“Edward Burtynsky: Oil” – Striking Photo Exhibit opens Saturday at Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art

October 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

(Source: AP via Yahoo & DC-ist)

Image Courtesy: www.EdwardBurtynsky.com - Click the image to see more pictures

“Edward Burtynsky: Oil,” opens at the privately funded museum as Congress is struggling with a climate bill that could include a “cap and trade” system to reduce greenhouse gases. Critics say it could drive up energy costs.

“We hoped that there would be something going on around oil,” curator Paul Roth said of the museum’s plans for the exhibit beginning two years ago. “At a certain point, we realized, no, it’s Washington and it’s oil. There will be something going on.”

Burtynsky spent 12 years exploring the subject, following past projects on mines, quarries and farming. The images are divided thematically to show how oil is extracted from the earth and how it drives transportation and development. It ends with a frightening thought — the end of oil.  Some of the most striking images depict the abandoned, rusting oil fields of Azerbaijan in 2006, where the earth has been tapped dry.

Burtynsky’s large-scale, sweeping landscape photographs deftly allow us to “see” oil, both in each powerful individual scene, and together in a longer narrative, which is how the Corcoran has set up his exhibit. In the first gallery, oil fields in California and Houston and refineries in New Brunswick set the scene. In mostly aerial shots, oil rigs dot an otherwise barren landscape fading all the way into remarkable horizons, marking the beginning of the “lifecycle.”  The refineries are highly organized labyrinths of green and silver pipes that look like fine jewelry.

The second gallery, “Transportation and Motor Culture,” is perhaps the highlight of the exhibit. Here, the work alternates between earnest, plain-spoken statements – the obscene, gigantic landfill of black rubber tires – and his “culture” shots that tap into a bit of dark humor. Images of Talladega Speedway, a Volkswagon parking lot, the motorcycle section at a KISS concert, and a Trucker’s Jamboree are all incredible and amusing scenes, dedicated to cultures where the engine sits on the altar. In a way, the images are a tribute to the innovations that began with oil: the extraordinary vehicles in the Bonneville Land Speed-Trials, the intricate architecture of the Nanpu Bridge Interchange in Shanghai. In another way, they’re shameful and embarrassing even to look at: airplane and helicopter graveyards; a Pennsylvania interchange packed with gas station on top of gas station, where no actual people live for miles and miles. It’s a culture not just of extraordinary innovation but of gross excess, and where that line is drawn is not for Burtynsky to say, it’s for each of us to decide and embrace.

The third gallery is a forecast of our future, if we can’t ever find that line. While the first two galleries contain images taken almost solely in the U.S. and Canada (Burtynsky is Canadian), this gallery is mostly Bangladesh, where massive oil tankers go to die. Men and even very young boys earn wages by breaking down the ships in incredibly dangerous and ugly work. In an image called Recycling #2, three young men stand in black sludge up to their ankles, an almost sickly laughable twist on what most Americans consider the clean and pure act of “recycling.”

Image Courtesy: www.EdwardBurtynsky.com - Click the image to see more pictures

Click here to explore more about  Mr. Burtynsky and his impeccable work.

Note:  Oil opens October 3 and runs through December 13. Tomorrow, hear Edward Burtynsky and Dr. William Rees (contributor to the exhibition catalog) speak about the exhibit at 4 p.m. $10, or free with gallery admission. The Corcoran Gallery of Art is located at 500 17th Street NW, see web site for hours and admission.

Lights, Camera, Action! Dazzling new Union Station Bike Transit Center added to Washington, DC’s growing bike infrastructure

October 3, 2009 at 3:35 pm

(Source: Examiner, DC-ist)

City officials gathered Friday morning to open the new Union Station Bike Transit Center, the first secure bicycle parking facility of its kind on the East Coast.  The inside of the helmet-shaped facility includes secure parking for over 100 bikes, about 50 rentable lockers, a relatively spacious changing room, and a bike repair shop that is available to the general public, as well as members.

The Post offers more basic details: it’s 1,700 square feet, costs $100 per year for membership, and will contain changing rooms, personal lockers, and a bike repair shop.  All good things, though it’s a shame they couldn’t find a way to include some showers.

DC Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein noted that 60 people had already signed up for memberships to the facility before it even opened today, as evidence of the potential demand for this kind of service in Washington.  Memberships currently cost $96 for a full year, or $12 per month. All members are additionally charged a $20 annual administrative fee. You can also purchase $1 daily passes in increments of $10 (in other words, 10 days worth of access for $10, 30 days worth of access for $30, and so on). You should normally receive your membership card in the mail about five business days after applying, though this early registration process could take a little longer. Membership cards allow users 24/7 access to the parking area.

