Sisterly Cycling

Bikesharing: Changing the Way We Ride

 

The loss of cars ushered the era of alternative personal transportation. Even with the exponential growth in public transportation, people still prefer to move about on their own. As a result, in the past few years we have seen the development of technologies that provide personal mobility without violating the restriction on gas-powered vehicles. This includes the revealing of completely electric automobiles, the transformation of motorcycles and Vespa to electric power, and chargeable Segway-like personal vehicles. However, we have to consider that even though these vehicles are running on electric power, this electricity has to come from some energy source, whether it is sustainable sources like wind and solar energies, or less wholesome processes like coal-burning.

However, the limitation of personal automobiles has spurred on the development of one technology in particular; one that is simultaneously shared and private, greener than any car or motorcycle, and localized to a city and its suburbs. Bikesharing is now one of the most popular ways of getting around a city, and it provides a way of getting around without worries of energy consumption, the threat of theft/vandalism, or lack of parking space.

Although bike sharing programs have been around since the 1960’s, they have only become the preferred mode of transportation recently. New technologies and improved infrastructure as made bikesharing a more viable and reasonable transportation than many of the personal transportation vehicles available today. Bikeshares have a come a long way from the first generation free-bike system that began in Amsterdam in 1965 (source). With government support on both the federal, state, and municipal level, bike share programs have been well funded and supported, allowing for a much more fluid system than coin-deposit bike shares, or even the information technology-incorporated systems most often seen today. Although the use of magnetic strip cards used to check in and out bicycles, docking stations, distinguishable bicycles, and a user interface that tracks bicycles and bicycle checkouts are commonplace in all bikesharing systems today, companies are starting to implement a fourth-generation bikesharing model based on demand-responsive, multimodal systems. BIXI, a Canada-based company that launched in 2009, has spearheaded this new bikesharing infrastructure with their use of mobile docking stations (much more flexible for user demand) and touch-screen docking interfaces run on solar power. Other technological improvements include seamless integration of bikes with public transportation and carsharing via smartcards that support numerous transportation modes on a single card, and more efficient redistribution systems (source).

At present, there are approximately 101 bikesharing programs operating in 125 cities around the world, with more than 139,000 shared bicycles (source). Although bikesharing systems are not without their faults, there is a great demand for them because of the flexibility and ease of this system. Although more popular in larger cities with more tourist attractions, bikeshare companies are hoping to extend their systems outside the city limits so that people may see bicycles as a functional tool for daily mobility and a convenient transportation mode. As newer versions of electric cars and private transportation vehicles continue to be revealed, we hope that bikesharing will continue to be the primary mode of transportations for city residents.

 

Mental Adaptation

 

Automobiles used to run our world.  Almost every facet of society could be linked back to the use of a vehicle, but that was the past. With change comes adaptation and we have been forced to adapt to our world without the personal car. People tried to adapt to our new reality with material solutions including the electric powered, self-driving car and the iGO. However, material change is not the only necessary adaptation.  Society’s mindset has inevitably changed with this new life.  The question is how have we mentally adapted to this new world.

Those who “drive”, own the electronic self-driving car. This new commodity has eliminated the large amount of fear and danger that comes with driving. There are very few accidents now and people no longer associated the car with recklessness or danger. People can comfortably get on the road with their children in the back seat, and feel safe. Without the anxiety of controlling a machine and having no control of those around you, gives one the opportunity to form a more intimate and relaxed relationship to the world.

The electronic self-driving car limits the distance one can travel, because of its battery life and small size. So now what? What do you do when you need to travel a decent distance and your car battery will not last? We have been forced to become creative and proactive.  In the past, the act of driving was so prevalent that we became mindless behind the wheel, numb to the environment around us. We now truly experience the world. When we bike or run we are forced to notice and experience our surroundings. If it’s raining you’re going to get wet, if it’s hot your going to sweat.  We no longer travel around in an isolated vehicle, where we can alter our environment to fit our ideal conditions. We are forced to feel and experience the unpredictable characteristics of nature. 

