Over the past two weeks I’ve written blog posts on a new proposed fuel economy standard and on the importance of dynamic national transportation policy. Both blogs briefly touched on the need for alternative forms of transportation—from increasingly relying on electric and hybrid cars to reduce emissions (and increase fuel economy) to strengthening non-highway forms of moving people and capital. But how can it be accomplished?

This video describes the efforts of the municipal government of Malmo, Sweden to increase bike ridership in their city. Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden (population 290,000) and for the past four years has been working to get its population away from their cars and on to their bikes. Their campaign “No Ridiculous Car Trips” aims to point out the ridiculousness of using a car for trips under 5 kilometers.

I’m curious if such a campaign would work in my own city of Washington DC, which has been putting in more bike lanes on busy roads. Of course, Malmo has over 250 miles of dedicated bike paths which makes it easier for the campaign to point out the convenience of biking. Is this a chicken or the egg question? To encourage more biking, do cities have to add bike lanes? Or do more people have to bike to push cities into creating bike lanes?

If bicycling doesn’t seem quiet an alternative enough a mode of transportation to driving, then check out the Human Monorail. It’s a recumbent bicycle encased in plastic tube that would allow people to bicycle along a track high above the traffic. The idea comes from an adventure ride in New Zealand, where two people inside the tubes race against each other along parallel tracks. However, Google has recently invested one million dollars with Schweeb, the company that owns the ride, as a part of its Project 10^100. The project began two years ago when Google asked for submissions for ideas and projects that would change the world by helping as many people as possible. One of the final ideas selected was to “drive innovation in public transportation.” Other winning ideas include “make educational content available online for free”, “enhance science and engineering education”, “make government more transparent”, and “provide quality education to African students”.  The following is a short video announcing the winning ideas and institutions, which includes some great video of the human monorail so make sure to check it out.

There are, of course, questions about how the human monorail would work in the urban environment it’s designed to serve. How would people get up hills without causing a traffic jam? What happens if there’s a slow person in front of you? What kind of capacity could the system really handle? Is it safe? Can the pod derail and fall down onto the street (and into traffic)? Schweeb answers all these questions and more on their FAQ page and seems to have really through their system through.

The only question that remains for me is when can I ride one?

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