Thursday, September 13, 2007

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . .

The first time I spotted George on a Melbourne street, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. The guy was flying along, faster than any bus, car, or cyclist. In that instant, as he whized past me, a flash of understanding: I saw that carbon-neutral transit urban transportation had finally come of age.

Over the past five years, an Australian named George has perfected a highly efficient form of city transportation. He has done it with the help of Sally and Rex – brother and sister -- two of a special breed of collie.

Essentially, George’s invention is a modern urban Australian version of the Canadian dogsled. Powered by Rex and Sally, George moves about greater Melbourne on rollerblades.

Some facts about this innovation in carbon-neutral transportation:

History: George tells me others have attempted something similar using a skateboard, but he’s the first person to get about town using dog-powered in-line-skates. George has been dog-skating for five years.

Range: It is not uncommon for George to travel 50km in a day by way of dogs-skates; he follows a route that would take 45 minutes by public transit.

Navigation System: No need for GPS. George says Sally and Rex were quick to learn right from left. He also says they are adept at steering him clear of cars and other obstacles.