Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hybrid Human/Electric vehicles in suburan America

First off, this is my first post to the blog (Anthony here).

Nickie and I have been talking a lot about solutions presently available to make a carfree lifestyle possible with a family. I've been in practice living carfree for about 7 years now, having sold my car back in college and bought a nice road bike to get around instead, and my wife minus during the transition from being just a married couple to being parents has generally done likewise. Well things do get a little more complicated with this transition but I think we've still been finding some good solutions.

We bought her a tadpole trike (two wheels in the front and one in the rear) a little bit ago for a few reasons. They are quite comfortable for one, more aerodynamic than your average riding position on a road bike, can be ridden while pregnant, which she is, and ridden year round since they have such a low center of gravity and three wheels, snow and ice are much less treacherous. The other added benefit is that a newborn can't be adequately supported in a trailer for awhile 6-12 months depending on who you talk to, while in a trike without the concern of tipping over she could wear the baby in our baby bjorn sport strapped to her chest while riding.

Now coming back to the title of this post, this also all means that on average when my dear courageous wife is toodling around town to do errands she's always toting at a minimum an extra 55lbs of trailer, child, diaper bag, emergency gear, and not all things are as close in proximity as we'd like. So of late I've been researching some electric assist options that we could mount to the trike effectively augmenting her power to the point of being on par with my typical range and speeds (30-40 miles any given day at 18-22mph average) even with towing all the extra weight. This would make trips to grandma and grandpa's house all the more feasible without falling back on the car. Besides the fact that the total amount of energy (besides Nickie's pedaling power) that's required to move my wife, child, trailer, stuff :), is VASTLY less than moving a 3500lb car too, we also get our electricity from windpower, so recharging at home means the extra energy is coming from a renewable resource.

We'll see how it goes, but having tried one out this last weekend we're both in agreement that the question is not, if, but when. So we'll start putting our pennies together and hopefully get her setup in the next couple months so we can take some of the extra burden off of her in the move to a carfree lifestyle.

On a side note we're also in the process of selling our VW Eurovan and getting a more fuel efficient vehicle for the times when we do fall back on the car.

Lastly since we haven't joined the multimedia era by posting any pics yet, I thought I'd throw up a photo of my trusty steed that takes me to and from everyday.

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