Posts Tagged: Urban Gondolas

23
Aug

2010

What Happens When Lightning Strikes?

That was the question: What happens in the event of lightning?

I recently had lunch with a group of individuals that included a cable engineer and lightning was was the topic of conversation. I asked him about the issue and what solutions had been engineered to avoid service disruptions due to it.

Much to everyone’s reassurance, he listed a variety of methods to ground and eliminate the effects of lightning on ropeway systems. None were very new or expensive and most were rather straightforward.

In other words: Gondolas, when designed properly, will function perfectly fine in the event of lightning.

“Why then,” I asked, “do you not make those solutions better known?”

I hear worries about lightning constantly. Urban dwellers (or at least their planners, bureaucrats and elected officials), it seems, are worried that these electrical discharges could compromise a system. As lightning is a fairly common occurrence, a public transit technology that cannot deal with it effectively would be virtually useless as mass urban transit. Hence my question.

The cable engineer paused, thought it through and answered with a fascinating (and eye-opening) response:

“We just think no one would let us build these things if they couldn’t handle lightning. I mean, they must be able to handle lightning. We wouldn’t build them if they couldn’t. And because we do build them and are allowed to build them, then we assume people know that they can handle lightning… I guess we must think differently.”

Indeed.



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

04
Aug

2010

Forget Fame

I was recently presented with the following argument against Urban Gondolas:

“If it’s such a good idea, why aren’t there any famous urban cable cars?”

Firstly, fame does not equal quality. There’s plenty of famous products, people and ideas that have been or are famous now but likely won’t see the light of day a decade from now. How many people remember Pet Rocks? Or Jimmy Walker? Microsoft, meanwhile, is about as famous as they come but their software is buggy, difficult to use and prone to crashes. The company’s hemorrhaging customers.

Fame is fleeting and no mark of quality or competence.

Secondly, we’re closer to the beginning of this whole endeavor than we are to the end. Concerns about fame don’t matter right now. What matters now is learning, sharing, educating and spreading. How fair would it have been 15 years ago to say Kobe Bryant wasn’t going to be a star basketball player just because he wasn’t famous?

Thirdly, just because you haven’t heard about something doesn’t mean it’s not famous. There are degrees and shades of fame. Ideas don’t always travel in the same circles. In some circles, the Medellin MetroCable is famous; the Roosevelt Island Tram made an appearance in one of the Spiderman movies (don’t ask me to remember which one); and then there’s the San Francisco cable cars . . .

Fame is subjective. And irrelevant.



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

24
Dec

2009

Awe Is Good

Financial District Gondola

Urban Gondolas provoke awe and that’s a good thing.Cities need more of that, so long as that awe isn’t at the expense of good ideas and sound planning.

Back in the winter of 2008, I was working on a report about Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). I’d had the idea to take images of familiar landscapes from my native Toronto, and photo-manipulate the images so that gondolas appeared as part of the local infrastructure.

The images were crude and aggressive, but intentionally so. The point was not to suggest to the reader that this is what exists in reality, but was instead to engage the reader’s creativity and imagination by posing the questionwhat are the implications of this?

Nearing the end of the project, I was proofing a draft of the report at my local pub in Cabbagetown, the truly wonderful House on Parliament (excellent Prime Rib on Sundays, by the way). One of the bartenders, a terrifically cheerful girl named Kari, asked me what I was working on. I held up the following picture:

Don Valley Gondola Line

Kari’s eyes grew wide like a child at a newly-discovered toy store and she said (with not a hint of sarcasm) “that would be awesome!” It was at that point I knew I was onto something.

In this age of civic ennui, when was the last time someone invoked awe to describe any municipal project, let alone infrastructure? Nowadays, we’re so jaded and bitter about transit, we’re impressed by the mere act of a streetcar arriving 7 minutes late instead of 15.

Maybe a little bit of awe would be good for us.

TD Centre image by Steven Dale, licensed under a Creative Commons cc-by-sa license. Original images by –b– and John Vetterli.

Don Valley image by Steven Dale, licensed under a Creative Commons cc-by-sa license. Original images by PearlyV and macloop.



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