With change always comes resistance. Not everyone agrees with all of the adaptations and not every adaptation is without flaw, for example the load bearing hip attachment, which is used for mass delivery. Its use is proven to create medical problems in those that consistently use it. However, despite inevitable resistance, society is truly adapting to the new world. People are no longer mindless in travel, but are actually slowing down and experiencing.   

 

 

 

   

ARE LOAD-BEARING HIP ATTACHMENTS WORTH IT?

With the recent development of load-bearing hip attachments (LBHA), deliveries have become significantly more efficient as they can be done in bulk and the delivery person can have better control over the load.  Previously, hand-held load bearers (HHLB) aided in mass delivery but were harder to guide, leading to catastrophes like the collision of 1979 where Apple lost its test model of the recent invention, the laptop computer, to a HHLB full of Guinness beer.  Conveniently connected to the strongest part of the human body, the LBHA is unlikely to get away from its controller, BUT this does not mean this new invention is perfect.

            For one, the new stress on the hip from this new technology has led to an overdevelopment of the muscles in that region.  Biologist Samuel D. Finkelstein of Harvard University published studies, which concluded, “The extreme muscle development of the pelvic region caused by the LBHA has led to organ compression in the area due to limited space as well as infertility.” He elaborates in an interview that “humans are just not meant to put so much stress on that area of the body.”

In addition, to the internal health risks, the possibility of collision still very much exists.  Helga Lazarow, C.E.O of HHLB Enterprises, calls attention to the dangers associated with strapping humans to these new-fangled load-bearers, “yes, the new LBHA is great while its human counterpart has control of it, but what happens when he doesn’t?  What happens when a pedestrian cuts him off and he can’t stop the load in time?  He is carried by the load and involved in whatever collision the moving load causes.” Lazarow goes on to explain that where the HHLB may have caused collision of objects, the LBHA involves the humans in this collision and can result in fatality. “Strapping humans to a heavy technology may limit the number of accidents, but when one does occur, the ramifications are much worse.”

When asked whether the LBHA has made deliveries easier, Marty Danton, a New York City deliveryman, responded, “no.  While they free up your hands and allow for more directional control, they reduce much of delivery function.  As delivery people, my colleagues and I do more than just transport.  We load the items to the LBHA, transport them, unload them, bring them to the recipient and ask for signatures.  With the HHLB, all we had to do was let go of the handle when we needed to unload, bring the package in and ask for signatures.  Now, we have to unstrap ourselves from the belt contraption that attaches us to the LBHA to make a delivery and re-strap ourselves to move on to the next one.”

So, while there are transportation benefits to the new LBHA, the health ramifications, fatality of accidents, and inconvenience in other areas of delivery deem this invention problematic.

Life Without Versus Life Having Sacrificed

 

Cars present problems. They use too much gas, they’re expensive, they hurt the environment, they encourage laziness, and they isolate their drivers. As I see it, life without a car takes away a lot of threats to humanity. Living without a car increases the amount of time one can spend with their families because a lack of a car limits a person’s abilities to have other commitments like sports or extra curricular activities in the case of students. Like Heidegger’s fear that we will become blind to nature and it will become mundane, without cars the idea of moving our bodies to other places just for the purpose of seeing new things becomes  more special. We increase our sense of wonder. Without transportation, we eliminate a major source of class discrimination. There is less of a difference between those who drive Ferrari’s and those who have to take the bus and transfer to a train just to get to work. People would therefore be connected to others through less materialistic links. 

But, there is still a difference between those who have never had a car and those who have had to give one up. Personally, my family has never owned a car. Using myself as an example, not owning a car has affected me in many obscure ways apart from the obvious. I am not as in touch with some of the music played during my 1990‘s childhood as most of my friends are. This is because I never listened to the radio. I never listened to the radio because I was never in the car. My friends would listen to the radio during drives headed anywhere, whereas if I wanted to listen to music while I travelled, I needed my walkman and a CD. In addition, if I’m with a friend who has a car, am consistently unable to remember where they parked. I will not know what row of the parking lot it was in let alone what space. I just never needed to remember, so it’s difficult for me to suddenly assume the responsibility. 