The beautiful new facility elicited the following comments (courtesy of Examiner):

  • The Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock compares the Bike Station to a space ship that “took a wrong turn at the Mall and parked next to the train station.”
  • The Washington Business Journal points out that the DC Bikestation is part of a nationwide network that includes 12 other stations and 200 expected within the next five years. That, perhaps more than this particular bike station, is a significant story that reporters ought to be following.
  • DCist spoke with Andrea White-Kjoss, the CEO of Mobis/Bikestation who says the station “represents D.C’s big statement about what they want to do for bicyclists in the city.”

Click here to read more and here to see some additional pictures of the bike center.

Mid-air Melee! Pilot, cabin crew member scuffles on Air India flight, injured

October 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

(Source: Rediff & Economictimes)

A pilot and the member of a cabin crew were injured when they scuffled with each other mid-air on Air India’s flight from Sharjah to Lucknow on Saturday morning.

“A pilot and a cabin crew of Air India’s IC-884 Sharjah-Lucknow-Delhi flight were injured after they had a scuffle over some issues mid-air,” an airline official told PTI.

The incident took place at around 0430 hours when the flight was over Pakistan, he said adding the flight with 106 passengers and seven crew member had left for Lucknow at 0035 hours Sharjah time.

The flight reached Lucknow at 0600 hours where the matter was reported. The airline management has de-rostered the pilot and the cabin crew member till the investigation into the incident was over.

Click here to read the entire article.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Friday, October 2, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Ohio Turnpike Working Out E-ZPass Kinks

Link to AP article:



2) In New York City, Advice on Sensitivity for Traffic Agents

Link to article in The New York Times:



3) New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Lawmakers Push for Dirty-Bomb Alarms

Link to article in the Daily News:



4) MARTA Launches Color-Coded Rail System

Link to article in Metro Magazine:


5) Next Train in How Long? More New York City Subway Riders to Know Soon

Link to article in The New York Times:



6) EU Adopts Fuel Efficiency Label for Tires

Link to article on EurActiv:


News Releases

1) Wyoming DOT Makes ‘511 Notify’ Service Available

Upcoming Events

Webinar: Transit Operations Decision Support Systems (TODSS): A US DOT Pilot Expert System for Transit Bus Fleet Management – October 21


Friday Bonus

There’s a reason the sign with the flashing lights is there.


Today in Transportation History

1984 **25th anniversary** – Soyuz T-11 landed.  The flight carried the first Indian cosmonaut.



The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:  i95berniew@aol.com

TCN archives: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transport-communications

Questions, comments about the TCN? Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at i95berniew@aol.com.

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

French get serious about eletric vehicles with a massive $2.2B “Battle of Electric Cars” plan; Goal: 2 Million Cars, 4 Million Chargers by 2020

October 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

(Sources: Green Car Congress, Red Orbit, & Reuters)

Jean-Louis Borloo, France’s Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, presented a national 14-point plan designed to accelerate the development and subsequent commercialization of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in France.

France will invest 2.5 billion euros ($3.6 billion) over 10 years in research, subsidies and infrastructure development for electric cars as automakers race to get the vehicles on the road, its energy minister said.  Speaking at a presentation of the government’s plans for electric vehicles on Thursday, minister Borloo said the investment would be split between pilot projects, battery production and bonuses for carmakers building green cars.

The investment would also cover the biggest cost, namely adapting the electricity grid to allow for the creation of a million charging points by 2015 and over 4 million by 2020.  Borloo said around half the charging points would be in private homes, with almost as many in offices, as well as 75,000 “back-up” charging points in streets and car parks.

The 14 elements of the plan are:

