Bikes, More Bikes!

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On 9/9/2018 at 1:09 PM, mthebold said:

I have commuted by bicycle in several cities under various  climates & circumstances.  There are cases where it makes sense.  E.g. college campuses where no one expects you to look professional and foot traffic is crazy, inner cities with major traffic problems, and select small towns where you can live close to work. 

That said, it's more difficult than it looks.  Bicycles are not as reliable as cars; dealing with flat tires alone is a major pain.  Rain not only requires you to have a full-body rain suit, but any lingering wetness or puddles causes the bike to throw dirt all over your clothes.  The bicycle seat will destroy pants; expensive, fragile dress pants are out of the question.  You sweat when it's hot, you freeze when it's cold, you have to have special clothing & equipment for these scenarios, etc. 

More importantly, it's stressful.  You're a 150-200lb commuter on a road full of 4,000lb vehicles.  If you get hit, it's game over.  It's also noisy, other commuters don't know what to do around you, you get to breathe all the exhaust, you may get covered in bugs... it's just not pleasant.  If you're a working professional who needs to be at the top of his game, a stressful bicycle commute puts you at a noticeable disadvantage. 

It also won't save you that much money.  You still need a car for longer trips, which means you're paying licensing, registration, insurance, regular maintenance, and capital costs.  When electric vehicles become cheap, it could be cheaper to own a single electric vehicle than to own any vehicle + bicycle. 

So yes, some people can use bicycles, but in developed nations where we can afford better, these cases are the exception rather than the norm.  There's a reason people use cars. 

Paul, let me respond that all these items you point out can be dealt with, all you need to do is throw money at it.  [Full disclosure, I build bicycles.]

Flat tires:   There are tires now commercially available that use no air.  The flat issue is technically over.  For regular pneumatic tires, you can fill them with a self-sealing liquid that does away with road flats.  Yes, you would still need to carry an antique bicycle pump, no biggie.

Stressful:  yup, all true.  However, society is tending towards totally separate bicycle paths.   My personal solution is the fast commuter electric bike.  Mine goes 45 mph, has great acceleration out of the light, and can keep up with suburban traffic (OK, not the clowns that speed at 60 through the town streets, but normal traffic.)  With a battery range of 40 miles, you can do quite the commute.  The battery removes with two bolts and an electric plug, carry it inside and charge it up during your workday at an ordinary plug, costs less than a dime. 

Clothes:   With an electric bike, you no longer pedal.  You can wear a suit, I do it all the time. 

Seat:  All you do is remove the traditional bicycle seat and put on a motorcycle-style full padded seat.  After all, you are not going to stand up and pedal anyway, might as well be comfortable. 

Rain:   The French solved with with a cocoon rain enclosure, you carry it in the saddlebag and rig it before you go.  Fenders and a front motorcycle splashshield take care of wheel throw.  

Sweating:  Long gone phenomenon, you just sit on the machine and flick the throttle.  Nobody pedals any more, that is passe. 

You don't really need a car; if you want one, you rent one for the weekend.  Also, you can keep a car if society lets you pay for insurance etc on a per-mile basis.  That is a political issue, not a technical one.  Eventually, some State will go that route and re-set how registration and insurance is paid for. 

Reason people use cars:  yup. because that is how the technology developed.  BUT:  with saddlebags, including rigid carriers and a rack in back and a wire basket in front, you can carry all your groceries on your bicycle.  The Vietnamese fought an entire war hauling military supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail on bicycles (no trucks). An electric bike can pull a big trailer.  A "cargo bike" can carry a vast load, using three-inch-wide tires.  I am building a copy of the Wehrmacht BMW R-75 motorcycle (sidecar two-person cycle) but with electric motor; the battery bank sits underneath the sidecar seat.  It will have a trailer hitch and be powerful enough to haul a two-axle trailer.  You can use that to go back and forth to the lumber yard and build an entire house with it, no trucks.  I plan as a publicity stunt to build a garage with everything, including the bags of cement, hauled in by bicycle.  

And with an R-75, you can make it totally weatherproof, still keep that lithium battery pack, and no registration!  Hey, it is still a bicycle!

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