My father now commutes by electric bicycle.
Edit: Actually, looking at the official site - https://twike.com/en/home/ - it's bigger than it seemed to me at first, so perhaps not as bad as recumbent bikes.
Edit 2: Blimey, they're expensive - "The new vehicle price for a TWIKE 5 shall be between 39.900 € and 49.900 € (sales price in Germany, incl. 19% VAT, depending on the battery equipment)."
I live in the Netherlands and these are too fast for bicycle paths and too unsafe for regular roads. Love the idea, but we would need much cheaper mass production and a completely different road infrastructure.
At the price of 50k €, you're in the Tesla Model 3 range.
Or 50 good e-bikes.
Or 100 good regular bikes.
Or 500 cheap secondhand bikes.
My personal experience, after years as a courier on both upright, recumbent, and motorcycles is that I am more "visible" on a recumbent then the other options because I'm "weird" enough to make it into a drivers consciousness...
None of this is ofcourse scientifically relevant data.
My theory is that cyclists become invisible in areas where the roads force them to mix with cars. Where I live, they rarely mix, so when they do, it's an unusual event that promotes itself to your attention.
Either way, it backs up the idea that weirdness counts for a lot.
The benefit for safety for this is that it is large enough fast enough to move with traffic on most city streets, so won't be getting sideswiped into the gutter by passing cars regularly.
That's insane and offensive.
There is an actual car in India that retails for 1/8th the price.
For 20k you could pay someone to build you a custom of the same vehicle and have money left over.
It almost seems like a conspiracy to make eco friendly transportation seem expensive.
Is radar enough? Would it take too much power?
I do prefer a decent mirror though. Radar can't tell me what a car is doing, what it is, if a bicyclist is approaching, if my friend stopped to fix a flat, etc.
I'd be worried about any vehicle that isn't a Twike. These would not fair well in accident.
It was very nice to drive: very stable and rather fast and i did 2x20km/day to work. However its bigger weight compared to a simple bicycle makes it not suitable to mountains
Is there any recommendation you could provide?
It is probably a good idea to do one or more test drives first, so you know what you are getting into and what is important to you.
It's in German, but you can ask questions in English and they will usually be answered in English as well.
As for your question about which models are well designed, I'd say that if you're looking for speed, the fast ones are the Milan SL, the Alpha 7 and the upcoming Snoek, but those are not suitable for tall and/or wide riders. If you don't fit into those, your best options for speed would be the Milan GT, the DFXL or the upcoming Alpha 9.
If you're rather looking for something more practical, the Quattrovelo is the way to go; it has four wheels and therefore a bigger and more usable luggage space, which can even be used to transport a small child.
In EU (FR/CH/DE) there are specialized forums about them and I bought mine second hand. You'll love it !
I bought an electric bicycle instead :-)
It was mired in troubles; low visibility, low range (lead-acid batteries being... low density compared to li-ion), quite easy to break and being easy to steal.
Still, I think the form factor is a wonderful idea and it's nice to see some alternative methods being explored for electric vehicles again..
I sometimes see little electric "Fatboys" in operation around Malmo (a famously cycle friendly city); though sadly I think they're mainly used by drug dealers.
Not sure why it's particularly sad that drug dealers have adopted a practical delivery vehicle though.
History is full of stigmatized industry leading change, especially porn. Porn legitimized VHS, the internet, streaming video on the internet, etc.
It really is magic mobility, with the free feeling of being on a bike, without the sweat or the necessary fitness to travel at 20 or even 25 mph.
I don't think Twikes (or other recumbent bikes / velomobiles) will gain popularity in the near term, but I'm very confident that ebikes will continue to grow.
20mph is a pretty decent clip for a (manual) bicyclist, but 28mph is really moving!
* Savety if you share the road with 2000kg blobs of steel.
* Price. Cheap once you have them, but they are not mass-manufactured and come with a heafty price for what they offer.
Well that's one way to spin a missing feature ;)
Also, Velomobiles are way more popular. My unkle (used to?) drives one every day to work, in every weather, 40+ km one way (without electric assist, at least a few years ago). And no, he was never cold, he rather had problems with ventilation ;)
5k or 5.5k, depending on variant.
Although to be practicable (not a hobby), you will have to add quite a few "extras".
