That description nailed it.

Why do we love this event and can’t believe that we hadn’t attended before? Not only did we encounter mad scientists of a sort but because almost every artist, scientist, inventor at the fair reuses, repurposes, and recycles other object to create art, cleaning robots, giant mousetraps, and transportation (mostly creatively built bikes).

Even the entertainment had a sustainable element with a solar stage but we caught the band Fossil Fuel at the Human Powered Stage where the bands powered their instruments and amps from bicycle powered generators. That way, we earned our music. Maybe people should try this with their TV so they would have some incentive to exercise.

Now, we can’t be sure about how sustainable it is to jolt 1,000,000 volts of electricity from two five foot Tesla Coils into a guy wearing a grounded metallic suit but the sheer spectacle of watching the long electrical arcs made us think how the electro guy might be able to creatively energize a small town.

Seeing all of the innovations like Algaelab which creates a personal algae photo-bioreactor and the not so practical but highly amusing inventions like the giant mousetrap made us believe that humans can still create mind-boggling inventions and art while not using up precious resources.

Checking Out the Treasure Island Music Festival Green Flavor

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

It’s getting to be almost a cliché here in San Francisco with large music festivals that have either a green backbone or a heck of lot of social justice behind it. Both Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass sit only slightly in the rear view mirror but this weekend we hit the Treasure Island Music Festival to check out the music, happenings and the overall Green flavor.

Considering that several thousand people crammed into the festival space on Treasure Island we think that overall they handled the transportation issue in a pretty Green way. We made our way to the festival via zero-emission Bauer buses that picked most of the masses up at AT&T Park. The only real griping we heard came from East Bay attendees who said that they had to drive or take BART to SF instead of having shuttle buses come to the East Bay as well.

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Outside Lands – Day 2 – Bands and Sustainability

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Live from Outside Lands day two (Green posse in tow), today we focus on some of the artists. After all, for most people Outside Lands remains about the music. But unlike many festivals or shows Outside Lands offers a significant numbers of bands and singers who either have some direct social justice, environmental or artistic causes that they support or create.

Pearljam, who rocked us (despite poor Eddie Veder’s scratchy throat) last night has been offsetting their tours since 2006. The social and environmentally minded rockers fight corporate monopolies, create and cover songs with social and environmental angles (no surprise that they they covered Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” among other tunes last night), and donate even donate their bank to alt energy projects.

Tonight, another powerhouse in the sustainable movement the Dave Matthews Band hits the main stage. These band helped start a project called the Bama Green Project which maintains a partnership between Reverb and IZSTYLE, and encompasses various environmental efforts that the band commits to while on the road, in the studio and at home. The DMB and the Bama Green Project works on educating DMB fans around the world about how to take simple and positive environmental actions.  It’s good to know that we have some help in this educational environmental thing.

It’s not all about the big bands, smaller bands such as Blind Pilot, who toured the West Coast twice now on their bicycles, Lila Downs (who unfortunately canceled at the last minute) creates education funds for women down in Oaxaca Mexico), and West Indian Girl did their last tour with a bio diesel RV.

Hopefully, Outside Lands and other festivals will invite more bands with a social and environmental conscience. Sure the music is important but it doesn’t mean that the bands can’t do something good for someone or something else as well.

Back to work as the music continues…..

Two to Tango – All Electric, Way Fast, But Pricey

Monday, August 17th, 2009

small  electric car

It was a one in 20 chance encounter.  I felt like a paparazzi who got a chance to spy a celebrity but in this instance my camera caught a shot of the Tango, the car that makes look the Smart Car look like a Lincoln Continental.  Only about 10-20 Tangos exists which makes the sighting more special. Actually my neighbor (a solar guy who already drives an EV-4) had the thing in his driveway in the Lower Haight and a crowd of passersby, tourists, and green auto enthusiasts formed around this electric only car.

As they say, looks can be deceiving. My neighbor said that the Tango can beat a Tesla in terms of acceleration. The Tango can accelerate from zero to over 130 mph in one gear. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. We say Zoom to that.

Don’t think that just because this little guy is small that it isn’t safe. Okay, relatively safe. It contains a crash tested roll cage (like they use for race cars). More importantly is comfort. You’d think that anyone sitting in the back would be subjected to eating their knees but the back seat allows more room than one might guess with the running boards for legroom. (more…)

Top 10 EcoPrinciples for Communities

Friday, February 6th, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, a real estate prices dropping, green communities and green building will become more important. It’s easy to see how broken our current community model is in terms of the urban sprawl; the average American commute continues to grow longer. Between 1969 and 2001, the number of vehicle miles traveled for commuting jumped from 4,180 to 5,720.

The Sierra Club notes that today’s average American driver spends what amounts to 55 eight hour workdays behind the wheel every year. Gas won’t stay at the current level so we need to look at developing more sustainable communities.

San Francisco area architect Michelle Kaufmann & Kelly Melia-Teevan came up with a top 10 (sorry Letterman) EcoPrinciples for Communities.

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