2940: Modes of Transportation

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Modes of Transportation
My bold criticism might anger the hot air balloon people, which would be a real concern if any of them lived along a very narrow line directly upwind of me.
Title text: My bold criticism might anger the hot air balloon people, which would be a real concern if any of them lived along a very narrow line directly upwind of me.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a PEOPLE DROPPING SANDBAGS FROM A HOT AIR BALLOON - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Randall's chart compares different modes of transportation by how convenient and dangerous they are. At the top-left (high in convenience and low in danger) are airliners and trains, as these are both fast-moving vehicles on which many millions of dollars have been spent to make them safer. In the top-right, motorcycles are at the same convenience level, but are rated much more dangerous, since they are easy to lose control of at high speeds, and careless drivers (of cars) can easily hit a motorcycle and cause extreme harm. Things like unicycles (bottom-left) are considered much lower on the convenience scale, being not very fast or easy ways to travel, but relatively safe, while towards the centre, skis are apparently moderately convenient and moderately dangerous, since they are relatively easy to fall on if going fast downhill. Way out on their own in the bottom-right, hot air balloons appear to be unique in being rated least on convenience and highest on danger. Presumably, modes of transportation similar to hot air balloons (like zeppelins and blimps) are left off the chart to increase the gap for comedic effect.

The modes are grouped into several zones by darkened backgrounds -- the easiest or most effective that are also the safest ones (trains, cars, walking, biking, boats, etc.) are in the Zone of Practicality at the upper left. The ones that are mixed, ranging from very useful for travel but dangerous (motorcycles and helicopters) in the upper-right, through moderately dangerous and moderately unpractical (go karts, skateboards, rollerblades, skis, light aircraft) in the middle, to quite safe but totally unpractical for travel (bumper cars, unicycles, sleds) in the lower-left are in the Zone of Specialty or Recreational Vehicles. At the extreme of dangerous and very unpractical (lower-right) is a zone labeled simply ????? containing only one mode: Hot Air Balloons.

Because a hot air balloon is rated so poorly, if an optimization algorithm considers it the optimal mode of transportation, it must be the result of a sign error (e.g. having a minus sign where a plus sign is supposed to be, or vice versa), making the algorithm optimize for the opposite result by mistake. This could be because, unusually, on the y axis of the chart higher is better, whereas on the x axis lower is better. If these were treated the wrong way around, it would result in the air balloon appearing to be the best result. More typically, you might plot convenience vs safety, so that a higher value on either axis would represent a better result. However, both measures are still likely to need to take underlying data (for safety, incident counts, etc.; for convenience, travel time, etc.) and invert them, leading to potential for errors.

In order to compare the relative danger from each mode of transport, one can look at statistics of fatalities and injuries sustained during each activity. Traditionally this can be reported in fatalities/KSI per mile driven or passenger mile (or other unit of distance), to account for the fact that some modes are used much more than others and make valid comparisons. They may also be reported per capita (but this ignores the relative usage of different modes), or per journey (but this doesn't take into account the fact that different modes typically have different journey lengths and times). All of these are somewhat flawed, since they are really measuring the danger to users of that mode of transport, both from their own conveyance, and from other sources such as other road users. Since ballooning is not a very common mode of transport, hot air balloon incidents are correspondingly uncommon, and flights are not routinely monitored or registered, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from the data for hot air balloons.

The title text makes a joke that if a hot air balloon enthusiast disagrees with the ranking and is angered by it, they may wish to remonstrate or retaliate, but will have a difficult time getting to Randall's house with their preferred mode of transportation, because they are limited to travelling in the direction of the wind. If they chose an alternative form of transport, they would be making his point for him. In reality, hot air balloons have some freedom to choose their direction of travel, since by controlling their altitude they can access different wind directions at different heights. Randall should, therefore, be concerned about hot air balloonists who live within a wedge spanned by the various wind directions accessible on a given day. In principle, if the weather conditions are favorable, this could cover every direction from Randall's house. The phrase "hot air balloon people" is reminiscent of "autogyro people" from the title text of 1972: Autogyros.

