What’s ugly?

velib2.jpg Would you find lots of oval shaped stations popping up all over the place in your city an eyesore?  And they have advertising on them.

Still, I reckon you wouldn’t.  You see they’re bike exchange stations and in Paris they’ve got them every 300 metres or so.  And I just know that beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, but also in the eye of the beholder of the purpose of the ugliness.

How do I know this?  Because I live in Melbourne.  And Melbourne trams require wires overhead to do their trundling down the street.  And people like all those overhead wires.  Indeed they celebrate them. And they like trams even though buses cost less and are more convenient in many ways.

Meanwhile, things weren’t so hunky for Optus when they were installing much less intrusive overhead cables back in the 1990s. I’m not complaining by the way.  I like tram cables, and find that the way I’m connected to the ground with rails and steel wheels somehow more comforting than being in a bus.

In the meantime although the Paris bike swap program doesn’t seem to make much environmental or economic sense, there’s something that pushes it over the line commercially.  Those ads on the stations. And my guess is that while people might dislike ads in lots of other places, like those overhead wires in Melbourne intersections, those Parisians kind of like the ads.  I’d probably be the same.

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Rex
Rex
13 years ago

The Germans have managed to do the same things as the Parisiens without needing the Kiosk and the expensive auto locking bike stands. Deutchr Bahn offer a service where you first call a hotline and register.

Whenever you find an available bike you call the hotline. They give you an unlock code for the wheel lock and away you go. When you’re finished you lock it up to a traffic sign or whatever and tell them you’re done.

It lacks the communal gathering place vibe of the Paris scenario – but seems a pretty efficient idea to me.

dr faustus
13 years ago

Since moving to Canberra from Melbourne, one of the things I really miss is trams. Especially having lived in Carlton, Richmond and Brunswick, trams were my only form of transportation (other than Shank’s Pony) for many, many years.

Canberra has buses, but they’re just not the same. There is something about a tram line which says, “at some point, a tram will come past here”. They seem much more available than buses (even though they can actually be quite irregular).

What I don’t miss is driving behind trams, or driving on a road which has tram tracks in the wet.

Still, there is talk in Canberra about installing a light rail (only talk – it’s an election year), which would be a great thing. But it may make me miss my trams even more.

(Bikes are very popular in Canberra too, but I know too many people who have been hit riding bikes to feel comfortable riding on a road myself.)

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

I’ve got a lovely huge-format photo artwork a mate of mine did featuring wires. It’s called Look up – wires!. It’s cool.

Just sayin’

wilful
wilful
13 years ago

I’m not sure how you could say it doesn’t make economic sense, “except for the ads”. They were always part and parcel of it, it wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And the CO2 emissions are only a small part of the environmental sense, there’s a lot more to the environment than carbon emissions – health, livability, etc.

The Optus cables complaints were for suburban residential streets with a lot less clutter. Big difference. One of the things about new suburbs that is pleasant is that all the linear infrastructure is hidden underground. Much nicer, and in the long run cost effective.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

I agree wilful – even if CO2 emissions weren’t a problem, there’s dozens of good environmental, economic and qualify-of-life reasons for encouraging people out of cars and into bicycles. Driving in Paris is bad enough already – I’d wager if all trips currently taken by bicycle were done in cars instead, Paris would be almost unliveable, and everyone would be unfit and overweight (indeed, one of the things I enjoyed about Paris is seeing people that look fit and healthy – and not occasionally stunning!).

Joe D
Joe D
13 years ago

In Marseilles and Montpellier the same things aren’t particularly noticeable and they have no ads, but they seem to be popular (lots of tourists and students) so maybe the numbers do pay for it all there, or there is a subsidy. It is a shame the bikes are so heavy but no-one seems to mind.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

I have my doubts about the business model – I suspect lots of hidden local/state government subsidies. In Melb (australia) I’d be worried about mindless vandalism (as opposed to the other kind of vandalism) and lumpy demand.

