I'm still waiting for the day when humans navigate cities by being sucked through pneumatic tubes. But in the meantime, New Zealand's bicycle-monorail mash-up, known as the Shweeb, might be the next best thing.
The Shweeb is a human-powered transit system that employs a recumbent cycle to move a clear passenger tube along a rail. Currently, the only operating Shweeb is located Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotura, New Zealand, where for $45, you and your friends can engage in Shweeb racing. But the inventors believe the Shweeb has possibilities beyond being an amusement park ride, and that it might just revolutionize your daily commute:
Our proposal to get you safely and quickly from one point in the city to another would be to elevate you onto a network of interconnected monorails where you never have to stop at traffic lights. The ideal vehicle for such a system already exists. Fully faired recumbent cycles, because of their low aerodynamic resistance, are breaking all bicycle speed records and currently reaching speeds of 90 kph (56 mph) in sprints. Suspending these comfortable and highly efficient machines from monorail tracks has the added advantage of taking away the rolling resistance of pneumatic tyres. Trains of Shweebs can further reduce the aero drag – ten people travelling at 40 kph will each have a lot less work to do than a single rider at the same speed. A single rider requires only a fraction of the energy to achieve the same speed as a normal cyclist – thanks to the significant reductions in both aero drag and tire friction. The vehicle is completely weatherproof, you can't derail or fall out while on the cellphone or blackberry!
Check out the Shweeb in action: