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Are traditional sail boats the future of trade?
Abandoned in the advent of steamboats, the centuries-old transport is now enjoying a revival among cargo traders, with a new breed of merchant ships returning to wind power in an effort to promote environmentally sustainable trade...
"A lot of shipping companies are going bankrupt because fuel is so expensive," said one of the ship's founders and co-captain, Arjen van der Veen.
"The model we have now of shipping is unsustainable -- both for business and the environment. We chose a traditional rig because it's a beautiful design and we wanted to show people sailing can still be effective."...
The Sail Transport Network (STN), a green travel campaign group, is now looking to create a sustainable transport certificate, much like the "Fair Trade" and "Organic" stamps found on other foods...
(12 October 2012)
French supermarket uses Paris canals to reduce fuel costs
Reuters, The Daily Telegraph
The supermarket group, part of the Casino chain, is supplying 100 of its city centre stores via barges which are unloaded by crane on the River Seine near the Eiffel Tower, a short truck ride away from the shops.
The barges arrive daily from a warehouse to the east of Paris, bypassing the capital's traffic-choked ring-road and saving the retailer an annual 89,000 litres of diesel fuel.
While Franprix calls the move as a boon to the environment, it and other firms see a strategic advantage to switching more freight to water with road routes increasingly saturated and crude oil at over $100 a barrel...
(29 October 2012)
Spain's empty highways lead to bankruptcy
Katell Abiven, AFP
..."In Spain, just as there was a real estate bubble, there was also a bubble in infrastructure, and one of the areas that got most developed was the motorways," he added.
"We built thousands and thousands of kilometres of motorways on routes that did not have the traffic concentration to justify it."
The craze drove Spain to break records: it became the country in Europe with the most kilometres of motorways and the most commercial international airports, and was second only to China in the world for the length of its high-speed train lines.
But while the state was approving all these projects by private companies, it was also developing a network of toll-free highways, naturally preferred by drivers.
In the first quarter of this year, with Spain in recession, motorway traffic fell 8.2 percent compared to a year earlier, hitting its lowest level since 1998, the transport ministry said.
"Traffic around Madrid has fallen by between 15 and 20 percent in the past five years," Lopez said. "In our case it has fallen by much more," he said of his toll roads...
(28 October 2012)
Functional and Economical, Cargo Bikes On the Rise
Caitlin Zacharias, Next American City
Bakfiets and longtails sound like fitting names for a rare bird species, but are actually names for an increasingly common household inhabitant: the cargo bicycle.
The Xtracycle Radish has a built-in extended rear wheel base for transporting cargo, kids or both.
A cargo bicycle is a bike accessorized or outfitted to transport items or people. Any old bicycle with a basket, pannier or trailer is functioning as a cargo bike. But they can get much fancier than that: Add-ons like the Xtracycle Freeradical customize standard bikes with a rear platform for cargo. Even higher-end models consist of a single-piece frame with an extended front or back end and sometimes a built-in box or wagon...
(30 October 2012)