Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blindspot lorries to be banned in capital

The Times October 1 2016,

HGVs make up about 5 per cent of traffic on the roads in the capital but account for more than half of cyclist fatalities
HGVs make up about 5 per cent of traffic on the roads in the capital but account for more than half of cyclist fatalitiesYui Mok/PA Wire
 More than 30,000 dangerous lorries with extensive blind spots are to be banned from London roads in a victory for the Times cycle safety campaign.

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said that HGVs would be given a rating out of five for the visibility offered to drivers. Those scoring zero would be banned by 2020; those scoring below three would be banned by 2024.

HGVs make up about 5 per cent of traffic on the roads but account for more than half of cyclist fatalities and more than a fifth of pedestrian deaths, blamed on the large blind spots on their left flank and in front of the driver’s cab.

<div xmlns=""/>” data-src=”//{width}”></div>
</div><figcaption class=

Transport for London said there were about 35,000 zero-rated lorries on the capital’s roads. Most of these are “off-road” vehicles designed for construction sites. The cabs in these lorries tend to be high off the ground and have narrow windows with large blind spots.

Safety campaigners, including the Times Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, have backed calls for haulage and construction companies to use lorries with safer designs, including large windows, see-through doors, lower cabs, side bars and extra mirrors and sensors.

Mr Khan said: “I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy. Our direct vision standard will be the first of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blind spots. I’m also proud that TfL will lead by example and will not use any zero-star lorries in its supply chain from the new financial year.”

The Greater London Authority will not give contracts to firms whose lorries fall below the standard and TfL has encouraged developers and councils to do the same.

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “Lorries designed in the 1970s for use in a quarry have no place on the streets of a 21st-century city.”

Zero-rated lorries will get one star for fitting extra side windows or lower dashboards. Those with side bars and extra mirrors will get three stars and those with low cabs and panoramic views will get five stars.

Experts at the Transport Research Laboratory warned that even five star-rated lorries would pose a significant risk to cycling, making the case for more segregated bike lanes.

London has an average annual budget of £91 million for cycling; the Department for Transport spends £60 million a year on the rest of England.

Shared spaces for drivers and pedestrians ‘are causing chaos’

The Times October 24 2016, t

Exhibition Road in central London was designed so that cars and pedestrians could co-exist without the need for signs or barriers
Exhibition Road in central London was designed so that cars and pedestrians could co-exist without the need for signs or barriers    Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
 Trendy shared space schemes that attempt to declutter streets by stripping out kerbs, road markings and traffic signs are causing “chaos and catastrophe”, ministers have been told.

The system — adopted by town planners across Britain — has created a “traffic free-for-all” in busy shopping areas, putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk, it was claimed.

The Conservative peer Lord Holmes of Richmond said that at least 14 local councils had scrapped shared space schemes by reintroducing zebra crossings and segregated cycle lanes.

He made the comments as experts prepared to publish a government-backed review of the system this year. The review, led by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, is expected to be critical of the process, saying that planners often fail to ensure an “inclusive environment” is created that benefits motorists and pedestrians at the same time. It suggested that the Highway Code may have to be rewritten to tell drivers how to approach shared spaces.

Shared space was developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s to declutter streets. It seeks to blur the lines between pedestrians and vehicles by taking out kerbs, surface markings, crossings and signs.

Drivers are supposed to reduce their speed because of uncertainty over who has priority. In some areas, zebra crossings have been replaced by “courtesy crossings” that have no basis in law and rely on the goodwill of motorists. About 100 roads have been adapted in Britain, figures suggest.

Safety groups have been highly critical of the development, claiming that it puts pedestrians at risk, particularly those with disabilities or sight problems. MPs from the Commons women and equalities select committee have begun an inquiry into shared spaces and other aspects of the “built environment”.

In a written submission to the inquiry, Lord Holmes, a former Paralympic swimmer, said that shared space had “absolutely failed to achieve an inclusive experience”. He added: “Shared space is not a safe place nor a pleasant place; it has turned high streets into traffic-free-for-alls; it has caused confusion, chaos and catastrophe.”

A number of deaths have been linked to shared space schemes. In 2012 David Thompson, a pensioner, died when he was hit by a bus while crossing a junction without traffic lights or road signs in Coventry.