But not that bad actually! Makes me wonder how it is built.
That's an exciting development, hopefully it's not vaporware.
I don't know who edited this in the wiki, but this type of talking down to people is probably one of the top reasons the culture of biking in the US even in places like San Francisco never resonated with people. There are just too many condescending bike enthusiasts who think biking is the next best thing invented after sliced bread and everyone else is an idiot for not seeing the light.
If you find bike enthusiasts condescending that's a shame. It is a great way to travel - environmentally friendly, cost efficient, and actually often quicker than public transport (even cars) within major cities. Certainly more convenient, as you don't need to wait for a train or bus, and can generally lock it up just about anywhere.
From my experience in the US, the main issue isn't an image problem, just that the road infrastructure has been designed with no thought for cyclists; and the distances (outside of places like NYC and San Fran) are just huge.
More seriously, pedal power is great, better for the environment and better for its users. I expect obesity rates would drop dramatically if we had better cycle infrastructure (I'm in the UK, statement works in most places) and especially if we had family friendly power assisted cycles.
I ride a scooter to work everyday. (Inokim Ox). Its legal on the sidewalk where I live. I really think scooters are the future.
Right after Lyft, Lime and whatnot started to literally litter the sidewalks of Vienna with their (almost free) electric scooters (mind you, these sidewalks are almost always full of people), you were constantly almost run over by some Schmuck with headphones on and an arrogant look on their face, screaming "This is the future you peasants, now get out of my way..."
Once the regulation has caught up, I can see the price dropping for many of these vehicles. There are gaps in the market for (weatherproof!) city transport for 1+1/luggage eg. for shopping, school runs, work commute, mobility etc.
As far as scooters go, with such small wheels, they put you at risk every pothole. Hire scooters should really be using 12" or larger to be safe. They're also not weatherproof so not ideal for many demographics and locations. Agreed that we need more innovative transportation though!
Source: I've driven one for a couple of minutes once a couple of years ago. In Switzerland they are kept alive and running by a number of enthusiasts.
I wonder how they got to that price. Obviously no economy of scale here but still, I can't create a business on the grounds that I will only sell like two vehicles per year, so I need to make them ridiculously expensive to make my company sustain.
Even if I totally manufacture that machine it will never be so costly.
Smaller English version: https://en.velomobiel.nl/duoquest/
Its lack of electric support makes it rather cheaper than the trike.
Maybe Microlino, a wonderful, stylish, energy efficient vehicle, will be the future (certainly smarter than the crap suv tanks one sees driving around here (in the inner city)).
It makes a good space shuttle replacement though.
Other than the car designs themselves, my idea is to decentralize the ownership and selling to circumvent the laws about auto manufacturing. Like, "the sharing economy" but we're sharing being auto manufacturers in an independent, collective way. Each member will be able to sell so many "custom cars" as a private individual.
I want to see the USA with tiny little cars and empower people to be able to theoretically build/maintain their own, like a bicycle.
I'm extremely passionate about small vehicles and I think that they will be more popular in the future, when we are facing the more severe effects of climate change and fuel shortage.
I haven't even read the thread yet, and I've never brought this sort of thing up here before, but I'm slowly acquiring the knowledge and skills to make building one at least a personal reality some day.
Now, on to the thread!
Pretty sure the car is the most harmful invention of the 20th century. The damage it has done to the environment, our health, and social fabric is hard to grok.
A couple edits for clarification:
- I'm talking about using cars to transport individuals to work, school, lunch, errands, etc
- Cars are very harmful to health. Most obviously, they kill a lot of people. There's over one million road deaths worldwide per year. (Covid killed 4M). Less obviously, they are terrible for health. Living next to busy roadways is linked to increased dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. This has nothing to do with CO2--it's the rubber and metal and not addressed by Teslas or whatever.
- Cars make people dumber. Students who move to schools downwind of busy roads have lower test scores .
- Less obvious is the damage to social fabric. It's not just a distance thing: it's an estrangement thing. People in cars skip the places they move through as opposed to inhabiting them. Think about some busy thoroughfare at night near your home. Does it feel safe?
- Think about Houston. Think about Mumbai. Think about Lagos.
