What happens if you cross slow living with the fitness craze? the executive meeting room with a ride in the park? the eco-mobility movement with Eric Staller? You get the "Conference Bike". Conceived more as a form of installation art than a mass-transit vehicle, the idea started out as the "Octos", with four wheels for eight people. When the Octos exhibit was invited to Amsterdam, the team of Velo.Saliko interpreted Mr. Staller's vision to design, engineer and develop the conference bike. Closing the circle, the conference bike became art again as the "peacetank" roaming through the streets of Amsterdam with Mr. Staller, masked as George Bush, and friends, taking on the roles of other world leaders. Having ridden a conference bike, I can definitely report it is unlike any other form of transportation. The motion is unfamiliar: you pedal forward as if on a regular bicycle, but your seat slides sideways or backwards if you are sitting anywhere except in the captain's seat. And if that has not brought a smile to your face, looking into the eyes of the person directly across from you soon will.
The conference bike is not the answer for mass transport. Weighing 200kg (440lbs.) and rated for a total load of 1000kg (2200lbs.), it has a maximum speed of about 20 km/hr (12 mph) and a typical speed about half that. But if your goal is to bring people together and get them thinking out of the box, this is one way to do it. And if this dream can be made reality, just imagine the possibilities.