Lord Holmes reported that 14 schemes had been scrapped in recent years. These included a zebra crossing that was reinstated at a cost of more than £100,000 in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Another crossing was reinstated in Bath after the council was warned that pulling it out had created a safety risk.

In its submission to the inquiry, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation said that the Highway Code may have to be rewritten to make sure that drivers give proper consideration to pedestrians in shared space areas.

“There may be a requirement to consider how we balance the needs of people driving vehicles and other people in certain areas of our built-up areas, in particular where those needs interact,” it said. “There are a number of ways that this may be achieved, including changes to the Highway Code . . . or to primary legislation.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are absolutely clear that the needs of the whole community, including disabled people, need to be considered by councils looking to introduce shared space schemes.”

Chocks away: Google founder’s prototype means flying cars could really take off

The Times October 26 2016,

A prototype of a flying car being developed by the Google co-founder Larry Page has been spotted — and it’s not nearly as sleek as Back to the Future’s DeLorean DMC-12. But some experts believe that the vehicle represents the future of your commute, even if it does not let you time travel.

The prototype from Zee.Aero, one of two flying-car companies said to be funded by Mr Page, was seen at the airport at Hollister, California, where the business has a hangar.

Employees of a nearby aero turbines company said that they had seen the aircraft take off vertically, hover about 7.5m above the tarmac, then land. “It sounded like an electric motor running, just a high-pitched whine,” Steve Eggleston, who took the photograph, said.

Some experts believe that the flying car being developed by Larry Page represents the future of commuting
Some experts believe that the flying car being developed by Larry Page represents the future of commutingJEFF CHIU/AP

Zee.Aero would not comment but the aircraft photographed resembles drawings that the company submitted in a patent three years ago. The design cannot be properly analysed from the image, but experts said the fixed wing must incorporate horizontal rotors to provide the necessary thrust for a vertical take-off. This would fit with the old patent drawings, and the propeller pictured at the back would provide forward motion.

There is also speculation the vehicle could be self-flying, or semi-autonomous. The “car” is not roadworthy, with relatively tiny wheels, but gets the name because owners could take off and land from a driveway and use it day to day.

The prototype is not the only flying car with vertical take-off abilities in development but is considered significant because of Mr Page’s record as a tech visionary.

After decades of appearances in popular culture, such as the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and working models dating back to the 1940s that never took off commercially, experts say mass-market flying cars are coming much closer. Reasons include better, more efficient batteries, lower-cost aviation electronics, lower manufacturing costs and better automated systems — the consequences of advances in drone design.

There’s no price or launch date for Zee.Aero’s vehicle but companies such as AeroMobil and Terrafugia plan to sell flying cars for several hundred thousand pounds.

Tim Robinson, editor of Aerospace magazine, said: “The idea of flying cars has been there as long as there have been cars and planes. However, the technology really seems to be converging and now you’ve got people like Page and Airbus involved, there is serious momentum.”

The Airbus subsidiary A³ is working on a self-piloted flying car for one passenger or cargo and seems to have a similar vision to Mr Page. Despite the received wisdom that flying cars are best suited to longer-distance travel in relatively quiet airspace, the company’s Project Vahana vehicle is designed to address “rising transportation challenges in metropolitan areas”.

The company says that motorists in London spend the equivalent of 35 working days a year idling in traffic. It is aiming to fly a full-size prototype before the end of next year and to have a market-ready vehicle by 2020. It believes that automated flying cars could revolutionise urban travel for millions of people in as little as ten years.

Rodin Lyasoff, A³ chief executive, said: “We seek to help enable truly vertical cities by opening up urban airways. We believe full automation will allow us to achieve higher safety by minimising human error. Our aircraft will follow predetermined flight paths, with only minor deviations if obstacle avoidance is needed. We believe this mode of operation will be compatible with future airspace management systems and will allow more aircraft to share the sky.”

Google buys system that controls gadgets with just a look
Google knows what you look at online, but it could soon find out what you’re looking at in everyday life, too, after it acquired a Silicon Valley startup that has pioneered eye-tracking technology.

The system from Eyefluence lets you use your eyes as a mouse while wearing a virtual-reality headset or augmented-reality glasses, enabling the real world to be seen through a computer display. It could be used to play games such as whack-a-mole with eye movements, or take a picture of something just by looking at it. It could also be a lifeline to people with disabilities, who could use it to control devices such as their television.

