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Making Cars More Efficient


Photon Guy
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1 minute ago, Peterkin said:

No, they obviously want a safe, fast, clean, quiet commuter train with comfortable seats, plenty of leg-room, a holder for one's thermos and good lights to do the crossword, maybe a changing cubicle in case they jogged to the station instead of taking one of shuttles..... 

That's if they're still commuting to a downtown office in that enlightened retrofuture.

Like the London Underground you mean ?

How many people can you get on such a train ?

So how many trains would you need ?

And what would you do with them for the rest of the day ?

And what is the minimum timing interval between running several such trains on a line?

So have you really solved the peak demand problem ?

Transport orgasnisations have been wrestling with this problem since there were transport organisations.

The History of the London Experience is particularly illuminating and is the reason London grew to be such a large urban area.

 

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14 minutes ago, exchemist said:

.... As my previous posts have pointed out, the elements are already there: services such as Uber and Zipcar are already popular. (Zipcar and Uber have systems to clean cars, obviously. It works already today. So this objection is not real.) As @CharonYpoints out a few posts up, Singapore and New York already show the trends I have in mind. 

Once it works well in the cities, it can expand from there. Don't forget also that the next generation of potential car owners - people like my 18yr old son- are questioning very seriously whether they should have a car at all, due to environmental impact.

 

I think car-sharing of any kind will still be difficult for young families,  where you have babies and small children that tend to be accompanied by large amounts of equipment and paraphernalia, often the sort of stuff that families just keep handy in their personal vehicles.   The 18 year old who's happy with ordering a ride like a pizza,  may be less happy as a 30 year old with a baby and a dog and a seven year old with a cello.   And blankets,  chew toy for the dog,  snacks,  soccer ball (for the park,  after the music lesson), milk bottle, emergency shirts (when the baby vomits on you), and ten other things I haven't thought of.   So it's possible that there will still be phases of life when your own dirty cluttered car may be desirable.  (or people will adopt a culture where less equipage is deemed necessary and cello-like sounds come from instruments that fold neatly into a small backpacks...) 

Don't get me wrong,  I would love an affordable form of Uber (which Uber in the USA has ceased to be in the past year), at this point in my life (now much simpler than the scenario I conjured) where I walk and bike enough that the car sits idle in the driveway most of the week.   

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2 hours ago, studiot said:

Like the London Underground you mean ?

From a suburb? No, I was thinking more along the lines of a commuter train , which can be under, on, or above the ground.

 

2 hours ago, studiot said:

How many people can you get on such a train ?

About 1000 per train. If all 10,000 in a single bedroom community start work at the same time and leave home at the same time (which strikes me as a somewhat Stepfordish arrangement, as well as a biggish suburb of all office workers), they'd either have to put ten trains on that run, with dangerously close departure times, or put more cars on each train. A difficult logistical problem, I agree.

 

2 hours ago, studiot said:

And what would you do with them for the rest of the day ?

 One option: the same as what you do with all the private cars: park them someplace. Except in a parking lot that doesn't eat up enormous amounts of downtown prime real estate and they get vacuumed. Of course, some of them could take children to school and music lessons, tourists to the museums, midwives to house-calls, pilgrims to a cathedral and house-persons to grocery and other shopping trips and so forth.  

 

2 hours ago, studiot said:

And what is the minimum timing interval between running several such trains on a line?

I have no idea. The Japanese, Taiwanese, Torontonian and Paris transport authorities probably have it down to the second.

 

2 hours ago, studiot said:

So have you really solved the peak demand problem ?

Oh, no! I have suggested one possible solution which has been carried on successfully by some cities for about 150 years, implemented less successfully by others, and made a complete hash of by some. 

 

2 hours ago, TheVat said:

I think car-sharing of any kind will still be difficult for young families,  where you have babies and small children that tend to be accompanied by large amounts of equipment and paraphernalia, often the sort of stuff that families just keep handy in their personal vehicles.

