by Timon Singh, 09/27/10
via www.inhabitat.com Shweeb is an innovative form of alternative transportation that places people in plastic tubes so that they can cycle to their destination whilst hung upside down from a rail. It may sound crazy, uncomfortable and tiring, but Google believes that it could transform the way we get around cities — as such, they have invested $1.05 million into the scheme.
As the Shweeb system is ‘user-powered’ it immediately gets sustainability points, but the system has also been praised for its speed. A combination between traveling in tubes à la Futurama and “Sky Cycling,” Shweeb’s bike-powered monorail currently has a 200m cycle track in Rotorua, New Zealand, where is it billed as an “adrenalin-fueled” adventure. There, users are suspended from the track in transparent pods and can ‘cycle’ around the landscape at speeds of up to 45km/h.
Shweeb cycles are equipped with seven gears and, according to the operators, the reclining position is necessary for both comfort and reducing drag. The system has been a big hit with tourists, and Google reckons it could find equal satisfaction from the commuting population of some of the world’s cities.