Colouring your street directory green…

Posted on February 25th, 2009 in books,Economy,Global Warming,Opinion,pedal power by Julian Edgar

The boom in GPS-based navigation systems must have seen a diminution in sales of book-based street directories. I haven’t seen the figures to support that, but it’s certainly what you’d assume to be taking place.

But the companies that produce street directories (and of course in many cases also supply the software for the nav systems) are fighting back.

Into my in-box lobbed the following email (I’ve edited it a bit):

New UBD drives greener car use

With over 3 million registered vehicles across Queensland there is no doubt we’re a state of car lovers. However we are also becoming increasingly ‘greener’, keen to reduce our environmental footprint and aware of the impact driving has on habitats, air pollution and climate disruption.

The first street directory of its kind in Australia, the UBD® ‘09 Green Brisbane, Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast Refidex is aiming to help shape the way consumers think about transport and the environment and how they use their cars now and in the future.

The new UBD® 09 Green Brisbane Street Directory is just like the original UBD® only ‘greener,’ printed on 100 per cent recycled paper with soy based ink and the cover is 100 per cent biodegradable.

UBD®’s latest directory also includes a ‘Guide to Getting about Green’, developed with the support of Australian environmental agencies.

With a list price of $34.95, the UBD® ‘09 Green Brisbane, Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast Refidex is available from department stores, newsagents, automotive stores, bookshops or at your local service station.

One important thing to remember when purchasing the new UBD® is to recycle your old one – don’t just dump it! Visit for information on your nearest recycling outlet.


For more information or review copy requests please contact:

…and then followed the appropriate people from the PR company.

So I replied and in due course, a review copy of the new street directory arrived, gratis.

So what’s it like? A truly revolutionary breakthrough? Well, no.

But it’s also not half bad – as a normal street directory…

In terms of its green credentials, I imagine any mass-produced 1.6kg book is going to have a pretty big carbon footprint – especially since it’s designed to be turned-over on an annual basis. (But then again the company tells you how to recycle the book…)

In terms of green driving credentials, all I can say is that it is a start. There’re fourteen or fifteen pages on getting best fuel economy, reducing emissions, picking the right car and so on.

But I looked in vain for specific cycling maps, walking maps, green tourist attractions – or any of hundreds of related things that could have been included.

Similar directories are being produced by UBD for all the Australian capitals.

I hope that next year’s version pays more than just lip service to environmental ideas.

18 Responses to 'Colouring your street directory green…'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. Mal Land said,

    on February 25th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I won’t be buying a GPS based system for a while…

    Not when the cost of purchasing one & upgrading the software remains rediculously high.

    How often do people need to refer to road maps to get from A to B?
    I sit behind many drivers in peak hour traffic who have their navigation system on, they obviously can’t find their way home.
    Are we all becoming a bunch of Road Zombies who need to rely on technology to tell us how to get there?

    Has anyone considered the environmental cost of manufacturing/recycling a GPS?

    Sorry to be so scathing but I often think that some technology based solutions are there for the sake of technology with the excuse that it’s making our lives easier.

  2. doctorpat said,

    on February 25th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    GPS systems can give you the option of the fastest route, or the shortest route. It should be fairly simple to add the option of the greenest route (though you might need to add information about what car you have).

    As for the outright usefulness of GPS… it’s like a dishwasher. Some people find a dishwasher to be a useless waste of cupboard space, and others find it can save their marriage. I know I wouldn’t want to drive anywhere with my wife giving me directions.

    Like dishwashers, it seems that you will be much happier if you didn’t care in the slightest if other people have them.

  3. Mal Land said,

    on February 25th, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t (care if other people have them).

    As for your first point (I’m being ingnorant here ’cause I’ve never used one) how many choices does a GPS give you??
    And when you look at a paper based map how many choices do you have?

    When GPS systems can tell me where bottle necks and traffic snarles are going to cause me travel delays then I’ll consider purchasing one.

    As for Julian’s comment regarding lack of cycle paths & walking tracks the map publishers could do alot better. Paper, GPS or otherwise…

  4. doctorpat said,

    on February 25th, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    The GPS systems I’ve used give a choice between fastest route and shortest route, and between including toll roads or not.

    So you might have a total of 4 different choices, or less depending on whether those restrictions make any difference.

    Now to calculate a “greenest route” the GPS should know something about your particular vehicle, for example the fuel consumption on a 60km/h road, on an 80 km/h road, on a 110km/h freeway, while sitting at traffic lights etc..

    And yes, GPS would be much better if they included information about likely congestion and traffic lights in their calculations.

