Bicycle Diaries: Light rail?

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27.2.07

Light rail?

what goes around,
comes around

There's a great deal of debate here in Chicago over what to do with 100s of miles of unused railways. For example, The Friends of the Bloomington Trail
[i]magine a 3-mile-long elevated linear park running through the heart of Chicago, connecting neighborhoods, the river, and our great park system. Built from a former rail line, the Bloomingdale Trail will make us healthier, get us to school and work faster, and provide us with great chances to play and mingle.
But why rip up the tracks when you could use them for a truly alternative mode of transportation: the railway velocipede? The idea was first reported in the 1895 edition The Engineering News:
[It's] an adaptation of the design of the safety bicycle to track service, the machine having a, flanged tire on the front wheel and a blind tire on the rear wheel, and being held upright by a brace carrying a small guide wheel, with flanged tire running on the opposite rail.
If you go over to Google Patents, you'll find over 70 entries submitted around the turn of the century. And what about oncoming trains?
The wheels have rubber bands 3 ins. wide and 3-16 in. thick on the tread, which make the machine run easily without jar, and also without noise, so that the rider can catch the sound of approaching trains, while they also make the machine run more safely at high speed when the rails are wet or frosty.
I love this idea! As I've posted before, the Situationists promoted the concept of détournement. They used modern, especially industrial, infrastructure in creative ways: Any elements, no matter where they are taken from, can be used to make new combinations. It's much the same as skateboarding where you use the urban environment to literally surf the streets.

Roll on!

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out: http://rrbike.freeservers.com/PgRBLNK.htm for links to many modern railbiking sites. Somewhere in these will be plans and/or ordering information so you can have your own railbike or conversion kit for your present bike. Why wait for the city and the DOT? The rails are there now, eh? Val

27/2/07 15:22  
Blogger msquared said...

IN NYC they are currently in the works of converting an old raised railway into a park.

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1/3/07 08:54  
Blogger Da' Square Wheelman, said...

I heard about that as well. Thanks!

1/3/07 10:01  
Blogger Neath said...

Great post! Would love to see more of those old rails put to use. Maybe global warming will bring back, trains?

Neath

30/4/07 16:31  

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