Mark Skilton, professor of practice at Warwick Business School, said that Google may use the technology to collect and profit from data on what users look at. Facebook and Microsoft have also been investing heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality.

Growing tribe of staycationers seek freedom of the open road . . . in a luxury motorhome

The Times April 13 2017,

The “glamping” revolution, which has added a little luxury to camping, is being replicated in the motorhome market
The “glamping” revolution, which has added a little luxury to camping, is being replicated in the motorhome marketAlamy

Once the preserve of hippies, the campervan is booming in popularity as staycationers holiday closer to home.

Far from the “turn on, tune in, drop out” vibe of the vehicles 50 years ago, motorhomes are being sold for six figure sums, with everything from gas hobs to wine coolers included.

The “glamping” revolution, which has added a little luxury to camping, is being replicated in the motorhome market. The National Caravan Council (NCC) said that motorhome registrations were exceptionally high last year at 12,332, compared with 10,572 the previous year.

Kevin Lafferty, of Forestry Commission Scotland, which manages camping and caravanning sites across Scotland, said that modern campers are looking for a more comfortable way of enjoying the outdoors. He said: “There has been a significant increase in the number of motorhomes and requests for provision for them. How people use the outdoors and stay overnight is changing.

“In areas such as Loch Ness, there are a lot more motorhomes than there were five or ten years ago and the sites are more geared up for that.”

£380,000 motorhome is fast route to luxury

The Times October 11 2016

A motorhome company has unveiled a palace on wheels that costs almost twice as much as the average English house.

The Morelo Empire Liner has underfloor heating, a rainwater shower, double bedroom and even a garage.

It is powered by a 7.7-litre engine that develops 300bhp — twice as much torque as a Lamborghini Aventador.

The 35-ft motorhome, described as a “super-liner”, has a £378,200 price tag.

The Morelo Empire Liner is powered by a 7.7-litre engine which develops 300bhp
The Morelo Empire Liner is powered by a 7.7-litre engine which develops 300bhpSWNS

It comes with a large panoramic roof, a well-equipped kitchen and luxury bathroom with ceramic lavatory. Sky TV can also be shown on board.

It has been in production for a year, it will be on display at the Motorhome & Caravan Show, which starts today at the Birmingham NEC.

Andreas Wolfer-Heimann, international sales manager for Morelo, said: “We believe motorhome enthusiasts, and the public alike, will be impressed by the craftsmanship and attention to detail.”

Rotherham to Rainham with no emissions: it’s a gas

The Times October 11 2016,

HG Wells may not have chosen the road from Rotherham to Rainham for his time machine. However, the zero-emission hydrogen car of the future completed its first long-distance public outing yesterday from a wind-powered electricity-to-gas refuelling station in South Yorkshire, arriving 180 miles and three and a half hours later just east of Dagenham, to be recharged on solar power. It was a good job the day was breezy and sunny.

Today is the official opening of Britain’s 15th hydrogen fuelling station, at Rainham, on the site of the old Ford car factory.

Toyota, Hyundai and Honda have bet that hydrogen, piped into fuel cells where it reacts with oxygen in the air to drive electric motors and emit waste steam, is the long-term replacement for the internal combustion engine.

Graham Cooley says that cars running on electricity have a two-speed future: short-range inner city cars that run on electricity stored in batteries; and long-range electric cars powered by fuel cells that already can run 350 miles on a 5kg fill-up of high-pressure hydrogen gas.

Dr Cooley is chief executive of ITM Power, an AIM-quoted company that owns and operates fuel-cell refuelling forecourts. It opened the most northerly station in Rotherham off the M1 last year, another public station in Teddington, west London, this year, and now Rainham. They use electricity off the grid to make hydrogen, replacing the power they use with renewable energy, in Rainham’s case from solar panels.

ITM will install its first hydrogen pump at a conventional filling station at the Shell’s Cobham services on the M25 in Surrey. “It is important that we have a major retailer involved and this will make it feel more real,” Dr Cooley said.

Hydrogen is going through the same pains as battery electric vehicles: not enough recharging infrastructure to persuade manufacturers to build the cars or to persuade the consumers to buy them; and the cost, which for hydrogen includes the fuel.

