A commenter on my latest examiner.com post asked "Who is killing the electric bicycle" and suggests it's the electric car.
The story is that last week the Obama Administration announced $2.4 billion in grants to support the electric car industry in the U.S. This is big news and as an EV advocate I'm jazzed about this. The article in question goes over the $1.5 billion of the total that's going to battery industry infrastructure. There are several companies gearing up to make lithium batteries in the U.S.
But. okay. Bicycles. What about them apples?
Basically as exciting as the announcement is - the result will be to reinforce the regime of transportation==cars on highways. I think cars and highways are ugly and degrade our quality of life. On the other hand they do offer a lot of freedom of mobility, that is unless you're stuck in a traffic jam 20 miles long snaking at 15 miles/hr. We get traffic like that in Silicon Valley during "rush" hour and it certainly doesn't feel like freedom to be crawling along at that speed constantly in danger of bumping the car in front of you if you misjudge what's going on.
In an earlier article I noted that Taiwan and Italy both have government incentive programs to buy electric bicycles and scooters.
(aside: one of the early failures of Vectrix was to close sales offices in Italy for some reason.. but if they were selling scooters in Italy today the Italian government would be giving an incentive for their scooters.. gaaaaah!!!)
$2.4 billion would buy a heck of a lot of electric bicycles, don't ya think?
Well that's not the whole story. To be effective the program would have to tie with improved mass transit systems which allow electric bicycles to integrate into the system as a cohesive whole.
Is the electric bicycle really being killed?
Is there a large contingent of people out there who don't want to pedal their bikes? Wouldn't these people be just as well served by riding a low cost scooter? Does it serve the greater good to get really advanced in our electric bicycle technology to the exclusion of the electric car tech?
It seems to me, people who want the discomfort of riding a bike, but don't want to pedal that much will be just as well served by advancing electric car / battery technology. These advances will filter down to them naturally.
Luther Burrell, Mesa, Arizona, USA
Rides: ZuumCraft from zuumcraft.com
Previous Rides: Blue Vectrix Maxi scooter
I think that as long as we're living in a country where the average person's BMI is higher than their IQ, bicycles of any type will never be popular.
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In reality, Yes, it would... around 4 million. I would love to see the government distribute 4 million electric bikes to the most needy of the unemployed. As an added incentive for people to adopt electric bikes, we could pay for those bikes with a $2.00/gallon tax on gasoline.
It's funny, but our economy didn't really suffer that much when we were paying Saudi Arabia $4.00/gallon for gasoline, yet the politicians feel that it would sink the nation to tax gasoline to make it that same price.
Waste Not, Want Not
Our economy didn't suffer greatly? Did you notice that people couldn't pay their mortgages, accellerating the eroding situation to a meltdown, the banks weren't getting enough payments on various loans and got bailouts from the governemt. . . ? The sheer extent of the agony we went through over those prices is difficult to cover, but that's a start. The mortgage problem would have progessed far slower without the further agravation, some of itw would have been avoided altogether. Our economy would be a whole lot heathier today if not for $5/gallon gas.
Meanwhile, there's no shortage of exciting things people will be just as glad to leave to someone else. Who would like to strap a pair of these on real quick?
If you pass out 4 million free electric bikes to the poor, 3.5 million postings will appear on Craigslist trying to trade an electric bike for a phone, an MP3 player, or for a CAR. If it's not simply for sale. The problem with getting more electric bikes on the road is a 'Who will bell the cat?' issue: Most people are quick to say that OTHER PEOPLE should make the sacrafice. So it's hard to blame someone down on their luck who doesn't want to cooperate with some self serving government official and an equally self serving government boondoogle that takes a group of people who are transportationally disdvantaged and leaves them at close to the same disadvantage, solving no other problem for them at the same time.
By all accounts, most of the 60 million electric bikes said to be in China were built in the last 2 1/2 years. That's 1 per every 22 people, in a land where most people don't have a car and those who do don't have a much road to drive it on. That ratio in the U.S. would require some 14 million bikes, which would not be a job creator as the bikes would come from. . .well, you know. If we want to create the jobs here, we have to come up with an answer where China doesn't already dominate the market. (Although a quick nod to Current Motors for their efforts to keep pace.) It also wouldn't be welcomed by the 14 million drafted to ride them.
You might notice all the alternatives to the simple electric bike I've illustrated here, but the following for such things remains cultish. They all require just a bit extra effort, something that there's too few people ready to offer. But go ahead and follow some links to learn more about them.
150 Miles Per Gallon In A Goblin
Homemade Wind Powered Electric Vehicle Generates Almost 1 KW
http://morechristlike.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/borealis-cutaway.jpgVelomobile for two -finally!
WHo dares, WINS!!!!