Since it was first published last year Make Magazine has become one of the coolest magazines around. It's full of all kinds of cool projects for things you can make out of other stuff. It is a true hacker bible for the hackers of the best kind. On the Makezine blog über-Maker Phillip Torrone has a post about a form of alternative transport that I doubt will take off but is nonetheless interesting: steam powered bicycles.
Steam engines have one distinct advantage over typical internal combustion engines. They can run on practically anything that burns and gives off heat. If you can generate enough heat to boil water you're in business. Steam works great for large stationary power generation applications, or even mobile ones like trains. Unfortunately they also tend to be rather bulky and not so well adapted to smaller mobile environments. Burning other fuels to generate the steam can be very environmentally unfriendly. Can you imagine stopping every few blocks to shovel coal from a basket on the back of your bike to keep the engine going. Somehow, the thought having a steam generator sitting between my knees seems decidedly unappealing. I've experienced steam burns and the kind you could get from a steam bike would be particularly nasty. I think I'll just pedal thanks.