Gas station without pumps

2016 September 10

Seven UC campuses in top 30 on Sierra Club list

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:30
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In the Sierra Club list of “Cool Schools” for 2016, seven of the ten University of California campuses rank in the top thirty for sustainability.

rank campus score
  3 UCI  734.38
  8 UCD  714.50
 18 UCSC  670.87
 24 UCSD  657.99
 27 UCR  656.65
 29 UCB  655.00
 30 UCSB  649.18
 62 UCLA  595.56
 84 UCM  571.16

Note: UCSF is not ranked, because it has no four-year undergraduate program, just a med school.

Because the Sierra Club relies heavily on self reports by the campuses, it is not clear that the numbers are really directly comparable. Different standards will be applied in answering the questions, with some colleges really stretching the definitions in order to appear sustainable, and others having very strict standards in which well above average behavior and facilities are deemed inadequate.

Their point system is based on the Sierra Club’s particular beliefs about what is important (giving a lot of points for divestment from fossil fuel companies, compared to the points given for low use of fossil fuels, for example).

They also reward reductions in water consumption and energy usage “since an established baseline period”, but there doesn’t appear to be any uniformity in when the baseline was established nor any reward for having always been a low consumer.  A water-usage per student and energy-usage per student measure would probably paint a very different picture, with places like UCSC (which have always been sparing in both their energy and water usage) moving way up in the ranking.  Of course, energy usage varies a lot with the climate, and coastal California campuses should be able to use a lot less energy than ones in Michigan and Minnesota—but sustainability measures should not start out by giving bonuses for building in places that require unsustainable practices.

Some of their standards are a bit strange, giving as many points for a “bike-sharing program” as for “bike storage, shower facilities, and lockers”, and nothing for bike lanes/paths.  Bike-sharing programs are pretty much PR fluff on a college campus, but bike parking is crucial (though for commuters policies that allow bikes in the office are often better than lockers or bike storage facilities).

UCI, UCB, UCSD, and UCSC all do better in their transportation rankings than UCD, but I suspect that UCD actually has the lowest per-student or per-employee transportation impact, because the very much larger share that bike commuting has there.  They may be giving more points for public transportation than for bicycling, which would explain Columbia University being at the top of their ranking.

Unfortunately, the Sierra Club does not seem to have made the raw data from which they did the scoring available, so it would be difficult to redo the rankings based on different weighting of the criteria, and difficult for student organizations to determine where their campus is missing the mark, in order to push for improvements.

2016 August 1

Yet another weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:41
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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one. I’ve lost track of the number—somewhere around 18 reports, since they have been roughly monthly since I started in January 2015.

Here is the detailed look for the past year.  As you can see, July has been a bad month, with no days in my target weight range.

Here is the detailed look for the past year. As you can see, July has been a bad month, with no days in my target weight range.

On a longer term basis, it is clear that I'm still doing much better than before I started the diet, but the recent trend to higher weight is not encouraging.

On a longer term basis, it is clear that I’m still doing much better than before I started the diet, but the recent trend to higher weight is not encouraging.

Exercise has been very low this month, with only 2.6 miles/day of bicycling. I don’t have exercise built into my daily routine, and I find it very difficult to exercise just for its own sake. I need to find a way to build more exercise into my routine when I’m not commuting—for the summer, for my fall sabbatical, and (longer-term) for when I retire.

I’d like to lose 5 pounds to get back to the middle of my target range, and that will probably take the rest of the summer, if it happens at all. July has not been an encouraging month weight-wise.

2016 July 22

Modeling bicycle balance—a disappointing Nature article

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:38
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The bicycle problem that nearly broke mathematics in Nature News & Comment is a badly titled (click-bait) article that talks about one person who contributed to the development of  the differential equations that accurately describe bicycle balancing (which has been incorrectly or incompletely described many times in the physics and engineering literature).

The one-line summary of the article is pretty accurate:

Jim Papadopoulos has spent a lifetime pondering the maths of bikes in motion. Now his work has found fresh momentum.

There is nothing in the article giving any indication that the equations Papadopoulos derived provided any stress to mathematics.  The problem, as in many physics problems, is all in deciding what needs to be included in the model to get the best compromise between the tractability of the model and its accuracy.  So far as I can tell from the vague descriptions in the article, the equations themselves are pretty much standard PDEs.

Unfortunately, the article does not give the equations themselves, so this article is particularly disappointing.  It is People article, not a science article.

The article did give one prediction from the equations that showed their worth: it is possible to design a rideable bike with no gyroscopic balancing and negative trail, which would be inherently unstable in previous, simpler models. The trick is to move the center of gravity far enough forward to be ahead of the steering axis. Supposedly, such a bike has been built [Kooijman, J. D., G. Meijaard, J. P., Papadopoulos, J. M., Ruina, A., Schwab, A. L. A Bicycle Can Be Self-Stable Without Gyroscopic or Caster Effects Science 3(32), 339–342 (2011) http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1201959], but that article is hidden behind the Science paywall, so you’ll need to go to a university library to access it.

The supplementary material for the Science article is where the equations are presented and explained.

2016 July 14

Quax

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 00:02
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I just ran across a new word: “quax”.

According to Wikipedia’s entry:

Dick Quax tweeted[6] in January 2015 about his disbelief that anyone in the Western world would go shopping by means of a train or bicycle (or by bus, ferry, etc., presumably). Twitter users responded by creating the #quaxing hashtag, defined below.[7]

The Public Address website voted quaxing as its word of the year 2015, followed by Red Peak and Twitterati.[8]
Quax, [verb; past: quaxed, present: quaxing] — to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit. #quaxing
— Non-motorist (@ByTheMotorway)
26 April 2015[9]

I’ve been quaxing for decades now and expect to do so for decades more.

2016 July 4

Bike Parking in Montreal

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:00
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I have a collection of photographs of different types of bike parking, and I added two more types in my June 2016 trip to Montreal:

There are parking posts like this one all over Montreal, numbering the parking spaces for payment, but only a few of them have the extra ring for locking bicycles to the post.

There are parking posts like this one all over Montreal, numbering the parking spaces for payment, but only a few of them have the extra ring for locking bicycles to the post.

This 8-bike rack was spotted on the McGill college campus, in front of their natural history museum. It makes a nice sculptural statement, and is moderately compact, but looks a little difficult to use with tandems, recumbents, children's bikes, and others that don't fit the rather narrow idea of what the dimensions of an adult bike are.

This 8-bike rack was spotted on the McGill college campus, in front of their natural history museum. It makes a nice sculptural statement, and is moderately compact, but looks a little difficult to use with tandems, recumbents, children’s bikes, and others that don’t fit the rather narrow idea of what the dimensions of an adult bike are.

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