Toyota’s Mirai costs more than £60,000 and gas costs £10 a kilo, which means £50 to fill up, equating to about 60 miles per gallon in conventional terms. You may think you are saving the planet, but they are not much cheaper to run than a fuel-efficient petrol or diesel.

Simon Bourne, co-founder of ITM and its chief technology officer, says the price per unit comes down when refuelling stations are dealing with dozens of visits a day rather than the present handful per week.

Digital Past 2018

Celebrating ten years of new
technologies in heritage, interpretation and outreach

7 – 8 February 2018

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Digital Past is a two-day conference which showcases innovative digital technologies for data capture, interpretation and dissemination of heritage sites and artefacts.

As this year marks Digital Past’s 10th anniversary, we will reflect on the exciting developments over ten years of digital heritage, the lessons learnt, and the opportunities and challenges for the sector in the decade ahead.

Digital Past 2018 will be held in the award-winning Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales’s largest arts centre with stunning views over the historic market town and resort – also a lively university town – and Cardigan Bay. Aberystwyth, the ‘Biarritz of Wales’, sits at the heart of the beautiful west Wales coastline, conveniently located on the mainline Cambrian Line railway.

The conference will offer a combination of papers, hands-on workshops and demonstrations to investigate the latest technical survey and interpretation techniques and their practical application in heritage interpretation, education and conservation.

Call for contributions

We are seeking submissions from those working on innovative projects on the themes outlined below in a research or operational capacity, who can contribute to this both retrospective and forward-looking conference. Contributions can be made through formal presentations or workshops, or more informally through the ‘unconference’ session or a show stand. We welcome contributions through the medium of Welsh, English, or bilingually. Please find details of the various formats below.

Themes and topics

The two main strands of the conference will be Digital Technologies and Digital Heritage, which may encompass digital survey (Terrestrial Scanning, Geo-physics, LiDAR, Photogrammetry, UAV’s, etc.), data processing, manipulation and analysis (including GIS & BIM), data storage and archiving, 3D modelling and reconstruction, visualisation and animation, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, gaming, immersive environments, 3D printing, e-publication, crowd sourcing, communities, education, engagement, interpretation and tourism.

As this is the 10th Digital Past conference, we are also seeking papers that take both a celebratory and critical look at the developments over ten years of digital heritage, the lessons learnt, and the opportunities and challenges for the sector in the decade ahead.

Other topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Effects of digital technologies on equality, diversity and accessibility of the heritage sector;
  • Implications of digital/innovative requirements by funding bodies;
  • Implications of Brexit on funding of, and cooperation in, digital technologies;
  • Implications of austerity on technological innovation and development
  • Implications of bilingualism on digital platforms.


20 minute papers presented in a conventional arrangement of presentation and PowerPoint format. Each session will consist of 4 such papers, with a 10 minute question and discussion period at the end of each session. Due to the tightly packed schedule, a strict adherence to time will be followed.


To be held on the morning of the 8 February. Workshops can offer practical, hands-on demonstrations or training in a particular aspect of digital technology with heritage applications. Workshops may be either a single session of 90 minutes or two of 40 minutes.

To make a submission for any of the above, please send a short outline (100-150 words) of your proposed presentation/seminar discussion/workshop to together with details of your name and organisation.

‘Unconference’ session

A series of 15 minute sessions which can be booked by any delegate attending on a first-come, first-served basis. Booking will be available from 9.30am on the first day of the conference only. These sessions will allow for presentation on any project, research or issue relating to the use of digital technology in heritage. Presentations may be pre-prepared using PowerPoint, or purely in response to other discussions/issues raised during the event.


A limited number of exhibition stands will be available for a two-day booking. Larger stands are available at a cost of £215 or a Poster stand at a cost of £165 and include the cost of one conference registration (prices are not subject to VAT). Booking will be available when conference registration is opened.

Deadline for submissions

The deadline for the submission of papers, seminars and workshops is Friday 29 September 2017. Decisions will be made after consideration of the merits of the individual submissions and their fit into the overall programme, and applicants notified by Friday 13 October 2017.

Free registration for the event will be extended to those presenting a paper or workshop. Please note that while we are happy to have submissions which include more than one speaker, we can only offer one free registration per submission. We regret that no further expenses can be offered.

We welcome contributions through the medium of Welsh or English, or bilingually.

For overseas applicants, presentation of papers via live-web streaming may be considered.

For further information or any questions please contact Susan Fielding at or on 01970 621219.

