Sep 12, 2012
Cable Transit Industry, Emirates Air Line, Engineering, Innovations

How the London Emirates Air Line Cable Car Powers its Cabins

The issue of energy has come up a lot when we talk about urban cable systems — and for a good reason. If cable is going to succeed as the modern, comfortable, city transit technology it claims to be, then such amenities as heating, air conditioning, video screens, wifi, and two-way communication systems are going...

Read More

Sep 06, 2010
Urban Planning & Design

Elevated Beauty

Elevated roadways, busways, light rail lines, subways, automated people movers and cable cars are far cheaper to build than underground systems. They’re not as cost-effective as street-level systems, but street level systems are subject to all the whims and unpredictability of intermingling with other forms of traffic. Problem is, most architects, urban designers and politicians...

Read More

Aug 31, 2010
Ropes & Cables

Cable Splicing

Last week’s post about six common uses for steel cables generated significant conversation and questions about the cables themselves. One question that was not asked, however, was how a company goes about splicing the two ends of a cable into one continuous loop. I’m told this is one of the most impressive aspects of a...

Read More

Jun 10, 2010
Just For Fun

The Spindle

My mother owns a loom she uses for making small blankets and an occasional wall hanging. When I was four she pulled me away from my blocks and legos to hold a spindle of yarn while she unrolled the thread and rewound it into a ball. For several minutes I did as I was told, until a better...

Read More

May 03, 2010
History, Urban Planning & Design

Foresight & The Bloor Street Viaduct

Toronto’s Prince Edward Viaduct (most commonly known as the ‘Bloor Street Viaduct’) is one of my favorite pieces of infrastructure in all of my hometown. This 1918 Art Deco masterpiece was the cornerstone of the city’s plans to connect the growing metropolis with disconnected suburbs across the Don Valley River system. Is it functional? Yes....

Read More

Apr 18, 2010
Urban Planning & Design

Forcing Functions

We all do stupid things. Constantly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something that prevents those things? Forcing Functions are a principle of industrial and interactive design that shapes human behavior in order to prevent error when using a machine, interface or system. They are functions that – quite literally – force us to behave...

Read More

Apr 09, 2010
Monorails, Oddities, Wuppertal Schwebebahn

The Wuppertal Schwebebahn

In the central German city of Wuppertal is a piece of transit infrastructure completely unique in the world. Translated directly, the Wuppertal Schwebebahn means “floating railway” and it’s easy to see how it received it’s name. Built in 1900, the Shwebebahn in the oldest monorail on the planet and an elegant piece of transit history...

Read More

Mar 19, 2010

Aerial Technologies, Lesson 4: Funitel

My absolute, all-time favorite aerial cable technology is a little-known configuration called The Funitel. The technology was originally created by Lift Engineering, Inc. an American company (that mercifully no longer exists) with one of the worst safety records in the industry. While the concept behind the Funitel was ingenious, the engineering wasn’t. It wasn’t until...

Read More

Feb 07, 2010
3S, Aerial Trams, Gondola, Peak 2 Peak, Urban Planning & Design

The Peak 2 Peak (Part 3)

  Last month I toured Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak cable gondola system. This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on the system. Click on the following links to view Part 1 and Part 2. Most aerial cable systems offer a smooth ride. What little friction there is, is rarely felt by the rider. Except,...

Read More

Jan 19, 2010
Analysis, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design

Open Source Transit

In the past, your technology was successful if you designed something, marketed it, sold it and people bought it. People used your technology the way you told them to use it and that was that. Then along came things like the internet, Google, the iPhone, WordPress and Web 2.0 and all that changed. Instead of...

Read More