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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Does Ken Avidor Profit Financially from his anti-PRT Propaganda?

In the comments section of this Lloydletta abomination, I asked Ken Avidor a simple question: how much have you made on your anti-highway, anti-PRT cartoon, Roadkill Bill?

Ken refuses to respond.

Why is this relevant? Well, for weeks now, Ken himself has been asking pro-PRT people if they make money to promote PRT - on Wikipedia he tried (and failed miserably) to imply David Gow (Mr Grant) had a financial conflict of interest, and he's also aggressively questioned other pro-PRT people.

So certainly the question is relevant for Avidor himself.

But unlike Avidor's fishing expiditions, I have actual evidence to back up my question:

  • Roadkill Bill ran for almost 4 years in Pulse of the Twin Cities during which time I assume Avidor was paid for producing it. (How much, Ken?)

  • Roadkill Bill is aggressively anti-highway, and Ken has repeatedly tried to link PRT to highways but has never provided shred of evidence to support that bogus claim. Could there be a financial reason for Ken's persistent attempts to associate PRT with highway promoters?

  • At some point (right around the time he stopped getting paid for producing Roadkill Bill), he produced this anti-PRT Roadkill Bill comic - pretty strange considering that PRT doesn't run on roads. This was right around the time PRT was being discussed heavily in Minnesota and he was ramping up his anti-PRT propaganda campaign. Could it be that Ken used PRT to revive his Roadkill Bill cartoon?

  • Later, in the context of his never-ending attack on the Wikipedia PRT article, he posted another Roadkill Bill comic - this one critical of Wikipedia. What possible link could there be between an online encyclopedia and a cartoon about roads?

  • Ken's anti-PRT pages are located on his Roadkill Bill website - so people searching on PRT are directed to roadkillbill.com.

  • There is a Roadkill Bill paperback listed at Amazon. Does Ken continue to make money by keeping Roadkill Bill in the spotlight?



Is Ken Avidor's anti-PRT campaign nothing but a tool to promote his cartoon? It's a valid question.

Here's a very plausible scenario: in 2003, as Roadkill Bill was running out of steam, PRT was a big topic in Minnesota. Everyone was talking about this new exotic form of transportation that rode above the streets, but few people had any concept of how such a system would work or how much it would cost - it was a complete unknown for the general public.

In other words, PRT was ripe for attack - especially by a train advocate who was looking for new ideas for his floudering cartoon. Unlike the anti-highway movement, which is always battling against the huge majority that is the car-driving public, attacking PRT was a piece of cake.

But, how can an anti-highway cartoon like Roadkill Bill be used to attack a new form of public transit? Easy - just tell everyone that PRT is a tool of the highway lobby! It's really brilliant: you scare the left by linking PRT to highways, you scare the right by calling it a tax boondogle, you scare everyone else by linking it to terrorism - and all the while you revive your failing cartoon!

So here we are, several years later. Ken Avidor has kept PRT (and therefore Roadkill Bill) in the limelight for several years after the last Minnesota PRT bill was defeated. He's splashed his Roadkill Bill anti-PRT and anti-Wikipedia cartoons all over the Internet. He even got an article on Roadkill Bill at Wikipedia. And web searches on PRT direct you to... roadkillbill.com.

Indeed, PRT has gained Roadkill Bill much more exposure than the anti-car movement ever could - and I assume the royalties are still coming in from his paperback.

How much of this scenario is true? Who knows? It seems we'll never know, since Ken refuses to answer any questions about his profits from Roadkill Bill. But look at all the evidence above and judge for yourselves. I think it's a very safe assumption that Ken Avidor has benefited handsomely from his anti-PRT crusade. The only remaining questions are: how much has he made so far, and how much more business does he drum up every time he posts a new PRT smear?

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10 Comments:

Blogger Mr_Grant, Managing Editor said...

Does Ken Avidor Profit Financially from his anti-PRT Propaganda?

Well, today Amazon says of the RKB book: "Only 3 left in stock--order soon (more on the way)." So I guess the answer has to be a big fat YES!

8/18/2007 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

abba Dabba Doo

jane, get me off this crazy thing

you be the judge

*Jarry*

8/19/2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Yes, indeed, "more on the way". A few more PRT posts to help direct people back to his RKB website, and he gets a nice big check, right?

No conflict of interest there, nope.

8/19/2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger Mr_Grant, Managing Editor said...

Leave it to Humidor to get the Flintstones mixed up with the Jetsons.

8/19/2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger John said...

The only problem with your argument is that "PRT" is not "public transit". It's a mess.

