Fancy a Sequel? The hydrogen-powered Honda FCX (fuel cell) has been
used by the city of Los Angeles since December 2002. Hydrogen power is
taking off in a big way. A hybrid hydrogen-powered bus is used by
SunLine Transit. Hydrogen can be generated by a wind-powered facility.
At AngelsNest, water is captured from the roof and is recycled. Power
is generated by solar panels, wind turbine and hydrogen.
Communities without roads
Why not be more radical? Have a look at the Segway and imagine it -
communities without roads! Instead of driving a car, just walk to your
local restaurants or meeting places. Also have a look at the iBot which
is great for people who need wheelchairs - because it can climb stairs
it gives easy access to many places. How about letting everyone who
needed it use an iBot, instead of pouring money into improving
wheelchair access to buildings?
Think about it! About half the urban area is taken up by roads and
greenstrips between roads. A substantial part of roads, buildings and
gardens is also used to park cars. Without cars and roads, we could
live closer together; that would be great for people who complement
each other in one way or another; they could live closer to each other
and see each other more often.
If we used personal aircraft such as helicopters, microlights and the
Skycar for long disance travell, we could also do without airports, and
instead take off and land in our backyards.
Change the Way you Work
Instead of working in an office, we could do most things from home. In
fact, you could work anywhere. The cell-phone motto appears to be:
anything, anywhere, anytime!
Nowadays, you can not only make video phone calls with your mobile
phone, you can browse the web, use email, take pictures or record sound
and video. It's also TV, a radio, a video player, an alarm clock with
alert messages and a GPS locator.
And what about your watch? You can have a TV-watch or a GPS locator
watch. You can have a watch with built-in flash-memory and a USB-cord
that folds back into the armband. Dick Tracy eat your heart out! Have a
look at the watches list for more!
Change the Way you Learn
Of course, the same goes for learning. Why go to University, when you
can follow courses online? Homeschooling has long proven to be much
more effective than school.
Books like Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich and the books by John
Holt are classics, pointing at the many shortcomings of school.
Change Health Care
Once the grip of the University over health care has been broken, we
can also have a closer look at how we deal with health issues. Just
have a look at the excellent DVD called Patch Adams. Isn't health
closely related to lifestyle, to what we eat, the way we eat, how we
move around, how we meet people? Read on!
Change the Way you Live
Do you see a picture emerging here? In communities without roads, urban
design could be changed dramatically! Houses could be smaller, as
there's no need to put cars in garages. Without roads, houses could
also be built much closer together - that in itself could reduce travel
time. Simple pathways would be sufficient! Imagine it: communities
without roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railway tracks and railway
stations! Such a new lifestyle could result in huge savings on cars,
roads, office buildings, carparks, garages, petrol stations, etc. How
much time and money could we save by reducing our daily travel between
home and work? And how many lives would be saved if we had less
Afraid that without roads, you won't have other infrastructure, such as
sewerage, running water and electricity? Here in Australia, we've got a
long tradition of waterless toilets, composting, rainwater tanks and
dirt-roads. Alternative lifestyles have, in their aim for
self-sufficiency, often rejected high-tech solutions. But why not use
technology to our advantage? A mud-brick or sand wall can provide
excellent insulation to protect you from heat or cold, and it can also
block out noisy neighbors. Using headphones can avoid unnecessary
animosity and enhance privacy; noise-cancelling technology in
headphones and speakers can reduce background noise to a fraction.
Security systems can further help avoiding hostilities between people.
Solar-powered motion sensors can trigger floodlights and alarms, which
in combination with cameras can enhance security and lower health
risks. Why not use satellites and interconnected WiFi LANs, instead of
Cable-TV and phone lines? Mobile phones and GPS-technology can make
great contributions towards our safety and security. The iPod shuffle
fits in the palm of your hand and looks great around your neck. With
the Flash Trax you can back up your files, view photos and videos and
listen to music. Store your photos and data at multiple places and you
need to worry less about theft or loss in fire or accidents.
All such devices need ever less power, while new technologies extend
the usage-time of rechargeable batteries. If we used more GPS-enabled
devices, motion detectors and surveillence cameras, we could increase
safety and security in and around the home, thus requiring less
emergency services. Indoor and outdoor lanterns, solar-powered by day,
can light up the home and garden in the evening. A combination of a
rechargeable battery and a wind-up clockwork is successfully used by
FreePlay in products such as radios, flashlights and mobile phone
chargers. Grundig has a radio that is powered either by either AC, by 3
AA batteries or by hand crank - a built-in charger can be "cranked up"
by hand. At MultiPowered Products, many such items can be ordered
online. Solar panels can now provide enough power to run run 12V
lights, pumps, fans, and small appliances such as TVs, VCRs and
stereos. The ColdMate, a small portable fridge, operates quietly and
ozone-friendly on a thermoelectric (peltier cooling) system and comes
with a 9 ft detachable 12V DC power cord.
Change the Way you Eat and Shop
Currently, the most fertile land is taken for urban use, most of it for
roads and gardens (with grass as the dominant crop). With more land
available for hobby farming, growing fruit and vegetables could be
cheaper and the cost of food could come down dramatically. In a new
urban design, houses could be built around restaurants and meeting
places. People can more easily go out to eat in restaurants, because
there's no traffic and parking hassle, it's just a short stroll or ride
on the Segway instead. Many restaurants have embraced wireless
services, so take a notebook with you and you're really connected for a
business lunch! Or, take a Tablet PC and use a stylus to scribble down
your notes and share them! Eating out means less shopping, since food
makes up most of our shopping. It also saves a lot of time - no more
shopping, cooking, diswashing and cleaning, no rubbish to get rid of.
