This is a rather philosophical posting about past, present and future of personal transportation, fitness, health and road rage. These are the thoughts that cross my mind when I'm pedaling away vast distances through time and space. The space that is the anchor of this posting is the L770 road in Germany. It is a very special road....
Dream RideOnly rarely did I ride a nicer section then on the L770 road, roughly between the German towns Petershagen and Bramsche in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Such a road is ideal for long-distance travelers by velomobile. Every main road should have such wide shoulders for long distance/high speed HPV'ers!
|Excellent shoulder for HPV use.|
|43km/h average for 50km@177Watts. Link to a bigger picture on Dropbox|
The stage-coach era
If navigation and roads for velomobiles were always this good, travelling by velomobile would certainly catch on more widely. I'm dreaming of the times like of the stage coaches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach), when you would travel all around Europe and spend the night in hostels where you could have a warm bed, dinner and breakfast. My mode of travelling today is very similar to that: I travel from 150 up to 300km a day with my Mango velomobile, check in at a youth hostel, B&B or Warmshowers and have dinner somewhere in town. Next morning breakfast either at the hostel or at one of the bakeries that have an excellent service. If only my navigation could be easier with all roads complemented with a wide shoulder like I had on the L770 road, my daily travelling distance could easily jump to 400km.
But to be truthful: my average for the full day was not 42,7km/h. http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2414133 And that is not because I got tired or significantly lowered my pace. It was because the other 160km of this day, my cycle navigation took me on smaller roads with intersections every kilometer, gravel roads, the odd sand road, non-existing roads and dead ends.... In the end my average dropped to 30,9km/h which is of course quick for a bicycle, but still..... not nearly as quick as could be and without any more effort.
|Nice, but not so good for travelling long distance.|
|Stranded in loose sand, had to push for a while. |
Alternative: go back and take a long detour with no guarantee for a better result
How will we transport ourselves safe, comfortable and swift without getting.... you know, fat and angry.
But aren't roads for cars (sic). That is of course only for as long as it makes sense (just like the stage coach era ended when trains took over their role). Later the car made personal transport possible, but at a high cost both in traffic incidents and energy waste. Nowadays it becomes ever more clear that personal transport should not take up as much energy, space, public resources and cause so much pollution like the contemporary car or even it's successor, the hybrids and e-cars. Truly efficient bicycles, like velomobiles, are perfectly suited for personal transportation. After all, isn't it obvious that physical activity is just what we need in an age of stress and obesity? The car hasn't lived up to it's reputation of freedom for a long time. Only in car commercials will you see slowly winding coastal roads without any other cars in sight. The bicycle is much safer as well, despite that some people I talk to when I'm on the road like to point out that "they are clearly not safe". In fact the velomobile has an excellent crash protection with it's body of glass/carbon/kevlar. The main reason it's less safe than a car is... the car. The protection level for the people INSIDE the car is excellent, but as for the other road users? Let's face it, the safety of cyclists is very much dependent on the mood swings of drivers. I believe that it's no coincidence that the nice experience I had on the L770 happened on a bright Sunday. During my daily commutes to work, especially when the weather is bad, the temper of most people can be very bad and road rage lurks just around the corner. Of course cyclists are also prone to mood swings. The difference is that they do not present much danger to other road users.