  1. ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) will launch in early 2010 a new call for projects on infrastructure costs, to support plug-in demonstrators and trials combining infrastructure, applications and target territories, and to validate the functioning of the ecosystem of rechargeable vehicles. Budget: €70 million (US$102 million).
  2. ADEME will establish early in 2010 a roadmap for specific new mobility solutions, dealing with developments in transportation of people or goods, based both on technology (new vehicles, dissemination of renewable energy, electric traction, etc.) and service (Vélib, Carsharing, Carpool, etc.) ADEME will then launch a new call for projects, with a budget of €25 million (US$36 million).
  3. Renault will establish a Li-ion battery factory in Flins, in partnership with CEA (France’s Atomic Energy Commission), at an investment of €625 million. This site may produce more than 100,000 batteries per year. Bolloré, Dassault and Saft are also conducting parallel projects.
  4. A group of large companies and associations of local and state officials are committing to purchase electric vehicles with a range of at least 150 km. The public tenders and private joint purchasing will target a market fleet of 100,000 vehicles by 2015. The first 50,000 are already identified. Led by La Poste, the group includes EPA, Air France, Areva, Bouygues, Darty, EDF, Eiffage, France Telecom, GDF SUEZ, SNCF, SPIE, UGAP, Veolia, Vinci, associations and communities represented by Association of Urban Communities of France and the Association of Regions of France.
  5. A €5,000 grant for the purchase of vehicles with CO2 emissions less than or equal to 60 g/km until 2012. Hybrids with CO2 emissions are less than or equal to 135 g may receive a bonus of €2,000, as will LPG or natural gas vehicles.
  6. Availability of a standard outlet to charge the cars outside of the home. Specifically, no charge should be needed at home.
  7. By 2012 the construction of buildings (offices and homes) with compulsory integration of charging systems.
  8. Supporting the installation of charging systems in condominiums.
  9. Compulsory charge points in parking for office buildings by 2015.
  10. Agreement on common European charging standards.
  11. Municipalities to receive support to deploy the public recharging infrastructure.
  12. Organize the operational deployment of the network. €1.5 billion for public infrastructure.
  13. Maximize the use of low-carbon or renewable electricity for recharging vehicles.
  14. Giving batteries and battery materials a second life after their vehicular applications, either through reuse (in grid storage, for example), or recycling.

The unveiling of the so-called “battle of the electric cars” plan follows hard on the heels of another scheme announced just two weeks ago that the French government would invest some seven billion euros ($10 billion USD) in the development of a modern freight-transporting railway system in an effort to reduce congestion on the nation’s roads and highways.

French President Sarkozy also announced his plans for a new carbon tax on businesses and private households that is set to go into effect next year. All three interventions are critical elements of Sarkozy’s “green plan” with which he hopes to drive down France’s dependence on carbon-based fuel and lower its emission of greenhouse gases.

Borloo says that nearly two thirds of the 1.5 billion euros ($2.2 billion USD) needed to fund the program will be procured through state loans set be started next year.

Included in the electric car plan is the construction of roughly a million battery-charging facilities by 2015, some 90 percent of which will be in private homes, while the other ten percent will be installed in car parks and at roadside stations.

Additionally, beginning in 2012, all new apartment buildings with parking lots will come equipped with battery-charging stations. By 2020, the plan’s architects say they hope to have some four million charging points throughout the country—or nearly two per electric car.

The ecology ministry stated in the meeting that the emissions-free sector of the French automobile industry should be worth a whopping 15 billion euros ($21 billion USD) by the year 2030 and constitute an estimated 27 percent of the total market for vehicles.

Click here to read the entire article.

Note: A big heartfelt thanks to our friends at Green Car Congress who made a concerted effort to provide the readers with an English Translation of this 14 point plan.  For those who wonder, this plan and every other material on the Ministry’s website is only available in French.  What’s up with a Government website only published in French? What were these egalitarian and patriotic Frenchies thinking about non-French speakers when they made the decision that things will get published only in French?  Damn, these folks are very biased in that aspect compared to the Americans.  BTW, I wonder what would Glenn Beck say about the French plan if he found out that Sarkozy is spending more money than Obama on improving/modernizing his  country’s transportation infrastructure?

Shout Out to Aha’s Real-Time Traffic Reports! This improved iPhone app let’s you add your own traffic commentary “Shout Outs”

October 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

(Source: Mashable & TechCrunch)

Quick Pitch: Aha Mobile is an iPhone app that taps into the collective wisdom of actual drivers to create customized travel information for you.

Genius Idea: Navigation apps and GPS systems let you know how to get where you’re going, but what about other utilities for drivers who already know the route? Aha Mobile is a service designed to provide useful utilities to drivers while on the road.

Their first product is a free iPhone app that provides details on traffic flow, points of interest nearby, and short audio message “shouts” from other drivers who might have useful information about the route ahead.

The Aha Mobile app is designed for ease of use while driving, although they stress it should only be used when traffic conditions permit (and you’ll want to check your state laws relating to cell phone use in the car as well). With large buttons and graphics in a simple interface, it’s easier to pull out relevant information at a glance than trying to make sense of a small map.

After firing up the app you’ll see 4 buttons: traffic, shout room, nearby, and settings. The latter is where you can enter your personal details, including your Facebook and Twitter accounts for pushing your shouts out to your social networks. Yes, the app itself only has four buttons! It seems to be designed with safety in mind,  and with only 4 buttons it is a lot safer to use at speeds of 65 miles per hour or less. You can preset the roads into your app before you get on the road, so you can automatically access them without taking your eyes off the road to input the information.