- Getting rid of cars does not mean everyone has to use public transport. In fact that was my point. You can design a vehicle that takes you quickly from a -> b that doesn't weigh 2 tons and uses 18m^2 at rest.
- Getting rid of cars does not mean getting rid of ambulances ffs.
But my main issue isn't how bad this all is: it's how unnecessary it is. As a species we are more than capable (as evidenced by the OP!) of building a variety of modes of transport that are better in most every way (utility, externalities, price) to cars.
For me, I always felt that something was wrong about American cities / suburbs but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then, I spent a few months in Tokyo and something "clicked". It's an entirely different paradigm that forced me to reevaluate what I thought was possible.
When I returned to the US, on the ride from the airport my first thought was: Everyone in this traffic jam is going the same direction, and would fit in a handful of train cars. Why are we OK with this??
People say trains are expensive, but they don't realize how much money we spend on cars. Americans spent $1.1 TRILLION on personal vehicles in 2017 , not including the hundreds of billions spent yearly on road maintenance. Redirecting a fraction of that money would more than pay for high-speed rail.
Let's do a crude estimate. Using the chart here , we can expect to pay somewhere between $3-163 million USD per mile of high-speed rail. The distance from NY to LA is 2789.9 miles.
At $100M/mile, which is excessive, it would still only cost $279 billion. We could build THREE transcontinental high-speed rail lines every year with the money we spend on personal automobiles. If we're as cost-effective as Japan at $2.6 M / mile, we could afford to build 384,000 miles of high speed rail every YEAR.
Subway lines in a city are more expensive, around $200-400 M / mile, but of course there are fewer miles to cover, so the result is the same. New York pays an excessive $2.5 billion per mile, but my understanding is that is due more to corruption and red tape.
I lived in Brisbane, Australia for a year. The good state of public transport there (at least for my use, commuting to/from Uni (UQ) and the city from Toowong) made car use non-essential. The sidewalks are maintained and have enough space to the road to not be alarmed by cars. To get further/certain parts of Brisbane is still a chore as it's still a car-centric infrastructure, but comparing it to Jakarta, Indonesia/metro US, it's much better. Public transport in Jakarta is an option for most, but the last-mile experience with subpar sidewalks (especially the lack of shade) make it such a chore.
I felt much healthier to walk and take public transport for my daily commute, and not to mention the beautiful views on the way. The increase in my Quality of Life is very apparent. I really miss it, and looking to move to Brisbane or another city with similar/better commute/transport paradigm in the future.
I hope one day people in the US can experience this feeling as well.
This concept of traversal-by-foot as an inherent measure of scalability is also known as the Marchetti Constant.
This article has appeared on HN before:
That reminds that one time where I borrowed a car after not using one for quite some time (moving on foot or by public transportation) and I remember a feeling of freedom, being able to go just about anywhere, not depending on unregular lines or taxis (which would have taken me where I went anyway, especially as I arrived late in the night). For going in the countryside, cars are unmatched, but I also appreciate efficient public transportation in cities
Once you get to the western mountains, there are only four rail grades that are suitable for freight. The old Northern through Montana near Glacier National Park; the original Union/Central Pacific route along the Platte and over the Sierras around Donner Pass; the ATSF route across the Colorado Plateau south of the Grand Canyon at Flagstaff and over the Sierras at Tehechapi via the loop, and the all weather grade through the Gadsden Purchase along the Mexico border.
The reason there are so few routes is simply geography. North America's mountains run north-south and there is more than a thousand miles of them between Denver and the coast. And since the west is dry much of what is west of the first line of mountains is desert as well as mountains.
Those are the grades that work for freight to the west coast. Notably, none serve much population between the Mississippi River and the Pacific. West of the Mississippi the US population density is low. The densest state California has about 1/5 the density of the Netherlands. The second most dense, Arizona is 1/20 as dense.
French TGV climbs 3.5%, German ICE climbs 4%. That simplifies a lot of the route planning. Rail bridges are surprisingly simple and cheap (open area, known loads, no salt) and tunnels are easier the simpler the rock.
I'd say it's no harder than any of the other miracles that we're building on the regular.
To put it another way, Europeans haven't built high speed rail from London to Baku for similar reasons. The tree lined cloisters where political theory makes all nation states equal is not a good model of physical reality.Swiss rail hasn't connected Bern to Baghdad.