Curiously, the comic includes most common forms of transport, and a number of less common ones, but omits examples such as buses (a mass transit solution arguably more convenient than trains). It is not clear if this is an error, or a deliberate choice to maintain the comic's layout and presentation. Another omitted mode of transportation is horseback riding, which would possibly win over hot air balloons in sign-error optimization because in spite of horseback riding's increased convenience relative to hot air balloons, it is also more dangerous, especially if counting horse deaths. However, unlike hot air balloons, horseback riders could get to Randall's house even if the wind is not blowing in the exact right direction, and once they are at Randall's house, they could potentially have their horse kick down Randall's front door or even kick Randall, the latter of which could be fatal, so perhaps Randall intentionally omitted horses from the diagram for his personal safety.

This is the second comic in a row to feature an algorithm.

Transportation Description Convenience Danger Zone
Trains Mass transit on rails, typically between urban centers. 89±2%: Convenient and comfortable, provided proper funding/maintenance and filled timetables. Allows relatively cheap travel for many people at once. 11±7%: Exceedingly safe, due to dedicated tracks along a controlled environment. In places with strong safety regulations and well-maintained infrastructure, fatalities are generally limited to individuals wandering onto the off-limit tracks. Practicality
Airliners Mass transit by aircraft 81±2%: Extremely fast travel between population centers for larger groups of people. Less comfortable and more expensive than trains. 16±9%: Extremely safe due to strong regulation and relatively little traffic interactions. Most accidents are also minor, resulting in few if any injuries and no fatalities. However, the few catastrophes that do happen often have high death counts. Practicality
Cars Motorised road vehicle
Most common method of long distance travel, used by many individuals to reach specific destinations
90±2%: Owners of a car can usually go easily to any road-accessible location within a 200 mile/300 km radius. Requires constant focus, but can transport a few passengers or some cargo. Parking, maintenance, and infrastructure requirements are often ignored when judging car convenience. 30±5%: While collisions can be extremely serious, due to the high speeds and large mass of most cars, decades of advancement have resulted in most cars being designed around safety considerations, which protect the passengers from serious injuries in most accidents. While road fatalities remain high in many countries, the per-mile rate rate of injury and death is relatively low, compared to many means of transit in this chart. Practicality
Scooters Either:
89±2%: Kick scooter-style vehicles are probably less convenient than bicycles as they do not provide seating, and are less efficient at converting energy into motion. A low-powered motorbike is about as convenient as a bicycle, requiring refueling in lieu of pedalling, and going much faster. 46±10%: Kick scooters are much slower – and therefore safer – than bicycles. Some motorized scooters can reach speeds comparable to car travel, but they are usually limited to speeds around average cycling speeds. Falling from one might be slightly safer than from a bicycle. Low-powered motorbikes often go much faster than bicycles, and would therefore be much more dangerous. All leave the rider vulnerable to danger from motorised traffic sharing the same space. Practicality
Bicycles Human-powered (or mostly so) two-wheeled road vehicle 84±2%: Assuming proper road or trail connections, bicycles are highly flexible for traveling to any location within a ~10 km radius, or further. They are a very efficient use of human power for producing motion. 41±9%: Bicycles mostly move slow enough for falls or collisions to have little impact, though they are vulnerable to motorized traffic where it shares the road. Around 66% of fatal bicycle accidents occur due to collisions with cars, vans, or trucks.[1] Practicality
Boats Watercraft of various types 67±2%: Specialized for water traffic, which is a very common form of transportation. Quite comfortable (unless you suffer from seasickness), but usually very slow. 23±6%: Sinking, capsizing, or falling overboard, whether by collision or misuse, can be lethal, especially on the sea. However, collisions are very rare. Practicality
Walking Personal bipedal ambulation
53±2%: Can travel between any two connected points regardless of infrastructure, but most people only find it comfortable for a few kilometers. Very slow compared to even bicycles, but the energy intensity is good for exercise. 14±8%: Due to the slow speed of walking, it's extremely rare for the activity to cause serious injuries or death. The primary risk from walking itself is falling, particularly down stairs or from some other height. Walking may expose a person to outside risks (eg: vehicle collisions, weather exposure, wildlife encounters, crime), but the act of walking itself is exceptionally safe. Practicality
Motorcycles Two-wheeled motorized vehicles, generally powered by an internal combustion engine. 91±2%: As practical as cars to move between locations, and sometimes quicker, due to the ability to filter in traffic, but generally less comfortable, especially in rough weather. 86±13%: Motorcycles generally move as fast as cars, introducing all of the dangers that come with speed. Having two wheels, rather than four, there's a significantly higher risk of losing control and falling. Being smaller than a car, there's more danger of not being seen in a potential collision. Most importantly, the driver is fully exposed, lacking both the enclosure of a car or truck and all of the safety features that come with it, and has no protection other than any personal gear they're wearing. In consequence, motorcycles have a per-mile fatality rate 25 times higher than cars, leading to many entries in List of deaths by motorcycle crash. Speciality/Recreational
