We here at SmartPlanet have a formidable array of favorite publications we like to read — you can take a peek at some of them using our handy Twitter list — and one of those is Monocle, a monthly magazine based in the U.K.
In June, its editorial staff ran a “Transport Survey” for 2011, evaluating issues with ongoing transit projects around the world but also looking forward, to the future. From cars to trains to planes, the folks at Monocle covered it.
What follows is some of our favorite parts in the package:
- High-speed rail in the U.S. is dead. At least the concept of a galvanizing push for it, that is. In 2011, U.S. president Barack Obama offered a target of giving 80 percent of Americans high-speed rail access within 25 years. At this rate, he’ll be lucky if he manages to hit 25 percent. “The administration has not given up on rail, but the president is talking about trains not just as part of his dreams but his cautionary tales,” Sasha Issenberg writes. The future of HSR in the U.S.: gradual.
- Electric bicycles need a lift. They’re cheap, clean and plentiful — why aren’t they more popular? Because they’ve had tariffs and licensing requirements to contend with. “Many governments worldwide have encouraged e-bikes’ proliferation by terming them ‘bicycles’ and not mopeds or light motorcycles,” author Frank Jamerson writes.
- Rethink the rail station to reflect local taste. “When people step off a train and stand in front of the station, they should know where they are,” train designer Eiji Mitooka writes. Monocle staff add these upgrades: improved service, ubiquitous information displays, lighter-weight ticket and security barriers and quality local vendors that don’t rhyme with “Boy Dodgers” and “Finnadon.”
- Future car design could change dramatically, thanks to the electric powertrain. Larger diameter and thinner wheels reduce drag; smart interior materials will allow for reconfiguration for different uses. “The saloon car with the engine at the front will disappear, to be replaced by single-volume vehicles, with components distributed around the car to make the most of the interior space,” Royal College of Art London professor Dale Harrow writes.
- Intelligent parking spreads around the world. It’s old news in space-starved Tokyo, but denser parking options could arrive as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI Transport Machinery spread their wings beyond their native Japan. That means improved land use and less chance you’ll forget which section you parked in.
All sound improvements, in our opinion. Now, who will help us get there?
Illustration: Hey Studio