When the whole family goes on an outing, they can order a minivan just for their particular destination. Bonus: they don't have to lug the kids and baggage from the far end of a multi-acre parking lot to the entrance of the arena or park. If they're going camping, they can sign one of the community vehicles out for a weekend or a week. People who intend do this every weekend should probably invest in their own private transport, but that doesn't mean everyone else needs to. Anyway, I doubt the little brother, dog, spare clothes etc. are needed on the way to every cello lesson, or that the cello has to come along to the science museum.

What's wrong with custom fitting?

Edited by Peterkin
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8 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Oh, no! I have suggested one possible solution which has been carried on successfully by some cities for about 150 years, implemented less successfully by others, and made a complete hash of by some. 

and other posts.

No city has successfully solved the mass transit problem, though some have been more successful than others.

Your 1000 passenger estimate is only possible in any mass transit system I know of by can only be done by cramming passengers in, as they have to on the London Underground.
It is interesting to note this statistic:

One Eurostar train weighs 800 Tonnes, carries 800 passengers (if full) and would clear 800 yards of one lane of the M25 (London Orbital Mororway).

 

I am suggesting the best solution is to (drastically) reduce the number of needed journeys by a mixture of actions.
Such change cannot be brought about overnight, just as the build up of needless journeys took time.

Of course there are wholy unacceptable solutions offered by totalitarian states, such as the one the Harlequin I mentioned earlier lived in.

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12 hours ago, TheVat said:

I think car-sharing of any kind will still be difficult for young families,  where you have babies and small children that tend to be accompanied by large amounts of equipment and paraphernalia, often the sort of stuff that families just keep handy in their personal vehicles.   The 18 year old who's happy with ordering a ride like a pizza,  may be less happy as a 30 year old with a baby and a dog and a seven year old with a cello.   And blankets,  chew toy for the dog,  snacks,  soccer ball (for the park,  after the music lesson), milk bottle, emergency shirts (when the baby vomits on you), and ten other things I haven't thought of.   So it's possible that there will still be phases of life when your own dirty cluttered car may be desirable.  (or people will adopt a culture where less equipage is deemed necessary and cello-like sounds come from instruments that fold neatly into a small backpacks...) 

Don't get me wrong,  I would love an affordable form of Uber (which Uber in the USA has ceased to be in the past year), at this point in my life (now much simpler than the scenario I conjured) where I walk and bike enough that the car sits idle in the driveway most of the week.   

Yes you have a point there. But the young family stage is quite brief. I'm in a quandary myself about a new car. I really only use it for visiting my aged father in his nursing home once a week, which I could do by bike and train if I had to, and for our annual trips to Brittany. I have no actual need to keep stuff permanently in the car. So maybe I'll go electric in a couple of years, or maybe I won't get one at all and just use Zipcar when I need to take stuff to the rubbish dump etc, as my friend does. 

13 hours ago, studiot said:

No you didn't you obviously believe in a Nirvana of model citizens.

But at the same time you have singularly avoided my real points, particularly the one about peak demand and the one about safety.

 

Peak demand and unnecessary journeys are linked to current planning theory which dictates we build huge housing areas widely separated from workplaces, thereby causing millions of unnecessary journeys every day.

Why is the Amazon superwharehouse not located in the Middle of Edinburgh?

 

A more sensible approach would be to remember the dairies of yore, most of which operated a fleet of electric delivery 'floats'.

A good start would be to force all (perhaps large) distribution operation supermarkets to emulate them, reducing the several thousand cars that can be counted in the car parks of my town, during most days of any week.

The peak demand issue I don't see as invalidating the approach. Given that I am talking about cities, there is little need for commuting by car. Furthermore, catering for  demand peaks via a collective pool of vehicles obviously requires far fewer than one per household.   

I'm not sure I understand the safety issue you raise. You seem to be base this on reducing vehicle weight by cutting back on the safety of the construction. I don't think anyone in this thread has suggested such a thing, and certainly not me. 

