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Mobility

Nº 119 – What’s the problem with European railways?
Second part

Second part

Saturday 25th December 2021. Despite being a more environmentally-friendly alternative to airlines and road transport, Europe’s rail networks are underused. Today, a unified, European cross-border train network is more a fantasy than a reality. The reasons are many, ranging from decades of underinvestment over a ‘fortress’ mentality of national companies to liberalisation in the 90s. Here’s a guide to the many tracks one needs to navigate to understand the problem with European railways. What’s the problem with European railways? The current state of European railways is that of a patchwork, rather than a network. For decades, countries across Europe invested …

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Nº 118 – Derailed – how EU states are sabotaging European rail

Saturday, the 18th dezember 2021. 2021 has been proclaimed as the “Year of the Railway” by the European Commission. A „Europe Express“ trip taking in 100 cities and towns between Portugal, Slovenia and France was supposed to promote a new era in European rail. Yet the PR tour turned into a disaster. The promotional train demonstrated the the EU governments’ failure in railway policy. The journey through 26 states and across 33 borders required no fewer than 55 locomotives. For on Europe’s railway tracks, nothing really fits or connects with each other. Strange that, when EU politicians fall over each …

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The Faro Bike Lounge

Our cities are the stage for a pedalling revolution, which, although slow, is set to create a new paradigm: that of the cycle-civilised, bike-informed citizen. This new mentality is leading to the creation of places where you can repair your bike while you’re having lunch or drinking a coffee. In the city of Faro, we found an example of this, the Bike Lounge. ECO123 talked to the people in charge, Alberto Henriques (40), who spent 18 years working for a bicycle import company, and Susana Henriques (42), who worked as a supervisor in a hotel in Faro. ECO123: How did …

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Putting fun between your legs/The fun of pedalling

A commuter is someone who uses their bicycle for their everyday travel, in contrast with a cyclist, who uses a bike for sport or recreation. In reality, this distinction is artificial because, like many others, I do both, and frequently on the same journey. It is quite common for me to take the longest route to work out of the simple pleasure of pedalling, feeling the cool breeze on my face and enjoying the beauty of the city bathed in that special, early morning light. Using a bike as a means of transport quickly became, if not an obsession, at …

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The Good City

Mobility, the origin of health, prosperity and happiness. Are Lisbon, Porto, Faro and other cities in our country above all places that are people-friendly? Do we live in municipalities with good public spaces and a plan that encourage people to walk or to ride a bike? Does good local public transport reduce dependence on cars? One idea from other European cities is that drivers are obliged to leave their cars at a car park outside the city and a free bus shuttles every five minutes between the car park and the city centre. Walking and cycling in public traffic are …

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Mobility

People and Mobility.

Let’s start with the good news. Portugal is in 6th place in the global Climate Change Performance Index (1), directly behind Denmark and Sweden and ahead of both Switzerland and Germany. And the bad news? The reduction in greenhouse gases coming from emissions from industry, agriculture and forestry, from power stations, from buildings and households but especially from transport and mobility can mainly be attributed to drastic cuts during the economic and financial crisis. Important though a balanced national budget may be, savings alone are of little help when major investments in the right ideas and projects are lacking. Political …

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ECO123 Tesla Testdrive

The Future Now.

There it is in front of the door, and it looks like a completely normal car. Could even be a BMW. You don’t feel the difference until you’re sitting in it. On the dashboard, I find a 17” touch screen. It’s the car’s nerve centre. Roberto explains how it works. The computer (or the NSA) controls the navigation system, the internet connection, the front and rear cameras, the built-in telephone, the media centre, energy consumption and all the other personal control functions which you have to adjust yourself before setting off. You can say that the car is a machine …

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Solar Impulse

To tell the story of SolarImpulse – the first solar aero plane project – we have to begin seven years ago in Switzerland. Here the idea was born. This summer the initiators and pilots André Borschberg and Bernard Piccard flew with it across the USA covering more than 5.600 km despite being confronted with heavy weather challenges. SolarImpulse, the first airplane ever to fly day and night on solar energy only, proved the reliability and efficiency of clean technologies and renewable energies. SolarImpulse took advantage of Switzerland’s long tradition of technological innovation, research and entrepreneurial excellence. Over the centuries this …

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lisa-selvidge

Gliding up hills

When I was a student in Lisbon in the early nineties a friend of mine cycled down from the north of Spain to the capital. It was July. All the Portuguese in the villages were sitting in the shade of fig trees and bus shelters, watching the world go by when along came this red in the face, dripping wet, young man on a mountain bike. They looked on in bemusement, shook their heads and generally agreed that he was ‘maluco’. Even my Portuguese partner’s father was puzzled and asked, ‘Couldn’t he afford the bus?’ Times change. Portugal is now …

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beum - kit electric bicycle

BeUm – the electric bicycle from Minho

There are still people who don’t ride bikes because Portugal is not a “cyclable” country. But Rui Araújo, a Portuguese researcher from the University of Minho, decided to solve the problem: he made a prototype of a kit that can turn “normal” bicycles into electric bicycles. Costing €500, this device can be fitted to all bicycles, providing a range of 60 km and a maximum speed of 25 kph. This project was Rui’s Master’s thesis for the course in Industrial Electronic Engineering and Computers he is attending, and although it’s not ready to be sold commercially yet, a new kit …

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