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View Diary: When Is a Bike Not A Bicycle? (41 comments)

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  •  Great! Various points. (0+ / 0-)

    Great logic. I like your approach. Considerations:

    1. A lot of disabled or handicapped people with compromised mobility are going to be significantly obese. (Trust me on this--I make my living appealing disability claims.) So we might want to raise your watts limit somewhat to allow for the reduced performance caused by a heavier rider.

    2. I saw an article recently pointing out the obvious: e-bikes use a lot less energy and raw materials to manufacture and operate than any kind of car, including e-cars. To the extent we can get people to use e-bikes instead of cars, we'll do the atmosphere and the rest of the environment a favor. This is an argument in favor of minimal regulation.

    3. There's apparently an e-bike hot-rodding subculture in China, juicing up the bikes with higher-capacity batteries and more powerful motors. Some videos on YouTube of nuts riding their e-bikes up to, IIRC, about 70 MPH. Only a matter of time before that gets here. Too soon to worry about it, though.

    4. DKos user Bama Bike Guy used to put small gasoline engines on bicycles, and posted a number of diaries about building them and riding them. Not as enviro-friendly as e-bikes, but still a huge improvement on cars. I believe he passed away a couple years ago, sad to say, but his diaries are still available.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 01:46:47 PM PDT

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    •  Oh, one more obvious thing... (0+ / 0-)

      Don't forget this:

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 01:53:02 PM PDT

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    •  cool; and about which... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1)  Sure, raise it to 750 watts, 1 horsepower (technically 1 HP = 746 watts, but we can use 750 for the present purposes), thereby being the equivalent of a horse, which people could and still can ride on public streets without licenses.

      2)  Fully agreed: sustainability considerations weigh strongly in favor of creating all kinds of incentives for e-bikes and their derivatives including velomobiles (enclosed cycles with 2 - 3 wheels, which are becoming common in Europe).    

      Here's what's needed to make these really practical for more people:  Adequate cargo capacity for a real grocery trip (approx. 3 cubic feet), in a hard-sided lockable enclosure to prevent theft.  For example you go to the farmers' market for your fresh produce, then to the grocery store for some other items, and then to the post office on the way home: you should be able to leave all the stuff from the previous stops locked up safely in the vehicle without worrying that some creep will slash a canvas cover or other "soft" enclosure and steal something.  

      Urban reality speaking here; the current generation of "soft" enclosures and teeny-weeny hard enclosures are worthless in the city.  What's needed is a 3 cubic foot hard-sided lockable box of some kind, either as part of an adult tricycle, or as a trailer that can be attached to a bicycle.  

      3)  That figures; China is presently the "can-do culture" of the world, while Americans are becoming lazy "consumers."

      However at some point we have to be proactive about the legalisms and set out a definition of what can be ridden without licenses or insurances or other "privileges" or overhead costs or doctors' prescriptions or other red-tape.

      For instance: someone has a fatal allergy to bee stings, so they build an e-trike with a complete enclosure and screened "windows" for fresh air, to eliminate the risk of getting stung while they're on the road.  What do you call that?  We have to be careful to avoid calling that an "automobile" just because it's enclosed.  

      4)  I used to know Bama Bike Guy here when he was alive.  Sad loss.  F---ing hugely tragic loss.   He got me going on the whole e-bike thing and I read extensively on the topic as a result.  

      If I'm not mistaken, he died of something that would otherwise have required a prescription that would have made it impossible for him to pedal a bicycle any reasonable distance (I'm not going to go into the details of that in public).  

      In point of fact it was he and another person here who had the same medical circumstance and lived, who I was thinking about when I was writing about accessibility, even though I used other types of examples.  I didn't want to get into the complications of Bama Bike Guy's medical situation and the other ones of the same type that I'm aware of.  

      But there are plenty of cases of "invisible partial disabilities," and they all come down to the same thing:  the need for a personal means of transportation that does not depend on physical strength & stamina, does not require license or insurance or doctor's prescription to operate, and can serve for normal transportation including carrying groceries or other goods.

      For use in rural and suburban areas where distances are large, a hybrid powertrain is reasonable: a tiny gas motor that serves only to keep a charge on the batteries and does not directly drive the wheels.  There are modern tiny gas motors of this type that fully comply with air pollution regulations, and the resulting hybrid e-bikes get something like 200 miles per gallon.  

      Those types of vehicles would fulfill all the needs, would still be limited to 20 miles per hour on roads, and would make it possible for older people and folks with disabilities to keep their present homes (which may very well be paid for) and social arrangements (families & friends nearby).  

      We can do this.  All it takes is leaving well-enough alone and letting people innovate.

      As for accident risks for people such as Bama Bike Guy using micro hybrid e-trikes, the answer to that is to apply normal civil liability and criminal law in exactly the same manner as they apply to people on bikes or adult trikes without motors.

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 02:46:27 PM PDT

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