Peddle Power

Who could forget their first set of wheels? Whether it was roller-skates, a skateboard, a Big Wheel or the little red tricycle our grandparent’s peddled away on, we all seem to love our wheels. Parents probably liked that tricycles were inherently stable and easy to learn. Their kids just liked to ride. Some innovative peddling contraptions are available today.

The Whike, a sail-equipped, full-sized human-powered tricycle is made in Holland. It makes perfect sense since the Dutch literally invented sail-powered Windmills. Whikes can be ridden anywhere a bicycle is permitted. When the breeze is good, no peddling is needed to ride the wind with quickness.

For those with a yearning to tryout the freedom of a bird, human-powered aircraft have been flying since 1923; the first was called the “Gerhardt Cycleplane.” It looked like an airplane with seven wings stacked up, a propeller in front and the usual tail in the rear.

MIT students set the current world record for human-powered flight in 1988 with Daedalus, peddling from the Greek island of Crete to the island of Santorini for 79 miles over the sea. On to the road with more car choices for people who wish to kick the gasoline habit.

The Swiss designed and German built Twike has a top speed of 55 mph, with an approximately 100 mile all-electric range. Peddling is optional; it simply extends the range of the batteries. It is a weather-proof, stylish and comfortable car that can carry two while reaching highway speeds and it is street-legal in Europe and North America.

Twike.com builds the only human-electric hybrid currently mass-produced; number 1000 recently rolled off their assembly line. It has around 20 years of road use by hundreds of sustainable-vehicle owners who have opted for gasoline-free commuting with this human-electric hybrid. It is comparatively expensive at nearly 40,000 Euros, but there are other innovative autos coming soon that are less financially strenuous.

The “i-ROAD,” new from Toyota, is a three-wheeled all-electric vehicle that seats two and has a range of 30 miles per charge and a top speed of 31 mph. Obviously not designed for freeway use, it is great for cruising around town where speeds are kept under 25 or 30 mph. The i-ROAD takes three-hours to fully charge using normal household power.

Typical hybrid autos have small gas-powered engines onboard to extend the batteries’ range between charges. Many hybrid auto owners purchase little gasoline because they seldom drive farther than the batteries’ limits before recharging. Many hybrid and full-electric car owners report trading in a $250 to $350 monthly gasoline bill for no more than a $25 to $35 dollar monthly increase on their home’s power bill.

Whichever vehicle you may decide to use to keep yourself mobile, there is a sustainable alternative for everyone. Health benefits from peddling do not have to come from an exercise station glued to a floor.

By using more human power, everyone’s health can benefit from a more stable climate which using less gas can help us to achieve.

With feedback, comments, progressive ideas or alternative perspectives, contact Orlando Martin at: mrm61@uw.edu