I predict that Americans will never abandon their cars in favor of bicycles in any significant numbers. Except possibly in a few places like Portland, Oregon.
The technology described in this long and detailed article below is very impressive indeed. It does make the bicycle a more practical mode. But Americans are in love with their cars.
The first proof is that all of the arguments for an electric bicycle are the same arguments for a moped. As a former moped rider, I can tell you I did not have a lot of company on the road 35 years ago. Although, to be fair, I saw a lot of small scooters and mopeds in the town in Virginia where I toured last year. Things are changing a little.
But these two-wheelers are secondary. Not like the bicycles on loan that are available for free in places like Copenhagen.
Then there are practical considerations. I once rode to work every work day for five months. However, it did rain on weekends and it did rain on evenings and I was only 15 miles from work. I needed only 30 minutes of clear weather in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. It worked out. (Full disclosure: I needed my brake rotors turned on my car because the car sat for so many months. I could’ve bought a lot of gasoline for what I spent on that.)
It’s a whole different story when it rains. I have seen rain here in Philadelphia that hammers like you wouldn’t believe – a soaking rain that makes it hard even to see. Ever try riding through that on two wheels? I have. Ever done it on a bicycle? I don’t want to.
And then there is temperature. I once rode to work when it was 8° outside. I never did that again. These days my practical limit is 40°. On a motorcycle with heated grips. I can do about an hour that way. And ice and snow? Not on your life!
But to be really serious and live with only two wheels, you have to consider shopping. That boils down to what you can fit in a backpack and panniers. It’s not much. I could live that way – my grocery store is a mile away. But that means shopping many times a week. Again, this is a mental thing with Americans who have cars. And cars solve all of the objections above. Four Americans, stepping away from the four wheeler to the two wheeler is like stepping back in time and living like the Amish. Ain’t going to happen.
As for hauling bigger-than-a-bread-box cargo such as the dog going to the vet, Fido will have to learn to walk. However Kitty will fit in a top box. But she won’t enjoy it.
PS, The Segway is not mentioned in this article. When it was released several years ago I saw a total of two of them around Doylestown. I haven’t seen any since. I’m sure there are some uses for Segways, but they are not as ubiquitous as was predicted. Again, it’s the American mentality. Instead of Segways, people would probably use golf carts. Besides, Segways have their own unique dangers:
I am transportation-rich. I have access to two cars, two motorcycles, and a bicycle. To be a practical bicyclist, or motorcyclist, or mopedder, I’d have to live without the four-wheelers. That’s the bottom line. I know of only a few people who do that. And I still have trouble believing that any of them did it in cold, rain, and snow. Although it’s more possible now than it was when I was expected to wear a sport coat and tie to work.
== PT, iPaddict