Aha also alerts you to nearby food and drinks; pulling in information from Yelp. But if you want to find a coffee place while you are on the road, Aha will simple pull in the four, top-rated coffee shops nearest to your locations, instead of making you scroll through listings. Aha also pulls in bathroom locations from SitOrSquat and info about the locations of red light or speed cameras from Photoenforced.com.

Crowdsourcing traffic information is another compelling part of the app. With the Aha App, drivers simply tap their iPhone, speak for up to 15 seconds and, without taking their eyes off the road, safely broadcast voice messages, known as Aha Shouts, to drivers nearby. For example, if you witnessed an accident on the 101 highway, you could tape a shout and Aha would store this Shout so that another users could access this information when he or she is driving along the same route.  A face icon indicates one or more “shouts” are available for this route, either from other drivers or from industry sources INRIX and Clear Channel. Shouts can include information about how traffic is flowing, congestion, accidents, and other relevant major incidents that might impact your route.

Drivers can now post Aha Shouts automatically to Twitter and Facebook for others to hear. With Aha’s new Facebook and Twitter integration, drivers can customize which types of Shouts go to each of their social networks. One humorous feature of Aha’s app is the “Caraoke” room that lets Aha users record 15 seconds of singing along to any song in the car. Fellow Aha users can see other users’ recordings and you can also publish your “Caraoke” to Twitter or Facebook.

Click here to read the entire article.

TransportGooru Exclusive: Thoughts & observations of a Distracted Driving Summit Participant

October 1, 2009 at 7:12 pm

The following report about the Distracted Driving Summit is prepared Adam Hopps, a transportation whiz, who participated virtually over the past 2 days (September 30 & Oct 1, 2009), tirelessly taking notes while observing the Summit proceedings online.  Shortly after the event finish, Adam e-mailed his observations for sharing it with the rest of the community.  Please note that these are Adam’s thoughts and by no means should be considered as a summary of the event.  Thanks, Adam for helping us stay informed.


Thanks to the US D.O.T.’s efforts at opening up participation in their Distracted Driving Summit, I spent the last two days as one of 5,000 online viewers who watched industry reps, academics, legislators, and policy experts discuss what Secretary LaHood describes as, “the epidemic of distracted driving.”

For those of us not in the building the department also provided an online “chat and tweet room” so that every expert, novice, and personal advocate could give their two cents in response to what was being said live. It’s a perfect symbol of democracy in the Web 2.0 ear, where on one computer screen you can see live a public servant of 20 years desperately trying to convince people to adopt legislation to allow police to enforce drivers who text, while reading “Mark K” write: “We have too many cops. They like things orderly. Freedom is chaotic, so too many cops affects society.”

It’s also a reminder of how transportation is truly a democratic issue – perhaps one of the few issues that affect every individual daily. We all go places every day. We have loved ones who go places. We are doing this constantly, and as the summit pointed out of course, we move dangerously and with reckless behaviors.

The summit drew on a wide variety of people to make this point:

  1. Victims of distracted driving reminding us of the end results
  2. Transportation researchers informing us our risk of accident increases 2300% when we text
  3. Law enforcement officials telling us the type of distraction doesn’t matter – all distractions are deadly
  4. Legislators preaching to us that we need laws to prevent these behaviors
  5. AAA reporting that people do it even though they know it’s dangerous
  6. Wireless companies ensuring us they want to help as much as anyone
  7. Teens sharing with us the life changing effects of their distracted driving.

. . . . And many more people from all areas of the transportation field reminding us that distracted driving kills.

The value of the summit was in the substance of the presenters and the nature of the experience. Even though Secretary LaHood ended the summit by announcing policy changes and an executive order from the President banning all federal officials from texting while driving, these two days were more about the U.S. DOT engaging academia, industry and public officials on an extremely important topic. Sure, there were plenty of Mark K’s commenting wildly in the chat room, but there were also thousands of people discussing the best way to enforce a texting law, or how to really educated teens on driving or even debating the nature of federal transportation laws.

So the people are engaged, we know we need to end distracted driving, but how do we do it? Two major solutions were presented: Do we create a society where law enforcement is responsible for punishing us when we fall to the temptation to text while driving? Or do we make our technology safer and more intuitive and design systems to prevent distractions?

In his closing, Secretary LaHood laid out the end goal: “Driving while distracted should just feel wrong – just as driving without a seat belt or driving while intoxicated.

Click here to read the Secretary’s blog about the summit and to replay the proceedings.

