Monthly Archives: March 2008

Social Objects & Markers

From Fast Company TV and Shel Israel, a good interview with Hugh MacLeod on “social objects”.

I met Hugh a while back on the Scoble Pissed as Newts tour, had a few beers and discussed microbrands, blogging & markets – hence “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time” – now you know who to blame, although it was Robert that really encouraged me to “just do it”.


Bus /bike interface

Flickr photo courtesy of Tom Burnham

 “These buses were commissioned by the Dartford Tunnel Authority to carry bicycles through that tunnel. The batch consisted of TT 1-5, and entered service on 18 November 1963. Service was already replaced on 31 October 1965, due to lack of traffic, by Land Rovers, operated by the Tunnel Authority. The lower floor was for bicycles, passengers could sit on the upper floor. There were special platforms to enable the passengers to enter the bus.”

When I worked for Kent County Council in the 80s I recall the long debates we had about providing transport for cycles through the Tunnel – the bus above had only a limited life – other fotos on the spotters pages. Now you get a free ride in a Tunnel van – I saw one the other day, hence the reminiscence.

And motorcycles go through for free – probably because its not worth asking them to pull off their gloves, open their jacket and find a quid for the congestion it would cause!

[Anorak now put back in closet 🙂 – well its a wet Saturday afternoon]

US GDP comparison map

This map has been around since early last year and I can’t find the original source, (blogged by StrangeMaps in June) but does it say more about the US economy (probably pre recession) than the comparison states – the UK won’t be on the map because we still earn more than California…just.

Modern business

Passengers wanted

The first Motorway High Occupancy Vehicles Lane launched today by Ruth Kelly, following considerable buildup. There have been HOV lanes before in the UK, notably in and around Bristol, but this is perhaps the first high level commitment to the concept. Whether saving 6 – 8 minutes per morning commute is enough to get commuters to car share is questionable, but for existing car sharers, buses, etc. will get them into the HOV lane and release some capacity for the rest. The better use of existing assets is very much the flavour of the month with government and HA, but of course without medium to long term substantial behaviour change we are only buying time at huge expense (green points made, now back to normal service)

Nice touch – “motorcyclists will also be able to use it whether carrying passengers or not”

(And have a look at the M606 review on “pathetic Motorways” – one of my favourite sites!)

Seaside Shuffle

Just back from a few days at MIPIM, the property conference in Cannes. This year attended by a record number of 28,000 delegates, the first question I have been asked since getting back – “is the sub prime financial woes having an impact on the developers in Europe?” (actually usually asked about the consumption of champagne and size of the yachts, but it breaks down to the same thing).

CNBC didnt find any hard evidence and neither did I , although there was just a hint of caution. Certainly there were a lot of developers who wanted to talk to transport planners, so that justified my trip to somewhere sunny in March …

And just in case someone tells you MIPIM is all about the parties congrats to the 140 cyclists who completed the 1500 km Cycle to Cannes event for charity this year.

Brussels by bike

No, we used Eurostar to get there but a Saturday morning tour of the city’s cycle routes convinced me we still have a long way to go in the UK to match best pracice. We cycled through parks, the ring road and side streets, then on contra flow “on street” and “on pavement” routes (from the European Parliament to the centre) and everywhere drivers gave way to clearly inexperienced English cyclists.

We got our bikes from Provelo and were led by a really knowledgeable local guide. At one stage we crossed the equivalent of Marble Arch, the Arc de Triomphe and any junction in Rome combined, cutting acoss buses, cars, mopeds and trams with no more stress than cycling along the Ridgeway (actually probably not a good example).

BTW Eurostar from the new St. Pancras (ask me sometime about PBA’s role in making it work) was supremely efficient, departing and arriving on time there and back. The Circle Line and First Great Western on the way home as always failed to deliver on any element of customer satisfaction. Oh well…

Bus Driver Blogs

(Image from Bus Driver, the lifelike 3D bus driving computer simulation!)

Its surprising how many bus driver blogs there are and how (beyond the usual comments about passengers and traffic jams) they give a good sense of life behind the wheel. I wrote last year about corporate blogs, usually written by the suits (yes, me included) and with the active or at least passive support of the bosses – I need to read these a bit more to see whether the blokes (yes they are all generally blokes) are taking a stand or getting away with it because bus company managers just don’t pick up on this sort of thing. Most reaffirm my confidence in the people at the wheel – very few “this job would be ok if it wasnt for the passenger” whinges…

try these for size:

The Hampshire megabus driver blog – which first got me exploring this corner of the bloggersphere

All Aboard

Bus Driving

Nik the Elf (a Megabus driver)

To the Regiment

Brighton bus driver

National Express driver

Birmingham Bus Driver

Bus Driver Jimmy

An eye opening account from a glasgow bus driver at

and from a different perspective I am the Passenger

comments welcome!

Under the title “Logistics”…

the BBC Radio 4 Bottomline business programme interviewed Keith Ludeman, CEO of Go-Ahead Group. No great revelations but Keith responds well to Evan Davis’s digs on rail reliability, fares, etc.  Previous week included interview with CEO of Atkins, so maybe our industry is getting a higher profile?

Worth a listen – download the podcast here