8/20/2007 1:09 AM  
Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

You should start doing your own research, John. Trust me, once you get past Avidor's empty campaign, PRT is quite alive, and viable. In Europe, especially.

But that's OK, there was a time when even I bought into Avidor's fraud - about two years ago, before I did my homework, I thought the same as you do. I had read all the negative stuff Avidor spread using anonymous identities, and I was under the mistaken impression that there was all this evidence proving PRT to be unworkable. The "evidence" turned out to be nothing more than the endless rantings of a single individual with an agenda.

So just a suggestion John: do your own research before you parrot Avidor's propaganda.

8/20/2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger John said...

Somehow I don't think Vukan R. Vuchic, the guys who did the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana (OKI) Central Loop Report, Michael D. Setty, Leroy W. Demery, Jr., Light Rail Now, and Avidor are all the same person.

Don't you think that the reason Avidor won't tell you how much he makes is because that's his personal business? Think about it. If someone were to walk up to me and ask how much I make each paycheck, I would say "none of your god damn business". I especially wouldn't want to give away the amount of my salary to someone who's probably going to use it to come to some ridiculous conclusion and further attack my position.

I think you should find something else to talk about, you've obviously got too much free time on your hands because you keep wasting it away writing about one person and trying to get into arguments with him. Avidor seems to have had enough wasting time with pro-PRT guys like yourself.

8/20/2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

John, trust me. I've read all the PRT writings of Vuchic, Setty, and Demery, as well as the OKI report.

Vuchic, Setty, and Demery only write about PRT in generalizations.

Vuchic's arguments sound compelling, until you realize that there's nothing behind them. His main argument, that PRT is too expensive for low density and too low-capacity for high density, is a vast oversimplification.

And when you dig deeper and read all he's wrote on PRT, you realize that Vuchic hasn't really studied it at all. He made his decision to support light rail many years ago, and he isn't going to change course now.

As for Setty and Demery - look at their writings and find me one single critical appraisal of PRT itself - you won't find one. Instead, what you find is several criticisms of "gadgetbahn" in general - and they lump monorail and maglev trains in with PRT.

I actually engaged in an extended debate with Louis Demery on Wikipedia last year. At the end of the debate, Demery basically conceded that he has no technical argument with PRT whatsoever, and that his main problem was regulatory - he believes that transit regulations will never change to allow PRT, and in fact that is a view espoused frequently by critics, especially those who have been raised on rail.

The fact is, the UK Rail Inspectorate has approved 2.5-second headways for ULTra, and that is for a system which starts and stops using plain old tires on pavement - a system that used magnetic braking would likely be approved for much shorter headways.

Meaning that Demery's regulatory argument is certainly a concern, but not a roadblock, and the PRT problem in this country is mainly political and not technical.

As for the OKI report, I've read it, and I've read all the rebuttals. There were a few good points in that report - as well as a lot of errors. Remember, John, PRT is a new concept for many transportation engineers who have spent their professional lives studying huge trains and buses. The concept of small, fault tolerant, computer-controlled pods is completely foreign to them. The OKI report is a perfect example of what happens when you put such a radical new design like PRT in the hands of people who have spent their lives doing the exact opposite. For that matter, Morgantown and PRT 2000 are two more examples of that same thing - established, set-in-their-ways transportation engineers trying to design PRT like trains.

So, as I said, John, I've done my research. You should do some more reading on PRT, and you may find that the Vuchics, Settys and Demerys do not really debunk PRT at all - they only dismiss it.

Furthermore, while a few PRT advocates support pure PRT and nothing else, most of them view PRT as one crucial component of a multi-modal transit solution. Personally, I believe that PRT in combination with buses, and/or streetcars could be a tremendous boon to public transit.

In fact, John, most PRT people are pro-transit, which makes Ken Avidor's ridiculous claims (e.g. that PRT is a scam perpetrated by pro-car people) all the more vile.

8/20/2007 6:06 PM  
Blogger Mr_Grant said...

Your thesis is gaining more evidence.

Notice when Aeolus originally posted his Uppsala diaries on Daily Kos: Oct. 6. Then notice when Kenny-Boy started posting there: Oct. 8.

One would think someone sincerely trying to Dump Bachmann would have been posting on Kos for years. What's in his Kos blogroll? The RKB PRT page.

10/23/2007 12:58 PM  
Blogger Mr_Grant said...

Here he is spamming another blog comment section. Same cut & paste talking points, with link back to... Roadkill Bill! Ka-CHING!!!

11/06/2007 12:49 PM  

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