The life of someone who has given up their car as opposed to never having one is quite different. The involvement of the transition opens up new opportunities for life improvements. Darren Alff may not be an expert on nature and technology, but his personal testimony of how giving up a car can benefit a life greatly is a raw example of life improvement with a simple sacrifice. He explains that “I actually found that I was eating better because I wasn’t making...impulsive ice cream runs”. Not only was it healthier for the environment to live without a car, but it was biologically healthier to his body. Having a car links a person to a network that millions of drivers are plugged into. Without this network, life is more malleable. By unhooking oneself from the transportation network, life may present inconveniences, but prompts creativity for problem solving and ways to make oneself happy. Alff used his automobile-less life to travel across Europe on a bike. Why? Because he could see the world without limiting it. 

To see Alff's blog: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/my-life-now-two-years-without-a-car/

The Dangers We Have Escaped...

 

Years ago we had automobiles.  Their combustion engines pumped out polution and their infrastructure molded landscapes.  These vehicles reached amazing speeds and served as the most efficient method of non-urban travel.  However, according to the 2010 census, in 2009 there were 10.8 million automobile accidents on the road.  The operation of the car depended on the human behind the wheel and the number of accidents depended on all of the individuals driving.

A healthy automobile user knew that driving has it's risks.  It is impossible to count on other vehicles to drive correctly and accidents happen when people don't pay attention or break the rules.  Before the loss of the automobile, researchers were studying self-driving vehicles.  Ford developed the Traffic Jam Assistant and Volkswagen had constructed a Temporary Auto Pilot.  Google was well on its way to creating a marketable self-driving car.  These technologies are the groundwork that fueled the production of our current vehicles.

Given the opportunity to reconstruct a transportation technology, engineers worked to produce modes of transportation that eliminate previous concerns for safety.  Modern technologies have the common theme of "self-driving".  Individuals with medical conditions dangerous for driving like epilespy, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus can experience automobility without any danger to themselves or others.  No longer do we have to fear the decisions of other individuals traveling.  We have eliminated human judgment errors, and bad driving due to emotional responses (i.e. road rage).  We have been gifted with the ability to improve, to start from scratch.  

It is in our best interest to remember the automobile in this new world.  To remember all of the disadvantages and wrongs it dealt us, as well as the positives, as we continue to built new machines  allowing for our travel.  For those individuals believing in teleportation, I warn you it is far in the future.  However, as a human I must urge you.  Remember the safety we have obtained with our new and improved vehicles.  Beware the trend of teleportation.  For, like the automobile, in our desire to travel faster we neglected to automatically ensure safety.  We did not completely understand the ramifications of the automobile.

However, this does not mean that you shouldn't invest.  We should support scientist in their endeavor to provide different and potentially better forms of transportation.  Recalling the devestation the removal of the automobile wrecked on the country's transport systems, we must remember never to be too dependent on one system.  Remember the past and look towards the future.

This article was funded by TransCorp.  Safety, security, convenience.

References:

United States Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce, 27 June 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2012.

Gonzales, Alvin. "Rise of Consumer Robots: Google's Driverless Car and iRobot." The Motley Fool. N.p., 19 Aug. 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. <http://beta.fool.com/iamgreatness/2012/08/19/rise-consumer-robots-googles-driverless-car-and-ir/9861/>.

Hansotia, P. and S. Broste.  "The Effect of Epilepsy or Diabetes Mellitus on the Risk of Automobile Accidents". New England Journal of Medicine. 324: 22-6, 1991.

The World Will Be Better...! ?

 

It is no secret that much of our industry exists because of automobiles.  They drive (quite literally) much of our sales and marketing while they make possible the sales and marketing of other items for their help in the process of producing and delivering them.  But, the earth cannot sustain the automobile much longer.  Looking forward, we must seek alternatives.

