In addition to accumulating 100,000 bicycle commuting miles, Mark Capron has a master's degree in structural and ocean engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, five patents, four U.S. Navy Technical Disclosure Bulletins, and a California Water Environment Association award for engineering achievement.
Tying speed limits to passenger miles per gallon. Demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles would skyrocket if access to “fast” lanes, with an 80-mph speed limit, were granted only to vehicles that achieve 60 real-time passenger miles per fossil fuel gallon (pmpg).
With communication technology eliminating accidents and congestion in all lanes, manufacturers would compete on “fossil pmpg” performance instead of debating politicians on fuel efficiency “standards.”
Easy parking sharing. Parking meters with GPS transponders would allow people and businesses to share and sell parking spots by the minute.
A city or transit agency would operate a geographic information system (GIS) database of all the available parking spots and their real-time occupancy and “sold” status. Drivers would be directed to the nearest parking spot at the price they choose. The system could reward carpooling by allowing lower rates or closer spots for vehicles with high passenger miles per gallon.
In short, the nation's transportation needs would be much better served if the federal government offered incentives for manufacturers to deploy emerging technologies on a schedule that transportation planners can use to plan projects.
One way to remove timing uncertainty from the schedule, achieve full-spectrum public service, settle the technology arguments, and save lives more quickly is to showcase the capabilities of fuel-efficient, zero-crash, zero-congestion vehicles with a race.
In October 2005, four computer-driven vehicles completed such a challenge, which was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency (DARPA), the same agency that developed the communications infrastructure upon which the Internet is based.
The vehicles raced from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, crossing 130 miles of desert, mountain passes, and tunnels without the benefit of drivers or the use of remote control.
On Nov. 3, DARPA is sponsoring a similar race in a city rather than in the desert (the location will be announced this month).
What transportation planners need is a challenge for communicating, computer-driven vehicles racing in real-world conditions. Such a demonstration would dramatize technology's capability to ease congestion and increase safety, showing taxpayers that now is not the time for the public sector to surrender service to private enterprise, or even to employ the private-sector approach with toll roads.
Such a demonstration would show that the public sector can indeed provide full-spectrum service effectively—with the public's support.