Helicopters Rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by horizontally spinning rotors. 81±2%: Effective to move between any two points as long as there are landing pads of reasonable size. Can be used to hover relatively still in the air. Speed for utility helicopters is comparable to trains. Very loud, and very difficult to learn to fly. 90±13%: As per Harry Reasoner: "An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter." While the last is a slight exaggeration, it remains much easier for a helicopter to enter an unrecoverable state than an airplane. Speciality/Recreational
Light aircraft In the United States, the general category of small aircraft covers a variety of aircraft certified to weigh 19,000 pounds (8618 kg) or less at takeoff. Maximum allowed weight varies by specific category. 74±4%:Convenience greatly depends on style of aircraft, proximity of airfields to intended destination as well as "first and final mile" transportation, etc. In many areas the need for a trained pilot as well as costs and time spent on the ground at an airfield ("taxi time"), plotting and filing of flight plans, and the variability of weather conditions make surface transportation (automobiles, trains, buses) and scheduled heavy commercial aircraft more practical. However, in areas such as the Alaskan interior and north slope, light airplane travel becomes critically important for living and working in remote areas. 65±9%: Speciality/Recreational
Go-karts Low profile, unregulated, four-wheel, motorized platforms that are not street legal 63±2%: A lack of proper suspension makes for a bumpy ride, poor clearance would leave them at risk of grounding on more uneven terrain, and the maximum speed is quite low. 51±9%: Crashing is much more likely to cause spinal damage than bicycles, but the relatively low speed would make them much safer than other motorized vehicle options. Speciality/Recreational
Skateboards A board on four wheels 55±2%: Much slower and less energy-efficient than bicycles. 45±13%: As with walking, the primary risks are falling (particularly from a height) or being exposed to some outside danger (such as being hit by a vehicle). Because skateboards can move faster than walking (particularly when going downhill), the risks are somewhat greater, but unless the rider is deliberately doing dangerous tricks, serious injuries are relatively rare. Speciality/Recreational
Rollerblades Shoes with a single line of wheels at the bottom 49±2%: Much slower and less energy-efficient than bicycles. 45±14%: Almost identical to skateboards, and for the same reasons. The primary danger comes from falling. The potential speed means that falls are more dangerous than for walkers. Speciality/Recreational
Skis Narrow strips of material to stand on while sliding across a low-friction surface 40±2%: A fine way to move downhill relatively fast, but maintenance of the slope is required. Also a fairly quick way to travel on the flat when there is snow cover that would make other modes of transport challenging. Less useful in less conducive conditions. 46±4%:Downhill skiers can reach high speeds at which collisions could cause significant injury to the skier's lightly protected body. It can be hard to control your speed at lower skill levels, but as long as low speeds are maintained (as it might when used as a transportation option), skiing is not that dangerous. See also List of skiing deaths. Speciality/Recreational
Unicycles One-wheeled human-powered vehicle 32±2%:While it can be a practical form of transport for skilled riders, unicycles are very low on the "convenience" scale. Having only a single wheel makes balance much more difficult, especially over longer distances, and the lack of gearing makes pedalling less efficient and more taxing, particularly as road conditions change. 24±9%: While riders may be more likely to fall off unicycles than bicycles (particularly when new to them), the low speed and minimal height mean that falls are highly unlikely to cause serious injuries. Despite their difficulty, it's almost unheard of for people to die in unicycle accidents, though low usage rates mean that drawing conclusions from injury data is problematic. Speciality/Recreational
Sleds A construction that can slide over snow, ice, or sand 26±2%: Useful in limited conditions in which other forms of transport might struggle to cope with. 28±6%: It is hard to properly control your speed downhill, but extremely safe on level terrain or slight slopes. Speciality/Recreational
Bumper Cars Small electric karts with rubber bumpers 10±4%: Only really convenient for making very short journeys. Typically require an electronic mesh in the ceiling to move at all. 14±8%: Because these vehicles usually travel only at very slow speeds, are confined to a small and controlled area, and are protected by large, shock-absorbing bumpers, the risk of serious or fatal injury is low, though riders may be at risk from whiplash, bracing injuries, or impact injuries to hands placed outside the car. Many operators will have rules against ramming other cars head-on, to minimise the risk of injuries. Speciality/Recreational
Hot Air Balloons A basket tied to a huge bag of heated air 11±4%: Provide limited control and low speeds, and expose the user to the elements at altitude. They were the primary form of air-travel available in the 19th-century, but were overtaken by powered air-travel. 83±10%: A malfunction in the balloon can result in a very rapid descent, from great height. A poorly executed descent could result in a mid-air collision (e.g. with trees, powerlines, etc.) with potential for a nasty fall. The air that provides the lift is heated by a flame, which may be open, and the envelope catching fire would very likely cause an uncontrolled descent with high likelihood of death. Further known dangers are malfunctions of the propane tanks fueling the burner causing an explosion and falling down the edge of the basket due to improper or no tethering. While accidents aren't especially common, this is because hot air balloons are not common forms of transit. The number of injuries per passenger-mile is at least as high as any other form of transit in this chart. ?????


