Monday 17 October 2016

Road pounding

I'll share some info about wheels pounding on road-beds.  It is in all the text-books of civil engineering [aka, I can't be bothered to look it up] that the amount of damage sustained by roads by traffic is proportional to the 4th power of the axle weight [pdf: see eqn 3.1 on p.17). That is an example of allometry, which I was last on about on the context of the enormous size of boys' feet. My Red Toyota Yaris has a curb weight of about 1 tonne = 500 kg per axle. When John Joyce delivers 20 tonnes of 804 gravel, his rig weighs 32 tonnes fully-laden = 8 tonnes per axle; or 16x the weight of my Yaris. 16^4 = 65,563. Heavy good vehicles - and there are much bigger ones on the road - deform and strip the surface, make potholes, and compact the subsurface so it doesn't drain water properly 60,000 times more or worse than my humble red commute wagon. So they should pay road tax of €11 million a year. It's not going to happen though.

The corollary of this is that a bicycle and rider at, say, 100kg is only a tenth the weight of me in my Yaris. So when I tool into work listening to Newstalk FM, I'm committing 10,000x more damage to the road than the one time when I cycled into work. It's more or less 40 km to work and 40 km back and it was ten years ago when I made that epic journey. I am considerably more crocked up now than I was then, so I don't think cycling to work would be a sustainable project for me. But it's certainly possible for the numerous students and faculty who are less than 40 and live less than, say, 12 km from college. I made a such journey each and every working day for about 6 years between 1990 and 1996. As it is, the workers at The Institute drive to work, occupy one of a limited number of parking spaces and then, get this, pay an annual sub to use the Institute's gym. Is there some way in which the tread-mill and the rowing machine could be connected to the grid to run a few lights?

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