This might be the greatest transportation innovation of the millennium.
Cars are such a health menace. People get stuck in them for hours when they could be getting exercise. But bikes? You are outside in the heat or the cold or the rain on an uncomfortable seat. This is why I am so excited about the FitCar, the greatest transportation invention ever.Saudi inventor Nasser Al Shawaf has taken an Audi A4 and replaced the accelerator pedal with a bike pedal mechanism connected to a flywheel which sends a signal to the throttle, replacing the pedal. The faster you go, the faster the car goes, but it also has speed settings, so if you are stuck in traffic, you can still exercise while the car is standing still. The FitCar "turns sedentary, unhealthy, tedious commutes into active, healthy time." Why didn't anyone ever think of this before?
The inventor says on his site:
I work in many cities around the world where a 60-minute-plus car commute, each way, each day, is not uncommon. This is an unhealthy way to waste more than two hours every day. So, I came up with the idea of the FitCar. It does exactly the same as any conventional car – getting us safely and comfortably from A to B; however, in the FitCar you can exercise while you sit in traffic.
All of the problems of a bike disappear as you burn up to 300 calories in 30 minutes while you pedal in air-conditioned comfort on Corinithian leather. Instead of just a water bottle, you can be surrounded by Big Gulps and trail mix to keep your energy level up after all that pedaling. And unlike when you are on a bike, nobody yells at you for not wearing a helmet, or not signalling or stopping at stop signs, because people in cars can do that without anyone caring.
“We are increasingly time-poor and unfit. The FitCar PPV provides at least part of the solution to these two problems for those of us wishing to exercise more but without the time to do it.”
FitCar PPV is new, so they haven't announced any accessories or options yet, but I hope they introduce child seats with pedals, so that kids can get some exercise as they are driven to school. The upper body needs a workout too; since foot brake has been removed and replaced with a handbrake, perhaps it could have some resistance added so that you have to pull really hard to stop the car.
It's being tested in Amsterdam, where there is a desperate and unmet need for alternatives to the traditional old bicycles. Dutch engineering partner BPO's founder Oscar Brocades Zaalberg tells New Atlas about things to come:
We are very pleased with our proof of concept, which has been trialed by many people in the Netherlands. There are several options to further develop and evolve the project. We could feasibly introduce regenerative braking, or different packaging so we can fold the pedals away and return to standard drive mode. We could also develop an App to go with the PPV to maximise calorie-burn, efficiency and to introduce different routes and challenges among a community of followers. All perfectly possible.
Although the PPV stands for 'Pedal Powered Vehicle,' in the current design "the throttle is replaced by a bicycle pedal mechanism and mated to a flywheel, which generates an electronic pulse to engage the accelerator." This means that all the energy generated by the pedaling driver is wasted, just sending a signal.
Another future innovation might be to somehow mechanically connect the pedals to the drive mechanism so that the energy from pedalling is actually used to move the vehicle. I believe that there is historical precedent for this.
But really, this is so exciting, combining the great exercise you get from cycling with the comfort and security of a private car. Where do I sign?