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[A chart is shown, where the Y axis is labeled "Convenient for travel" and has an arrow pointing up and the X axis is labeled "Dangerous" and has an arrow pointing right.]
[In gray text, "Zone of practicality" points to a large irregular area fitting in to the top left corner of the chart with a gray background. The following modes are shown in this area, starting with the first few bunched at highest convenience:]
Trains [very convenient, very safe]
Scooters [the most dangerous of this set, at medium-low danger]
Boats [medium-high convenience, a slight amount of danger]
Walking [the least convienient, at roughly half, and lowest danger of this set]
[In gray text, "Zone of specialty and recreational vehicles" points to a large irregular swathe from the top right to the bottom left with a gray background. The following modes are shown in this area, with the nodes spread in rough order from high convenience/danger to low convenience/danger:]
Motorcycles [highly convenient, nearly maximum danger]
Helicopters [not quite fully convenient, most danger]
Light aircraft
Go karts
Bumper cars [lowest convenience and lowest danger item]
[In gray text, "?????" points to a small blob in the bottom right corner with a gray background, notably distant from the nearest other group. A single mode is included in this area:]
Hot air balloons [placed as almost the least convenient and most dangerous, of all labels]
[Caption below the panel:]
Hot air balloons are the optimal mode of transportation, if your optimization algorithm has a sign error.

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I'd say a bicycle is way less dangerous than a car 21:36, 31 May 2024 (UTC) (para 1/4)

Considering only the two vehicles themselves, I would probably agree with you but this comic is about convenience and danger of various means of transport. Wouldn't you agree that using a bicycle for transport in crowded city traffic is rather more dangerous to the cyclist than using a car is to the driver? (talk) 21:46, 31 May 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
It depends on whether you're comparing worst case injuries versus injury rate. Since airliners are considered one of the safest, I think it's injury rate. Barmar (talk) 22:07, 31 May 2024 (UTC)
I'd say a bicycle is less dangerous than a unicycle, but apparently walking<unicycle<car<bicycle. No metric I can think of matches that order, neither danger in a vacuum, danger in a self-environment, danger in a car environment, or danger to others in any environment. I'm quite confused. -- 05:29, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
On a per-passenger-mile basis, walking is over ten times more dangerous than driving, and trains are about four times as dangerous as planes. So this comic can't be about risk of death per mile. It must be something more like risk of death per hour, which is extremely low for unicycles since people don't usually ride them in life-threatening situations outside of circuses. Similarly, travelling to and from work on a pogo stick every day would be quite dangerous, but in practice, people hardly ever die on a pogo stick. So it depends how you measure it. EebstertheGreat (talk) 06:07, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
I can see the danger/hour, but surely the unicycle shouldn't count as a mode of transportation when it is used in a circus? You also don't want to count the hours when a car is stationary and the driver is waiting for someone to enter or leave (which is a significant amount of time for taxi's). So when it is used for actual transportation, it is most certainly more dangerous per hour than many other things on this graph. -- 23:58, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
I think there is a couple that are off on here since I think light aircraft and helicopters are also less dangerous than cars when looking at accident rates vs trips or vs miles traveled. Cars are quite dangerous. They sure are convenient though. 09:57, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
Agreed: By any metric I can think of, this chart is grossly off on more than one form of transport. For one thing, inline skating is much safer than skateboarding in almost every scenario except approaching a bunch of mean kids. ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:59, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
I think the metric he's using is actually perceived danger. 08:19, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
I think the whole chart is on a "perceived" level. I would assume that "convenience" also would include "getting from A to B fast" for which cars and bicylces are too close together. And motorcycles are surely fun but if they were even closely as convenient as a car I would use the former more often than latter - which I don't as a car is MUCH more convenient. I think the meaningfulness of the chart is more like Fuck Grapefruit a matter of opinion than an actual analysis based on actual statistics. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:39, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

