London Transport Network’s First (Olympic) Hurdle

Those expecting unbearable overcrowding and huge delays in London during the Olympics have on the whole been pleasantly surprised since the Opening Ceremony officially kicked off proceedings last Friday night.

Passengers jostle to get onto a busy central line train (Photo: EPA)

Workers have described the City of London as being like ‘ghost town’ this week as hundreds of Londoners have either packed their bags for a holiday or opted to work from home for the next two weeks.

It seemed like all the hype over the past few months of how busy and unbearable London would be had worked to the advantage of the Olympic organisers, with the transport system busy, but running remarkably smoothly.

That is, until yesterday, which heralded the first major problems across several overground and tube lines.

Services running to the Olympic Park and to Greenwich Park, where the equestrian events were being held, ran into problems.

Passengers on the Central line had to be re-routed onto the Jubilee and District lines after a driver smelled burning at the start of morning rush hour.

Two lines operated by Transport for London ran into problems, hitting services running to Olympic Park in Stratford and from central London to Greenwich Park, the site for equestrian events.

Signal failures and other disruptions caused delays on other lines, including the 140mph Javelin train linking Stratford to Ebbsfleet in Kent and St Pancras, which in turn held back Eurostar services at the station.

Despite these disruptions, the overwhelming impression is that London is managing to run a world class transport network for a world class event.

Much like for the athletes, London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy knew that these Olympics would bring both highs and lows for the transport system, admitting that some breakdowns would be inevitable.

As ever, it’s not necessarily the problems that are thrown at you that count, it’s the way you deal with them, and our observation is that the transport network and Londoners alike are doing a stellar job of keeping the city moving.

Mini Monster Trucking

They call them ‘Mini Monster Trucks’, but these vehicles are not small by any stretch of the imagination, especially when parked up next to their drivers, who come as young as seven years old.

Kid KJ standing proudly with Monster Bear (Picture: TransMedia Group)

Pictured here with his truck, which he calls ‘Monster Bear’, is one of the starts of the stateside scene, Kid KJ.

Kid KJ started monster trucking at the tender age of just five and a half, at the time making him the world’s youngest Monster Trucker.

So how does a six year old get into monster trucking? Well, in Kid KJ’s case, the hobby runs in the family – his dad studied to be a mechanic, and his mum Nancy is a monster truck driver herself.

Kid KJ reportedly decided to take up the sport himself after seeing his first show when he was just three years old. Not content with an imitation monster truck go-kart, KJ “wanted a real one.”

Clearly not one to follow the principle “I want never gets”, dad Tod built a half-size replica monster truck for his son, who duly started racing it.

Now aged nine, the young prodigy has quite a repertoire: “I do wheelies and donuts, racing, driving over cars and off ramps, just like the big trucks do.”

For anyone concerned about the safety of young children driving monster trucks, there are many measures in place to prevent them getting hurt.

The trucks can only reach maximum speeds of 25 mph, and drivers have to wear protective gear, including fire-proof suits and helmets.

Even without these precautions though, you get the impression that nothing would faze KJ who, when asked if he ever feels scared, boldly declared: “I never knew anything different. I’ve been driving everything since I was young, so I don’t know how to be scared.”

Heroic Truck Drivers Stop High-Speed Chase

So London 2012 officially kicks off today and we’re as excited as anyone about the Opening Ceremony tonight. Rather than doing a feature on it though, we thought we’d bring you something a little different, which nevertheless has something of the Olympic spirit about it.

Check out how these heroic truck drivers strategically move their vehicles to intervene in a high-speed road chase, putting themselves in danger for the safety of the general public. Hats off to them.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Meet the Beat Fleet

You may have seen them on their journey around the country accompanying the Olympic Torch Relay over the past few weeks, but did you know that Coca Cola’s Beat Fleet is sustainable, as well as fun?

Coca Cola's Beat Box (Picture:

Well now you do – or at least you will do once you’ve read this blog post!

While it might not be surprising to find out that the vehicles, including the Beat Box pictured above and the Beat Bus have been converted to use diesel-electric hybrid power, you may well be stunned to find out that this green technology has helped to save approximately 1.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the course of the Relay.

The green commitment doesn’t stop there, as the fleet includes Recycle Beat, specially designed to encourage people to recycle wherever they can for a truly green Olympic Legacy. During the Torch Relay, anyone who disposes of a plastic bottle using its recycling receptacle will be rewarded with a musical treat.