This seems like a no brainer, right?  Well, no.  People are not willing to adapt to a system without the luxuries they are used to, so they often search for a means of replacement; a way to continue to live the way they are accustomed or better, but not go without.  For the automobile industry, this means finding technologies that allow for the modes of transport people rely on to be improvements of what has come before.

The first technological advancement to improve automotive transport was the electronic car, which drives itself.  This model is the same as the non-self-driving car that came before it –room for four passengers and a driver –but provides the extra self-driving component, thus improving the technology that is the individual car.  While this was a wonderful innovation, it still reinforced the social class implication that more expensive cars did before it –those who could afford the self-driving electric car were assumed to be more wealthy.

The next technological advancement to improve automotive transport was the iGo vehicle, apples newest invention considering the worry people had about the wasted space in the 5-person automobile, the need for a way to fuel their vehicles, the class distinction caused by more expensive cars, and the concern about drunk driving and accidents with its single passenger design powered purely by a manual push down a driveway and the kinetic energy generated from travel along the road, affordability, and innovative self-driving capabilities.

Even more down the road, teleportation is suggested as the best alternative for travel.  While humans have not yet secured the technical aspects of this mode of travel, teleportation seems to best incorporate all of the successful elements of the iGo while also eliminating the hassle of interacting with other vehicles/people in vehicles on the road.

 

What will we think of next?  How will we make our distinct and vast world more accessible to us?  Since we are unwilling to part with our luxuries, it can only get “better” from here, right?

Fear of Adaptation Leads to Social Division

11/1/18 

 

Dear Dad,

 

How are you? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.  You used to be able to drive up and see some of my games, but I guess it’s just not that easy anymore. I can’t believe you’re thinking about getting the new electric car. I saw the picture of the car attached to your last letter.  It’s amazing that it runs purely on electricity, but you still might not be able to make it all the way to Hamilton in one trip. The way you described the car made it seem like the battery doesn't last very long.  With the constant moving you do it is better than nothing. Now you can finally drive to work again instead of having to take the train and then walk. The car looks really nice, very sharp as you would say, but it’s alarming that this is going to be the only kind of personal car on the road (until the automobile industry has enough time to make all different kinds because we know it will).

 

It’s alarming because it’s another social marker in society. I feel like society will begin to view those with the electric car as those who previously owned luxury vehicles and those without it as those who previously owned the more standard vehicles or no vehicle at all. This new electric car is not cheap by any means. Currently, there’s only one type of electric car and its target consumer appears to be high middle to upper class individuals.  If one owns the car, this social class instantly marks him or her, and if one does not own the car he or she is also categorized into a class, whether it is accurate or not. I strongly disagreed with the way society was fixated on the type of car an individual owned.  The ability of the car was rarely valued, because it was so engrained in societies way of life. What was valued was the social or class message one reflected with his or her car.  Car commercials highlighted style rather than the simple fact that a car gets one from point A to point B.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to adapt to a world without personal vehicles, but we can’t be scared of adaptation. If all those that can afford to purchase the new electric vehicle run out and buy them we face causing a large social divide, definitively marked by a single item. Uniformity might appear to be a good idea, seeing as there is only one type of car now and thus comparing ones car to another is no long possible.  However, I don’t know if this new electric will promote homogeny.  It might mark an individual not able to by the new car even more strongly than the previous mark of owning an inexpensive car.  Maybe, you shouldn’t get the car. The train gives you time to relax before work and walking can’t hurt. Let’s try to adapt to the change, instead of conforming to the replacement. Let me know what you think?

 

Sincerely,

Kristen      

 

 

 

How Much Deviation is There?

In this world the car just vanished.  We were left with our highways, driveways and gas stations but without the car.  Why wouldn't we just make more cars?  Why couldn't we just make different cars?  Better cars?  Without the ability to mine the necessary metals we can explore the world are carbon fiber.  Without the combustion engine we could develop new power sources, fuel cells and solar power.  Likewise without gas we could produce a car with an alternate fuel source.  Without any one of these systems the car would not fail.  Without all of these systems other technologies would also fail.  Without metals/parts many of our machines would no longer function.  Without combustion engines and gasoline, boats, aircraft and lawn mowers would fail.  The failure of the car would herald at failure in all sorts of technologies, not just the car.