Most deaths are either due to involved cars or people doing races or stunts. 21:36, 31 May 2024 (UTC) (para 2/4)

I would not count "died because plane crashed onto road" into car dangers, as I would not count F1 driver death into the same bucket as car commuters. 21:36, 31 May 2024 (UTC) (para 3/4)

So I would do the same for bikes. 21:36, 31 May 2024 (UTC) (para 4/4)
Agreed. Deaths caused by cars should not count against bikes unless "plane crashed onto road" would count against cars & 'flying by nuclear rocket' would count against the poor people walking below.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:00, 2 June 2024 (UTC)

It's not actually true that a hot air balloon has only one possible direction of travel. It seemed relevant so I added a couple of sentences to the explanation. I suspect Randall is aware of this of course, being a weather nerd. 00:28, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

Meh... A hot air balloon is not a "mode of transportation", that is it's not a means to go from location A (on the ground) to location B (on the ground) A hot air balloon is means of going Up, and staying up for an reasonable period of time. In most balloon rides, the "destination" is irrelevant, the purpose of the ride is to reach altitude, not travel horizontally. I feel Randall misses the point of balloons here. It shouldn't be only the graph, because it's not a "Mode of transport". Zeimusu (talk) 21:13, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

The graph only addresses how convenient\dangerous things are as a form of transport. A Slip-N-Slide could easily have made the list, if Randall had viewed any such record attempts lately. Putting only practical modes of transport on the chart, would leave the lower right empty. If one wanted to know whether hot-air balloon was a practical mode of transport, one could theoretically consult a chart like this to find out that it isn't.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:59, 2 June 2024 (UTC)

Are American hot air balloonists commonly fond of taking sniper rifles up with them? Kev (talk) 23:11, 31 May 2024 (UTC)

From what I understand, it's considered unamerican not to. 10:36, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
Its not a commonly known law, but its actally illegal to enter a hotair balloon with anything less than a 12 gauge Apollo11 (talk) 16:25, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

Dangerous to whom is relevant. Yes, cars are less dangerous to the driver than bicycles and pedestrians, but that is because the main threat to bicyclists and pedestrians is cars. If you count victim deaths in addition to perpetrator deaths, then cars are the least safe vehicle. 01:56, 1 June 2024 (UTC)Regret

Cars aren't dangerous; drivers are... 09:38, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
In fact, even the first part isn't true. If you just count self-caused injury/death, cars are more dangerous to their occupants than bikes are to their riders or, er, feet are to those walking. 10:39, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

Are scooters really more convenient than bikes or does Randall just think they are cooler? Please discuss. 04:17, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

