Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
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Autozipline Station

Make your commute a bit zippier
  [vote for,

Just at the top of the hill was the AZL station. As I pulled up to the entryway in my Mercedes 240D, I once again gazed with quiet amusement at the now familiar site of the cables stretching all across the landscape, like some kind of half-finished spiderweb. As usual, I pulled into lane #3, Mid-City.

Having secured my place in the queue, it was time to bring out the hook. Modern cars have an electric hook extender, of course, but my old Mercedes was a retrofit, and it was entirely manual. I put it in park and got out of the car, kicking up the driver's side hook release tucked under the body as I did so. I slid out the boom and rotated it up, then pushed it back in place. I went around to the passenger side and did the same thing, and the two parts joined above the roof of the car to form the hook.

As I walked around the back of the car, I made sure to grab the buffer pad from the trunk. Invariably some idiot would forget about the buffer pad until he got to the front of the line, which would really hold things up. Luckily, the system was designed so that even if you manage to attach to the line without the pad, the barrier doesn't open unless both car and pad are securely attached.

After a few minutes, it was my turn to hook in. I got out of the car and wrapped the buffer pad around the zip line. The pad served the dual purpose of preventing you from ramming the car in front of you, as well as limiting your speed down the line. Usually it was just a continuous stream of cars down the line, so speed wasn't really an issue; late at night, though, you could really get up to some dangerous velocities if not for the safety mechanisms built into the hook and the buffer pad. Every now and then you'd hear about a runaway car, of course. It wasn't pretty, but heck… It was still safer than the freeways. Usually faster, too—not to mention cheaper.

Having wrapped the pad around the line, I got back in and drove forward until the hook snagged the line. It had taken a couple of tries the first few times, but by this point I was pretty much a master at it. Less than a minute later, the car in front of me departed and it was go time. The light turned green and the barrier opened, revealing a sheer drop less than twenty yards ahead. I slowly pressed the accelerator as I led up for the “leap of faith”. No matter how many times I did this, and no matter how safe they assured me it was, I never quite got comfortable with the feeling. I don't think anyone did. As I approached the edge, I closed my eyes and punched the gas. The gut-wrenching feeling of falling gave way to the bounce of the cable after what felt like an eternity, but in reality was merely a split-second. From here on there was nothing to do for the next twelve minutes but put the car in neutral, shut off the engine, turn on the radio, and enjoy the view.

ytk, Feb 13 2013

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       It sounds like fun (+) but I dread the day that there's a backlog at the landing station.
normzone, Feb 13 2013

       Safety regs would no doubt relegate it to a system similar to a gondola lift.
RayfordSteele, Feb 13 2013

       Thanks but no thanks.
UnaBubba, Feb 14 2013


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