Sunday, February 14, 2010

New development on Swanston street

Found an awesome news in awhile.

Take that Robert Doyle!

Hopefully, Swanston street will be a good example to other shopping streets around Melbourne so that in the future, we will have more car-free streets. The streets that come to my mind are Brunswick, Smith, and Lygon (remember how good it was when the street was closed for cycling criterium?). And those are just the ones near my current house (as of 14 Feb).

The idea is to bring the street back to pedestrians. For too long, we have forgotten that the streets are for the people -- not those who can afford to have steel armoured vehicles. That idea is so embedded in our brains (new generations that grew up with cars) that we forget that street is a public space for all modes of transports slow and fast. We only have to think about the day when horses shared our streets with pedestrian, car, donkey and other.

Bring back livable streets!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photo Update

Just post some photos from the trip to Slovenia on Facebook.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 Budget on Tertiary Education

Just went to a public seminar on 2009 budget and tertiary education yesterday. The speakers painted somewhat darker picture of the budget. I only remember some of aspects:

  • The government wish to increase the domestic student placements, but the funding as suggested in the budget falls short of covering the tuition cost. The tertiary education provider will still seek to balance this by admission of international students. It was noted however that TAFE can run a course at lower cost (federal support can cover this), and hence the government should to explore the possibility of more degree from TAFE institutes.
  • Student with financial difficulty: the good sign is that the by-postage criterion will be scraped and replaced with a better measuring system. It was noted that more could be done at secondary education level, which prompted the question regarding the role of universities.
  • TEQSA: this will be a new institute that the speakers hope to fill many gaps between the government and the universities. Since there is no real guideline on the role of TEQSA, many hope that it will act as a regulator to ensure that the minimum standard is met by all tertiary education providers.
  • Performance-based funding: a few questions were asked of its necessity. It still depends on the government. In my opinion, I believe that under this scheme there will be tendency to overstimulate in a few areas of research, which may or may not be good for Australia. Concern was raised regarding the institute that fails to meet the performance benchmark; how should the government assists in increasing its performance.
  • Bradley report: the speaker mentioned that someone has calculated that after all the bucks get in the system, only 37% of recommended by Bradley report will be achieved - not good considering that Australia needs to catch up with other developed countries in term of research.
  • Good news is an increase in fellowship placement aimed to stop "brain drain", and attract bright young oversea researchers.
  • Recent ethnic conflict in Melbourne demonstrates the need to ensure the better conditions for oversea students. It was hoped that TEQSA will cater for that since currently there is no written guideline or regulation for university on its responsibility for its (international) students. Current system is based on good faith. 
  • This leads to the question of international attraction.  Bradley report recommended 1000 PhD scholarship places which this government chose to omit in this budget. This will go a long in term of attracting new oversea researchers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First week in PhD

I just officially started my PhD last week, but I already started 3 weeks ago. Here are some of the topics and cool facts I have been reading:

Frobenius Algebra (strongly separable condition, knowledgeable Frob. algebra)

Sheaf: not much apart from allowing me to make some jokes.

Geometric group theory
  • Fix k. Let G be a finitely-generated group. There are finitely many subgroups index k.
  • Every subgroup of finite index of a finitely-generated group is finitely generated.
  • Let G be a free group of finite rank. Then a normal subgroup of G is of finite index if and only if it is finitely generated.
  • Table-Tennis lemma: more jokes for me.
  • Kurosh's theorem
Reidemeister-Schreier method:  I use this to prove the first point
  1. Fix k. Let G be a finitely-generated group. Let H be a subgroup of index k. Then there exists a system of representatives such that the length of each representative is not exceeding k.
  2. Let G be a finitely-presented group. Then every finite index subgroup is finitely presented. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Absurd-but-cute Ideas

I found this article on one of the NY Times blog. It has some of very cute ideas. All were designed by Steven M. Johnson. These are some that I like:

1 Ideas for recreational cars
In particular, I like the number 33.

2. Bicycle vest

3. Nothing to say about this one.

4. Human-powered rail: very similar idea to what I have in my previous post

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sharing News

The Brumby Government has finally committed to Melbourne's first bicycle sharing program in its CBD (The Sunday Age). OK, this usually means he will do nothing and pretend that he never said such thing if asked in the future as to why he didn't do anything about it. What fascinates me was the fact that Brisbane will beat Melbourne to the first program in Australia. It signed a contract with JCDecaux with 2,000 bikes and 150 stations by March 2010. Now, compare this with Melbourne's counterpart: 6,00 bikes. That said a lot about the Brumby Government commitment to alternative transportation. So, what is so interesting?