The convenience of scooters probably includes their relative storability/carryability between uses, easier to hop on and off (also you might get away with scootering down long corridors where a bike would be (more) frowned upon) and takes less maintenance. (Electric ones do have the additional fuss of charging (and ICE ones needing fuel/being more disruptively noisy), but hard to tell whether Randall means shove-along or motorised in any way). Probably he doesn't mean mopeds (also known as 'scooters', in some contexts), but they also may be considered like bicycles but marginally more convenient (when fuelled/serviced) and commensurately a little bit more dangerous (though I'd argue further over to near full-on-motorbikes, myself). But it's a lot of speculation either way. 11:32, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
Very inconvenient, and definitely more dangerous. No way to transport anything except in a rucksack. Terribly small wheels. Muscle-powered very strenous compared to a bike. Electrical make you freeze to death in winter. Wear down very quickly (bearings in wheels and steering, brakes). Only use for scooters are flat, smooth passages, certainly indoors. -- 09:49, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
I think Randall's use of "scooters" here, may include mopeds & ebikes, since ebikes aren't listed here, yet are roughly equivalent to (or even just are) a moped, while mopeds & high-output ebikes <45MPH are often classed among "scooters". ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:59, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
A "high-output e-bike" is (or should) be classified under "motorbike". And I already (before I read this) included reference to electrically-assisted bicycles under the Bicycles entry itself. There may be various distinctions recognised under different local laws, but power-assisted-pedalling versions (augmenting, but not making insigificant, the riders' 'normal' effort) and power-rather-than-pedalling versions (which would go all the way up to those with no pedals, totally reliant upon the motor) would probably sit either side of the notional divide that might be recognised by those in charge of classifying them. 22:43, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
I suspect what ProphetZarquon was getting at is that they are often referred to as "scooters", as opposed to legally classed as such. 10:41, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
"Scooter" for moped, yes. But though "moped" comes from "motor-assisted pedal cycles", where I come from, they're mini-motorbikes and essentially classed as such (you need road training, driving licence, insurance, vehicle registration), divorced entirely from non-motorised bicycles and now (fudging the issue) those bicycles with electric motor assistance. It's perhaps confusing enough with "bike" being understood differently by the cycling and the motorcycling communities, but an "e-bike" that's a "scooter" is really going to be an "e-motorbike" to avoid this kind of ambiguity, and I invite anyone who might be more confused by the current crop of motor-assisted-bicycles being called "e-bikes" to submit their own more disambiguative term. 21:58, 3 June 2024 (UTC) (PS, the CAPTCHA I was just presented with was asking about "Motorcycles" and, as usual, just contained several obvious mopeds/scooters... But I know from experience that I have to go along with supporting the CAPTCHA's technically miseducated classification system.)
Thing is, in a technical sense, any ebike is literally a moped, & not only are mopeds commonly and legally classed with scooters, but there's also a big regulatory gap between ≤750W ebikes & the >12KW emotos that consistently require "motorcycle" registration. A low-power ebike is just classed as a bicycle in most US regions, & over 45 MPH you're always into motorcycle classifications, but the plethora of moderately assisted 2-wheelers in between, are not nearly so powerful or fast as to require motorcycle registration in many states, & instead fall into the non-licensed "scooter" classification, right alongside the classic mopeds which their performance characteristics are most directly comparable to. Not legal on interstates or other high-speed routes, nor on non-motorized routes, but legal to ride on surface streets & generally without requiring licensure. A low-power ebike doesn't differ from the performance characteristics of a bicycle enough to merit a separate listing, & a high-powered emoto is literally just an EV motorcycle, but a 1500W "ebike" is technically most similar to a moped, & legally falls into that same "scooter" category in many jurisdictions, due to being utterly unable to attain highway speeds. So, to the extent that some ebikes are much faster than a bicycle yet slower than a motorcycle, I believe those would logically be classed (like mopeds) as scooters.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 01:47, 4 June 2024 (UTC)

I would expect that unicycles are more dangerous than bicycles. For that matter, bicycles are probably more dangerous than tricycles, and those would be slightly less safe than quadcycles. There we probably hit the optimal point, but I doubt anyone has done an in dept study into this matter. Just for starters: a double blind test would not be particularly safe for the riders. 07:00, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

When you have learnt how to ride a bike, a tricycle can actually be harder to ride, due to having to unlearn your existing bicycling instincts. To turn (or not to turn) on a bicycle involves at least 'microleaning', as well as steering, which can actually work against the steering geometry on a tricyle (perhaps a quadricycle is less effected, as one reverts to car-like behaviour/has to account for uneven road surfaces even more differently). Before you have the bike-riding skills (especially on front-wheel-pedal kids' trikes, which have yet more things going on than proper road-cycling tricycles) you generally don't get into the wrong mode of balance where you actually veer off exactly the opposite way to what you intend and maybe start to lift one of the rear wheels off the ground, or more.
For similar reasons, it's much better to have a completely new passenger ('stoker') on a tandem who is not a cyclist than one who is (but it being their first time on a tandem). The 'steersman' does not need too much complication from their "luggage" instinctively leaning on their own (or unconsciously tugging left/right on their fixed-handlebars), at least until they've practiced their coordination so that there's just the right amount of weight redistribution at the right time to make the whole machine correctly metastable for the circumstances. A non-cyclist can generally be asked to "just sit there and pedal" and not, despite being told, throw themselves around in various ways not related to the (synchronised with the steersman) pedal-revs. 11:32, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

There's a "jetpack" missing to the right of hot air ballons... 10:26, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

