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Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

Posted December 29, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Could moving walkways provide a feasible alternative to automobiles for transportation within cities? Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have analyzed the potential of fast-moving sidewalks in an urban setting and believe that the concept may be viable.


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#1

Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/29/2016 10:43 PM

Why limit them to urban settings?

The Roads Must Roll - Robert A. Heinlein

Dated, but a lot of it is still viable. A lot of his writings came to fruition.

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#2
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/29/2016 11:46 PM

GA. That was the first thing that came to my mind, when I read the title.

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#3
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 3:16 AM

Same here. Another GA.

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#5
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 11:33 AM

Yes, but what about drinking while walking? I can see some drunk getting spun around badly at an intersection (just kidding), or taking the wrong exit, or getting a bad muscle strain at a speed step.

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#13
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 9:42 PM

Like any public carrier, your ticket lists the disclaimers against stupidity in very fine print on the reverse.

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#11
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 9:34 PM

I've thought that was a great idea ever since I read the story. Heinlein was one of the greats. It works great in airports. He even had worked out all the details and worked it into the story.

"They glided down an electric staircase, and debouched on the walkway which bordered the north-bound five-mile-an-hour strip. After skirting a stairway trunk marked "Overpass to Southbound Road," they paused at the edge of the first strip. "Have you ever ridden a conveyor strip before?" Gaines inquired. "It's quite simple. Just remember to face against the motion of the strip as you get on." They threaded their way through homeward-bound throngs, passing from strip to strip. Down the center of the twenty-mile-an-hour strip ran a glassite partition which reached nearly to the spreading roof. The Honorable Mr. Blekinsop raised his eyebrows inquiringly as he looked at it. "Oh, that?" Gaines answered the unspoken question as he slid back a panel door and ushered his guest through. "That's a wind break. If we didn't have some way of separating the air currents over the strips of different speeds, the wind would tear our clothes off on the hundred-mile-an-hour strip." He bent his head to Blekinsop's as he spoke, in order to cut through the rush of air against the road surfaces, the noise of the crowd, and the muted roar of the driving mechanism concealed beneath the moving strips. After passing through three more wind screens located at the forty, sixty, and eighty-mile-an-hour strips, respectively, they finally reached the maximum-speed strip, the hundred-mile-an-hour strip, which made the round trip, San Diego to Reno and back, in twelve hours"

http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/36688/how-would-one-get-onto-a-road-in-heinleins-the-roads-must-roll

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#12
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 9:40 PM

I always dreamed of having a tumblebug like Gaines and all the other maintenance crews used to get around underneath the roads.

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#14
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 9:43 PM

My favourite such sci-fi conveyance were the Moving Ways in Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars.

They were like sidewalks but were made of a substance that flowed like a liquid in the horizontal direction but in the vertical direction behaved as a solid. You could stand on it, as if you were standing on stone. Near the edges it flowed more slowly but flowed faster and faster as you approached the centre. This made it easy to get on and off at any point along the edge and to move along as fast or as slowly you desired, depending on where you stood on it. Ingenious idea.

Maybe some future metamaterial will have these properties. A material, say, made of vertically-oriented nanotubes that can freely move past each other in the horizontal, somewhat akin to molecules in a liquid, but which can vertically bear the weight of what- or whomever is standing on them; the nanotubes' vertical orientation possibly maintained by electric fields and moved along by same via patterned electrodes on the substrate. Farfetched, to be sure, but wasn't most advanced technology at one time or another?

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#17
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

01/03/2017 1:36 PM

That would be an incredibly wide boundary layer for laminar flow. I can't imagine the maintenance on either the conveyor belt or the flowing "liquid" walkway, especially in West Texas. In our town, there was this one road that went off toward Tokio, TX; on one of the side roads was "Mars, 3 miles." Just kidding. There was a lot of red sand blowing there on a frequent basis, though.

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#15
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/31/2016 2:06 PM

These seem more doable....

Couldn't we just make millions of these with multi-charging stations everywhere...

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#4

Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 11:01 AM

People don't walk enough and now they want to take sidewalk walking away. Of course there will always be those who feel the moving walkways aren't moving fast enough and push the people ahead of them off to the side to get ahead.

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#6
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 11:36 AM

I used to be one of those guys at the airport that always thought the moving sidewalk was not going fast enough, and I would walk really fast on that, makes one feel almost superhuman. Later on, events convinced that there is not much super about me at all.

Sometimes it is better to take the time to take in everything around the journey, interact with the world (natural world) a bit.

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#7
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 1:01 PM

Not when you're trying to make a connecting flight at a different concourse in Dallas or a hundred other absurdly large airports!

I ended up running far more than just riding on my traveling days. Thank God there was no TSA back then.

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#8
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 1:07 PM

Speaking of TSA, how many suspected terrorists have they caught so far? Zero?

Meanwhile how many passenger-hours have been spent standing in TSA's checkpoint queues? Billions?

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#9
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 1:55 PM

Yep, the terrorists accomplished their mission on that account.

Trillions of dollars spent and they're still out there.

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#10
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

12/30/2016 2:11 PM

LynDoor(TM) Industries needs to quit sitting on their collective butts laurels, and get busy with the terrorist mind-reading chip. All they have to do is walk past it, and it switches the walking lane to the dust bin of history.

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#16

Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

01/01/2017 3:55 PM

A really bad idea. People don't get enough exercise. Getting on and off a moving sidewalk would create a bottleneck. It would be a problem for the elderly and crippled. What would happen at roadway crossings? Would it have to come to a complete stop? A good possibility would be for hills like the ones in San Francisco.

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#18
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Re: Moving Walkways: An Urban Alternative to Cars?

01/03/2017 1:38 PM

The interchanges would be like freeways with overpasses, tunnels, etc. I expect it might be easier to get on a moving sidewalk in a wheelchair, who knows?

It might be nice if the speed changes could be less step-wise and more continuous.

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