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@Peterkin (re way back) - I included biofuels to be more complete but I'd need to see some cost and land-use effective examples to become enthusiastic.

Other biofuels than ethanol for cars would include: biodiesel - mostly waste vegetable oils but can be purpose produced: algal diesel - I struggle to find any working commercial examples but would be pleased to know they exist: bio-gas - I'm sure someone will be doing sewage gas somewhere in place of fossil gas, because they can, but it isn't leaping out as something being done at big scales. None of them stand out.

So, not withstanding the role that mass transit and autonomous taxis as well as the part good urban planning and design can play it seems to be between Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Battery EV and EV's are winning. Even if Hydrogen were the better clean transport solution in the long run (it is a question) EV's are the solution we are getting.

I think Hydrogen takes a lot more commitment, more planning, more pre-investment and funding - that has not been forthcoming. Whereas most EV charging was and is at home, when garaged - early adopters could tolerate a sparse charging network because you can charge at home but Hydrogen absolutely has to have the fueling stations up front, ie a big pre-investment and commitment. And Hydrogen remains expensive to produce and transport. Even the few cars that are made for Hydrogen are expensive. EV's are closing in on ICE on cost - saving on running costs but suffering for being expensive up front.

In a sense we've gotten EV's despite no serious demands that there be low emissions transport - credit to Mr Musk and his Tesla team. That success has emboldened policy makers in the face of climate concerns and given the established auto industry a shock but I suspect battery tech was catching up on the practical EV problem anyway. There were and are too many drivers for battery R&D, but Tesla might have gained us a decade.

Or perhaps we got EV's because there were no serious demands for low emissions transport; without the deep commitment the planning and funding and implementation of Hydrogen infrastructure could never happen. Maybe Hydrogen can find a place in the road freight space but I suspect even there battery electric will get there first and will prove hard to beat.

The way I see it (when I'm feeling optimism) if Li-Ion and equivalent battery costs can be halved EV's will win on cost across most road transport modes. If battery weight can be halved I think that would seal the deal and open some battery electric air transport possibilities. I think both of those look achievable.

There has never been more R&D targeted at better, cheaper batteries than there is now and I suggest the tools of science have never been better fitted for the task. Bill Gates suggested a fivefold increase in clean energy R&D, but I think we've already got that for batteries. Whoever invents the best of possible batteries will get richer than Bill and Elon put together.

 

Edited by Ken Fabian
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As hinted at above, the big issue is that we don't "mine" hydrogen, or produce it in a way that gives us hydrogen for an energy input that's smaller than the energy we get from combustion. As such, it's not an energy source, it's a storage medium This the comparison is to batteries, not the energy source. Do you store the energy in a battery or do you store it in a hydrogen tank of some sort. Do you transport electricity over wires, or do you have a hydrogen pipeline.

EV's are winning because the storage and transport are more mature infrastructure. Putting charging stations in places is easier because we already send electricity to those places, but we don't send hydrogen. The production is not there at scale, and the pipeline isn't in place.

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1 hour ago, swansont said:

As hinted at above, the big issue is that we don't "mine" hydrogen, or produce it in a way that gives us hydrogen for an energy input that's smaller than the energy we get from combustion. As such, it's not an energy source, it's a storage medium This the comparison is to batteries, not the energy source. Do you store the energy in a battery or do you store it in a hydrogen tank of some sort. Do you transport electricity over wires, or do you have a hydrogen pipeline.

EV's are winning because the storage and transport are more mature infrastructure. Putting charging stations in places is easier because we already send electricity to those places, but we don't send hydrogen. The production is not there at scale, and the pipeline isn't in place.

My understanding is that hydrogen may have a place for heavy goods vehicles, for which battery weight could be prohibitive.