The Swiss did vote for and consequently built things like the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
The Chinese are also building a lot of rail infrastructure and are of a similar size to the US. But then they have higher population density. But it's probably more a question of political priorities than physical realities.
The US geography makes high speed rail at the Federal level economically infeasible. Air transport reaches everyone including Alaska and Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Now air transport can reach everyone, but is also especially climate unfriendly. Maybe in the future there will be electric or hydrogen airplanes, but if there is an option to use rail or plane mass transit, rail will always have lower energy demands. But historically the US has low energy (and fuel) taxes, and that will favor the planes. EU on the other hand is now talking about taxing aircraft fuels and if that happens and the taxes are sufficiently high, trains will be more attractive, even if currently travelling long distances by rail in the EU is a huge PITA.
I’d venture that American rail could have looked similar if the North American continent was made up of dozens of countries instead of just one, forcing at least one of those countries to use the Rockies more comprehensively.
That's not to say that I like the American design of where you have to drive everywhere. I like living in a town where you can walk to shops and cafes. But I also like the freedom and the comfort and the fun of being able to get into a car and drive out.
The highways in America are super easy to navigate with carplay/gps and to be honest, and I have yet to see a jam where your car is completely stopped for more than 10 minutes. What I see is a dance of cars where every car travels to cruise speed.. another thing I’d mention is that I consider americans good drivers and very respectful of the laws compared to other countries.
Personally, I use my bike whenever possible, up to about a 30 minute journey. Farther than that, or when the weather is bad, I use the train. If I need to go somewhere remote, I can rent a car or call a taxi.
As for a commute, housing is cheaper here than you'd expect, partly because housing is not viewed as an investment. It's not difficult to live near where you work, if avoiding the trains is a priority for you.
The Shin-Hakodate to Sapporo extension will cost them 1.24T yen for 131 km of many tunnels and bridges , or US $83M/mi. This cost is why it's taken Japan so long to build a complete Tokyo-Sapporo HSR line, even though the Tokyo-Sapporo air route has been one of the most popular air routes for a long time .
They're also working on the Chuo Line which is a new Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka line going through mountainous terrain that will facilitate 67-minute travel between Tokyo and Osaka. This line will cost 9T yen for 438km , which will be a whopping US $187M/mi.
Funnily enough, speaking of the Tokaido line, the president of Japanese National Railway and the chief engineer resigned before its completion due to cost overruns . Japan makes it look easy, but the Shinkansen had a troubled start.
In comparison, for the CA HSR , the fairly flat Central California portion is costing $19.5B / 199 mi ($98M/mi) while the more challenging Palmdale-Burbank section is costing $16.8B / 41 mi ($382M/mi).
I know you use it as a figure of speech, but all of this means that a US intercontinental line going through the Rockies would be difficult. Still, I would love to see an intra-Texas, Midwest, or East Coast HSR in my lifetime.
Something many people overlook about Netherlands is how reliant on public transport they aren't. City design enabling local amenities to actually be truly local (within walking distance) is an underestimated boon. That's enormously easier to do in practice without the burden of highways and carparks.
There's also a general myth about Europe being "forced" into smaller more localized city plans by having older cities with smaller streets (accidentally creating more "local" urban environments) but that's not really the case. Road-widening projects have been common in many old European cities for centuries; the cities that are human-friendly are the ones who've undertaken the gargantuan task of reversing a lot of these car-oriented urban plans
Very good introduction on how the few people (~15%) who really benefit from driving cars dictate far more than their share of public space, cause 99% of traffic deaths etc.
A bit of perspective: the automobile cleaned up cities, which used to have a huge infrastructure to manage animal waste. The automobile enabled freedoms: not just freedom to travel, which the manufacturers emphasize, but freedom of association, unlocked a wider freedom to work, in particular for women, and in general, ironically, enabled the growth of cities which are themselves not only environmentally more efficient but act as crucibles of growth.
This is not some pro-car screed -- I myself got rid of my cars four years ago and primarily get around on foot, bike, and train. I also recognize the malign influence of the automobile, both IC and electric. But there is an enormous literature on the sociology and economics of the automobile, and I think a blanket condemnation, especially the extreme you mention, is utterly unwarranted.