When considering new developments we must ask ourselves is there a way to maintain automobility without a car?  The answer is obviously yes, but at what cost.  Mainly, we lose the ability to transport our stuff.  Imagine the day an individual could readily travel by jetpack.  Where would he or she store luggage?  Now thinking about this, brought me back to trains.  How can we make a train into an automobile experience? What if we rigged an electriclly powered trolley system on all of the roads, every driveway.  It would be like a car only different, plus you could fit all of the stuffs you wanted to.  But still I wonder, if all the the technologies involved in a car were gone, would we still be able to make reasonable replacements.  

Personally, I'm all for teleportation.  This area requires much more thinking, and theory.  It is less mechanical, though I'm sure that mechanics are likely to be required.  Without any car technologies, teleportation is one of the more likely options.  Well, teleportation or returning to horseback.  Teleportation would surely facilitate our current speeds.  However, there would likely be much more waiting in line.

Still I wonder what exactly makes a car a car.  When is a technology still a car, just a different kind of car.  Is this line of thinking born from the fact that cars are on of the best ways of automobility, or just because those living in a world with can not truly image not having one.

 

 

iGo

 

April 19, 2040

 

Today at eight in the morning Apple released its newest product to facilitate lives in a greener fashion. The iGo is promising high speeds up to 120 miles per hour without using a drop of gasoline. 

The vehicle has been compared to the segway of the early millennium, but Apple executive Jason Drewson claims that this will revolutionize travel and actually halt the process of ozone depletion. Says Drewson, “the greatest thing is that it’s affordable. It used to be that if you didn’t have a car you were very limited to where you could live, where you could work, and how you could get there”. 

Produced in 23 different colors, the iGo is the first travel vehicle that people can lie down in. It’s close to the ground, meaning that because there is less air resistance, it takes less energy in the first place to actually propel the vehicle. However, in pesky situations of rush hour traffic, the iGo erects itself to a standing position in order to save space and maintain traffic flow. In addition, the iGo presents all the luxuries of a car; it has GPS, a sound system, heated seats, seat belts, and safety protection systems. 

Obviously many are skeptical of the vehicle’s ability to travel without gasoline or any other fuel for that matter. Drewson explains, “The iGo moves thanks to a positive feedback loop of propulsion. The simplest nudge out of one’s driveway will begin powering the wheels of the vehicle. As the wheels continue to move, they continue to gain kinetic energy and power themselves. It’s as simple as the flashlights that you crank in order to keep them illuminated--except the crank is merely the the wheels being “cranked” by the ground they turn on”. 

In a Gallup study, seventy-eight percent of those questioned would be willing to try the iGo. When asked why the remaining 22% were skeptical, a few reasons were cited. The major complaint is that if the wheel system were to somehow malfunction, there is no backup system and the vehicle does not provide enough space for repair equipment. The second major complaint is that there wasn’t enough space, period. Those who were skeptical said that they had preferred the cars from thirty years ago. 

Although seemingly stubborn on the ways of the past, the issues with automobility were clear. Environmentally unsafe, spatially wasteful--especially when most were used for single-driver travel--socially isolating, cars became a lifeline. With smaller, more affordable vehicles that do not require lessons to operate (users simply enter an address into the GPS system and the car uses a map application to drive them there), the iGo closes the gap between those who have the ability to own cars and those who do not. Although income can remain differentiated, at the very least the way people transport themselves to their place of work can be equalized. The country can maintain the same infrastructure with minor alterations. Lanes would need to be smaller to accommodate the narrower vehicles. This would also help improve the speed of traffic. The iGo simply does not require much human sacrifice and yet solves many of the problems that automobility has presented to us in the past. 

More Entries

Contact Blog Owner