Hydrogen is also being talked about - and piloted - as a full or partial replacement for gas in home heating. Keele university has a pilot in which hydrogen is blended with natural gas and burns successfully without the need for changing burners:  https://www.keele.ac.uk/discover/news/2020/june/hydeploy-update/pilot-positive-results.php

This currently only blends it in at 20%, but that still saves a lot of carbon emission and equally importantly provides a pathway, using existing infrastructure, for the commercial  production of hydrogen to get started. We will need a low-barrier way to break into hydrogen production or everyone will just wait for everyone else. No one will build trucks until hydrogen supply exists, no one will put in refuelling points until trucks are built, etc., etc.    

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14 minutes ago, exchemist said:

My understanding is that hydrogen may have a place for heavy goods vehicles, for which battery weight could be prohibitive.

I'm not sure of the current storage technology. I know metal hydrides were being used, but that was years ago, and the knock on them was they were heavy. Hydrogen under high pressure is a bit of a danger.

 

14 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Hydrogen is also being talked about - and piloted - as a full or partial replacement for gas in home heating. Keele university has a pilot in which hydrogen is blended with natural gas and burns successfully without the need for changing burners:  https://www.keele.ac.uk/discover/news/2020/june/hydeploy-update/pilot-positive-results.php

"If a 20% hydrogen blend was rolled out across the country it could save around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road. Hydrogen blending at this level could also open the door to greater use of hydrogen – possibly up to 100% in the network – and kick off a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the UK. "

This, of course, assume green sources for making the hydrogen, which is often glossed over in the discussions. Hydrogen can only be as green as the method that produces it. i.e. this tacitly assumes you're not burning coal to make hydrogen. 

As I recall hydrogen embrittlement was a problem for pipelines, and I don't know if that's been solved. There's no mention of that issue. I think there has been advances in plastics that would allow for hydrogen transport. But that would be all new infrastructure.

 

14 minutes ago, exchemist said:

This currently only blends it in at 20%, but that still saves a lot of carbon emission and equally importantly provides a pathway, using existing infrastructure, for the commercial  production of hydrogen to get started. We will need a low-barrier way to break into hydrogen production or everyone will just wait for everyone else. No one will build trucks until hydrogen supply exists, no one will put in refuelling points until trucks are built, etc., etc.    

Agree. I know there are fuel cell vehicles out there, but often they are for local use - forklifts and such, with hydrogen generation probably done on-site. Possibly for local delivery as well. But until you can "fill up" away from your home area, it's a non-starter.

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Efficiency is not the issue, we have more than enough sunlight (and wind) to produce enough hydrogen to fuel every car on the planet. 

And every hydrogen fuelled car, when not used to travel, can power a household.

So while we wait for fusion to catch up and rescue us, we rely on a less efficient method... 

7 minutes ago, swansont said:

Hydrogen under high pressure is a bit of a danger.

No more than sitting on a petrol tank...

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25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

 

No more than sitting on a petrol tank...

Doesn't H ignite more easily than petrol?  (and its tiny atoms slip around seals more easily)

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29 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

No more than sitting on a petrol tank...

AFAIK they don't actually explode like you see in the movies. The petrol is liquid, not a pressurized gas, and you need the gas plus the right amount of oxygen to have an explosion.

https://motorandwheels.com/cars-explode-catch-fire/

 

2 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Doesn't H ignite more easily than petrol?  (and its tiny atoms slip around seals more easily)

Plus it's a gas under pressure in the situation I described

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40 minutes ago, swansont said:

I'm not sure of the current storage technology. I know metal hydrides were being used, but that was years ago, and the knock on them was they were heavy. Hydrogen under high pressure is a bit of a danger.

 

"If a 20% hydrogen blend was rolled out across the country it could save around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road. Hydrogen blending at this level could also open the door to greater use of hydrogen – possibly up to 100% in the network – and kick off a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the UK. "

This, of course, assume green sources for making the hydrogen, which is often glossed over in the discussions. Hydrogen can only be as green as the method that produces it. i.e. this tacitly assumes you're not burning coal to make hydrogen. 

