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|Light Rail for Bicyclers : Columbia River edition : Wednesday, 11 December 2013 21:23 PDT : a service of The Public Press|
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Shweeb: Light Rail for Bicyclers
by Peter Cossey
Here's an idea that seems to be an urban bicycler's dream come true: a recumbent bike enclosed from the weather and suspended safely above auto and truck traffic. Or, as their website states, "By integrating the unique properties of monorail and recumbent cycle technologies, Shweeb delivers a personal, efficient, and cost-effective transport solution with applications for urban commuting, recreational and fitness markets. "
Shweeb is designed as a personal transport solution for shorter, urban journeys. The concept retains the benefits of reduced costs and comfort of mass transportation but offers the convenience, personal space and flexibility of personal transport. It delivers mass transportation on a personal level - personal "trainsportation".
Personal, aerodynamic pods are suspended from a monorail, propelled by an innovative transmission powered by the rider's own pedal power (or alternatively, electric assistance is available). The rider and their luggage are accommodated in a comfortable, recumbent seat with a 360-degree panoramic view.
The Shweeb proves that by intelligently removing resistances, the energy required to move a vehicle becomes very small. So small in fact that it becomes possible to dispense with the mechanical engine and utilize the organic engine that the human passenger already carries - muscle power.
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The Shweeb is a zero-emission transportation system. Because it is so easy to pedal, the rider will not even emit much more carbon dioxide than he/she would if using a more passive transportation mode!
Last century the human body was viewed as a piece of cargo that had to be carted, immobile, to its destination. This view is quickly changing. A sedentary lifestyle is now understood to engender a host of problems (obesity, heart disease, etc). Opportunities to exercise are harder to attain, leisure time is shrinking, and open space is diminishing. Thus the Shweeb adds value to your commute by giving you mobility and fitness simultaneously.
In September 2010 Google Inc. announced an investment of one million dollars in Shweeb to assist with transit research and development.
In a recent email from Peter Cossey, Managing Director we learned that the Shweeb is still in the R&D stage as they work through the technical problems involved in turning what is essentially an amusement park ride into an urban people mover. They believe that they have solutions for everything and are in process of trying to turn these into reality.
For more information go to the Shweeb website.
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