Updated: Sep 8, 2020
As a foreign-trained immigrant with usual problem of landing professional job, I face the dilemma: either to buy a car and juggle a few precarious menial jobs or to stay car-free to lead an intellectual lifestyle and keep my competence but laboring just 2-3 days a week to pay my minimal bills of a single man. I’ve chosen the later.
Getting home after strenuous shift in the middle of the night would take me two hours and two buses. Waiting on on two bus stops in wind and cold would invoke “devils of traumatic memories”, remorse, feeling miserable and pity myself - sure recipe for becoming mass-shooter or self-destruction.
Commuting a bike 30km one way was a fun only one or two shifts in a week. Approaching intersection, I was praying "Don't switch to a red, please!!" not to step on pedals to regain lost speed or climbing overpass with pain in my knees, wrists, and back. Then, I was thinking "electric assist would more than welcome right now."
My unemployed itch of engineering made me recall my 30 years old idea of enclosed trike. Internet told me that I’m too late and much better than my primitive contraption, the velomobiles, were around for a few dozen years. Still, I’ve not bought one for insufficient practicality. And I’m not alone in this perception – velomobile retailers go out of business oft enough, e.g. Bluevelo in Toronto.
So I’ve developed for myself FELA (frugal yet effective, lean and all-purposes) active personal vehicle. I put my love in FELA development but to deliver it, I have to develop my FELA customers. This post is introducing FELA to its likely prospects – frequent [commuting] cyclists.
I’ve learnt the cycling-related motivations and aversions from E. Biernat et al./Transportation Research Part F 55 (2018) 492-502 survey to see if FELA provides cycle-commuters' relevant benefits.
In the survey and following stats analysis, frequent cyclists were clustered as conscious, forced, health-fitness, lifestyle cyclists. As you read on, identify self with one of these four clusters.
FELA Reinforces Cycling Motivation
Conscious cyclists are dominated by mature townies of primary or vocational education, on avg’ worse-off, over-represented by women. They rationalizes their cycling choice with: 1st – it’s comfortable and exiting, 2nd – it must be faster in city traffic, 3rd – they averse transit (see Tokyo subway snaps below), followed by the health-fitness and money saving reasons.
Top three FELA features delivering their top tree motivation-derived benefits are:
i.e. emotion-functional durability based on modularity, power-assist, super mobility.
Forced cyclists are rather younger, townies, likely students of low wealth. They can’t drive and rarely ride transit. They would value or motivated by in descending order: 1st – bike as personal vehicle vs walking, 2nd – bike is the only way for them to maintain fitness, followed by money savings (it should be 2nd motive).
These motivations are supported with following FELA features: power assist, urban maneuverability, upgradability and reuse (refurbished modules are cheap).
Health-fitness cyclists perceive bikes as pleasant physical activity and the rest motivations don’t matter much. They are of no particular sex or age bracket dominance, and are uniformly distributed across city sizes. These health-fitness enthusiasts (amateurs) cycle because: 1st – it is fun comfortable ride as much faster than walking under the same effort, 2nd it can be an effective workout, 3rd – it is the only workout they have time for as it’s combined with commute.
The FELA features warranting these benefits are:
super-mobility, upgradability and crash protection with high agility and maneuverability.
Lifestyle cyclists (MTB, BMX, Mamil – carbon bike riders in expensive outfit, adventure or cycle-tourists) are mainly men who are after saving time and avoid crowds (other than a club members), trying to sound or look rational. They are well educated, big cities dwellers, a lot of them well-off students or downtown clerks, car-owners but they value bikes high. Their motivations priority looks like: 1st it’s saves time, 2nd – allow to avoid transit 3rd - it’s comfortable and safe.
The benefits are warranted with FELA features such as:
upgradability, power assist, super mobility, crumple structures around FELA pilot.
The value of a feature for Frequent Cyclists is total of the feature’s values for all four cyclists’ types. Hierarchy of the top four FELA features based on the mentioned motivations priorities looks like:
Upgradability that underlines functional-emotional-durability based on FELA service-life-appreciation:
Power-assist making hard trips comfortable and cycling itself city agile and fun, followed by
FELA’s higher-than-bike safety as the ultra-lite-and-compact FELA has crumple-structures, and
FELA’s super mobility from FELA’s off-road geometry and all-drive MTB-big wheels.
How FELA Lowering Barriers to Cycling
Almost 70% heath-fitness and lifestyle cyclists (me included) worry about the too close cars’ overtaking or cutting cyclist while changing lane or turning to the right, although cyclists fatality rate in such circumstances only 10-12%.
In FELA, you can merges with urban car traffic comfortably cruising at their 50-70kph speed so that no car passes you. And even if, a driver fails to check the blind spot while maneuvering and pushes you to a curb or even over it, you, being protected with FELA structures will survive the crash sure-fatal for a cyclist.
Motorists’ bad manners, like honking, don’t bother much only forced cyclists. And again when you are riding bike emotionally stressed worrying about your safety in car traffic, it’s easy get startled with sudden loud signal or too close overtake.
Performing as a car, FELA gives you the confidence derived from technical ability to apply vehicular even defensive (with some fitness and skills to use power assist and leaning in turns) cycling. However, no minimally experienced driver will jerk her steering wheel when being honked at. So won’t FELA pilot.
Forced cyclists are more tolerant to violating right of way by motorists, but that can enrage fitness and lifestyle cyclists who feel they belong to roads just like drivers do. Besides, killing rate in this kind of crashes is more than 12%.
FELA is narrow, leaning in turn, showing legs’ moves &turn signals – all that unambiguously clue motorists in FELA pilot intentions making right of way crashes unlikely. And again, as micro-car, conspicuous FELA evokes more respect than a bike.
Reckless turning, dangerous maneuvers or cutting cyclist off worry a lot fitness and lifestyle cyclists and rightfully so – crashes from these causes have incident of 40%. Being agile, FELA enables defensive riding, and should crash occur, it won’t be fatal as in case of unprotected cyclist.
Frequent Cyclists are annoyed in descending order by
1. Lack of facilities for refreshment after ride
2. Less than ridable route (too many hills and intersections)
3. Lack of bike infrastructure
4. Lack of respect to cyclists
5. Unsafe parking.
All the cyclists, particularly Conscious, abhor lack of the workplace facilities and ridability of the route.
FELA lessens this barrier by offering spacious trunk where you can carry office attire properly, fresh underwear to change it in rest room and you can go at the power assist level you can set as you go even to not pedaling at all.
For all-terrain micro-car FELA no route is "unridible" let alone "lack of infrastructure".
In rare occasions, velonauts reported "disrespect" from motorists but I haven't see video with the road rage frequent in case of cycling. With a little retrofitting, FELA can be just as agile as a sport car, so it's the motorists will be the ones who feel unattended disrespect.
FELA control and performance is easily personalized with smartphone app without which stealing FELA would be pointless especially in lack of black market for spare parts of innovative vehicle.
As u can see FELA boost the most essential benefits of cycle-commute or leisure bike use and lowers barriers to becoming frequent cyclist. That will solve the paradox of invariable cycling benefits and variable cycling prevalence over countries or cultures.
What type of cyclist you are and what your top requirements you want to meet in a new cycling or active personal vehicle and what cycling drawbacks you’d like to avoid when deciding on your buy.
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