The Digital Past Team


1957 E-Type Jaguar Brecon to Carmarthen trip recreated

A fleet of about 24 classic Jaguars will drive from Brecon to Carmarthen and Pendine on Saturday to recreate a trip first made in 1957.

It marks 60 years since the prototype of the Jaguar E-Type was test driven in Wales before going into production.

The car was described by motor racing driver Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made”.

It has been credited with “defining the spirit of the 1960s” and was driven by Frank Sinatra and Princess Grace.

The fleet will be flagged off from the Castle Hotel in Brecon by the mayor, Ieuan Williams, and school children.

It will stop in Carmarthen and the Pendine Museum of Speed before travelling back to Brecon.

It is estimated about 72,000 E-Types were built between 1961 and 1975.

In January 2017, a rare example sold for almost £6m.

Free weekend bus travel pilot launched across Wales

A pilot bus service offering free weekend travel to passengers across Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.

It covers buses using the TrawsCymru network across Wales. Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates called it a “ground-breaking” project designed to boost visitors.

It begins on Saturday and will run every weekend until May 2018.

A budget of up to £1m has been set aside for the initiative.

“From Bangor to Cardiff, Fishguard to Wrexham, I hope to see this scheme provide the perfect excuse for people from across Wales and beyond to jump on the bus and spend their weekends enjoying the diverse beauty of Wales,” Mr Skates said.

“The free service is subject to availability, but we have also provided additional funding to local authorities to ensure operators are able to deploy more buses to meet increased demand if necessary,” Mr Skates added.

Which services are included?

The pilot applies to all buses on the TrawsCymru network:

  • TrawsCymru T1 Aberystwyth – Lampeter – Carmarthen (operates seven days per week)
  • TrawsCymru T1C Aberystwyth – Lampeter – Carmarthen – Swansea – Cardiff (daily except Sundays)
  • TrawsCymru T2 Bangor – Porthmadog – Dolgellau – Abersytwyth (operates daily)
  • TrawsCymru T3 Wrexham – Llangollen – Dolgellau – Barmouth (operates daily
  • TrawsCymru T4 Newtown – Brecon – Merthyr Tydfil – Pontypridd – Cardiff (operates daily)
  • TrawsCymru T5 Aberystwyth – New Quay – Cardigan – Fishguard – Haverfordwest (operates daily – Sundays during summer only)
  • TrawsCymru T6 Brecon – Ystradgynlais – Neath – Swansea (operates daily)
  • Cardiff Airport Express T9 services (operates throughout the day – seven days a week)

Arrangements are also in place to reimburse operators of other bus services if they experience any reduction of passengers as a result of the pilot, although the Welsh Government is “optimistic” it will have the opposite effect.

It is hoped the scheme will act as a “catalyst for bus travel in Wales”, boosting passenger numbers and the wider use of TrawsCymru routes.

The Welsh Government said it would use the pilot to get a better understanding of how such reductions affect wider demand for public transport before deciding on its future beyond May 2018.


Vintage 1950s Bedford coach to return to Shetland

A vintage coach used in the Shetland Isles from 1950 until 1979 is about to begin its 1,000-mile journey home.

The 1950s Bedford coach was bought by Nick Taylor in 2011, and he completed its restoration at his home at Weybread in Suffolk.

A visit from its Shetland-based former driver in 2013 persuaded Mr Taylor the coach belonged back on the island.

It will leave from outside Norwich Cathedral on Monday, after a blessing from the bishop.

The coach was used by islanders to get to the shops and to go to school.

Mr Taylor said he realised it was a “lifeline to the islanders” after a visit to Suffolk from its former driver, James Watt, in 2013.

He said: “It was his life – he’d drive it every day across the island. He took children to school and relatives to weddings and funerals. He even did impromptu deliveries across the island.”

Mr Watt, from Reawick, Shetland, drove the Duple Vista coach from 1968

Mr Taylor has donated it to the Shetland Commercial Vehicle Preservation Trust.

He and a support team of 10, including Mr Watt, a vicar and a chef will depart from outside Norwich Cathedral.

The Bedford, which has a top speed of 40mph (64kph), will be driven to the Shetland Isles via Lincolnshire, across to the Lake District and up the west coast of Scotland.

Mr Taylor hopes they will reach Shetland on 22 June.