July 12th, 2011

Pedal Powered Mono-Rails, just what we need!

New Zealand. I mean, what's in the water! A reader brought my attention to the Shweeb system, by this crazy guy Geoffrey Barnett, who has gone so far as to build a full working prototype. Talk about confidence in an untried idea! And what is the idea? Pedal powered capsules, slung from a monorail, no friction, no wind resistance, no hills and no traffic, save maybe two dozen loafers ahead of you on the line. Alright, so there are some issues. Plenty of issues (modal shifts, redistribution of capsules... don't get me started). But come on guys, cycling has to be about more than piss-ant helmet debates, or whatever divides us.

In the end the Shweeb may not be about urban transit, in any form we know it already. But what about applications in industry? Transporting workers to mine sites perhaps. Linking remote communities in places where roads often wash out. What about as a device to stretch a particular building across an extraordinarily large site, to colonize it, for whatever reason. Or how about, because we can, like putting a man on the moon. 

Do I have a message, or do I just like the medium?

A little over a week ago, in the midst of a warm spell in Denmark, my new best bosom buddy Mikael Colville-Andersen — with whom I see eye-to-eye on absolutely everything, not bike related — pulled out his camera and asked me, "What's cycle-space?" Plied with Danish beer, and on the back of some good conversation, I replied with the most captivating answer, so captivating the camera man's attention drifted to the girl at the next table. On yar!

But you want to know, don't you Roberto, what cycle-space means? That is why I registered the domain name, and made this little site. Thank you Roberto for reading, and thank you Mikael for my 5 minutes feeling like the subject of a Sunday afternoon arts documentary. This moment of lionization coincides with a retrospective by Australia's national radio broadcaster (ABC Radio National) on the thinking of Marshall McLuhan, whose message (if this is possible) was that the medium in fact is the message.There are enough double negatives in that little paradox, to turn a man toward cycling. If only I could take clips like these of McLuhan, on my bike with me, I might get to the bottom of McLuhan's claim that we would reside in the media, and understand what the hell I'm doing with a Twitter account!