As part of Project 10^100 Google has put $1million into a project called the ‘Shweeb’ as an attempt to “drive innovation in public transportation”. The Shweeb is a transparent, one-person capsule which hangs from an inverted monorail. It is powered similarly to a recumbent bicycle, in that you sit inside the capsule and pedal yourself around from a reclined position.
The idea is to introduce these monorail systems above existing roadways, and to use them as a more flexible version of the current public transport system. It is safer than riding a bike, because you are not sharing the road with cars, and it is more comfortable than either walking or riding as you are protected from the weather.
As someone who frequently uses the public transport system in peak hour I feel compelled to support any innovation which might save me from half-hour delays trapped in one of the sardine tins we call ‘trains’. But what about those people who, for one reason or another, can’t use this system? While I quite like the idea of pedalling my own little capsule around, there are days where I just want to slump down on a seat on the train and let it whisk me away.
People with physical disabilities, the elderly, the injured and the heavily pregnant would also probably have a few problems slipping into a recumbent bicycle pod. And what about those people who are simply too large to fit inside the pod?
Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea of an environmentally-friendly alternative, but it makes me a little sad that only the young, fit and healthy will be able to take advantage of the first project of this kind which has received any real financial backing.
To find out more about the Shweeb and Google’s Project 10^100 read the news article People-powered public transport.
Have your say
What do you think? Is this a good idea, or is it an elitist concept created without the broader community in mind?