This is all about augmentations of human energy with electric power for cycling
as the most sustainable form of human transportations

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Backstage story

People ask me why I am going on a long pedaling expedition ?

My answer is simple. I am cycling for the sake of cycling that also symbolizes self reliance or independence and this is sort endurance trip and not pleasure tour. Considering my fragile health, I am confident of holding together for a month on road. The basic reasons behind the trip are already outlined in the earlier post.

Here I am basically exploring a transportation alternative that is based around sustainable human and solar power.

So I have two things to focus on:

First is spread the advantages of cycling, especially recumbent. Recumbents are much more efficient and faster than normal cycles.

Second, Advantages of solar power assisted mobility. I wanted to travel in a solar power assisted trike based on design by cyclist friend Mark Havran of USA
but it also meant lot of hard work and couple of month's delay. Here I am not physically carrying the solar panels but do have solar panels at home that minimizes the power use from electricity board.

My interest here to show the viability of a vehicle that gets 400 kmpl equivalent from a plug to make up for the use of vehicle that gets 15 kmpl from petrol or 50 kmpl (Reva Car) from plug. I want to focus on advantages of pedaling and work done by young students in other countries on solar vehicles .

Each year, engineering students from universities across America and Italy design, analyze and build a human and solar powered vehicle. These competitions allow students to apply the engineering practices they learn in school to build efficient, reliable and sustainable modes of transportation

Many high school students design and build the solar powered vehicles in USA and Australia and have cross country competition with them. I can draw attention to the fact though actually I cannot use such vehicles in this trip.

One American university has a course called Cycle the Rockies: Energy and Climate Change in Montana and experience of one of past participants can be found in

Compared with this what our students ( Junkyard maniacs ?) are doing ? Unfortunately cream of our engineering talent builds practically useless dune buggies and race them every year at Pithampur near Indore so that sponsoring companies like Mahindra can have their pick of talent. The society is no way benefited and we don’t have appropriate place to use such machines too.

Considering development of wireless communication and mobile phone, progress of computer, network of charging points and electric propulsion is certainly possible. The scenario I envisage is recharge points every 15 km all over the country like they have mobile recharge points every 5 km. Every hour charging gets me 35 km range as I have two batteries.

Here is a case study. We park for ample hours between work in town and we have to bring charging points to those places. Considering small roadside shopkeeper gets power @ INR 3 per unit and sells @ 15 per unit. One hour charge means 300 Wh and I pay Rs 4.50 and my cost of travel is 13 paise per km. While waiting I buy something else too and that is bonus business for him.

My trip should act as a catalyst for growth of low cost mobility incorporating electric propulsion using solar power and efficient cycles. It doesn’t looks logical to me a car weighing 1000 kg carrying one passenger weighing 60 kg or a small truck carrying 100 kg load. It is clear that transport bikes can be an effective way to stop throwing toxic emissions into the atmosphere and contribute to the better quality of life in the city.

Let us strive for coexistence of pedal and petrol. Now pedal is being elbowed out. The trend is to be reversed and the pedal should be given due place in the society. Further expansion should be on pedals. I hope to convince thousand of people to hop into cycle & pedal.