I’d say they will go crazy on St Kilda Rd between Flinders Street and St Kilda Junction where the trams are always chockers, and often don’t stop because they are full, and the road is flat and has side lanes. I can’t see much demand for grabbing one at Swanston or Elizebeth and riding UP Collins.

pablo
13 years ago

Overhead wires might have their optical appeal but for me the aural memory of cycling down a Joghjakarta main road, 6+ abreast in the 1970’s with only the sound of bicycle bells. Ohhh if only such a repeat were possible in 2010. The europeans have kicked off but how far are we behind?

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Of course, the sad reality is that the Chinese and Indians are converting from bicycles to cars at a far faster rate than the rest of the world could hope to go the other way.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

SadHappy reality for those fortunate enough to be buying the cars in question.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Well yes, everybody’s happy when they buy their first car. It’s only once they realise the consequences of millions and millions of people doing so over a long period of time that they’re likely to have any regrets.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Regrets that the other people did, like you are having now, sure.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

I have no regrets, just annoyed that governments have consistently provided far more for cars than other forms of transport over the last century.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Ah, the woes and perils of state intervention – I feel your pain!

;)

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Actually, I don’t doubt at all that if it had been left entirely to individuals and private businesses to look after all transport infrastructure over the last 100 years it would be a lot more varied and less car-centric than it is now. But no city in the world has been able to pull off such a feat, AFAIK.

Kevshot
13 years ago

Action: Solar Conversion of households

Solution: Government loans recoverable through personal tax and / or upon sale of house.

Action Closure of CBD to daytime traffic

Solution Closure of CBD between 07.00am 7.00pm, improved public
transportation & allowing electric vehicles. Parking sites for
electric vehicles with recharge facility.

Action Conversion of Schools to Solar energy

Solution: Costs met from infrastructure and building funds, will allow schools to generate
income for the school during holidays through on selling to electric grids.

Action: Allowing electric scooters to be used in suburbs without registration or licence
requirements

Solution Govt to legalise electric scooters for road use without registration or licence
requirements

Action: Giving our Farmers a way out of financial trouble

Solution: Guiding entities interested in Solar or Wind Farming to lease arrangements with
farmers currently requiring Govt assistance.

Then we have street lighting, telephone boxes, sports oval lighting Government buildings all of which can be converted to alternative energy.

So what are the drawbacks, the initial cost of course is a drawback, this is where the Government needs to show the way and provide a scheme to help all.

The one thing they must not do is limit it to socio-economic groups, for a bold plan to reduce emissions to work, we need to forget about means testing the assistance to install conversions.

However, instead make the repayment terms match the financial circumstances of the people involved. This will ensure we all convert and this is a must to ensure a national action plan that will show the world that Australia is able to address the hard issues with true economic leadership as well as the easy.

I am unable to provide specific costing for these Actions and Solutions , however, I believe I have shown how to make a appropriate impact on emission reductions without making the public pay higher taxes as would be the case as a result of a ETS which does not in fact address the problem at the core and therefore is an inadequate proposal for its purpose in Australia.

It should be noted that I am not suggesting a mass giveaway by the Government, but instead a series of Government loans with simple recovery solutions. This will allow near to immediate reductions of Emissions, generate employment in the alternate energy companies, reduce household costs effectively in a shorter time period, force current fossil fueled Electricity suppliers to action changes in their production almost immediately.

It would be easy to service as the Government would be able to recover its debt through personal taxation or at the time of sale of the property involved. It would however be obligated to provide special funding grants to hospitals, schools etc to assist with their conversion. Due to the capacity of schools to generate income during holiday periods, this could be offset against their funding providing savings back to the Government..

As can be seen a majority of the funding the Government will supply is recoverable through the taxes of the individuals who actually have benefited. This makes it unusual as it is fair on the taxpayers who have not benefited from these loans, or have already repaid their loans. It is not unfair to those that have taken the initiative and already converted their homes without Government assistance, as these people will not be required to pay higher taxes to assist those that have not already converted.

Even the School conversions will provide long term Government savings to the funding they will require, due to the generation of income during school holidays.

Therefore apart from the initial short term capital required by the Government to fund these measures, generally the overall impact will be minimal over the long term due to the repayable nature of these loans.

Kevin