SKM (the company that rejected my application - and my friend's - in 2008) recommended that the speed limit in CBD should be 30km/h. Now if the government eventually gets off its arse, and follows that recommendation, then that would be the real good news. The day might finally come when overtaking cyclists using car in CBD are rare occasions.

On the final note, RMIT industrial design students (shame on you, Melbourne University) decided to take initiative and set up a pilot program called CommonBike. The program will be a bicycle sharing program. The aim is to inform the general public about future bicycle-sharing program, with a side benefit being data collection. Several hubs will be set up around CBD, northern and northeastern inner suburbs. Hopefully, this program will be successful.

Clothes of size S shortage

As much as I would like to claim that I am indifferent to opinions of others, but that is not the case. With this, I realised that I only have  one jumper that I don't mind wearing to university. That generally translate to; I don't wash my jumper for a long time. So recently, I was on a search for my next jumper. 

How hard is it to find a decent jumper that fit me? Very hard indeed. Ok, my size is S and occasionally M, but I noticed that size M is getting larger and larger. Similarly, size S seems slightly too big for me now too. That is beside the point. As a thrifty boy, I don't want to pay more than $30 for my jumper. So, I went on a bargain at different sale. What I found was that there simply no (next to nothing) size S jumper. Similarly, size M was hard to come by. When they came, generally, they were bad designs. All I found were sizes XXL, XL and L. It seems that Melburnians have been "upsize", even during the recession. 

On the other hand, it could be that everyone has already taken most of size S and M. So, there weren't many left to sell. However, that begs another question: If most people wears size S or M, then why the manufacturers keep producing too much L, XL and XXL. Further, it is reasonable to assume that human population size follows - to certain degree - a normal distribution. So, why don't I see more XS and XXS in the shops?

Anyone with answer, please tell me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alpine Walking Track

Back in Melbourne last Friday!!! (24/4/09) Detail of the trip is being typed slowly.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

5 days to the trip of lifetime

5 days to my first attempt at a section of Alpine Walking Track. More soon after I get back.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Transportation Network: Coordinated vs Anarchy

Recently I wrote an article for Paradox (Melbourne University Maths and Stats  society's magazine). It can be found on page 21-24 on this issue. Below are the first few paragraphs.

In the "real" world, many systems can be characterised by a network with nodes and paths joining them. Here, we will consider traffic flows of a decentralised transport system for personalised vehicles. It is natural to ask ourselves whether or not this network system is the most efficient one, alternatively, on average, does this road network allows commuters to get from A to B most efficiently?

On the surface, this question seems easy to answer; one can
  • set up a model of the system;
  • find the global minimum using the convex minimum cost flow algorithm.  
In reality, individual commuters do not collectively opt for the most optimal strategy, but their own optimal strategy. Hence, the actual performance of the network is often far from its best, even if all individuals choose the quickest route and all information is available to them. The key question here is to understand how far the actual performance is from the most optimal one. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Part 2

The second idea is bus rapid transit.

Unlike conventional bus system, BRT is its new interpretation. It has most of advantages of train system without its cost. There are no complete agreement on what constitutes as BRT, but to me the following rough idea will explain what I believe to be BRT.

Walter Hook, director of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy, measures the success of BRT by whether or not commuters identify BRT as permanent structure within city on part with trains and trams. Let me explain further. When we think of train, we immediately think of its stations and rail tracks. In Melbourne, we will probably think of a system under severe stress. Similarly, when we think of trams, we think of rigid tracks that run with automobiles, sometimes in complete separation from the main traffics. And in recent time, platform stops around CBD.  So, when I say that BRT's success is measured by comparing with trains and trams, I mean that Melway includes all of BRT infrastructures in its publication. 

