Sunday, December 21, 2003
Profiles of the Future: Moving Sidewalks
This is another concept that I don't see materializing. Conveyor belts of the scale and quantity typically discussed (and actually discussed by Clarke) would require rather large investments in both power and maintenance. Anyone who has waited months for the city to fix a large pothole would understand why running a city-wide people moving conveyor system might seem daunting. We would need very efficient means of power, and ways to apply that power to only the individuals on the system in order to make this a likely means of travel (building and maintenance costs aside). My guess is that by the time the complexity of this kind of system has been wrangled with, including the social and economical impacts, personal transportation will be such as to make this concept obsolete. Much to his dismay, perhaps, I'm sure that Mr. Clarke has observed that cities are as accommodating as ever of cars, and people are accommodating as ever (such that they ever were) of being in traffic. The latter point will probably be significantly alleviated in the near future by automation that takes over most of the responsibilities of car drivers allowing them to focus on things other than the process of getting from one place to the next, instead allowing them to work or otherwise entertain themselves on lengthy (even if short in terms of miles) rides.