Enough with the bike gimmicks already, give us a safe place to ride
The PodRide is kind of cute. It's an electric boosted quadricycle with a silly body that looks like a car. Designer Mikael Kjellman says it is a lot of fun to drive, and a lot warmer and more comfortable in a Swedish winter.
PodRide is a velomobile that is meant to be a practical every day vehicle. It has approximately the same seating position and seat height as a small car, allowing easy access and good visibility in traffic. It has four wheels to be narrow enough for bicycle paths but still be stable in the curves. It has a full waterproof body to keep you warm and dry in any weather, heated windshield, soft seat with back support, air suspension and studded tires in winter. A small trunk for your shopping bags and a tow bar for a bike trailer when you want to bring your kids.
It has blown through its Indiegogo target and one thing I really like is that Mikael isn't even promising a product; instead he is going to sell a kit so that people can build it themselves.
But on Medium, Tom Babin asks If it ain’t broke: Why is everyone trying to fix cycling with gimmicks? Tom also admits that the PodRide is cute.
But as a practical idea? The world has already figured out how to keep riding year round: By building safe bike infrastructure, maintaining it for the winter, and dressing for the weather. It’s not rocket science. In fact, I’d argue the PodCar may actually set back the cause Kjellman is purporting to further. Not only does this thing perpetuate the notion that riding in winter is something abnormal that requires special gear, it also creates the impression that bicycles would be a more practical transportation option if they were just a little bit more like cars.
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He makes many of the same points I tried to in Why are we putting batteries in everything? Keep it simple and give us a good solid affordable e-bike. He rails on against futuristic bike lanes in the sky, crazy concept bikes, air bag helmets and concentrates on what we really need:
Here’s the thing: We already know what works. Bikes haven’t changed much in 100 years because they work. Separated and safe bike lanes work. Want an innovation that will really disrupt the bicycle industry? Invent something to break through civic politics and bureaucracy preventing more bike lanes from being built.