No More Cars
A hundred years ago, New York City had a manure problem. The average horse produced between fifteen and thirty-five pounds of manure and it piled the streets. It was a huge health hazard due to the disease, it was a large nuisance, and it was growing. People began thinking of better manure removal and cleanup solutions, even trying to burn it.
Meanwhile, Henry Ford, in southeastern Michigan, produced the Model T. He revolutionized transportation and eliminated the manure problem.
I see the the future of transportation as similar. Part of the current hype is around cleaner, more efficient transportation systems: perhaps we need cleaner vehicles, electric vehicles, and hybrid vehicles. Perhaps the right fuel isn’t our current natural gas, but some sort of cellulosic based ethanol. Perhaps we need narrower cars to fit more on the road, similar to Commuter Cars.
Or, perhaps, our transportation system, once again, has become outdated. As our populations continue to increase, we will continue to see more traffic jams and gridlocks, perhaps even more to the extent of last summer’s 60 mile long gridlock in China.
Dirt roads became paved roads after the Model T. In 50 years, perhaps the paved roads could be upgraded once again: to include powerful magnets. Perhaps the future of transportation is not in cars, but in some sort of magnetic levitation system that can cleanly, safely, and quickly transport a large number of people.
It’s something to think about, especially as large cities known for their traffic problems—Mumbai, Jakarta, Beijing, and Sao Paulo—continue to experience population growth with limited infrastructure change.