So, what elements can combined to form BRT? 

First, its stations must be distinct from normal bus stops. In most implementation, this entails a raised platform, where the floor of station is level with the bus floor. I believe this is not necessary enough. A well-designed stations are generally enclosed and provide pre-paid ticket system. This allows the commuters to purchase ticket prior to the bus entry and thus reduces the time waste at each stop. Now, the main problem with this system is that conductors are required at each station, and hence increasing the operating cost. In addition, some stations can be designed to be local landmarks within suburbs like New York subway mosaic.

Second, the bus must be distinct from the conventional bus. Commuters cannot distinct the difference between normal bus from BRT if the BRT fleet is essentially the same as bus fleet. That is, there is no point in running BRT with old rundown buses. So what should be included in the new bus? The bus should be fitted with two wide rear and front doors to facilitate large flow of commuters. I am sure that there are more innovation out there.

Third, in some system, its buses run on separate lane. Note that this is not essential elements, depending on the condition of the local traffics. The philosophy is that the bus must be able to navigate through without interruption. So, in low traffics condition, often the mixed used lane is sufficient. In contrast, in dense traffic like Hoddle st during peak hour, separate bus lane is crucial to the success of BRT. For example, an ideal design may reserve two lanes for BRT buses and local buses. This may be physically separated like the proposal for New York.

Further within close proximity of the station, some street furniture is required. What makes train station distinctive is all the local street furniture associated with it. It is simply not enough to just put a station and expect it to do a trick. For intuition, pedestrian crossing and walkable street with cafes maybe added to create unique culture around the station. This is something bus stop or highway can never achieve. 

  1. Cheap per mile in comparison with train and tram.
  2. Easy to implement. In general, the route should coincide with the one with high bus usage. 
  3. High frequency.
  4. Express service means faster transportation.

  1. In the face of climate change, it is harder to change the bus fleet to something carbon neutral.
  2. Addition of the bus on the road means higher road maintenance cost.
  For example of well implemented system see TranMilenio in Bogota, Colombia.

New ways to move people around

In recent months, Melburnians have noticed and some experienced the train system under tremendous strain as a result of years of neglect. It is logical that the government should therefore implement effective transportation plan, which can reduce the strain in the current system for a reasonable price.

On this weekend, I found two reasonably new ideas of moving people around. One is significantly cooler than the other. I will talk about the cooler one first.

CyberTran : The problem with the current rail system is that the train has to stop at every stations it was scheduled. As a consequence, from commuter perspective, if he want to travel pass 10 stations, the train has to stop unnecessarily at 9 stations. From this perspective, we see that the current form of urban rail is inefficient. Since societies compete by the speed at which information/capital flows though the city (in this case, human capital), inefficiency in public transportation means losing competitive edge.

I believe that CyberTran can reduce this inefficiency. First let me explain what is CyberTran, then the potential benefits of CyberTran.

CyberTran is a complete transportation infrastructure which consists of the vehicle (called tran), the guideway and station. It doesn't have a schedule like conventional train. The commuters select their destinations and after waiting for a short period of time, the vehicle will pick them up and take the passengers directly to the destination without stopping at stations in between.  

On the contrary to convention wisdom in public transport, tran is a computer-controlled ultra-lightweight train which can carry at most 20 people at any given time. If there are more than 20 people wanting to go to the same destination, then more trans will keep coming until all passengers have been picked up. Since tran is always stored in the station when it is not in used, the waiting time is generally short. 

Trans run on separate guideway. One advantage of lightness of tran is that less structure components are required to build the guideway. This has a benefit of lowering initial cost of construction and allows the guideway to be completely built - with similar cost - where it has less interference with other form of traffics. 

The stations are designed so that trans can bypass them without interfering with stationary trans there. Hence, they are located off the main guideway. This increases the average speed since other cars don't have to slow down. Further, since most energy is spent on accelerating and decelerating vehicle, by maintaining cars at near constant speed, one can achieve higher energy efficiency. 

