Forget buses and bike share programs: Could slides ever be a viable form of public transport in hilly cities? In a couple of months, U.K. artist Luke Jerram plans to build a giant waterslide linking downtown Bristol to neighborhoods uphill.
"This project is about getting the public and the city to think about the architecture and infrastructure that we have in a new way," says Jerram. "Here in the U.K., like in America, cars seem to rule the road. Whereas in other parts of the world pedestrians have right of way."
The 300-foot long slide will only be up for a day. But Jerram, who was inspired to create the project during a hot day last summer, says he could actually imagine something lasting longer. "In Bristol there are a number of very steep hills, and people need to get about. Wouldn’t it be nice to have permanent slides installed around the city, so you can go from the top to the bottom of a hill on your commute to work?"
If the artist’s crowdfunding campaign is successful, the slide will go up on May 4. Jerram says there’s already been so much interest that he’s worried about how to give everyone a chance to ride—only about 500 rides will be possible. "It seems to have caught people’s imagination," he says. "Everyone wants to have a go—we even have someone flying in from America."
After the installation in Bristol, Jerram plans to assemble instructions so anyone can repeat the artwork in other cities around the world.
He hopes that it might inspire more discussion about the future of transportation. "As artists, architects, planners, and just the public, maybe it’s up to us to think of how we want to use the city, and what sort of future we want to see," he explains. "I suppose I think this slide is sort of an experiment, an arrow pointing in one particular direction."
"The city is a canvas for people to be creative, and it’s a place for people to test ideas," adds Jerram. "And we can have some fun."