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I'm not sure this follows.  A bike might be less efficient than a boat at that speed - for a start it would have vastly more surface area (and hence drag).  We could imagine trains powered by teams of fit peddlers (peddling their bikes :) sitting inside a hollowed out locomotive.  But then why not power them by electric wires coming from whatever source is cheapest (under whichever metric you wish).

However you are presuming that bikes are efficient for locomotive power, they are not.  They are efficient for moving people, but for moving cargo I expect wind or solar to be a better option (including embodied resources).

An idea I tried to promote on a disused rail line between two towns which had a fair amount of freight exchange was to buy a few rail container wagons, cover their roofs in solar panels, with a controller to connect to a motor.  Each wagon would be self powered, whirring along at whatever speed it could achieve (perhaps 5km/hour) travelling to the other town.  It could then provide pretty much free cartage.  Of course it would be too slow, and there were all sorts of objections with respect to safety, vandalism, theft, transloading, cost, getting stuck under bridges.

by njh on Sat Apr 9th, 2011 at 07:28:54 PM EST
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 We could imagine trains powered by teams of fit peddlers (peddling their bikes :) sitting inside a hollowed out locomotive.

aaargh, down into the galleys with ya matey!

love your idea with the solar trains, i see horse-barge-canal combos probably making a big comeback in some parts of the world, ditto woodgas transportation and low tech windmills for wells and irrigation and enough juice to run dialup internet.

land- and ice- sailing, pedal trains. mules will make a massive comeback...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Apr 10th, 2011 at 03:18:08 AM EST
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My point was not that bikes are an efficient mode of transportation for bulk transport, only that it could be faster then boats - thus pointing to how slow the boat transports are.

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by A swedish kind of death on Sun Apr 10th, 2011 at 08:24:51 AM EST
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