The unused trans are stored at the station and can be recharged using solar cell (or other appropriate form of renewable energy). Therefore, it has an additional benefit which is; no large warehouse is needed to store vehicles. 

Once passengers are picked up, tran will accelerate to the speed before joining the main guideway. As the vehicle is controlled by computer, there is less chance of collision. This is demonstrated in Morgantown PRT system in West Virginia, where excellent record was maintained during its 30 years in operation. 

Its advantages:
  1. Safe with low level of collision.
  2. Lightness of vehicle means less is needed for construction of the guideway.
  3. It uses less energy to move similar population than the conventional train with regenerative braking system in place. 
  4. With virtually no stopping in between stations (it can be designs by some clever algorithm to stop at a few stations.), it can achieve higher speed. 
  5. It costs less than train system to build and operate.
  6. Less polution.
  7. Increase commuter travelling freedom, and less stressful.
  8. Tran can travel on the slope of up to 20% in comparison with 5% for train. This means it can navigate through obstacles more easily than train. 
All in all, I like this idea. The next one is bus rapid transit. In considering for construct more study is needed. But in term of pollution, CyberTran has more potential to be carbon-free during its operation.

Here is a video of similar idea.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beyond Zero Emission

On the last Saturday, I had a chance to meet some people from BZE, who introduced me to an idea of compiling a solution guide to our current climate woe. 

The problem with current approach to climate change is that when face with a daunting task, politicians immediately switch to business-as-usual mode and hence nothing is done. They end up doing little enough to win the next election, but in this case, it is often too little to have meaningful desirable outcome. One example comes to my mind, and that is Kevin's soft target of 5% emission reduction compared to 2000 level by 2020. 

So, if the government lacks a political will to do something we feel deeply about, what do we do? We must provide them with a step-by-step solution. By dividing emission target (which I like 100% reduction by 2020) into smaller set of achievable targets, we can hope to eliminate an initial shock. In doing so, BZE believes that it will provide a framework, which will allow us
  1. to convince the government into action, as we have specific achievable short-term projects, which bureaucrats understand;
  2. to initiate discussion among environmental organisations towards solutions; and
  3. to inform the public and give them hope. 
Convinced by this idea and partly because I have enough of ranting, I decided to join the fun and contribute my crazy ideas. So, feel free to join in at BZE. They have meeting every fortnight. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cool conceptual gadgets

Core77 is currently running a design competition for the best "green" gadget. Now, I support the idea that we should search for more innovative design, but I also like to point out there are number of people who misunderstand the real meaning of the word "green". 

Misunderstanding is clearly shown through a number of competing designs. Most relies on the similar idea that if I use cardboard instead of metal, then my design is green. I like to point out that while paper maybe recyclable, but we can't recycle the same paper indefinitely. Further, the process of paper recycling is in fact quite polluting, in particular energy-intensive process is required to clean the waste effluence from the plant. 

One thing that I notice is a lack of imagination. Having said this, there are some interesting concepts:

  1. RITI Printer: This is an ingenious idea that uses coffee dregs as an alternative printing ink to normal ink which is toxic and difficult to refill. By moving the ink cartridge left and right, the printer will inscribe the desired image onto the paper. So, it doesn't even require electrical energy apart from when it tries to connect with the computer. If you don't have many pages to print, I think this is one cool little gadget to have. The only drawback to most people is the coffee smell on your paper. However, a math paper infused in smell of coffee is ideal for a mathematician wanabe.

  2.  Zeer: This is a simple yet effective idea that exists for a long time. Quoted by the designer, Nigerian has developed the technique for storing vegetable and fruit. It uses the fact that when water evaporates it absorbs the energy and thus lowering the surrounding temperature. Apparently, a prototype has been tested and found that temperature of 10C can be maintained. As a result, vegetable and fruit can be kept at optimal temperature (normally vegetable should not be kept at 4C in conventional fridge). The drawback of Zeer is that it cannot keep meat. Hence, we still need a fridge, but probably a smaller one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Australian train...

In the last month, I had privilege to "enjoy" Australian train. The trip was simple: I needed to travel to Wollongong for AMSI summer school. 

