Transgender Taxi driver closes in on mission to Mars

Transgender Taxi driver one step closer to Mars voyage

A transgender taxi driver from Hull is one step closer to relocating on Mars, after being shortlisted for a reality TV programme which will chart the preparations for a permanent move to space.

Melissa Ede made it through to the final 705 candidates for the Mars One project, which plans to build the first human colony on Mars in 11 in years time. More than 200,000 from about 140 countries applied. The winners will get seven years of specialist training which will be filmed for a reality show by the makers of Big Brother. Transgender Melissa (pictured centre) says she would use the experience to promote diversity.

Transgender Taxi driver closes in on mission to Mars

Norwegian Wood arrives at Trafalgar Square

A 50-year-old Norwegian Spruce has made its way to London from Norway to stand ion Trafalgar Square once again this year.

Each year Oslo donates a tree to the people of London as a mark of thanks for their support during the Second World War. The first was sent to Britain in 1946.

This year’s tree, a 50-metre specimen, known as the Queen of the Forest, was felled by the Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang, alongside Westminster’s Lord Mayor, Sarah Richardson. The tree made a 700-mile journey by lorry and boat to arrive in London on December 2.

Norwegian Wood at Trafalgar Square
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Eros turned to Snow globe

Eros on Piccadilly Circus turned into a Snow Globe

By now you will have seen the snow globe that surrounds Eros on Piccadilly Circus. You may not have given it much thought, but it was quite a challenge to design and build. The City of Westminster Council approached Wildstone and Architen Landrell with the challenge. Eros has a long history of being a target for spirited personal attention in the lead up to New Year’s Eve. As a way to protect the aluminium sculpture and get everyone in the West End ready for Christmas, the idea was to have Eros in the centre of a larger than life Snow Globe. Architen Landrell was awarded the contract to design, manufacture, test, and install the ‘World’s Largest Snow Globe over Eros. ’ The Snow Globe will remain in place until 4 January. It will then be packed up and stored until it is reassembled again next year. With its prominent position, the octagon base of the Snow Globe houses eight of some of Europe’s highest resolution LED video screens. As a Snow Globe of this scale has never been attempted before, the designers installed it, minus Eros of course in their car park and their Site Operatives worked around the clock to meet the completion date of 17 November. The lights, video and snow went live on 18 November at 18:00. A 30 ton crane was needed for the final installation; the globe is made of 685 m2 of clear PVC fabric, weighing a half ton, kept inflated by fans running to keep the globe pressurised at all times; 8 snow blowing machines are strategically installed around the inside of the base. The base itself is 12 metres across, 4 metres high, made of steel & filled with ballast – weighing 21 tons, with the globe having a 15 metre diameter and 19 metres height.
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Eros turned to Snow globe

NV200 Taxi for New York

New York gets ready for a Nissan invasion

The Taxi of Tomorrow, the Nissan NV200 is most likely coming to New York City on October 28th, although there are still those opposing the program. The Nissan NV200 is more of a van than a traditional sedan that is normally used as cabs in New York. The Nissan NV200 was the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow contest and was designed from the inside out using input from New York taxi drivers, medallion holders, and passengers.

The vehicle offers interesting features such as more space for passengers, increased luggage room, and even a transparent roof so passengers can look up at the city. The NV200 will only be replacing non-hybrid cabs in the city however, and some NYC taxi driver operators aren’t happy with being told what to buy. Lawsuits to prevent implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow have been filed, claiming the vehicle is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is not wheelchair accessible, although the Nissan NV200 can be retrofitted. It is reported that a few NYC taxi fleets have planned to retire their current non-hybrid cabs early and purchase new cabs that are not Nissan NV200s, likely using the old Crown Vics for as long as possible. With these new cabs in operation before the deadline, implementation of the 3 to 5 year plan could take much longer.

NV200 Taxi for New York

20mph limit to be implemented in the City of London

A 20mph limit is to be implemented across all roads in the City of London. The City of London’s full Court of Common Council has voted for an area wide 20mph limit to protect workers and visitors to the square mile. 20mph limits passed the Planning and Transportation Committee and Policy and Resources Committee in June after the City of London commissioned an air quality impact report from Imperial College. This showed no negative effects. Research also found that for the 1.6 mile widest City of London journey limits would only mean a maximum 25 seconds extra journey time. In July the Mayor’s Roads Task Force recommended that the all the central zone i.e. West End, The City and Southbank become 20mph across the whole area. A quarter of London boroughs now either have a total 20mph limits policy or are moving towards a 20mph speed limit, these include Islington, Camden, Southwark, Haringey, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Lambeth and now the City of London. Other boroughs are watching the City’s decision. More are expected to announce their own borough-wide 20mph limits soon.

This vote confirms the City’s move to borough-wide 20mph limits which will be highly cost effective. A relatively small investment in signage is predicted to reap road casualty savings of 9 per cent per year. Campaigners now hope it will send a message to the rest of the UK that a 20mph environment would encourage active travel and health, as well as providing better road safety. This vote sends a huge message to London and other global centres about the City’s aim to maintain its position in the top rank of global financial centres by prioritising road safety. Campaigners say that a 20mph limit creates an environment that encourages active travel and health through walking and cycling.

Jeremy Leach, ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ London Co-ordinator said: “A 20mph City of London says strongly that 20’s Plenty where people work. The City of London joins Paris and Tokyo in recognising that 20mph limits are better for business and health”. Rod King MBE ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ founder said: “The City of London has chosen wisely in civilising streets for people with 20mph limits. This highlights the need for our ‘It’s Time For 20’ call for a review of signage requirements to enable it to be far cheaper for local authorities to implement 20mph limits.” Time for 20 asks the Department for Transport to allow authorities to sign exceptions to 20mph limits which can halve the cost of implementing 20mph limits. Transport charity, ‘Sustrans’ London deputy director, Matt Winfield, said: ‘A 20mph limit is welcome wherever it is put in place across the country, but a postcode lottery where pedestrians and cyclists are safer in some areas than others is not acceptable – 20mph must become a national default speed limit.’
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Seriously injured cyclist warns others – Don’t run a Red light

Craig Dortkamp, an ‘experienced’ cyclist, had never encountered any problems with other road users or suffered any accidents. Or so he says! But that all changed when Craig cycled through a red light in the City of London – suffering serious injuries as a result.

Reflecting on his experience, Craig said: “It’s so easy not to consider the consequences, but I don’t think I will ever go through a red light again.” On 17th May, Craig was cycling to work during rush hour traffic at about 8am.  As Craig approached the junction of Holborn Circus the traffic lights were showing red indicating for him to stop. He failed to stop at the red light and as a result found himself in the middle of a busy junction with cars travelling in all different directions. As he struggled to get out of the way of oncoming traffic he cycled into a taxi.

Craig, who was not wearing a helmet, crashed into the side of a taxi and his head went through the side window smashing the glass completely. He sustained a serious cut to his head which went down to the bone.  He required surgery and over 200 stitches. He also suffered smaller cuts to his face, two black eyes and bruising to his neck.

He hopes that by publicising his experience it will encourage other cyclists to stop, think and not to go through red traffic lights. Craig offered advice to other cyclists: “Be sensible, don’t take unnecessary risks, don’t run through a red light – you don’t know what is around the corner. I hope I don’t see any other cyclists running through a red light. If you don’t take that risk your chances of being hit by a vehicle are much slimmer and you probably won’t end up with scars on your face for the rest of your life like me.” 

Between April 2012 and March 2013 145 cyclists were injured in the City, 21 seriously. Cyclists caught going through a red light will be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice which carries a £30 fine.  Last year over 3,000 fines were given to cyclists for traffic offences in the Square Mile. Of these, nine out of 10 were issued to cyclists who went through a red light.

Private hire driver ordered to pay £2000 court costs

A private hire driver who illegally picked up a passenger in Reading town center has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 after appearing in court. The Court heard how Mohammed Arif had been caught during an undercover operation by Reading Borough Council and Thames Valley Police officers acting as customers.

He denied plying for hire, but was found guilty after a trial at Newbury Magistrates Court. He was fined £110 and ordered to pay £2,016.60 in court costs.  Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead member for environment, said: “Most people who flag down a private hire vehicle in the street do not understand it is illegal and they are uninsured for the journey.”

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Boris Johnson tells Taxi drivers to jump of Tower Bridge

In Boris Johnson’s speech at the Tory Party conference, he talked about taxi drivers protesting over the Olympic route network restrictions prior to the Olympic Games beginning. He said: “The taxi drivers were blockading the West End. One of them actually handed the keys of his cab to a police guy and jumped off Tower Bridge.

I wish some of the others could have done the same frankly but never mind.” Undoubtedly there will be drivers in the trade who would like Mr Johnson to take a running jump off Tower Bridge – or any other bridge of his choice. How can this be a helpful comment? Especially as just days before this comment, in a radio interview, Mayor Boris Johnson had apologised to taxi drivers and restaurant owners after their businesses were hit by the Olympics. Speaking on LBC 97.3, Boris Johnson denied claims that London became a “ghost town”, but said sorry to businesses whose trade was hit by the Games.

He told Nick Ferrari: “I’m not going to pretend it was a bonanza for everybody and for those that feel hard done by, I’m sorry for the losses or low takings they had. But the overall economic benefit to London of people around the world seeing a city that can deliver an amazing event like that so successfully was incredibly positive. If you look at the spend by tourists in the city, it was up overall. The economic impact of the Games is estimated to be massively positive.”