Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who's ready to reinvent the wheel?

For the past 17 years, my preferred mode of transportation is walking, although I definitely consider myself more Peripatetic than pedestrian.  Still, I remain a proponent for bicycles.  As I have said before, bicycles have to be one of the greatest inventions of human civilization.  What is more ingenious than inventing a means which allow people to run while sitting down?  Not to mention that bicycles may be the most efficient means of transportation on the ground.  

Still, there remain some complications with bike commuting and traffic laws.  Perhaps one can blame this on the fact that traffic laws were devised with little more than automobiles in mind.  Still,one of the most dangerous instances is watching bicyclist racing through red lights and completely disregarding stop signs.  

I am reasonably sympathetic with this.  After all, it must be extremely annoying to have expended the energy to achieve a breezy cruising speed, only to have that energy lost through abrasion, heat and that odd moan that the brake pads make on the bicycle's wheel rims.  Then after coming to a complete stop, the light turns green again, and the bicyclist has to laboriously crank the pedals to regain that cruising speed.  

Perhaps I can offer a solution - someone needs to reinvent the wheel.  

Instead of simply dissipating that energy through the brakes, why not devise a wheel that slows the bicycle by capturing the energy.  Then when the bicycle has slowed, or comes to a complete rest, that energy can be slowly released again to regain that cool cruising speed?  

Admittedly, I am not the most mechanically inclined person.  But I was considering some options.  Of course many electric cars do this with electric motors.  But this would probably be too heavy for a bicycle.  

The most practical solution would be the use of some type of light weight elastic material.  Through the braking, they would stretch and store the energy.  Then when needed, the stretched elastic could unravel and the energy released would propel the bike to effortlessly regain that carefree cruising speed.  

Of course even a contraption such as this would add weight to the bicycles, but I am not talking about using this on bicycles for the Tour de France.  I am thinking of simple cruisers that people would use for commuting and recreation.  

In time though, I am eagerly anticipating the inevitable day when an entire avenue in Manhattan is closed for only bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  And I truly believe that day is quickly approaching.  

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