Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Open letter to Julie-Anne Genter

Andrew Atkin: 

This letter was sent to the the recipient, 09-01-2012.

I have decided to present the idea as an open letter.

Forward: The truth is, we cannot intelligently invest in transport infrastructure until we can economically rationalise it. And this is largely impossible without congestion-charging.

Removing congestion from Auckland is also impossible without congestion-charging. Note, people only flood into trains and buses when they either can't drive, can't afford the parking, or because the roads are so severely congested that trains become a much faster option for their particular destination. 

We can do much better than a somewhat blind multi-billion dollar rail investment, which could too easily prove to be a white elephant just few years down the track.


Green Party MP
Julie-Anne Genter

Hi again,

I had a look through the idea of removing minimum parking requirements, and I agree with it. In my view the only reason why we had them in the first place is probably because we just never (previously) had the tools to meter all (or nearly all) parks, meaning we haven't yet been able operate a rational market model (?).

However, it's clear to me that we now have the tools to toll any park or road economically, using the system I suggest.

I wanted to forward this to you because it has become obvious to me that this system, surely, is by far the best way to go about it. And also it would need to be a national initiative for if it were to ever go ahead.

As follows:

1. Mandate passive RF-chips on all cars in New Zealand, to be fixed onto license plates for when the cars get their WOF. This of course provides an electronic signature for all cars registration. 

Passive RF-chips are so cheap in themselves that they can be considered costless.

2. From here, you can install an RF-reader embedded-in or placed on top of the road. The RF-reader would basically be an extremely crude cellphone-type device that records the registration of all cars that pass over it. From here it can send a text via wireless internet to inform a master server of what/when/where a given car went through the gate. The reader can be solar-powered (only a tiny amount of power would be required to run it). It would likewise accumulate data and maybe send a text to a master server with its records, once a day. This is extremely simple and easy to install technology - no wiring required.

3. From here, your server will have all the information it needs to bill a driver for both toll roads and parking. Every driver will have an established account, and people can be sent a bill for their usage, usually as a PDF-file every month, and pay online too. 

The adminstration can be (and naturally would be) almost totally automated.

4. Private sector ownership of carparks and roads will have their revenue paid to them through the Ministry of Transport, from the MoT's master server. Naturally it needs to be based on one national system to be practical. 

-No one will want to muck about with multiple bills from multiple servers, and nor do they need to if you get the system right from the beginning and build a single core-system as the base. This is also why it would need to be an initiative developed by central government. It needs to be a national system so all cars can be charged. It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing - all the cars need to be chipped first.


I cannot concieve of a more efficient and practical system for providing user-charges on roads. And to stress there is no fundamental reason for it to be unduly expensive - the supporting technology is inherently cheap.
I do not believe the proposed system exists as of yet (from what I know at least?), but the government could certainly commission its development. There is no question it would work. It's based on nothing more than a crude information exchange using well established technologies. It's all solid-state electronics and therefore inherently reliable and low maintenance.

As I see it, it gives us the foundation to economically rationalise road usage which in turn allows us to do away with minimum parking requirements. Parking can become just another component of the market economical model.


Another thing you can do with this system is install the equivalent of speed camera's, for cheap. It's just a matter of embedding two readers, say 50 meters apart, on any given stretch of road so it can likewise measure vehicle speed as it enters and exists the gates, plus details. 

I wonder how this would affect the road toll, having a "speed trap" on maybe every dangerous corner?

Road management:

The RF-readers can inform us of traffic conditions in real time, and very accurately. This can obviously help with traffic management. 

Also, we can have congestion-charging with this system and on a detailed level, using maybe many toll gates because they're so cheap to install, anywhere. People can use the internet to get a detailed perspective on travel/parking costs at any given time of the day, as rates are always displayed online.

Reducing congestion is by far the most significant way we can reduce carbon emissions from road transport. Stop-and-go operation is the great "evil" of transport inefficiency in an urban environment.


Having a detailed time/location record of people's cars, that can be accessed when required, can no doubt help to fight crime.


I hope you found this idea of interest. 

Thanks for your attention,

Andrew Atkin


Extended video: 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Getting the New Zealand road toll down to ZERO

By Andrew Atkin.

Yes, it can be done. But there is only one (realistic) way to do it.

Well amazingly, the Green party has come up with a policy proposal that I might agree with. As I understand, they are thinking about reducing the New Zealand highway speed limit to 70 km/h.

However, there is no way the 70 km/h proposal can be implemented until cars are driverless, for political reasons alone. The public would surely, otherwise, never accept it.

First, let's look at the safety advantage of travelling at 70 instead of 100 km/h. The braking distance at 70 is half that of 100, and if a 'freak' collision does occur it will happen with only a small fraction of the impact-force that it would be at higher speeds. With anti-collision technology provided by now-developed driverless systems, the chances of an injury causing death on New Zealand's roads would be virtually zero. Even significant injuries would be all but unheard of.

So getting the road toll down to virtually zero per-year, is not unreasonable. We can do it. But again the problem is getting drivers to accept travelling 30% slower which would increase their travel times by about 15% (Note. Reducing top speeds does not proportionally reduce average speeds, due to cornering and travelling through towns, etc).

The trick is to provide a proposal on reducing the top speed that the public can accept. Well, this is where the advantages of driverless Uber-style transport comes in. Let me create a scenario to give you the picture.

