The way cities around the world are set up is not very imaginative. There are roads, generally arranged into grids. If you live in Boston, then cow paths each going its own random direction (which is even worse.) Then, there are buses which drive along the same congested roads that cars do, ensuring a jerky and bumpy ride. Finally, there are trains, but getting to a train station and waiting for a congested train, inhaling urine smells, and having no way to park at the train station just are not fun. The Canadians at least have mastered the art of coordinating buses that connect to trains in both directions. Americans are very backwards in this sense.
But, let’s think outside the box here. It is not easy for bike enthusiasts to get around in today’s transportation systems. You have to ride on a road where you could easily lose your life if a bus hits you. People might throw stuff out their window and hit you too. Additionally, if you park your bike, it will get vandalized or stolen. These are all serious problems to consider when building a fantasy city.
What if a city were built that had bike highways. You might get hit by another bike, but that would probably not kill you. The sides of the highway could be padded too for your protection. People could ride in lanes that were wide enough for safety and comfort. Additionally, there could be stores along the highway that catered to the needs of fitness fanatics such as bike repair shops, sports clothing, refreshments, health food, newspapers, magazines, internet cafes, and more. Additionally, there would be connections from the bike highway to trains, buses, and other modes of transportation. Remember, that this is a fantasy city, so there might be modes of transportation that don’t exist in the real world… yet. There would be secured places to park your bike. You could lock the entire bike in a narrow glass box. There would be no way to steal the bike, nor would it be possible to vandalize the bike. You just lock it up with a hardened steel circular lock, and off you go. Security guards and cameras would also be present to guard your bikes, and all bikes would have GPS tracking by law to ensure that they could be quickly recovered if stolen.
Let me reiterate. The bike highway system would have:
(1) Wide lanes for bikes ONLY
(2) Stores catering to the needs of fitness lovers including refreshment stands, newspapers, internet, etc.
(3) Narrow glass boxes with heavy locks to park your bike if you transfer to a train, or are at your destination.
The bike highway could go through parks, next to lakes, trees, etc. But, it could also be elevated in dense urban areas, so that you wouldn’t be delayed by stop signs, red lights, etc. You would essentially be able to travel more quickly on a bike, than those would be able to in a car, and in a safe, fun and comfortable environment as well.
Segway technology fascinates me. It is so easy, and the device is so small. Imagine if you could have highways specifically designed for Segway travel. My dream is to have an elevated or enclosed tunnel for Segway traffic. You would not use your own. You would just walk in. Hop on, and take it to your destination and drop it off. There would be no way to remove the Segway from the established track, so theft would not be an issue. This sounds like a Dutch inspired idea, but it would work amazingly in the rest of the world as well.
Multi-person robotic carts?
What if you had an urban area in a fantasy city where there were 30 main transportation hubs in the various parts of town. You could have a stop in each of these hubs for a new type of transportation which is only used in manufacturing at the current time. Robotic carts! Imagine that four people can jump on a robotic cart that is programmed to take you to a particular destination. Imagine that you get on standing up, with side pads and a belt to keep you comfortably in place. Each stop could have 30 different carts. Once your cart is filled with four people, or three on a slow day, it instructs you to connect your belts, and then away it goes to the established location. It would be like advanced carpooling or India’s share rickshaws, but much easier to coordinate, and with no driver — well, at least not a human driver. Such carts could probably move around at 12 miles per hour which is plenty in a dense urban area, especially since there would be no traffic on these designated passageways exclusively for robotic cart traffic.