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Ice Skating To Work? 5 Amazing Transportation Methods From Around The World

Ice skating - or what I call “falling repeatedly while horrible children glide around you effortlessly” - is already a favorite Canadian pastime. Soon, it could be how people in Edmonton, Alberta get around the city.

Matthew Gibbs has designed a seven mile (11 kilometer) “freezeway” that would weave throughout Edmonton, connecting major hubs and allowing people to “skate to work, the hockey game, or just have fun” (hear more about his idea in the video below). Even though I personally hate ice skating and everything it stands for, I have to admit that this is an incredible idea that not only promotes an active lifestyle, but also bridges fun and functionality in a city where the temperature is sub-zero for five months of the year.

The freezeway would potentially serve as a bike and pedestrian path during the the not-horrifically-cold parts of the year. City planners are excited for the proposal and might even be able to pilot this as early as next year - despite some opposition from people like councilman Mike Nickel, who dubbed this “the stupidest idea [he has] ever heard” (I have a feeling you’re exaggerating, Mike).

This could be a huge transformation for Edmonton. The freezeway would be both affordable for users (though the implementation costs are still being debated) and environmentally friendly. The world needs more creative transportation solutions like this, and there are already some like it! Here are 5 other amazing modes of transportation from around the globe:

1. Bamboo Trains (“Norry”) - Cambodia 

Source: Paul Arps, Flickr

 Originally created by French colonists, norries were once a popular mode of transportation and now have limited operations in southeast Cambodia. This low-cost ride (50 cents for locals, more for tourists) is basically a bamboo raft set atop some wheels, riding along abandoned railways from the 1930s at 30mph.

2. Habal Habal - Philippines

If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle with someone, you’ll know it can get pretty cozy. Now imagine riding one with up to ten other people.

Though this is a popular mode of transportation in parts of the Philippines, it’s technically illegal… maybe because it’s a motorbike with wooden extensions for passengers to balance on. Yeah, that’s probably a good reason to make it illegal.

 3. Chicken Buses - Guatemala

These colorful and often packed buses are used throughout Guatemala and other Central American countries for transporting people, goods, and - as you might have guessed - livestock.

This is the typical mode of transport throughout the region and are comparable to tro-tros in West Africa - though from my experience, those are not quite as ornately decorated as chicken buses!

4. Caballitos de Totora - Peru

These watercrafts have been used for 3,000 years by natives of Peru. Derived from reed, a plant indigenous to the region, caballitos de totora are still used throughout coastal regions of Peru for both fishing and leisure.

Source: Allard Schmidt

5. Metrocable Medellín - Colombia

 I saved the best for last. The Metrocable Medellín is a gondola lift that reaches the hilly “comunas”, which are some of the most underdeveloped neighbourhoods in Colombia (comparable to favelas). These comunas are in such steep areas that they were inaccessible by public transportation before the metrocable was introduced in 2004. Transportation can be a powerful agent of social change by making  areas more accessible, thereby increasing business prospects and livability.

Source: Global Compact Cities Programme

Using the metrocable, “the city [of Medillin] transformed violence and despair into hope and opportunity, using sustainable transport as one of the key levers to drive change,” said a board member of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

From the simpler technology of bamboo trains to the more complex network of gondola lifts, many communities around the world have found innovative solutions for increasing mobility. Creative transportation can be a great tool for addressing inequality, combating global warming and building resilient cities. 

The freezeway could massively transform life in Edmonton and the city’s identity overall; and while I will literally never choose to ride around a city on death shoes (seriously, skating is the worst), it’s hard not to respect the ingenuity and potential of this idea on a larger scale.