  5. Richard said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Julian… the Sydney version includes this map reference for cyclists…,0.jpg

  6. Richard said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Current GPSs do allow in the incorporation of current traffic conditions when planning a route. It’s call SUNA – look it up.
    More advanced GPSs in the future will be able to map a route to avoid large vertical changes in height to increase fuel economy in hybrids and electric cars.

  7. Julian Edgar said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Richard, the Brisbane one had a similar map. Pretty weak I thought – I was looking for detailed maps of cycle routes for the whole city. They are available – all UBD had to do was to get permisison to reproduce them.

  8. doctorpat said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 11:22 am


    Good call on that Suna thing.

  9. dan said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    try a brisway, imho they are shitloads better than the ubd
    easier to read, and heaps more points of interest on them

  10. Julian Edgar said,

    on February 26th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Just a general comment about in-car GPS nav systems.

    I first got one about 8 years or so ago – a VDO Dayton system. I still have it. It is far better – FAR better – than any portable GPS I have used and better in most respects than current Lexus systems (as an example of a system used in an expensive car).

    That really puzzles me – I thought by now we’d see really trick GPS nav systems; instead, a typical system is going backwards. (But of course they’re a LOT cheaper these days.)

    So the people with a GPS suction mounted to the windscreens who appear not to be able to find their way around are, in general I think, using a far inferior GPS to that existing 8 years ago!

  11. doctorpat said,

    on February 27th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Could you elaborate on how the old VDO Dayton is superior? Better route choice? Clearer directions? More up to date maps?

  12. Julian Edgar said,

    on February 27th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    More clearly expressed oral directions with better phrasing and intonation; device must have inbuilt compass because it immediately knows vehicle orientation changes; good route selection.

    Shortcoming is long time to recalculate routes after you take a wrong turning.

  13. Brandon said,

    on February 28th, 2009 at 6:59 am

    while i personally can get nearly anywhere using road signs and everywhere else by looking at a map before i leave i do see there advantage for some people
    couriers? truck drivers? and taxi drivers? the GPS nav-system would prove to be a most valuable asset to these people, or people like my friend, who always had her boyfriend to drive her around, now not with said boyfriend, doesn’t really know how to get where she wants to go, but with a GPS she can be [reasonably] confident of not getting lost,

    technologies i would be worried about are; lane keeping technology (if you cant stay in your lane get off the road) and mercedes new radar brake assist (if you dont know how to stop your car get off the road)

  14. toddly said,

    on February 28th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I reckon GPS’s are the latest wank factor.

    Phone, GPS, etoll, make up mirror all in use (mostly) needlessly and blocking the view of the road (except most etolls are behing the mirror.

    I still use a paper book when I actually need to go somewhere Im not familiar with. I use copied stripmaps on the motorbike. My Amish GPS.

    Otherwise I enjoy getting lost. You meet the nicest people and have great experiences.

    Then again I suppose I dont look at all cool without all that crap on my screen!

  15. lembit liiv said,

    on March 3rd, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    we use gps for service technicians going from job to job( locations stored in favourites) it calculates time to next appointment and new route required. It saves time, and staff suffer less stress.

  16. Ken said,

    on March 3rd, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I’m guessing the GPS bashers are people who never use them. Some people enjoy going for a drive and not having to worry about where to turn or which way to go.
    How many people are driving somewhere unfamiliar and have there wife with a UBD on their lap giving them directions.

    This is the electronic equivelant, and when you’re given the wrong directions instead of abusing you’re wife you can abuse the GPS. A real marriage saver in my books.

    By the way I dont agree with people who have them stuck to the windscreen 24/7. You only really need to use them when you’re unsure of where you are going, just like a UBD. I found it invaluable when I was buying a house (driving to 10 houses in one day). I definitely could see the advantages for taxi’s, pizza delivery drivers, couriers, sales reps, etc etc.

    I look at people using a UBD, turning it upside down and stuff, and say what tossers, get with the times and get a GPS, pretty soon they’ll be as cheap as a UBD anyway.

    As for the person complaining you have to update a GPS every year, umm ditto for UBD. (some GPS have free updates). Every year new estates and roads are being made. Thats why they release them yearly.

  17. Chris said,

    on March 28th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    In all reality, with the integration of GPS & mapping into smart phones (and open-platforms like Google’s Android phone OS), the portable GPS is likely to die before it defeats paper maps.
    If the iPhone were able to give turn-by-turn map directions, this would have already happened.
    If a map-maker like UBD really wanted to make a green product, they could consider making an application to install on your phone to give turn-by-turn & live traffic updates. Trumpeting about green publications is just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  18. Andy said,

    on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Chris, They already make a phone turn by turn product called Whereis Navigator, only on telstra tho. I think the reason people keep the GPS on is to alert them about speed cameras!