Not wanting to be outdone by its larger cousins in the fleet, this nifty little van is also fitted with an advanced exhaust clean-up system and low emission auxiliary generator to keep air pollution to a minimum.

But the crowning glory of this fleet is surely not merely its sustainability, but the way it showcases cutting edge green technology in a bright, bold, and fun way.

The Future’s Green – Literally!

We all know we need to make our roads and cities ‘greener’ for a sustainable future, but there seem to be endless debates over how to achieve that goal.

An example of a green wall in an urban canyon

A new study suggests a pretty simple solution – turn the roads green, literally!  According to research published last week, planting trees, bushes, and other greenery at street level to create so-called ‘green walls’ could reduce pollution by up to 30 per cent.

Most of the pollution we are exposed to is generated at street level, so introducing vegetation to the ‘urban canyons’ (that’s streets, to you and me) found in towns and cities helps to filter nitrogen dioxide and microscopic particulate matter and deliver cleaner air right where we need it.

Green walls were shown to be more effective for reducing pollution than planks in parks or on rooftops, because pollution tends to get trapped and concentrated in and among the urban canyons. Even trees planted by the roadside only have a limited use in areas of low pollution, as they risk preventing the pollution from escaping narrow streets.

The researchers behind the study from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences said that until now intiatives aimed at reducing pollution have taken a top-down approach, but a grass roots approach (excuse the pun) of building green walls in hotspots could be a relatively easy way of taking control of acute problems at the local level.

The Rubbish Truck Moped

Last week we brought you a ridiculously stacked van brimming with bicycles. Today, we discovered its Chinese cousin, the rubbish truck moped!

Enjoy the weekend everyone, we heard a rumour summer might even make a long-overdue appearance tomorrow!

Worst Shortcut Ever

You know we can’t resist a good bit of sat nav madness, so this week, we bring you the lorry driver who unquestioningly drove his car transporter deep into the Styrian forest in Austria.

The transporter stuck in the Styrian forest (Picture: FF Deutschlandsberg)

The driver in question was directed off road while on his way to deliver eight cars to a the Schweighofer car garage from a depot in Deutschlandsberg.

As is so often the case, instead of switching the gadget off and engaging his common sense, he followed the narrowing roads of the forest beyond the tarmacked surfaces and onto a dirt trail, ploughing on for 5 km until he got stuck.

Having not found the exit he was expecting at the other side, and unable to turn back, the driver had to call the fire service for help.

In order to prevent the truck from toppling over with the weight of its charge, the fire service removed the cars from the transporter before reversing it out of the forest.

The whole operation took four hours, including driving the brand new cars out of the forest separately.

There’s Something Fishy Going on Here

You may well feel like a sardine at times when you’re stuck in back-to-back traffic jams, but you wouldn’t normally expect the delays to be caused by the fish.

A worker clears up the 24 tons of spilled sardines (Picture: Mail Online)

That’s exactly what startled drivers in Poland encountered last week after 24 tons of sardines were spilled onto the highway near Kolobrzeg, causing hours of delays.

The spill was caused by a careless truck driver who forgot to close the back door of his vehicle (some might say he had the memory of a goldfish).

As a result, a huge trail of fish was left for several hundred metres along both sides of the road, stopping traffic in both directions.

One bamboozled motorist was quoted as saying he initially thought it was some form of divine judgement, with fish being scattered instead of a plague of locusts.

The truck driver paid dearly for his mistake, incurring not only a £50 fine, but also £5,000 in cleaning costs for getting the road cleared.

Taking A Stroll With 5,000 Ducks

Yes, you read that title right, and no, we haven’t included any extra zeros by mistake. The video shown below depicts possibly the most perfect symbiosis between man and bird ever caught on camera. Enjoy.

A few times a year, Chinese farmer Hong Minghsu takes his flock of 5,000 ducks for a walk down the road, and apparently never loses a single one. Hats off to him.

Superhuman Roof Rack Stacking

Now we’re big fans of loading your vehicle up to capacity when it comes to transporting stuff, but even we think this van driver might have overdone it slightly!

Impressive stacking: a van overloaded with bycicles

Who knows what would possess someone to stack that many bicycles on a van, but whatever their reasons, we salute them for the effort. We just hope they didn’t try to drive anywhere in that state.