Bicycles are used all around the world as family vehicles. It is the one personal transportation vehicle that is currently used by both developing nations and by the most advanced societies. This is happening because the bicycle is fundamentally the most efficient vehicle on the planet. It is so basic, yet extremely advanced all at the same time. In North America, the conditions are forming for the rediscovery of bikes as transportation.
Man builds a bike out of cardboard. It is not clear if it is true or not. You never know these days on the internet, but at the warehouse, we go through loads of cardboard and can appreciate its strength. The video is at least inspirational and makes a solid case for the cardboard bike.
IDEO and Rock Lobster Cycles collabrated on the bike's design for the Oregon Manifest contest. The goal of the contest was to design and build the ultimate modern utility bicycle. Judging was based on three major categories: True Innovation, Design and Execution, and Functionality.
The Faraday Porteur was the People's Choices Award winner as determined by voters online. What is quite notable about the contest was that the overall winner was also an e-bike created by Tony Pereira of Pereira Cycles. E-bikes may have found acceptance in the utility segment of the North American cycling world.
The striking thing about this bike is the "lack" of battery pack. By using double top tubes, room is created to insert cylindrical battery cells within the frame. The result is a stealthy e-bike in a lightweight 40lb package.
The tradeoff is the relatively small 3Ah battery giving pedal-assist range of only 10-15miles. Range anxiety is solved by supplying the bike with two chargers so one charger can be carried at all times.
The double top tube will make it a little more difficult to get on and off the bike or adjust the seat, but this issue is solved by making three different frame sizes to tailor fit the bike for each rider.
Overall the bike is an beautiful example of an e-bike that can get the attention of the public and help e-bikes continue gaining momentum in North America. The Kickstarter campaign rocketed to $70,000 within in the first 48 hours. The $100,000 funding target was reached in only 13 days.
A short article written by Wendy Koch appeared recently in USA Today. Cities across the U.S. are installing protected bike paths. These so called "Green lanes" are nothing new. They have been used for decades in Europe to protect cyclist from automobile traffic. Painting a line on the side of the road is no longer a sufficient solution for cycling safety. Bicycle routes need to be protected and carefully integrated to the traffic infrastructure.
"We are seeing an explosion of interest in making bicycling stress-free on busy city streets," says Martha Roskowski of Bikes Belong Foundation, a non-profit touting the paths via its Green Lane Project.
Being fair and balanced paper, a quote from the bike lane opponent needed to be thrown in:
"You have more congestion and frustrated drivers," says Jim Walden, a lawyer with the Gibson Dunn firm who sued against a bike lane on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn that reduced three lanes of traffic to two.
Although a small percentage of readers actually comment on articles, the lively reader sentiment appears very polarized. City officials will have challenges ahead as they retrofit car-centric city infrastructure to include cyclist and pedestrian traffic flow.
The video below gives a little history of how the Dutch got their cycle paths. The illuminating detail is that the automobiles also took over Dutch city streets -just as in North America. It was later that the people fought to reclaim the public space and once again make the streets safe for cyclist and pedestrians.
The modern version of the bicycle has not really changed in decades. It may be that the design of the double diamond bicycle is more or less optimized given the materials available.
A rider can only supply so much power in a seated riding position. The bike has to be designed around those constraints. New technologies such as electric assistance free the design to optimize around convenience, comfort, and the job to be done by the bicycle.
An article in USA Today's Money section highlights how Millennials and empty nesters are now trending toward urban homes.
"There's an emphasis on walkability, an emphasis on health, an emphasis on commuting by bicycle … a shift away from blatant consumerism and the McMansion model."
Attitudes are shifting. The era of suburban sprawl, based around the cheap oil phenomenon has become unsustainable. Increasingly, young people find this living arrangement undesirable.
"I reject the premise that (the shift) is just because of the recession," Vilkin says. "It's no longer the American dream to own a plot of land with a house on it and two cars in the driveway."
CBS Minnesota airs a little piece about the shifting demand of e-bikes. Fueled by the recent spike in gas prices, the e-bike market is expanding from the cycle enthusiasts to commuters looking to get around town without using a car. E-bikes excel in this job as they offer more flexibility than public transportation (if it exist) at a fraction of the automobile's operating cost.
Justin Lemire-Elmore / The Grin Cyclery
Update: Part 2 link posted
"For those who might think of an electric bike as cheating, consider that not everyone has the energy and stamina to ride a pedal only bike in a competitive lean-forward riding position. The creation of some power assistance to overcome hills and winds has made it likely for millions of consumers who would not likely ride, let alone purchase, another bicycle in their lifetime."
I totally agree. If you ride an e-bike, inevitability somone will call you a cheater. But I must admit, I do feel like I am cheating. I would not normally ride a bike to work unless it has an electric assist motor. Instead I would take a car!
Filmmaker Liz Canning is on a mission to document the recent boom of cargo bicycling in the USA. Global economic conditions, concerns about the environment , and disenchantment with the automobile are factors creating wave of people taking control of their lives by using cargo bicycles as transportation.
This year's winner of the Oregon manifest Utility design bicycle challenge goes to... an e-bike?
“We need to adjust our view of the cycling future.”
- Tinker Hatfield, the renowned Nike product designer.
Yes, the veridic is in: E-bikes are cool as long as you are carrying cargo.
Q: What is the Oregon Manifest Challenge?
A: "The Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge is a one-of-a-kind design/build competition, in which some of the country’s best custom bike craftsman and select student teams vie to create the ultimate modern utility bike." (link)
Q: But I thought e-bikes were cheating?
A: That was under the old rules. Under the new rules, e-bikes make sense for utilitarian tasks such as moving you and your things around town.
Q: Wouldn't that make my car redundant?