Buses and trams and metros and transport trucks and railways and bicycles cleaned up the streets. The average person didn't own a car and use it daily until much after the streets "cleaned up".
The GP mentioned Mumbai, which only recently banned animal traffic. It was packed before the automobile was developed.
Until the late 50s, most households in the US did not have a car : https://oldurbanist.blogspot.com/2013/02/was-rise-of-car-own...
Without a car, the only solution is public transport. And public transport in early 20th century America was the dominant source of the use of animals in personal transport.
The confounding factor here is transport, hence why I mentioned trucks. Go to for example Tiznit in Morocco and observe how animals are used. They're not used for personal transport - they're not efficient for that in city environment - their use is moving merchandise.
I’m not defending the automobile as some paragon. I’m pointing out the lack of historical perspective, without which it’s hard to evaluate both the impact/value of the automobile and the impact/value of alternatives. A post hoc ergo propter hoc argument rarely leads to insight, much less useful decision.
The animal waste was a huge public health and economic issue, one almost inconceivable today. The automobile unlocked huge human rights and economic values. So you can’t shift modes of transport (people have tried!) without addressing those as well.
And I recognize this even though I prefer a non-automobile lifestyle and have lived in cities with functioning public transport (Melbourne, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, NYC).
Two people can't equivocate (unless they are working together). In this case sudosysgen and I are using the terms the same way and arguing a point.
And yes, I am arguing that even though I myself live the public/personal transport life being advocated in this thread, I am well aware of the institutional (car companies, traffic departments, etc), social (personal desires and habits) and structural (physical layout) barriers to transforming the transit system in that regard, even if we exclude the constraint "in the lifetime of anyone today". It's hard to make concrete, actionable decisions on the basis of utopianism.
Same for clean here. These are not different definitions of the same word. They are different members of the same category.
I live near a school and witnessing the quality of social interactions from Mums* , encapsulated by their SUV-tanks as if controlling a Gundam, is a sight to behold.
* Sorry, it mainly is Mums in this situation. And I'm fully cognizant of ejut Dads/Men driving madly in other situations.
What's worse is that even sedans are losing popularity in favor of SUVs and full size trucks. In 2021 I find this staggering.
On electric cars: we've had politicians subtly suggest that EVs will be a magic solution to all our transportation problems, including traffic. EVs obviously won't fix city congestion.
The Smart Electric and the Fiat 500e are notable examples of practical errand vehicles that use space and energy efficiently.
However, they are not the answer that consumers want to hear in the transportation dystopia of US society, where every vehicle must be an armoured car that can take a family of consumers (with at least one dog) through a vast zombie-apocalypse wasteland to fill the pantry at $warehouse-sized-retailer.
What most people think they need for a vehicle is often a grotesque exaggeration of their likely needs and perhaps also a masochistic acceptance of absurd network congestion called "commuting".
I had thought that the pathological effects from highway pollution was at least partially caused by heavy metals and various unpleasant nitrates and sulfurs and the like produced by combustion engines, not only the small particulates released from tyres and roads. Obviously combustion-based pollution would be reduced if not eliminated by EVs.
See e.g. this study, which found NO2 and elemental carbon pollution to be most harmful amongst various highway pollutants: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24231417/
Anecdotal data point: pre-pandemic I was insisting on going to work by subway instead of cycling despite the bike being almost twice as fast. Because on the subway, I see people, whereas on the bike I only see cars. The people on the subway I'd only ignore, hard, (being a somewhat unsociable person in a somewhat unsociable region of a somewhat unsociable country), but that's still a far more human interaction than coexisting with cars. There are people inside, but the only time you notice is when they are at being a particularly bad driver. All other times it feels more like being in a herd of large, sluggish steel beasts.
I always liked the personal transport tubes in Futurama
The ideal mobility framework is one of interconnected small towns/cities (ideally via rail) with non-vehicle traffic for intra town movements.
People that live out in a farm can drive in (although to be honest even distances of 10 miles can be very conveniently travelled in an ebike).
There's four things that prevent this sort of network from taking hold:
1. At least in the US, the inter-town rail networks have been disbanded or neuterd to a useless extent.
2. No investment for inter-town bus service. You can get to the big city by bus, but not between towns.
3. In most of the small towns in the USA, "main" street is actually a state highway routinely seeing traffic speeds of 50+mph. In other words, the town is divided right down the middle by a highway, with most commerce clustered around this area. This means that even for intra-small-town traffic biking (and sometimes even walking due to a lack of sidewalks!) is dangerous.
