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June 18th, 2009:

#18. Moving Walkways

Neon Walkway at O'Hare - Warm FlavorYou know what sucks?

Walking.

It is slow. It makes your feet hurt. And it is particularly unpleasant if it is hot or cold outside.

By any measure, walking is the worst form of transportation available.* But due to technological constraints and economics (horses are rather expensive), walking was the primary form of transportation for most of human history.

One of the cornerstones of the American Character is a determination to improve life through technology. This is why for the past one hundred years, American engineers have been on a constant quest to develop alternatives to walking. In 1900, the Wright brothers invented the airplane; Henry Ford developed the first mass-produced automobile in 1908; and in 2001, Dean Kamen developed the Segway Personal Transporter.

But despite the fact that we Americans can fly across the country in comfort, drive carts on the golf course and have structured our entire urban fabric around the automobile, there are still some places where walking is unavoidable.

Fortunately, that is where the Moving Walkway, or Moving Sidewalk, comes in.

First introduced in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Expedition in Chicago, the moving walkway has revolutionized the way we move through large, car-unfriendly, places. Today, moving walkways of various sizes are alleviating the pain of people forced to walk long distances in malls, airports and train stations.

Walt Disney World has even installed a moving walkway on the Pirates of The Caribbean ride, in order to ease and speed travel between the exit of the ride and the gift shop.

God Bless America!

*To be fair, running is probably worse.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

#2. Drive-Thrus

#4. Down Escalators

#9. Automatic Transmissions

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