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Kenya’s bike culture – and how it can survive development

If you’ve spent any time in East Africa, this bike will be familiar to you: You will also know that they easily lend themselves to carrying sacks, crates, stacks of firewood, or passengers. Cargo platforms can be added front and back, making them very versatile machines. Like Ford’s Model T, they come ‘in any colour […]

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Transport innovation of the week: Emmy Scooters

A growing number of cities have bike schemes these days – bikes readily available for short term lease, so that citizens and tourists alike can get around with ease and convenience. Lots have car sharing schemes too, so you can have all the benefits of a car without the hassle of owning and parking one […]

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Will we ever have electric planes?

Slow it may be, but the transition to electric vehicles is now well underway, with the promise of substantial reductions in greenhouse gases to come. Someone asked me recently if a similar transition was possible in aviation – will we ever have electric planes? The usual answer is no, not any time soon. Getting a […]

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A few years ago I moved to London and began working out how best to commute to my new job. I had always cycled everywhere, so I borrowed a bike and tried out the route. It was very different to the other places I had cycled, with aggressive drivers in narrow and busy roads. I […]

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Transport innovation of the week: hybrid airships

Last week we were driving through Bedfordshire, and in the distance I saw the unmistakable shape of the Cardington Sheds – the two huge green hangars in the countryside not far from where I live. Over the past few years they have served as movie sets to Star Wars and Batman. They have hosted indoor […]

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Transport innovation of the week: good coach travel

One of the benefits of having an airport a couple of miles from my house is that I have good coach connections and get all round the country with relative ease. The downside is that they are coach connections, and so I rarely take advantage of this. Rather than taking the most direct route, coaches […]

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Let’s save Britain’s lost cycle path network

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how London once had the beginnings of an electric taxi fleet, which was then lost for 120 years. Here’s another lost sustainable transport initiative that could still be recovered: Britain’s 1930s cycle path network. Beginning in 1934, the Ministry of Transport began building cycle paths alongside new […]

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Accelerating EV research with open source vehicles

Open Source is a phenomenon that emerged in the software industry. Where companies such as Microsoft built their business by locking everything down, open source developers publish the code and let anyone use and improve it. As it turns out, the combined wisdom of thousands of programmers in a user community is often superior to […]

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The electric taxi returns to London – 120 years later

The black cab is one of the iconic images of London. The tradition of  black ‘Hackney Cabs’ goes back centuries, originally pulled by horses of course. In 1897 the first motorised taxi was introduced, and it was electric. It became known as the ‘hummingbird’, and the Science Museum has one of the last few remaining […]

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What happened to swappable batteries for electric vehicles?

In 1938 a company called Battery Traction Ltd was set up in Britain. It aimed to speed the advent of electric vehicles by building a network of charging points, and battery stations where you could pull in and swap your depleted battery for a fresh one. The business was overtaken by the Second World War […]

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