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FELA Promotes Cycling Better than Bike Infrastructure

Updated: Feb 4

As a foreign-trained immigrant with the usual problem of landing a 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 labor just 2-3 days a week to pay my bills of a single man. I’ve chosen the latter.

Getting home after a strenuous shift in the middle of the night would take me two hours and two buses. Waiting at two bus stops in the wind and cold would evoke “devils of traumatic memories,” guilt, misery, and pity - a sure recipe for becoming a mass shooter or for self-destruction.

Commuting a bike 30km one way was fun, only one or two shifts in a week. Approaching the intersection, I was praying, "Don't switch to a red, please!!" not to step on the pedals to regain lost speed or climb overpass with pain in my knees, wrists, and back. Then, I thought, "Electric assist would be more than welcome right now."

My unemployed itch for engineering made me recall my 30-year-old idea of an enclosed trike. The Internet told me I was too late and that a much better than my primitive contraption, velomobiles, have been around for a few dozen years.

Still, I’ve not bought one for insufficient practicality. And I’m not alone in this perception: the velomobile retailers often go out of business, e.g., Bluevelo in Toronto.

So, I’ve developed a FELA (frugal yet effective, lean, and all-purposed/terrain) active personal vehicle. I put my love into FELA development, but I have to develop my FELA customers to deliver it. This post introduces FELA to its likely prospects – mostly to the frequent [commuting] cyclists.

I’ve learned 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, and lifestyle cyclists. As you read on, identify yourself with one of these four clusters.

FELA Reinforces Cycling Motivation

Conscious cyclists are dominated by mature townies of primary or vocational education, on average the worse-off, and over-represented by women. They rationalize their cycling choice with 1st – it is comfortable and exciting; 2nd – it must be faster in city traffic; 3rd – they averse to transit (see Tokyo subway snaps below), followed by the health-fitness and money-saving reasons.

The top three FELA features that deliver their top tree motivation-derived benefits are:

FELA is configurable to buyer preferences, is adjustable to the intended trip, and is upgradable during its service life as its user changes his requirements.

In other words, FELA's emotion-functional durability is based on modularity, power-assist, and super-mobility.

Forced cyclists are rather the younger townies, likely students of low wealth. They can’t drive and rarely ride transit. They would value and be motivated (in descending order) by 1st – bike as a personal vehicle vs. walking; 2nd – bike is the only way to maintain fitness, followed by 3rd money savings (should it be their 2nd motive?).

These motivations are supported by the following FELA features: power assist, urban maneuverability, upgradability, and reuse (refurbished modules are cheaper).

Health-and-fitness cyclists perceive bikes as pleasant physical activity, and the other motivations don’t matter much.

They are of no particular sex or age bracket dominance and are uniformly distributed across city sizes. These health-and-fitness enthusiasts (amateurs) cycle because 1st – it is a fun, comfortable ride as much faster as walking under the same effort; 2nd - it can be an effective workout 3rd – it is the only workout they have time for because it is combined with the 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 outfits, adventure, or cycle-tourists) are mainly men who are after saving time and avoid crowds (other than club members), trying to sound or look rational. They are well-educated, big city dwellers, a lot of them well-off students or downtown clerks, and car owners, but they value bikes highly. 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, and crumple structures around the FELA pilot.

The value of a feature for Frequent Cyclists is overarching the feature’s values for all four cyclist types. The hierarchy of the top four FELA features based on the mentioned motivations looks like:

  1. Upgradability that underlines functional-emotional-durability based on FELA service-life-appreciation:

  2. Power-assist making hard trips comfortable and cycling itself city agile and fun, followed by

  3. FELA’s higher-than-bike safety as the ultra-lite-and-compact FELA has crumple-structures, and

  4. FELA’s super mobility from FELA’s off-road geometry and all-drive MTB-size wheels.

How FELA Lowering Barriers to Cycling

Almost 70% of heath-fitness and lifestyle cyclists (me included) worry about the too-close cars’ overtaking or cutting cyclists while changing lanes or turning to the right, although cyclists' fatality rate in such circumstances is only 10-12%.

In FELA, you can merge with urban car traffic comfortably, cruising at 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, being protected with FELA structures, you will survive the crash that would be sure-fatal for a cyclist.

Motorists’ bad manners, like honking, don’t bother the forced cyclists only. And again, when you are riding a bike, emotionally stressed, and worrying about your safety in car traffic, it’s easy to get startled by a sudden loud signal or too close overtake.

Performing as a car, FELA gives you the confidence derived from the technical ability to apply vehicular cycling, even defensive cycling (with some fitness and skills to use power assist and leaning in turns). However, no minimally experienced driver will jerk her steering wheel when being honked at. So won’t FELA pilot.

Forced cyclists are more tolerant of motorists violating the right of way, but that can enrage fitness and lifestyle cyclists who feel they belong to roads just like drivers do. Besides, the killing rate in this kind of crash 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 a micro-car, conspicuous FELA evokes more respect than a bike.

Reckless turning, dangerous maneuvers, or cutting cyclists off worry a lot about fitness and lifestyle cyclists, and rightfully so – crashes from these causes have an incidence 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 for cyclists

5. Unsafe parking.

All the cyclists, particularly Conscious, abhor the lack of workplace facilities and the rideability of the route.

FELA lessens this barrier by offering a spacious trunk where you can carry office attire properly and fresh underwear to change in the room, and you can go at the power assist level you can set as you go, even not pedaling at all.

For all-terrain micro-car FELA no route is "unridible" let alone "lack of infrastructure".

On rare occasions, aeronauts reported "disrespect" from motorists, but I haven't seen a video of road rage frequently in the 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 are easily personalized with a smartphone app, without which stealing FELA would be pointless, especially in the lack of a black market for spare parts of innovative vehicles.

As you can see, FELA boosts the most essential benefits of cycle-commute or leisure bike use and lowers barriers to becoming a frequent cyclist. That will solve the paradox of invariable cycling benefits and variable cycling prevalence over countries or cultures.

What type of cyclist are you? What are the top requirements you want to meet in a new cycling or active personal vehicle? What cycling drawbacks would you like to avoid when deciding on your buy?

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