To Wollongong:

Interestingly, it was cheaper for me to travel to Sydney first before backtracking down south to Wollongong. Then, it made some sort of sense. Countrylink (the train operator) was having a promotion on the trip between Melbourne and Sydney. This was fine with me, since I wouldn't mind meeting my friend in Sydney. 

Waiting for the train on the platform at Spencer st Station (I refuse to call it Southern Cross), the first impression I get wasn't good. The train was delayed by at least an hour. Now, instead of going faster, the operator decided to go slower. In combination with the track work between Campbelltown and Moss Vale, the train had to do a detour through Wollongong!!! 

Now, I don't know the people who designed the program, but it seems illogical that the train passed through Wollongong, but it refused to stop there. Given that they knew in advance that there will be a track work there and still refused to adapt the program to the new situation, this clearly demonstrates the mentality of those involved in transportation business.  

Ok, I was a little too critical on the fact that I arrived in Sydney three hours late. Nonetheless, I should point out that I never heard of European train that arrives at their destination three hours late.  

Never mind, I should also mention the condition on the train. This should be more of amusing incident rather than anything else. It turns out that the air condition in the compartment that I was allocated was broken. I have my suspicion that its thermostat was broken, which means the machine just kept pumping cold air into the carriage. When I found out about this, it was already in the morning so I decided to be manly (yeah, that's right. It is about a boy trying to be a man) and braved the cold. In any case, that was fun. 

But the return trip was better. 

From Wollongong:

The journey started at 17:20 on Friday 6th. I caught a coach from Wollongong, which arrived in Moss Vale by 19:20. That wasn't too bad a trip despite the fact the train was diverted through Wollongong anyway. Now, here come my problem with the system. On the schedule, if the train was on time, it will arrive at 22:30. Now, I don't know about anyone else but I would assume that during timetable designing process, they would make sure that the commuters don't have to wait three hours for their train. 

Anyhow, that wasn't too bad if the train was on time. Luckily, I got a chance for an ultimate waiting experience in my life. The train ended up three hours late. On the plus side, I managed to read twenty pages of math book (for comparison purpose, this is equivalent to reading 100 pages of any novel.), completed most of math problem I set for myself and still had about an hour left to test my mental strength after I was too exhaust from math. 

The rest of the trip was far from incident-free. I was waken up at 6am to be dropped off at Albury, and forced to catch a coach from there back to Melbourne. I arrived at Spencer st at 11am, which concluded 17:40 hour trip (compare to about 8 hours driving). The best part is that Saturday 7th was the hottest day on record in Melbourne. Someone also told me that apparently on that day Melbourne was the hottest city in the world. 

So, am I happy with train in Australia? Well, they will always continue to surprise me. But sorry, I will take a bus next time.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bus improvement

Another idea that I am sure people already dreamt about:

The bus should be fitted with a rack at the back so that cyclists can hang their bicycle. It shouldn't be too expensive, and it will promote more cycling.

Web app idea

An idea came to me today while reading on the net. The idea is not new, but I see its potential to be implement in Melbourne. Inspired by the project in New York, I think I can inspire people in Melbourne to establish something similar. Here is a gist:

Notice that on Google map, one can get a direction from one place to another by clicking on the map. However, in the perspective of cyclist not all roads are created equal. While some roads is suitable for motorised vehicle, it may not be suited to the rider. To complicate the issue further, riders are different in term of their comfort on riding the same road. For instance, some riders wouldn't prefer to ride on Nicholson st during peak hour, but I don't see it as too dangerous. 