As I recall hydrogen embrittlement was a problem for pipelines, and I don't know if that's been solved. There's no mention of that issue. I think there has been advances in plastics that would allow for hydrogen transport. But that would be all new infrastructure.

 

Agree. I know there are fuel cell vehicles out there, but often they are for local use - forklifts and such, with hydrogen generation probably done on-site. Possibly for local delivery as well. But until you can "fill up" away from your home area, it's a non-starter.

Yes it would need to be either green hydrogen, by electrolysis,  or blue hydrogen (from methane but with CCS). Some are sceptical that blue hydrogen actually achieves the goal, by the time losses of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) etc., are taken into account. But it seems to me one can't be too choosy at the start: the main thing is to get something at commercial scale in place and see where imaginative people can take it.

Home heating is a hell of an issue and nobody is tackling it at the moment. Where is the Elon Musk of central heating, eh?  I've looked at heat pumps, but since the cost/kWh of electricity is 4 x that of gas in the UK, it's tough to make that stand up economically, even in terms of running costs only. When you factor in the higher capital cost and the possible need to change radiators in the house due to the lower heating water temperature, or else the need for a conventional booster heater to get it up to the temperature for the existing radiator system, it makes no sense.  

Regarding hydrogen embrittlement, I don't know about that, but I am old enough to remember that we used to run "town gas" (basically synthesis gas: CO + H2)  through all the gas mains in Britain before "North Sea gas" (methane) came along in the 60s. It seemed to work. When N Sea gas came in, a guy from the gas board came round to change over the burners on our gas cooker - and that was it. 

Edited by exchemist
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1 minute ago, TheVat said:

Doesn't H ignite more easily than petrol?  (and its tiny atoms slip around seals more easily)

We're no less dead...

2 minutes ago, swansont said:

The petrol is liquid, not a pressurized gas, and you need the gas plus the right amount of oxygen to have an explosion.

Much like an accident in a custard factory... 

Are we really considering a more efficient explosion?

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I think the point was well made that we already have electrical grids,  and lines already run to fueling stations,  so it seems like the best infrastructure path for now.   Also,  fueling stations can be easily coupled (in my windswept hinterland) to windmills onsite,  with even greater efficiency in terms of no line losses. 

Switching to heat pumps makes sense,  as @exchemist pointed out,  when electricity is cheap enough that your cost/btu isn't way more than with NG.   If you want to make the switch simply because the objective is to phase out fossil fuel,  then it would help to have governments subsidize green electricity and also home energy conservation,  like better insulation,  windows,  etc.   My back-of-envelope calculation is that,  in the Black Hills of South Dakota,  switching to heat pump would raise our heat bill only about 20-30%.  The benefits, both environmental and domestic (electrons don't leak out from pipes and stoves and then explode your house or asphyxiate you while you sleep), make that seem like a worthwhile cost increase.   

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25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

We're no less dead...

Much like an accident in a custard factory... 

Are we really considering a more efficient explosion?

No, we're considering exploding vs not exploding, since cars don't (or only very, very rarely) explode.

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9 hours ago, studiot said:

Your 1000 passenger estimate is only possible in any mass transit system I know of by can only be done by cramming passengers in, as they have to on the London Underground.

The number was based, roughly, on the Singapore model. I was talking about the commuter train. Some good ones do exist - even the VIA rail service in Toronto isn't too bad; it moves lots of white-collar workers from the new freckled-brick subdivisions, way out beyond the old suburbs, to the city railway station, from where they take a bus, streetcar or subway to their offices downtown. Some good subway systems exist, as well. They move lots lower-paid workers around the city and proximate suburbs in much less comfort. In both cases, the passengers are free of the responsibility for a big hollow lump of steel that's got to sit idle someplace expensive until it's need to covey one person back out to the subdivisions.

The weight ratio is slightly lower than the Eurostar, at  0.9 tons each, if we double up on car rides. But the parking problem is incomparable more difficult and less cost-effective with personal vehicles, as is the traffic congestion and the road maintenance. 

