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City Travel Future: Human-Powered Monorail? PDF Print E-mail

Ever since the 1930s, comic strips and movie serials, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, it has been predicted. There soon may be city transportation where travelers won’t need to drive on crowded streets nor use polluting gasoline.

They’ll go sailing through the air on controlled rails in little capsules. A new monorail idea is that they’ll be powered by passenger legs. No smelly, burning fossil fuels, just throbbing human muscles pumping away like captive critters in cages.

Big and getting bigger internet giant Google has plans to expand its business with this innovation. According to reports, Google is investing a million bucks in a company called Shweeb. They plan to develop such an effective, if a bit crazily radical, overhead transportation system. Basically, passengers in individual plastic capsules will use a bicycle-like device to pedal themselves along in the air. Kinda like what a caged animal does when it exercises. If the system is applied on a citywide scale, the Shweebmobile (if they decide on that name) can be a true revolution in clean, non-polluting transportation.

Especially in big cities now plagued by ever-increasing smog and jammed traffic, there will be fewer gasoline-fueled cars. According to reports, the overhead monorail capsules will go 28 miles an hour, about the same as rush hour below on today’s busy city streets.

Fees haven’t been worked out yet, and the question of paying when you’re doing the pedaling has to be considered. Also Schweeb must determine how small children and handicapped people will be accommodated in the cage-like passenger compartments.

Comedians will have lots of fun ridiculing such a far-fetched human hamsters pedaling idea. However, a serious mini version testing of the system is already operating in New Zealand.

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