by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Bertha, the world’s largest, most sophisticated tunneling machine is stuck. There’s no way around it, and if there were, Bertha would probably breakdown trying to get there. Forget Bertha, she’s gone, kaput, finished. She’ll never work in this town again! She’s on a one-way train to Palookaville! She’s not working, is what I’m saying.
Most people see this as a mechanical failure that needs to be fixed, but I think that there’s a bigger lesson to be learned: the future is above-ground transportation. You see, the ground is filled with all sorts of encumbrances like soil and rock and old alien spaceships – matter, if you will. Tunneling through all of that is truly a pain. The sky, on the other hand, is filled with air and open space, save for the occasional kite or drone or kite-drone. If we could just put people in the sky, a little lower than a plane, and a little higher than bus, we might be onto something.
Since personal jet packs are yet to be mass-produced, enter gondolas. According to KOMO News, the owners of the Great Wheel are proposing a privately-funded gondola line to carry passengers (gondoliers?) to and from the waterfront, connecting the convention center, the waterfront and Pike Place Market. It’s an attempt to encourage tourism and alleviate the lack of parking that discourages people from visiting the waterfront. The gondola would sit about 40 to 50 feet off of the ground (good spot) and carry up to 1,800 people an hour, presumably in separate gondolas.
Some have voiced privacy concerns (journalists love to use the phrase “some have” as a lazy way to bring up an issue). Apparently, people who live around the proposed gondola route don’t like the idea of eating breakfast in their underwear while a gondola full of tourists laugh and point and take pictures, especially if that happens 20 to 30 times a day. It’s invasive they say, and could lower the property value. That seems like a fair point, but it’s typical, selfish anti-gondola thinking.
Did these complainers ever think about the gondola passengers’ privacy? Sure, they can see into your apartment, but you can see into their gondola as well. That makes things even. If you didn’t look out the window at the gondola you wouldn’t even know that they were there. Do you see how your nosiness is making you unhappy? Besides, people should just embrace the people passing. Wave, put up a “Hello” sign, or do a little a dance. Why, you could even advertise your business, and throw packages on the gondola to be delivered to an adjacent office (that would have to be at the same level as yours). I’m just trying to help here.
Some are also concerned about the views being blocked (see I did that “some” thing again). This is silly. Gondolas move, so your view will be blocked, and then it won’t, and then it will be blocked again, but then it won’t again. No issue there. Of course, if the gondola gets stuck outside of your office or apartment, then you have a bit of an issue. Not in terms of privacy or views being blocked, but because you’ll be expected to feed everyone on the gondola. So stock up just in case.
Since I enjoy the Great Wheel so much, the only thing that bothers me about the gondola is having to get off of it and onto the Great Wheel. They should link the two, so your gondola somehow attaches to the wheel, does a couple of rotations, and sets you down. When you’re finished gallivanting on the waterfront (good movie), you can re-board at the Great Wheel, once again do a couple of rotations, and then continue onto your next destination. Obviously, having a gondola attached to the Great Wheel would be a tough engineering feat. Perhaps if you built another Great Wheel on the other end of the city, and then ran a cable between them, it could work. I don’t know.
Look, cars get stuck in traffic, buses are slow, light rail is inefficient, bicycles are strenuous, and walking is even more strenuous, especially if you’re walking your bicycle uphill. Gondolas are the only way to go.
Imagine a city full of crisscrossing gondolas, whisking people, and the occasional lost skier, all over the city. Maybe a cop would even chase a criminal onto a gondola, and then the criminal would climb out the moving gondola, and jump onto another one going a different direction. And then the criminal would smile while the cop shook his fist in the air! Man, that’d be so cool.
On twitter @chasongordon