10 hours ago, studiot said:

I am suggesting the best solution is to (drastically) reduce the number of needed journeys by a mixture of actions.

Well, of course! I agree wholeheartedly.

The pandemic is helping with that: many employees don't want to go back to the office. Working from home can be a big  part of the mix.  Improved, more accessible public transit is another part. Ride sharing, bike sharing, community minibus, various forms of taxi, shuttle and rental services can be added to the mix. Decentralized work-places may be another long-term consideration. There will still be personal vehicles of all types, as long as there is an infrastructure on which they can operate. If/when car ownership becomes so expensive that only a small minority can indulge in it, the majority probably won't want to pay for their roads and support structure.  

 

3 hours ago, swansont said:

No, we're considering exploding vs not exploding, since cars don't (or only very, very rarely) explode.

No, they're more likely to burst into spontaneous flame. https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a33917474/hyundai-santa-fe-kia-optima-sorento-fire-recall/  Electric ones, too, though the incidence has been disproportionately reported. https://money.cnn.com/2018/05/17/news/companies/electric-car-fire-risk/index.html

Bicycles and canoes are safer.

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12 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Well exactly. Hence my suggestion of hailing driverless cars when you want them...................... 😄

Yeah, would reduce numbers dramatically if most are in service.

Would also allow Parking Garages to be so much better. We could reclaim so much land from driveways and parking lots.

Edited by Endy0816
typo
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4 hours ago, studiot said:

The future's good. the future's rosy.

So they said back in 1910

...."ignorance is bless"... ;)

(So they said too)

Quote

"Never mind going electric, where will we park?"

"1st world problems"... in 3rd world they have "will we eat today?"..

The more important aspect of flood of cars is that people will spend hours in traffic wasting their precious time of life fruitlessly. 2h per day is 12.5%, 4h per day is 25% of 16h human day activity..

Edited by Sensei
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4 hours ago, Endy0816 said:

Yeah, would reduce numbers dramatically if most are in service.

And if they looked more like this, we'd save a lot of street surface for pedestrians,

4 hours ago, Endy0816 said:

Would also allow Parking Garages to be so much better.

especially if they looked more like this.

4 hours ago, Endy0816 said:

We could reclaim so much land from driveways and parking lots.

And put to better use - the parking lots for all those extra people we never know where to put

and the driveways to make fresh food

It's not as if people hadn't been thinking about these problems!

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There is another aspect to to the whole issue, with is urban planning in much of the US cities are built around cars, Canada tends to be a bit better, though weather in many parts (except for the coasts) have their own challenges. 

Barcelona has started to build superblocks which reduces traffic and increases areas where walking and bicycling becomes more feasible.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/11/barcelona-launches-10-year-plan-to-reclaim-city-streets-from-cars

If planned strategically, public transit and and on-demand cars could become quite a bit more efficient.

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Oh yes, Europe is way ahead on this front. Of course, they've had congestion, smog and traffic-flow problems much longer than North America; their available space is much more constricted. But also: their economies are not so closely dependent on the fossil fuel and automotive industries, and their citizens are more powerful - when they're adamant, European governments address their concerns.  

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3 hours ago, CharonY said:

There is another aspect to to the whole issue, with is urban planning in much of the US cities are built around cars, Canada tends to be a bit better, though weather in many parts (except for the coasts) have their own challenges. 

Barcelona has started to build superblocks which reduces traffic and increases areas where walking and bicycling becomes more feasible.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/11/barcelona-launches-10-year-plan-to-reclaim-city-streets-from-cars

If planned strategically, public transit and and on-demand cars could become quite a bit more efficient.

That's a big reason why I'm such a big supporter. With self driving vehicles we could better cities like Peterkin suggests and equally make public transit and the rest more workable.

Could definitely do some interesting things with them. It could plan routes and arrive/depart exactly when it predicts you'll need it to.

 

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