On the far right. Together with paragliding. -- 09:49, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
Hey now, paragliding is quite safe & convenient, so long as you can locate updrafts, & have free airspace, & stay away from the back & sides of any upwind slopes, & don't bank too hard, & ... OK yeah, I can see it now. ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:20, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
And jetskis. 08:25, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
Also, helium balloon chair. 08:29, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

Hot air balloons can be particularly dangerous in large groups, each being approximately 1.11% of an extinction level event. 15:53, 1 June 2024 (UTC)

That's only asserted to be true for the red ones... 17:23, 1 June 2024 (UTC)
Actually, the original report was 99 Luftballons; the English translation apparently took ... artistic liberties.--Prosfilaes (talk) 03:35, 20 June 2024 (UTC)

The place where motorcycles are on the map is why my uncle calls them "donercycles" - so many of their riders are organ donors because they die so much.

You mean people are scraping them up and using them to make kebabs?! 12:48, 4 June 2024 (UTC)

Other in-between modes of transport?[edit]

So which modes of transports belong in the white band between the "Zone of specialty and recreational vehicles" and the Hot air balloons? I would suggest the Autogyro (see #1972) between the skis and the hot air balloon. Any other suggestions? Frog23 (talk) 22:44, 31 May 2024 (UTC)

A shovel? Tunneling is both dangerous & inconvenient...
ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:13, 2 June 2024 (UTC)
Jet packs and guns https://whatif.xkcd.com/21/ Apollo11 (talk) 16:28, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

Explain "sign error" (done?)[edit]

I came here to find out what a sign-error is, but the description assumes I already know. (talk) 22:58, 31 May 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think he means if you have erroneously given a negative as a positive, and thereby flipped your y-axis the wrong way up - making inconvenient things appear convenient. 08:33, 3 June 2024 (UTC)
And flipped the x-axis. Or at least how you treat it. Note that one axis is "more is better" (convenience) and the other is "less is better" (danger), so any analysis that looks at comparative overall desirability has to treat one axis's position in a negative manner, whether seeking the coordinate with least deviation from perfection, the most deviation from imperfection, the most desirable vector away from a midpoint or whatever. The choice of exactly how to compare might juggle the effective linear rank of all items, although it visually looks like Trains would always rank first in most treatments (except those with a very weird weighting between the two measures, or even an 'ideal' position not on the "not dangerous at all" edge but maybe at a 'comfortably desired' amount of thrill).
So you need to apply exactly one sign-flip to identify the (normally) practical zone for being best (not "very convenient and very dangerous", which is high+high seeking; nor "undangerous and inconvenient", which seeks low+low). Apply that sign-flip to x instead of y (or vice-versa, depending upon your goal-seeking method) and you're identifying Hot Air Balloons as your perfect solution instead of (by Randall's apparent perception) Trains.
At this point, you've not (just) flipped the Convenience axis over. Either you've flipped both around or you're now not doing the sanity-check on the original graph at all and just relying upon your doubly-missigned 'algorithm' (one input flipped, the other deflipped).
A related sign-error coordinate thing is in 3D data, where left-handed and right-handed coordinate systems are just a single sign-flip away (or all three flipped!), but often also combined with whether you should go with z being 'into' (or out of!) the paper graph (standard x-along and y-up, from 2D graphing) or it being 'up' (or 'down'!) with x/y being both laid horizontally. Both can be made true on a 'tabletop map', but less obvious which is the best way to use on a vertical screen. All this before you start applying other rotations, of course, to the data you initially define in whichever choice of fundemental coordinates you wish. But it can be confusing if you're unsure as to which baseline (left/right-handed, and "which axis is z" probably less certain than subsequently filling in where the other two are) either to implement yourself or to interact with when you start work atop another basic implementation. I probably had more designs come up sideways (in some manner) than I ever did have them accidentally mirrored, whenever I started to dabble in a new 3D platform. 10:37, 3 June 2024 (UTC)

"There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter." is a common misconception. Every helicopter pilot learns to autorotate reflexively when there is a power failure. -- Ericprud (talk) 20:53, 5 June 2024 (You're new: Remember to sign Talk comments; Don't top-post; We tend to use the handy wikilink template here...
Otherwise, a valid comment. -- RandomIP editor, passing by.)