With this in mind, I suggest an idea to develop a web-based application that allow each rider to plan his/her route. I believe that it should have the following elements:

  1. Each rider can select different minimum road safety level to travel on. 
  2. The road safety level will be evaluated through the inputs of cyclists travelling on the road. The idea that is similar to Wikipedia. That is, you allow a public contribution or road assessment. The road safety level should be judged according to existence of bike lane, Copenhagan style?, tram?, traffic and road condition (like steepness). Initially, the project should only be opened for people to contribute their road assessment. Once, enough data is collected, then we can begin open for the general usage. 
  3. The road assessment should be reviewed every year for more update information. 
  4. The route should be weighed toward straightest path, and less so towards path with high number of right hand turn. In the next stage, the time dynamics should be included in the calculation. The road condition differs greatly over the day, and therefore it would be nice to include into the project. 
  5. Therefore, evaluation for each junction will needed for all traffic direction.
  6. If bike sharing system is implemented, the stations should be shown on top of other information.      
  7. If impossible, the calculation should include the possibility of mix usage. Incorporating the train timetable into the calculation (I believe that you can receive real time information on train now), the rider can plan the route that integrates with travelling on train.   
Anyway these are just a quick inspiration from reading things. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. In fact, if anyone can start the project, that would be awesome.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Melbourne: Towards minimal environmental impact

Recently, the state government released another transport plan for Melbourne future. Despite the lack of certainty of funding, it promises some interesting projects. In particular, I am interested in the plan for cyclists. As a supporter for more riders on the road, I am somewhat disappointed with initial promise of $12.3 million a year on improving conditions for bike riders. However, I am hearten with the recent announcement to increase this fund to $18 million a year. Not bad for a start, given that Bicycle Victoria asked them for $30 million a year. Nonetheless, it is an improvement.

Outline in the plan, I am interested in the  bike hire project in CBD. The idea is far from a radical one; there are already similar projects in Paris and Barcelona. Nor it will be a quick fix for the congestion in CBD. In fact, I am disappoint at the scale of the project. It promises 600 bikes which normal people can borrow a bike in order to travel around CBD. Nice idea, but 600 bikes? And only CBD? I think the government aims a bit too low. Anyway, here are some of the ideas that I dream of, some may not be feasible, but that is beside the point. I am allow to dream, right?

Bike sharing: Essentially the idea is similar to the one in Paris and Barcelona. But I think that instead of restricting to 600 bikes spreading around CBD, it should aim to spread at least 100 bikes within 10 km of CBD (this is still significantly smaller number than the system in Paris, but we could argue that Melbourne has less people).  I mean there are  a lot of people going to Melbourne University. Why shouldn't the program include such commuters? And this is how it should work:
  • People can get a ticket at the station, which will be spread out all over Melbourne. The first 30 minutes should be free and every 30 minutes there after, fee will be charge directly to the bank account.
  • The bike will be designed so that there is no compatible part in this bike with other commonly used bike. The aim is to discourage people from stealing bikes. There is one design in Sweden, in which most of the bike has no easily removable parts. 
  • There will be teams of maintenance to ensure the right distribution of bikes over entire system. This means, the first few years in operation, the general movement of bike will be studied to ensure that right numbers of bikes are at the right spot in Melbourne. 
  • There will be workshop where these bikes can be fixed. This project will create jobs, and provide a training ground for young mechanics. The commuters can easily report  any malfunction on the bike through each bike station.
Bike taxi:  I have seen some bike taxis in CBD. I think we should encourage these riders by establishing road lanes for. In particular, Swanston st should be closed off except for cyclists. I see that this policy will create Swanston st culture just like Lygon st. 

Now, on the contrary to common belief that the closure will destroy businesses, it have been shown the opposite results numerous times. In particular, the nearest living proof is Swanston st itself. Since the partial closure in 1991, Melbourne saw a dramatic increase in the number of outdoor cafes opened on the street (250). The rational behind the increase is the fact that the number of pedestrians  increases by 39 percent during daytime. From the words of  Rob Adams, the director of urban design department:

Well, we've doubled the number of pedestrians walking past their [stores]. You know, you don't shop from a motor car - not at 60 kilometres an hour, you don't
In line with this idea, we then should restrict the speed of motorised vehicle to 30 km/hr. This is to limit the number of accidents in CBD. It is illogical to have car being driven at 60 km/hr in CBD. It would make CBD a lot safer for 7500 cyclists that commute into CBD each day. 