You live in Wellington and want to spend the weekend in Auckland. So, you order up a bed-car designed for sleeping for long trips, on Friday night. When your car gets to your door at 8 pm, it has a pre-ordered meal waiting for you included. You get in, start eating dinner, and watch the movie on the screen or work on your computer. At 10 pm you get tired and lie back and go to sleep, using your personal duvet and pillow, on what is literally a bed base in the car.

You wake up in Auckland at 6 am the next day, Saturday, without the sore neck. Your top travel speed was 70 km/h and your average speed was ~65 km/h.

What you would also notice, is that the car ride was unusually smooth. This is because the car has electronically controlled suspension that provides some active lean into the corners, and has an explicit map that allows it to smoothly avoid significant bumps on the road.

Now this is the point. Do we really need to travel at dangerous speeds when car-time is no longer dead time?

I would argue we don't. In fact car-time could be valued as it gives people more of their own space where they won't be directly disturbed. And the increase in travel times will not be drastic, at about 15%, if we reduce the top speed to 70 km/h.

And finally, there is always the possibility of building new roads that safely specialise to faster operation in the future. Maybe operating at 150 km/h with roads that have heavy super-elevation, for those who want to pay for this.


Let me list some other advantages of reducing highway speeds to 70 km/h.

-Approximately 60 - 70% reduction in energy consumption, from reducing aerodynamic drag and braking losses.

-Great reduction in road maintenance.

-Far more economical driverless freight operation.

-Major reduction in vehicle maintenance.

-Huge increase in road capacity via close platooning, which requires constant road speeds (not slowing for corners) to work well. (Note, driverless cars can be compartmentalised for privacy in car-pooling, which should be popular. This also can increase road capacity dramatically).

-Good for tourists, for where the trip is the destination.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If I were a Moderate Muslim

By Andrew Atkin:

If I was a Moderate Muslim, then what would I do to combat all these Islamophobes and Neo-Nazi's who call me unkind names?

Well for start, I wouldn't worry about them. They are not my real enemy. My real enemies are the fundamentalist Islamist's that share my faith. The fundamentalists perform terrorists activities, practice sharia law when they can, and push for the Islamification of the entire world via Jihad.

The fundamentalists would be threatening to ruin my moderate reputation via toxic association. They're making non-Muslim's nervous about all Muslims. Naturally, if I was a moderate Muslim I wouldn't want non-Muslims to feel that way about me, especially if I'm living in a non-Muslim host country.

So what would I do? First I would join up with non-Muslims and do everything I can to explain, to them, the difference between people like me and extremists. And I would do it respectfully. Of course it's a bit silly to call people Islamophobes and racists after what extremist Islam has done, and is still doing today. And name-calling would never help my cause. That's no way to get people on my side.

In clarifying the difference, I would clearly define my moderate religious position. I would take the Qur'an and remove all the parts within that book that I believe are a perversion of 'true' Islam. I would also condemn the evil aspects of Muhammad's life that, to my mind, must be a false representation of history and therefore my faith.

Of course, I cannot be a moderate Muslim and simultaneously consider the brutal and totalitarian directives within the Qur'an to be Allah's truth. If I did, then I would be an extremist - not a moderate. A moderate can only believe in the Qur'an as it stands today selectively, so again I would extract all the corruption from the original book and call my edited version "The true Qur'an".

My version would be a pure statement of the beliefs of a moderate Islamist, and there would be no ambiguity. This is what a religious book should be like. If you want people to know the truth that you believe in, then you shouldn't mix words with how it is expressed. And I wouldn't.

In conjunction with this, I would study extremism and extremists on the psycho-social level. I would need to. Extremists are my enemy as they want me converted or dead, so I would have to put in place measures to defend moderate Islam from them. I would need to understand my enemy to work against them.

Further, I would insist that all mosques are carefully monitored, along with other precautionary measures, to defend against any corrupting influence from extremist elements that might get in. And naturally I would want to take the opportunity to prove my innocence to my wider society, so as to protect the reputation of my faith.

A genuine moderate has nothing to hide, and would never wish to become an enemy of the non-Muslim world. A moderate only wants to do good things, and their beliefs are consistent with western human rights.

But most importantly of all, as I must stress, I would transparently draw a definitive line between the moderates and the extremists. There would be no confusion. I would explain the differences explicitly. Again I would not want to be confused with the extremists. I would see it as my duty to protect moderate Islam and also to explain my faith to my host country, out of respect for my host country, and like everyone else I would believe that I have a duty to fight extremism and the pervasive threat of extremism. Because extremism is real - not phobic.


Now this is where I have a concern with the moderates. I have to say their behaviour is not entirely consistent with who they claim to be. Where is THEIR Qur'an, or do they endorse the whole original thing? If so, then, like many studious people have claimed, there is no moderate Islam - only Islam. And if these (so called) moderates are not prepared to define their religious faith in explicit terms that we can all understand, and also take serious action against the forces of extremism, then they can't complain when people look at them with suspicion. If they're going to be conspicuous by their silence--which may be interpreted as passive endorsement--then they deserve the suspicion they might recieve.

Realistically though, most moderates are probably just ignorant. They don't understand their holy book because they've only read a part of it. But again that is not good enough. They need to get off their butts and clarify where, exactly, they are at, and what exactly they believe. Otherwise the western world will continue to give them that concerning suspicion that is both understandable and justified.

In a nutshell, the moderates need to join the rest of us in maturely answering the question:

"What action should we take to be sure there is no Islamic radicalisation process occurring or potentially occurring within our society?"

The author has already given his best attempt at answering that specific question: