1 May 2018

1st May 2018 Mad and bad battery boy?

Tuesday, 1st May, 44F, 7C, cool, heavy overcast, rain and wind all day. After yesterday's soaking the wet trend continues.

A Norwegian is in court for knocking a lady off her bicycle on a bicycle path causing serious injury. He was riding an illegally fast, electric bicycle he bought for ~£6000 equivalent on eBay. Police tests proved that the electric bike could do 108kph or 67mph without pedalling.

As such he should have registered the machine as an electric motorcycle and driven it only on the road with a motorcycle license, registration plates and legally required insurance. The limit for electric cycles is only a modest 21kph or 13mph. A good average speed for a fairly fit cyclist. Beyond which speed some training and considerably increased pedaling effort is required to overcome wind resistance. This excess in speed and range over the normal cyclist provides a real incentive to invest in an electric cycle for many.

Similar circumstances, to the Norwegian example, occur regularly on Danish cycle paths but with illegally fast, motor driven scooters [or mopeds.] Mostly young people buy tuning parts to considerably increase the performance of their machines over the deliberately limited standard. They then ride, sometimes competing in groups, at high speed along the cycle paths.

The lack of number/registration plates is an obvious clue to their intended status regarding the maximum allowable speed of a MOPED of 45kph or 22mph. Such a speed is reached, on the flat,  only by very fit cyclists on a lightweight racing machine. Few cyclists would deliberately ride at such speeds in mixed traffic on typically narrow cycle paths. The speed of electrically powered cycles can obviously be augmented by pedalling. The motor can then overcome the disadvantage of increased weight of the motor and batteries compared with a normal pedal driven cycle. A grand boost going uphill. Which makes cycling so unpleasant for most.

We are at the early stages of the expansion of popularity of  electric bicycles. So public experience is still very limited. There is an inevitable demand for higher performance machines. Just as there has been for over a century of petrol-driven mopeds and motorcycles. Much of which was "driven" by racing performances. Just as it is today with "works" machines competing at quite unbelievable speeds on special race tracks.

The main problem for other road users, cyclists and pedestrians is safely judging electrically assisted cyclist's approach speeds. Most people are simply NOT unaccustomed to cyclists travelling faster than usual. Even fit cyclists can reach double the normal speeds of most cyclists. So they too often find themselves in direct conflict with other road users who badly misjudge the cyclist's own speed. Cars pull out in front of the cyclist at junctions and pedestrians "hurl" themselves under the wheels of "weekend warriors." Because they travel at these speeds routinely the amateur racing cyclist develops skills and anticipation.

When a new technology arrives it can take quite a log time for appreciation of change to sink into the general populace. With improved technology, particularly battery weight and power storage, one can expect even greater conflict with pedestrians and drivers. Each will require their own wake up call in [hopefully] a near miss. Rather than causing or receiving serious injury. Unfortunately, the majority of cycling injuries in Denmark are already listed as involving electric cycles.

Perhaps electric cycles should have a legal requirement to show specific lighting configurations during motion? Most cyclists do not use their lights except after dark. This offers a unique opportunity to use a particular lighting form, colour or flashing patter to clearly demarcate potentially speedier [electric] cyclists from the [more pedestrian] norm. These lights would obviously be lit in daytime so that other road users would be in no doubt as to the type of machine involved.

It would be a shame if a few idiots and irritated motorists spoilt the coming fun for electric cyclists. As happened in the UK when the carriage born gentry made cycling "furiously" a crime. Cycle racing on public roads was forced underground for over a century and still continues to this day. Racing against the clock became a minority sport well out of the public eye. As if it were somehow shameful instead of increasing the fitness and health of all those involved.

Electric motorcycles [and cars] are already  pushing the very highest performance levels of petrol driven machines and vehicles for top speed. Acceleration can be even better than very costly supersportscars. Such remarkable improvements are bound to increase public interest.

The rules should be made very clear to those who invest in the new technology. As well as the general public. Exactly what is expected of them and their new "toys" to comply with new laws in the interests of public safety.

An electric cycle revolution in road usage would solve many serious problems in cities. It could greatly improve mobility and range for many people who do not see pedal cycling, nor city driving a car, as desirable. A revolution in electrically driven delivery capacity could end the total idiocy of 7 axle, transcontinental, articulated lorries arriving at tiny supermarkets several times a week. Causing a total traffic blockage for minutes on end. As they shunt back and forth to bring the vast vehicle to the tiny delivery platform at the far end of the shop's tiny car park.

Post Office and parcel delivery services are already investing in electric cycles and vehicles. If this reduces congestion, noise and pollution, then so much the better. Draconian new laws to severely limit the battery driven revolution, by conservative minds, could be a disaster for all manufacturers. As was the drooling idiocy of the Danish government. Which introduced massive import taxes on all electric vehicles.

Not only did they shoot themselves in the foot but it killed sales stone dead in a fledgling, potential mass market. Small electric car sales businesses went bust overnight. Just as they did many in the solar industry from the continuously meddling politicooze. Over-generous subsidies one day and swinging taxes the next will not help the public become battery boys and girls by habit. Nor will it provide a free and vital sink for all that utterly wasted, excess wind power. Which Denmark has to literally give away to foreign country's Grids. Instead of being used to charge cycle and vehicle batteries overnight. For the ride to work, or the shops, in the morning.


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