Note: Please register your comments/kudos below for Adam in the comments box below.

Ars Technica: Carbon nanotubes may power ultracapacitor car

October 1, 2009 at 5:42 pm

(Source: Ars Technica; CNET)

At Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week, MIT professor Joel Schindall told the audience at a panel on energy storage why ultracapacitors may have a significant role to play in our transportation future. The good properties of these devices—fast charge/discharge cycles and an essentially unlimited number of cycles—make them a compelling choice for powering an electric vehicle. Schindall also explained why their downside, a far lower charge density than batteries, might not be as much of a problem as it might appear at first glance.

Schindall, who had spent some time away from academics, explained that during his first stint at MIT, a capacitor that could hold 350 Farads would have filled the whole stage. Before he returned, someone working on fuel cells had accidentally produced the first ultracapacitor. Now, with refinements, he was able to walk on stage with a 350 Farad ultracapacitor that was about the size of a D battery. The current generation of devices use activated carbon to hold charges, as its highly complex topology creates a lot of surface area across which charge differences can build up.

Although the improvements have been dramatic, Schindall said that ultracapacitors still badly lag batteries in terms of the storage density, holding only about five percent of the charge per volume of lithium batteris. Which is unfortunate, because they have some properties that would make them excellent for a variety of applications, including very rapid charging and the ability to withstand many more charge cycles than a battery. Schindall claimed they could be recharged indefinitely, since “greater than a million times, to me, is indefinite.”

Schindall’s research group has focused on replacing the disordered structure of activated carbon with a more ordered one that can increase the packing: carbon nanotubes. His research group has developed a vapor deposition process that can grow densely packed, vertically oriented clusters of carbon nanotubes on conducting surfaces. Current industrial processes for the production of carbon nanotubes tend to produce a variety of diameters and lengths, but Schindall told Ars that the process his group has developed keeps everything very regular—he was actually surprised by how even the lengths were.

In the U.S., early-stage companies designing the materials and electrolytes for ultracapacitors include Graphene Energy,EnerG2, and Ioxus. Much hyped EEStor, backed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has signed asupply deal with electric vehicle company Zenn, although its products are still not commercially available.

Compared to batteries, ultracapacitors can’t store a lot of energy, so they wouldn’t typically be used alone to run plug-in electric vehicles. On the other hand, ultracapacitors are “power dense,” which means that they can discharge the energy they do have quickly. Conversely, they can be recharged quickly–in seconds or minutes, and with almost no degradation in performance over time, say backers.

Schindall projects that ultracapacitors eventually will be able to store as much as 25 percent of the energy of batteries, a jump he said would be “disruptive.” Right now, nanostructures developed by MIT researchers can hold twice as much energy as activated carbon. In the coming months, his team expects to show it can hold five times the energy as activated carbon, he said.

Click here to read the entire article.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Thursday, October 1, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Cockpit Chatter Cited in Six Crashes

Link to article in USA Today:



2) E-ZPass System Implemented on Ohio Turnpike

Link to article in the Daily Kent Stater:



3) EU Launches Free Satellite System to Fine-Tune GPS

Link to Reuters article:


Link to news release from the EU:



4) Golden Pylon Awards Recognize Los Angeles-Area Traffic Reporters

Link to article in the Los Angeles Times:



5) ‘Slow Down’: The Message from Construction Flagger Protest in Vancouver, British Columbia

Link to story on CKWX Radio:


6) Albany, New York Police to Flash Defendants’ Names on Roadway Signs

Link to story and video on WRGB-TV:



7) Government Seeks State Anti-Distracted Driving Laws

Link to AP article:


8) Obama Bars Fed Workers from Texting and Driving

Link to article in Computerworld:


9) Oregon Protects Communities From Deadly Chemical Weapons with Massive Wi-Fi Network

Link to article in Government Technology:



10) SEPTA Moves a Step Closer to ‘Smart Cards’

Link to article in The Philadelphia Inquirer:



11) Google Testing Car Charging Software, Links to PowerMeter

Link to article on Seeking Alpha:


News Releases

1) American Drivers Happy, but Would Welcome Improvements


Request for Response – Mass511 Traveler Information System – Massachusetts Highway Department


Upcoming Events

AAAE Airport/Seaport Cruise Ship Conference – December 7-9 – Miami


Today in Transportation History

1969 **40th anniversary** – The Concorde broke the sound-barrier for the first time.



The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to: TCNL-subscribe@googlegroups.com

TCN archives: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transport-communications

Questions, comments about the TCN? Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at i95berniew@aol.com.

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast