Shocking pedestrian bridge

In the Pioneer Press Officials close bridge that jolted riders in Maple Grove
“Officials close bridge that jolted riders in Maple Grove
Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 07/03/2008 07:02:51 AM CDT
MAPLE GROVE — Officials in Maple Grove have closed a new pedestrian/bike bridge that was delivering an electric shock to some people who crossed it.
One local bicyclist tells KARE-TV that he rode his bike across it last spring and felt a sensation like a swarm of bees flying into his shorts. The same sensation occurred on a second trip, and he contacted the local park district.
He says one of the park directors told him that at least two other riders had reported the same experience, as had the park director.
The park district consulted the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which built the bridge, and Xcel Energy, which has powerlines nearby. They decided to close it.
An Xcel spokesman says the powerlines are likely generating an electrical field that’s causing the bridge to develop a charge and deliver low voltage jolts to the bicyclists.
A MnDOT spokesman says authorities are looking into how the bridge was built and grounded and plan to correct the problem so they can reopen the bridge.”


An interesting article on elevators:
Taken for a Ride
From the article:
“According to statistical findings attached to the Energy Efficiency Act, which became law in 2006, 90 billion people each year ascend and descend on escalators, making it a more popular form of transportation than commercial airliners. The national energy use of escalators is estimated at 2.6 billion kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to powering 375,000 houses; its cost is roughly $260 million.”
Well, $260M is less than $1/person in the US per year, not too bad all things considered.
I saw intermittent escalators deployed at the Zurich airport. Its a bit unnerving at first, you think the elevator isn’t working, and then it starts just as you step on. Of course, in Switzerland, everything does just work, so why I would think it wasn’t working is beyond me.
The article implies we should just climb stairs, which seems a bit hair-shirt wearing to me, given for less than 1/3 of a cent a day in variable cost, I get unlimited escalator rides. (My son insists on riding every escalator he sees, regardless of where it is going).
The number of escalators in the US = 30,000 …, just over 2 for every McDonald’s restaurant in the US (or one for every 10,000 people).