Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Connected problems

It occurred to me as I read my entry from earlier today that I still had a little more to say about the Twike. Now, I drive a Civic hybrid, and I really like it. Even with 3 people in the car, I can manage about 50 mpg, a fraction over the EPA estimate. And this is without ideal terrain (low rolling hills, not mountains, but not flat, either.), ideal weather (DC was built on a swamp and we do experience that lovely Atlantic coastal weather.), or stupidly dangerous stunts. It's just careful driving- awareness of the terrain, my fellow drivers, the weather, and my surroundings at all times.

I like my car a lot. Even when I get tailgated by SUVs. And yet, it's not good enough. (Yes, I know, the Prius is slightly better and would let me have access to a real "stealth mode" instead of merely drifting the last few feet at a stop light under "Auto Stop", but a Prius is also out of my price range.) My car could still be more efficient, and I'm still not getting the benefit of exercise as I go. (Well, except for the happy wiggle when my mileage goes up. Okay, somebody somewhere has got to have a meeting: "Um, hi. I'm the Plain Fool and I'm obsessed with my mileage...")

I like the notion of adding in my energy to the system. Helping prolong the charge on the battery by pedaling is a total win-win situation. (Okay, so maybe more offices would have to add a small shower to the employee restroom, but this too is good.) The vehicle goes further, the driver gets exercise, that much less pollution is added to the air.

My main concerns about the Twike are safety - I could just see one tooling along and getting hit by an SUV. Especially since driving my Civic has made me more aware of how many people speed and speed a lot. The road my apartment is on is supposed to have a 25 mph speed limit, but people barrel along at 40. Yikes! A nearby major road is 35, but go 40 and watch other cars speed past at 60. Even if I didn't have any particular need to carry passengers, I think I'd be frightened to take a Twike out on my local roads except when they were at their most congested, since otherwise I'm not sure I'd be visible enough at the speeds I see.

And yet, it seems to me to be a good solution to conservation and to getting more exercise.



Blogger Little Black Car said...

Mmm, I hear you on the safety thing. Personally, that Twike is not nearly visible enough for my liking. Houston is not very bike/motorcycle/small vehicle friendly. Even if people didn't drive like lunatics and respected our few bike lanes, the streets here are often in *terrible* condition and we have too much flooding. I'd be stranded every time it rained, and it rains a lot.

My dad is convinced that, while there may never be an ideal solution, there will continue to be improvements. Apparently the next thing is cleaner high-efficiency diesels (which presumably means more use of biodiesel). He likes hybrids but is concerned about the environmental costs of manufacturing and, eventually, disposing of their spent batteries.

3/16/2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

I'm also concerned about that, but I figure as long as I have one, I should milk the best fuel efficiency out that I can. Basically, I knew I wanted a Civic, because of the fuel economy even of the non-hybrid version, and when we went to the used car lot, they had this one at a reasonable price, so we bought it. And so far, I've really enjoyed it - there's nothing quite like going from driving a tank to a compact car to give you an appreciation of the latter.

My concern with biodiesel is that it directly competes with food production, resulting in wierd market forces, and there is only so much used fry oil in the world, even with America's fry habit.

3/16/2007 9:19 AM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Also, frankly, I think we're already way too far down the monocropping road. The more we reduce our biodiversity, the bigger the problem. Irish potato famine, anyone? Yes, part of the problem was that Ireland was exporting grain while people starved, but another was that ordinary people were all dependent on one crop. Very bad idea, that.

(And anyone want to bet on the possibility of companies in developing companies determining that they get better money selling to the US for fuel than locally for food?)

3/16/2007 9:46 AM  

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