After reading davew's thread on the Enertia Electric Morotcycle, I remembered an article I found on the web some time ago. The article is posted on www.renewables.com, a site owned by Steve Heckeroth, who owned MendoMotive and produced the excellent electric Spyder reproduction in the mid-1990s. This guy knows BEVs from firsthand experience.
Sustainable transportation article here
More detail on transportation system here
I actually took a class taught by Steve at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA (www.solarliving.org). The topic of the class was 'how to build or buy an electric vehicle'. Steve came prepared with a lecture on EV advocacy and future transportation systems, but most of the people in the class wanted to know how to covert a car to electric. I remember thinking at the time "I don't want to hear about an EV that I might be able to get someday, I want to know how to get an electric car TODAY!". Well, as I've done more research into electric vehicles and sustainable transportation, I've realized that Steve's ideas were pretty darned good!
The concept is that we invest in a ultra-light BEV/rail hybrid system. You have a light BEV with a moderate battery pack for in town use that also has 'rail wheels'. When you want to take a long trip, you merge onto a 'rail on-ramp' that puts you onto a powered, computerized light rail system for high-speed, inter-city trips. Take a look at the articles. I'd be interested to see comments from other Forum folk. Cheers!
Oh, I absolutely agree. If we just replace gas cars with electric cars that still leaves a whole lotta issues ... such as land use being skewed by too many highways. And what I've found observing myself while driving is that driving a car tends to create a lot of anxiety inside me; there's a constant danger (in bumper-bumper traffic) of smashing into the car ahead of me, etc. I think it would be good for the health of society overall if fewer people were driving cars and instead taking mass transit.
But when I talk with people about this idea they look at me like I'm nuts... the paradigm of individuals driving their own cars is so totally ingrained that it's a hard one to shake and see the possibilities.
And.. yes... a light BEV which you can ride to/from a mass transit system makes the mass transit system so much more usable. But it needs to be something compatible with carrying onto mass transit. Most of the scooters are incompatible because they're too large, and many mass transit systems are hinky about carrying bicycles on-board. A small foldup bicycle or foldup scooter is compatible with mass transit, but then it starts to interfere with the performance of the BEV. Good quality LI-ION packs will help this picture.
- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/
- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
I fully agree. When I lived in the city and my job was downtown with frequent bus service, I found bus commuting absolutely relaxing compared to driving - and with my employer transit incentive program it was free too. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone drives downtown when there is frequent bus and trolley service - they could at least park and ride.
I only got interested in an e-max when the job moved to an outer suburban area. The e-max was going to be in an all-electric reverse park-and-ride scheme - leaving it out in the end of the trolley line reverse park and ride so I wouldn't have to do the 32 mile round trip every day. I moved out to within 6 miles of work, so the scooter is used exclusively now.
The problem is...people like cars. They already own cars, they love their little (well, big) metal boxes. I think any shift in the way people commute is going to have to be gradual. I think electric cars are a great step. It gets people used to the idea, gets them thinking about alternatives. It also allows pollution to be generated in a centralized, controller environment, away from cities, and it makes the transition to wind/solar/wave/geothermal/nuclear very easy.
As a bonus, electric cars are much more practical the smaller and lighter they are. This increases safety to other drivers, and more importantly, those on bikes/foot.
People want electric cars. Look at how many people build their own. This is only a small fraction of those that would drive them, because they actually have the skills to put one together themselves. If there were a mass produced, mass marketed electric car, with mass appeal, we would see quite a few of them on the road already. Perhaps when gas hits $4, 5, etc a gallon they will start to become a reality.