Of course Germany is not the United States. I don't know anything about agriculture, or to what extent the needs of German agriculture vs US agriculture would be met by such an arrangement. But this being HN, maybe someone knowledgeable can chime in!
As a species, yes, but -and I know this sounds hokey- we are not in control of the automobile industry. Market forces are -and we don't control those, either. Like so many mythical creators, we have lost control of our creation and it's not destroying us.
What's worse, we have now raised multiple generations of humans who know no other way of being and for whom any alternative is unthinkable, or ridiculous. "What, I'll go around the city pedalling my little three-wheel bike? That's stupid!".
Alternatives will have to be a lot better than automobiles to be able to replace them: be much cheaper, much more comfortable, much more convenient. Is there anything like that on the horizon?
We have also regulated away many things that were favoured by markets but had negative consequences. And there are plenty examples of people who are happy to do the less convenient thing and even end up enjoying it. Including switching from cars to bikes, which has happened in a number of European countries.
I use a motorcycle 90% of the time in the city. But there's a lot of problems with any specialized transport like this:
- parking multiple vehicles per person
- learning to drive multiple type of vehicles
- bicycle/scooter/Twike can't be used for serious shopping
- safety. From the time electric scooters caught on I have numerous examples of people getting seriously hurt with permanent quality of life affecting injuries.
- taking passengers on anything other than a car is non trivial
- most alternative forms of transport require good physical health and skills
I'm sure I could think of more but these are enough to explain why having a do it all vehicle (even if poorly and costly) makes sense for the majority of people.
The variation in task requirements for a vehicle is high, so it is economically efficient to buy a single vehicle suited for as many tasks as possible.
If you can acquire a limited vehicle for a much lower price (including parking, safety, and other externalities) it can be useful to do so -- but the limited vehicles are generally too expensive.
Do you not know anyone who has had a life-affecting injury or was killed while in a car? Not saying scooters don't have their risks, but pretending cars are a paragon of safety seems to be the result of availability bias.
No more waiting for public transport. No more getting soaked walking or riding a bike in the rain.
Convenience, comfort, time efficient.
To say a sedan would be designed today is a ridiculous take. Nobody forced cars on people, they wanted them.
Today they might be, but for example the village I grew up in had light rail until an autobahn was built and the rails torn out. Today, the only way to get around is a car - but this is a deliberate choice.
And yes, they are convenient, comfortable and can be time efficient, but with extraordinary negative externalities.
The issue isn't "cars are inconvenient"--the issue is "cars have enormous (and compounding) negative externalities that need to be regulated away, and investment needs to be made in alternative infrastructure because cars really suck for everyone else--and eventually, for car owners themselves."
If all "normal" people used car sharing services or taxis, then a lot of roads could have 1 more lane (where parking normally occurs), which would increase the throughput of the streets.
All the peak hour traffic circling around their destination struggling to find a parking spot would also disappear.
This would reduce the overall traffic noticeably, and everyone would get to their destination quicker and with less stress.
The problem with this is that so many people obbsess over vehicle ownership, that probably banning car ownership (with reasonable exceptions like modified cars for accomodating disabilities, oldtimers, cars with baby seats installed, etc..) in cities would be required to make this happen.
Speaking from an experience living in a big city, where I owned a car, but transitioned to using car sharing, even for long trips around the country.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's still plenty of room for innovation in the non-owned car market.
That means I can rent that car for ~5 month and still come out ahead.
The smallest golf on the list is 579 EUR/Month, that’s 6.948 EUR per year. Renting a Golf at starcar costs 1436 EUR for the month of August. That’s 4.84, just shy of 5.
Reality is even worse than your imagination.
Again, the cars are the reason it was made to be infeasible. Cars damaged our cities.
It's all about reducing the impact of motor vehicles. They do have benefits, nobody is arguing that all motor vehicles should cease to exist. But we should limit the pollution, noise, danger, space used up.
> nobody is arguing that all motor vehicles should cease to exist. But we should limit the pollution, noise, danger, space used up.