Bike rail: Now, come a more radical idea. This is something I dream of having in at least one city in this world. The idea is to have bike on rail (not the same one as trains). First thing anyone should notice is that putting bike on rail mean less friction and hence the rider can travel at faster speed. I saw a design in one Melburnian's backyard. I reckon that I can travel at least 40 -50 km/hr easily on this bike, if the plastic shell is added to improve on aerodynamic.

Imagine the potential for this type of transportation in Melbourne (of course I don't think this justifies the price tag). So the idea is to have stations between extreme ends of the city. The aim is to connect outer region with human-powered vehicle network. The riders can do the following (the idea is still in its early stage):

  • Hire a bike and ride on it to and from any two stations. I am not sure yet of the price. It can be a small annual fee. 
  • Now, the bike will have to be designed so that quick adjustment can be made. The rider will have to register in the system their detail personal bike configuration, which will be determined at the commencement of membership. To access the bike, the rider can ring the station, and tell them to adjust the bike ready for him/her. 
  • There will be at least 4 lines of rails. Two in each direction, and one of the two will be reserved for slower riders. A remote control will be given to each rider, which will allow them to change lanes. Note that the track will be narrower than the train track.
  • In recognition that this system will not cope under high traffic condition, we can change the idea to bike train. However, this system will be based on more communal and car pooling idea. That is, each user can choose either to "pedal" or to sit and "do nothing". If one choose to do nothing, then a small fee will be required in exchange for the work given by the "pedaller". Alternatively, we can have a number of "pedallers" and "sitters" going in to the same station (or the station along the way) attached to each other. So, this reduces the problem to the design of the vehicle. 
  • Under this system, it will require a good organisation skill at each station. So, implementation would be an issue, never mind the initial construction cost. 

Arthur Seat

On New Year day, I decided to go on an epic cycling trip to Arthur Seat (near Rosebud) with Charlie. The 240m climb over 3km (which mean an average gradient of about 8% - 9%, but Charlie reckons it is 10%) to the top of Arthur Seat reduced me to the lowest gear consistently. I was grasping for air the whole time there, but I never felt like I was getting enough air in. It could be the cold that I recently had that haven't quite over yet. On one hand, Charlie sprinted to the top on amazingly high gear (39/21), while I struggled on embarrassingly low gear (34/25).

As part of the aim, Charlie got wasted just pass Frankston. This meant I had to do the work at the front for most of 40 km on the way back to the city. As a result, I got wasted too.  

Having done a fair bit of cycling over the past two weeks, I have a thought for this year resolution. Mine will be: 5000 km of ride this year.

This will mean Charlie has  to drag me out on bike more..... :P

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A week of cycling

It's been a week since I got my fifth bike in Australia, and I already I rode at least 250 km. In that week, I lost about two kilos of weight which I believed to be the result of having cold and cycling. 

Place that I went:
  • Wed 24: Kew Boulevard (1.5 laps)
  • Thurs 25: My friend's parents house in Burnside height (~24 km from my house): I didn't like the head wind on the way there at all, but the road is flat.
  • Fri 26: Feeling sick as the cold kicked in and ended up shopping. 
  • Sat 27: Mordialloc + chocolate. After a nap: A ride to JZ's house was 26 km of hills after hills. My legs got a good work out. 
  • Sun 28: A ride back from JZ's house after yum cha. It supposed to fill my stomach but the waiters kept ignoring our table. I have a feeling that they think we can't order yum cha.
  • Mon 29: A train to Geelong and then 40 km "scenic" ride to Anglesea via Torquay. It was brilliantly beautiful although the hills were quite punishing if you are on single speed. We took an easier route on the way back along the highway. I don't remember much but we went pretty fast with the tail wind.
  • Tues 30: Completely exhausted from cycling. Dropped about three kilos, so I took a chance to eat up and sleep a lot.
Plan for New Year: Wake up really early and ride to Arthur's Seat. If I am all pumped, which I doubt, my friend and I will try to do the whole trip without taking a train. The idea is to get wasted just like getting pass out. Also this will be my first attempt at Arthur's Seat too. ~200m in altitude in 3km of road. I heard that someone did it in 12 minutes. I will be happy if I can do it in 30 minutes on the smallest gear. :P