Most items we need can be ordered by mail-order, so get a good mailbox
and get a Post Office box at a post office. By the way, why should we
have to pay extra to get such a box? After all, doesn't it save a lot
on postal delivery cost? And shouldn't we similarly get a discount when
posting the mail at the Post Office, rather than at a remote mailbox?
You would Change the World
Wouldn't all this change the world? Wouldn't dictatorial government
have less control in communities without roads? Speed-cameras, parking
fees and fines, tax on cars and petrol, all too often they have become
revenues that government has become dependent on. Roads are typically
government-owned, police are most visible on roads, people are
controlled by traffic rules, car licence plates and driver's licences.
Further control is exercised through public transport, taxi licencing,
etc. If we wanted to make people free, wouldn't it make sense to start
looking at roads?
Communities without roads.
(From the series: Change the World!)
Posted with permission from:
Cars could instead be banned by default, e.g. people could decide to
stop using cars if they became too expensive, compared to alternatives.
Or, people could decide to stop using cars because of the environmental
What I like about the idea of Communities without Roads is that cars
can effectively be banned (from the inner community) by designing
communities without roads. Building houses closer together effectively
keeps cars out without the need for police, etc.
It's done before in the inner city where cars are banned from the main
shopping street, which is turned into a pedestrian-only area, if
necessary by putting up poles. The same for shopping malls, university
campus, festivals, etc. Some area definitely see an economic and social
benefit in keeping out cars altogether. Instead of applying this to a
small area only, we should look at applying it to entire communities.
As the above figures show, trains are used a lot by people who have
reduced fares (that's on top of the fact that trains are already
subsidized). Also, public schools, universities, hospitals and many
other government-owned institutions and facilities are often built
close to railway stations, which causes maore train traffic, e.g. by
students who again get cheaper fares. But that means they are likely to
artificially increase rail usage, since market forces do not apply as
much. My guess is that, if the market was to decide, trains would have
disappeared long ago.
Another way government artificially enhances the use of public buses
and trains is by using taxi licences. Such licences are just an extra
tax that raises taxi fares and thus makes them less competitive
compared with public buses and trains. Furthermore, taxis are regulated
in all kinds of ways and the licensing system means there's usually a
shortage of taxis. How about getting rid of taxi licensing altogether?
That would mean that many people wouldn't need a car and could pay a
friend to drive them in case they really needed to go somewhere.
Once you start thinking about all the ways government uses to shape the
system in its mould, the mind boggles. Look at zoning. Government only
allows people to work in one area, zoning it as industrial, while they
live in a residential-only zone. They are forced to travel in order to
Let's give these communities without roads a try and let's see whether
we can make it work. The main obstacle is government. If we can keep
government from putting its dirty hands into everything for just a
moment in just a few places, such communties will take off like that
Here in Australia, only 59.1% of the roads are sealed with a bitumen
surface. The rest is unsealed and typically called "dirt roads", even
though some of them have gravel. The problem with dirt roads is that
they quickly get potholes, especially when it rains. Furthermore, cars
can throw up quite a bit of sand when travelling over them. This can
cause car damage, accidents, as well as environmental damage.
How sound is the environmental argument against roads? Wouldn't
environmental impact be worse without roads, if people all drove
4-wheel drive trucks over dirt roads?
The technology is identical to what is used in hydrogen cars such as the Ford HySeries, GM's HydroGen4 and Kia's 4×4 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, i.e. tanks holding hydrogen in the form of compressed gas, fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries and electric motors, in the case of this plane a single motor coupled to a conventional propeller.
Just like cars can (and already are) getting their electricity and hydrogen from the solar panels on top of parking lots, planes could similarly be powered from clean energy, such as from solar or wind power facilities in our backyards.
Boeing first announced the electric plane project in November 2001, when it said the first test flights could begin in early 2004. At the time, there was even speculation that the first flight would coincide with the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first powered flight back in December 17th, 2003. Those plans have since been pushed back several times, but it now looks like it is finally going to happen.
Planes like this have the potential to reshape the face of the world. Imagine if we all used personal aircraft instead of cars. We no longer needed any roads, nor large, noisy airports. Instead we could use small airstrips to take off and land, perhaps in our backyards.
Communities without roads constitute a dramatic change in urban design. Houses could be smaller, as there's no need to put cars in garages. Without roads, houses could also be built much closer together - that in itself could reduce travel time. Simple pathways would be sufficient, connecting all such houses with a center comprising of shops, restaurants, medical specialists, lecture theaters, all within walking distance. Imagine the cost savings on cars, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railway tracks and railway stations, on gasoline and service stations. People could largely work from home and meet at facilities of the center closeby, resulting in further savings on office buildings and their car parking facilities.
There would also be huge time savings; given an abundance of small landing strips, planes could take us in a more direct line from one place to another, as opposed to the congested road system where cars line up for a multitude of traffic lights. GPS-navigation and radar technology could also result in a spectacular drop in traffic accidents; after all, there is much more space in the (three-dimensional) sky than on the (two-dimensional) ground.
To help such developments take off, we need to tax items that cause greenhouse gas emissions, such as fossil fuel, meat and fertilizers, with the tax proceeds going to local supply of better alternatives, such as solar and wind power, agrichar and vegan-organic food served in restaurants in communities without roads.
Please support our efforts to change the world and copy, post or email this article widely!
Into the Wild Green Yonder - Boeing's super-clean fuel-cell aircraft will create history this year with aviation's first zero-emissions flight
Boeing's fuel cell-powered electric demonstrator airplane - August 2003
Boeing Announces Partners for Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane Project - July 11, 2003
The Hydrogen Economy - articles featured in this group
Change the World - articles featured in this group
Solar-Hydrogen Demo Project in Sacramento - by Steve B.
Tax the sale of meat! - by Sam Carana
Agrichar - by Sam Carana
Communities without roads - by Sam Carana