Other than jetpack as someone mentioned, and a few other oddities with things attached to a chair, I thought of something worse, so bad I've only seen it in works of fiction, though I've seen it in a few separate ones, including the Secret of Mana video game and the original War of the Worlds novel (unlike many later adaption like the famous radio play and movies, which all changed quite a lot, the Martin's didn't travel to Earth using a rocket.) Namely, travel by being shot out of a cannon. -- 18:02, 13 June 2024 (UTC)

Trains less convenient than buses?[edit]

I am sorry but who wrote "examples such as buses (a mass transit solution arguably more convenient than trains)"? Is this some us centric view or what? I think I found Noone who would say a bus is more convenient than a train. Yet alone because buses are waaay slower while fast trains can drive with 300 km/h (sorry for SI units again, European here as you see). In trains you usually also have restaurants etc. so what could be less convenient than in a bus? --Rugk (talk) 00:26, 14 June 2024 (UTC)

If you want a train to go between two places, you might need to build tracks, stations, etc to service the route. If you want to establish a bus route, you just need the roads, that many of the other transport options will possibly already be using.
You can set up potentially unlimited bus-stops, as well as whatever end-point depot(s) might serve as hub, so less infrastructure there, too. (Some train services grant flag-down purposes in remote areas, and can handle there being no platforms, but there'll still be limitations and stopping/starting a train all the time isn't very convenient for the train.)
You can have a bus that takes you up or down a hill, on a local journey, in which any practical train route would (dedicated funiculars/cog-railways aside) have to take a long, slow and shallow-gradient route that will probably take you much longer and cost far more.
...if you have the presence of a train service (and a long enough journey to make it worthwhile), then the possible added comforts of restaurant cars/other facilities are icing on the cake (long-distance coach journeys might also have basic choice of food and drink, on board, and the necessary means to deal with the inevitable sanitary issues without a road-stop), but planes can do much of that only with the provision of end-point airport (or prearranged airstrips/suitable floatplane-compatible bodies of water). Or else the dubiously 'convenient' use of skyhook and/or parachute.
But in comparison with many of the other types of transportation (assuming you have access to the particular vehicle, and the minimal amount of infrastructure as that vehicle requires to operate), trains are only convenient when a train-route infrastructure (or a set of linked ones) is established just for the train, which (as far as end-points, at least) also applies to fixed-wing air travel to various degrees.
Define your exact journey, and we can probably better define the convenience. I don't think unicycling from Denver to Honolulu is ever going to be practical, but then neither is relying (entirely) upon a railroad system and the boat will have a difficult start. Meanwhile, getting across campus for your first lecture of the day might make that unicycle one of the best options (quick; and least objectionable, apart from any implied smugness), assuming you can ride one. 10:17, 14 June 2024 (UTC)
Well, the convenience of a mode of travel is somewhat variable based on where you need to travel between and other details of the circumstances (and to a lesser sense the danger, for instance some modes of travel increase in danger much more than others due to adverse weather conditions.) It's hard to definitively measure the convenience of most of these as an absolute value with no context, and not only due to some of these only being usable on certain routes or with certain endpoints. As for omitting buses, a bus is essentially a large car that transports many people on scheduled routs owned and operated by a company rather than an individual owner who is likely both the driver and the one who needs to be transported. Arguably, you don't need to include buses any more than you need to include trucks, suvs, taxis, limousines, etc. Plus this is far from comprehensive anyway, including nonsense like unicycles and bumper cars, but not tricycles, horses, pedicabs, piggyback rides, hopping on one foot, hovercrafts, hoverboards, being carried by a gorrila while stuffed in a burlap sack, Star Trek transporters, having a giant pick you up and throw you, rocket powered skates like sometimes used by Wile E. Coyote, teleporting using psychic powers or superhero abilities, swimming, flying like Superman, gyrocopters, opening a wormhole to your destination, hang gliders, riding a pteradon, zeppelins, roller coasters, digging a tunnel, redefining your destination to your current location making travel unnecessary, making the universe collapse into a single point so you are already there, etc. (talk) 04:49, 15 June 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
AH, I see you the point was it is "convenient for travel" (everywhere) vs me assuming it is "convenient when/while traveling", which is why I thought of things like restaurant (aka convenience in the sense of comfort), more space (again comfort) and speed. While you interpreted it probably correctly, as a "generic travel thing going anywhere – what works?" which then includes infrastructure. The zone "Practicality" highlights this possibly, it's practical to travel everywhere and thus "convenient" if you have any randomly chosen target possibly. (so maybe in average if you choose 100 random targets it's obviously more convenient) --rugk (talk) 13:25, 15 June 2024 (UTC)