There is some antagonism, especially unhelpful antagonism. Because what works for a city-center dweller might not work for a rural area inhabitant.
Reminds me of the activists that pushed for nuclear power plants to close. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Well, I don't think that anybody is proposing that we pedestrianise someone's farm, because we're also pedestrianising town centres. I'm not sure I understand the comparison here, really.
Look up what motivated the (initial) Gillets Jaunes protests in France
Of course it makes sense for groceries to be transported in a truck.
I’m currently planning to build a velomobile that I can live out of while cycling round Australia for a year. A trailer too, designed around a digital piano and some sort of fridge (either a production model or one constructed manually from a compressor).
It’ll end up heavy enough¹ that I’ll want to put a motor in it, so that for local journeys I can get from Point A to Point B more quickly and more confidently dispose of my car, and because otherwise when touring there will be some hills that I simply can’t climb, and that 200–250W² should make it possible (though probably still not easy).
So then I figured, how about a fully electrical drivetrain? Even with the best components, it’ll still be a bit less efficient than a well-maintained chain³, but getting the chain and front chainrings out of the way would be great, making the decision of how to facilitate sleep much easier: go quadricycle (rather than tadpole trike, which is two wheels at the front and one at the back), then to sleep tilt the seat back flat, and shift the pedals/generator a bit out of the way, and there’s no chain to worry about so you’re ready to sleep in the vehicle.⁴
Unfortunately, the legislation is drafted in such a way as to forbid such vehicles. Excerpt from Victoria’s Road Safety Road Rules 2017 <https://content.legislation.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2...>:
> bicycle means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be propelled partly or wholly by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor)
The way they keep talking about power assistance as the use of an auxiliary motor is troublesome, and this potentially doesn’t even allow things like hydraulic, shaft or electrical drives. But then, what is an electrical wire but a belt for electrons?
¹ Though nowhere near the the two-seater Twike’s unladen-save-batteries 246kg. I’m aiming for a this-is-my-home practical loaded long-term touring weight of 125kg, including things like 50kg of vehicle and trailer (including all vehicle electronics), 12kg of piano, 12kg of fridge, 12kg of battery and 5kg of solar panels.
² Broadly speaking, Australia currently has two classifications: 200W with no speed limit, and the pedelec 250W but limited to 25km/h. Finer details vary by state. Not sure if you could legally get away with producing 250W if pedalling and under 25km/h, or 200W if over 25km/h (and pedalling, in some states); “an auxiliary motor capable of generating a power output over 200 watts” hangs quite a bit on the interpretation of the word “capable”.
³ An electrical drivetrain could easily be better than a poorly-maintained chain.
⁴ The main alternatives I’m considering include making the vehicle expandable in a way vaguely reminiscent of a pop-top van, and a larger and/or expandable trailer and sleep in that. But I don’t want to be messing around with tents every day.
Also there is a weight issue the generator is at least as heavy as the motor and thats a big problem on bikes.
Trains do it because they need precise traction control and have little concern for the weight. They sacrifice running efficiency for it but everything else makes them very efficient at running (low rolling resistance and low aerodynamic drag).
Also the unsprung weight of hub motors causes various issues as well especially if you have suspension for ride comfort. Most electric bikes are moving to mid drives anyway which is going to have a chain or belt.
>95% for chain systems assumes good components excellently-maintained. In practice chain drives are generally somewhat less efficient, commonly more like 85–90% is what I think I read, with poorly-maintained ones often more like 65–75%. This is where an electrical drivetrain could really shine: it’ll require roughly no maintenance while maintaining its not-best-in-class-but-still-pretty-good efficiency.
These figures are all rather nebulous, and get muddied a lot further once you’re putting a battery into the mix too, trying to take the power from your feet and augment it with another 200W of power from a battery (but preferably without feeding your foot-power through the battery). Then I go from being an amateur that knows just enough to be dangerous to a rank ignoramus.
For my purposes, an electric drivetrain would probably be markedly less efficient, but if it can be enough more convenient, it could be worthwhile anyway. I also have a pet scheme in mind where you simulate 100% efficiency by adding a little more power from the battery to compensate for known losses. I feel that could fit within the intent of legislation, if only that legislation allowed electric drivetrains in the first place.