How much better would your work life be if your commute didn’t consist of overcrowded trains and buses or stop-and-go traffic populated by road ragers? Fifty percent better? One hundred percent? A million percent? Fortunately for you, there’s a better way — these 9, to be exact (12 if you’re willing to bet on the 3 pipe dream commutes at the end). The only downside is having to uproot your family and find a new job, but still, think about it: One million percent better!
Metrocable, Medellin, ColombiaBolivia’s Teleférico La Paz-El Alto? Please. South American hipsters prefer the Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia, which was the continent’s first cable-propelled transit system before it was cool. It revitalized the poorest neighborhoods in the foothills while making them accessible to downtown without the need for a treacherous cliffside drive. The one in Bolivia is basically the same thing, but a total imitator.
Bainbridge Island Ferry, Seattle, WashingtonYes, you can ferry to work in lots of places, and every single one of them beats taking the train because you’ll have a seat and bums don’t ride ferries. You know what all those other places don’t have, though? The majesty of Mount Ranier and Puget Sound. Or orcas. So bring your flippy floppies on your way to flippin’ copies.
Rideau Skateway, Ottawa, CanadaTurns out there’s more than one road in Canada. A 5-mile stretch of the Rideau Canal through central Ottawa becomes an ice skating path for one million commuting Canucks when it freezes over every winter. Move over, Bunton’s Backyard Rink. There’s a new most Canadian thing ever in town. “Canal’s frozen, eh.” “How’s aboot we just skate to work, guy?” “Good idea, buddy!”
The Cyclocable, Trondheim, NorwayCyclists position themselves at the bottom of the city’s steepest hill, put their right foot on the footplate, and get a nice push that glides them right up that m-f’er. Your grandfather, who pedaled his ass up a hill twice that size to and from work every day, in the snow, is rolling over right about now. Unassisted.
Central Mid-Levels Escalator, Hong KongThe world’s longest covered escalator runs for a half mile and takes 20 minutes to ride. It only goes up in the morning and down in the evening, so you’d better do a test run before you start your new job — that’s a long way to go in the wrong direction with no stops. On the plus side, it can never break; it can only become stairs.
The Loop, Tucson, ArizonaPortland, OR, might have the weirdest bike commuters, but Tucson has a dedicated loop (with an easy to remember name) of 100 gorgeous, sun soaked miles of shared use paths for commuters and tourists on foot, bike, skates, or horseback. Although good luck taking your trusty steed through the Starbucks drive-through when it’s your turn for the morning coffee run.
Bike From Boulder To Denver, ColoradoOr, if you prefer a more aggro bike commute, there’s this 30ish-mile jaunt between the best place to live and the best place to work in Colorado. “Get out of Denver by 6:30 a.m., and you can roll into Boulder before 9 a.m., just as the pavement begins to radiate.” Sounds inviting. On the other hand, that view. John Denver sure knew what he was talking about.
Roosevelt Island Tramway, New York, NYThis urban gondola offers panoramic views of the New York City skyline and a 3.5-minute trip from Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, making it easily the best commute in the world from Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. If you’re not one of Roosevelt Island’s 10,000 residents, you’ve probably never heard of it, or at least had no clue it had human residents.
The Flying Fox, Canterbury, New ZealandThe best commute in the world, if you happen to be this one dairy farmer, his wife, or one of his 3 employees. Send him a resume if you ever dreamed of zip-lining to work. Or being a Kiwi dairy farmer.
Honorable Mention Incredible Commutes That Don’t Actually Exist (And Probably Never Will)
Liberty Bridge, Jersey City, NJ To ManhattanCorrection: this ridiculously amazing, part-walking bridge, part-bike lane, part-park, part-pedestrian mall, part-seriously it has coffee shops? thing will exist if you sign the petition. What the hell, man? Why won’t you make this happen???
The London UnderlineThe best conceptual project winner at the 2015 London Planning Awards would see abandoned subway tunnels transformed into underground bike and pedestrian pathways, and your Ninja Turtle dreams transformed into reality.
Because the American rail system is broken, and Elon Musk refuses to travel at anything less than warp speed or with anything in his way, even air. This one might actually come to fruition. If you have friends in Quay Valley, California, or wherever the second test track goes up in Texas, ask them what it’s like to meet George Jetson on his way to work.
Photos: Freewayjim/YouTube; Pima County, AZ/Flickr; Colorado University; Tobias Eigen/Flickr; Wandering Fel; Steven Dale/The Gondola Project; Trampe; NZ Herald; Jeff Jordan Architects; Gensler; HTT/Jumpstartfund