Here's the Audi Snook, a state-of-the-art unicycle most likely invented by Dr. Wiley.
Oh yeah, that'll stand up to a mini-van.
That is a legitimate concept from Audi that's actually won an award, although so far none are in production. We're sure it has some kind of complex balancing system on board and that a bunch of children can't just come up and tip you over at a stop light. But even then, a collision between two Snooks would be hilarious.
Way cooler looking is the Unocycle.
Whitesnake is playing in his mind
Sadly, it has only one button and no throttle or brakes. In fact, it works just like a Segway, so although it looks like it can go fast, it maxes out at about 15 mph. And yes, you do look more ridiculous going slow when you're on a vehicle that looks like it was designed for death racing in the year 2050.
What isn't disappointing is the dynasphere, a giant hamster ball they tried to develop back in the 30s.
Understandably, this never took off -- the automobiles being manufactured at the same time were way more practical and functional and didn't require you to lean out the side like Ace Ventura to make a sharp turn, so the dynasphere lost out like Beta to VHS. Oh, what could have been.
Think of how much better this scene would have been in a dynasphere.
Not all old-school transportation ideas were this awesome, though. Just look at...
What's so great about planes? Well, they can travel pretty much wherever they please and they're the fastest mode of civilian transportation available to humans as of 2010. But, they can be quite expensive to ride. What about trains? What's so good about trains? Well, they have to stick to a very specific path, and most aren't particularly fast, but they're comparatively cheap to travel on. So obviously, the only solution here is to merge the two.
Actually, the real-world model was slightly less whimsical but every bit as steampunk.
The railplane was, in essence, a monorail powered by propellers. See, back in the 1930s, a plane was the fastest vehicle around, and all of them had propellers. By that token, someone figured that if you put a propeller on a train, it would go faster, bravely ignoring the whole weight distribution thing involved with aeronautical engineering. The idea was to build rails above regular train tracks so the railplane could travel over top of the standard steam-powered locomotives.
The other problem was that the railplane didn't actually go faster at all, and in fact was pretty goddamn slow. Also, the steam generated by the trains running underneath it would make it shake around like a Yahtzee cup. This isn't even mentioning the safety hazard of having a large four-bladed propeller come roaring through a crowded platform. The project went bankrupt in 1937.
Nothing says "safe" like giant spinning propellers and packed crowds of commuters.