General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Why can't we just zipline between major cities?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10710points) May 9th, 2012

You set up long distance zip line towers. Put the people in zipline pods. Off they go to the next big city. Right?

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21 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

What’s the longest zipline in existence?

ragingloli's avatar

1. Mass increases with length. At some point, the line will rip under its own weight.
2. No matter how high the tension, the line will sag and eventually touch the ground. To counter that, you would have to build towers of incredible height.(And that is only on a flat surface. On earth, you also have to counter the curvature of the planet. That becomes impossible if the target city is on the other side of the planet.)
3. If you do that, passengers will either freeze to death or suffocate.
4. Even if you could avoid that, the tension from the rope will make the tower fall over, or collapse from the stress.
5. And if you could avoid even that, the almighty God will strike down your towers like he struck down the tower of Babble, and that you can not avoid.

lillycoyote's avatar

Apart from the issues of physics… a flight from NYC to Chicago is about 2.5 hours. I don’t know exactly what the average speed of that flight would be, it’s relatively short so lets say 400 mph. I want to get from New York to Chicago as quickly as possible. Even if you could create a zip line system between major cities I don’t think I want to travel in a zip line pod going 400 mph. I’d rather take a plane.

Nullo's avatar

Now, intra-city ziplines…

There are, of course, people who are terrified of the idea, and so would never go.

@JLeslie Longest one I’ve heard of is a half-mile, suspended between a Columbian hamlet at the actual village. People commute to school and do their shopping with it. There are no harnesses, just a thing to grab on to.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Nullo and I am one of those people, if, as I mentioned above, intra-city zipline travel means me traveling in a zipline pod at around 400mph. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to be afraid of that idea.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know but I love the idea. I have ziplined through the rain forest in northern Queensland and it was about the coolest thing I have ever done! Have a look.

lillycoyote's avatar

@rooeytoo I would love to zip line! In my youth, I jumped out of airplanes a few times but at this point in my life not only would I not I pay to do that, someone would have to pay me a considerable sum to do it. Bungee jumping? Thank you, but not thanks! Hang gliding, maybe. But zip lining? I really would love to do that! I bet zip lining through an Australian rainforest would be awesome! Probably the coolest thing I might ever do, as you suggest; I’m booking my flight now. See you there. :-)

rooeytoo's avatar

@lilycoyote – hehehe, let me know when you are arriving, I will meet you there. Then we can go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. And if you like ride quad bikes through the floor of the rain forest. All sorts of things to do in NQ!

bongo's avatar

These things exist! Its called a train, the lines just run along the ground to stop them from sagging under people’s (and the carriage’s) weight. you can zip along between towns and cities and this method of transport also allows different people to get off in different places. Much better for public transport when not everyone wants to end up in the exact same place.

Actual zip lines in the air would only allow you to go to cities which are downhill of the place you are starting from or require ridiculous starting heights so by the time you have got to the top of the building housing the starting point of the zip line, you may as well have just walked to the next city yourself anyway.

Many cities also use cable cars to allow people to get from A to B within a city however why build one of these to go between cities when you will probably already have an existing rail line. If not and space is an issue this could be cool but I think it would be too expensive to implement for most places now.

elbanditoroso's avatar

What holds up the zip line for 100 miles?

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Because arms just may fall off during the first 100 miles to Chicago.

Nullo's avatar

@lillycoyote I don’t think you could hit 400mph on a zip line at all, given drag. Especially not over relatively short distances, like across Chicago.

gambitking's avatar


Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Ha-ha-ha! It would actually be really fun; IF you are physically fit, young, and the weather is nice. And rather than using your arms, it would have to be some kind of seat suspended under the line that hooks to the line. A much more practical idea would be a train system that actually works, as @bongo mentioned.

Amtrak is a joke – if I wanted to take the train from Salt Lake City to my parents in Florida, it would take me to Los Angeles first, the trip would take a week and the fare would be $1,200.00. And as an added bonus, I couldn’t take the train home at all. It doesn’t go that way.

I would love to see an elevated monorail system, something like Disneyland’s. It would have to actually go to the places I want to go, and the price would have to be less than flying.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Okay, wait.. So there’s like a giant collection of trains in Florida because they won’t send them back??!

janbb's avatar

This idea was actually proposed for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair but never brought to reality. (See Erik Larsen’s Devil in the White Citry for details.)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@MissAnthrope No, the trains keep circling around, so technically if I wanted to go home via New York, Chicago, Nebraska, I could take the train home.

janbb's avatar

Edit: “city”

rooeytoo's avatar

@missanthrope, heheheh, good one!

6rant6's avatar

I don’t see why you’re being so penny wise and pound foolish. If you’re going to condemn all that right of way, might as well build a bob sled run!

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