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Pedal Power, enhanced by solar

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January 15, 2008
Posts: 11

PostPosted:     Post subject: Pedal Power, enhanced by solar
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How about promoting the use of the most energy-efficient machine ever invented, the bicycle, and encouraging its broader use by enhancing our human pedal-power with solar-collected electricity, stored in light-weight, efficient and environmentally clean lithium-ion batteries? I think this is a winner! It's not cheap, economically, but it's low-impact, environmentally.

If we were to add a polycarbonate fairing (unbreakable windshield) and a lightweight enclosure to our bike, or maybe our three-wheeler (for stability), we'd have an all-weather "velomobile" that would help us get up the hills, and back home after a hard day! We'd get infinite miles-per-gallon! Even Toyota can't claim that!

There's a "tadpole" (meaning that it has two front wheels) trike made in Taiwan that costs less than $1500 US, and there's an electric motor kit made in Canada for little more than that, which has regenerative braking and four levels of pedal-assist with lithium-ion batteries. There's a fairing made in northwestern California, and a soft-sided body manufactured a bit south of there, which all put together would produce an all-weather (well, 3-season, anyway) vehicle capable of going 20 miles per hour, with pedaling, for an hour or two. How often do you drive further than that? How often do you go that far at zero cents per mile -- or even if you plug it in at night to charge it up, maybe less than half a dollar?

Total cost is a lot more than a simple bicycle, of course, and adding the cost of a solar panel, and maybe a spare battery kit, it's all going to run into the middle-four-figures, or even a bit more. But if you're comparing it to the price of a car (which begins at five-figures), with an internal combustion engine that's going to consume perhaps hundreds of gallons of irreplaceable fossil fuels every year of its life, makes noise and pollutes the air, and is going to require oil changes and tune-ups, insurance and license fees, there's just no comparison!

If you think this idea is a winner too, I'd like your feedback. If you have a better idea, I'd like to hear that too. Best of all, if you'd like to have a part in bringing this vision into manifestation, I definitely want to rap with you!

-- Jim

"Be lucky -- you'll be surprised how much it helps!" -- Ashleigh Brilliant
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