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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cycles are more expensive than cars

Vehicle manufacturers employ all tricks to make us feel inadequate without cars and motorcycles. Naturally cars and motor cycles are in the top of shopping list. It is seen as a symbol of success. They’re cut­ting down trees, bring­ing down build­ings in an effort to build wider roads. They are throwing our farmers out of farmland for the sake of building car factories. Most of the incentives provided to Mr Tata of Nano car and Mr Kheny of NICE road will be well hidden. Their persuasion like in above advertisement makes us feel it is right thing to drop friends of Bunty to school along with him and for that we have to replace motorcycle by car. Our plan­ners will never real­ize that all these measures will never solve mobility cri­sis.

Berkley is a famous university town in USA. Recently it was in news for outrageous fines targeting cyclists - USD 220 [ INR 10000 in Indian money] to the students locking their bicycles to a railing instead of a bicycle rack. Adding insult to injury, motorists who park illegally on campus are given a $46 ticket - yet bicyclists who lock their bikes up “illegally” are fined $220. Bike racks are reportedly often full, so locking up to a railing seems perfectly reasonable. But locking cycles to railings are five times more expensive than illegal car parking.

Same attitude exhibited in India too. Customs and Excise duties are like twin brothers. The things imported and levied custom duties and one produced locally are taxed under excise before leaving factory premises.

Traveling by the lonely road is always hazardous and stupid people like me never learn. Our government in Delhi that impose about Rs 10000 as Excise duty on a Nano car, made me pay paltry [?] Rs 68000 [yes, that is about USD 1500] as Customs duties. I had approached the grievance redressal mechanism of Central government Finance Department. Finally Delhi government decided that the duty imposed is fair though it is more than what is imposed on six Tata nano cars.

We have to obey law of land and pay customs duty. But the unexpected thrashing I suffered was CVDs. Countervailing duties (CVDs) are duties imposed under WTO Rules to neutralize the negative effects of export subsidies. The CVD also known as anti dumping duty is levied to protect local manufacture and it is payable equal to excise duty payable on like articles if produced in India. The customs officers routinely exceed their brief arbitrarily imposing CVD on all imports. Recumbent trike, Motorized hubs and Lithium Ion batteries are all not manufactured in India. I paid INR 24000 as CVD on goods that is not manufactured in India which I hope to get back some day.

Cycle and tricycle being symbol of independence should have got more importance, both from society and government. Unfortunately the taxes and penalties on these environmental friendly mobility are extremely high. We are made to pay very heavy price for our principles.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pedaling with Scouts and Guides

I participated in two  group  cycle  rides  in recent   past. The first one was  Rx Life Cycle Rally  in Mangalore on 5 Dec 2010  and the  details I hope to post soon.     The second  one was  Puttur Scouts and Guides  Cycle Jatha  held  on   2 March 2011.

Scout  and Guide Cycle Jatha  in Puttur   was  a  whole day program  giving  us   entirely  different kind of experience  from the  one   held in Mangalore.  Sunil, younger boy  who  is with  scouts    was participating in   Cycle Jatha  and I decided to join him.  There was about  75 students on cycles.  There was ten member  street  play   team conducting  small dance drama plays  on   plastic  pollution  &  awareness on  uses of bamboo.  They  performed about 20 minutes  program in four places. 

We left  Puttur at  9.15 AM  and first  program stop was about  5 km away in Kemmai.  The tarpaulin  was spread out as soon as we reached there and  sound system  was  organized   and program started.  Packing up immediately after program,  we went little ahead and took left  turn towards Sediyapu.  At  Sediyapu junction, children were   given  refreshments. 

Little later   there was  a  steep incline and all brakes  were put under  severe  test. Some  kids complained it was difficult to control the speed   as it was long  downhill road.   We again   stopped after 2 km for breakfast.  That  house  was  of my relatives   and I charged my battery  a little bit. All hopped on bikes again and immediately there  was  a   wall to climb.  After that about half km in National highway.

There was  short program in  kadeshwalya  village   &  we continued towards  riverside temple.  The  sumptuous   lunch   was  ready  for us on time which we had in temple hall.  Children performed their   skit  plus some music and then  to  river to play for a while. Teachers  bought them back by  3.30 and after  giving   fruit juice, put them on saddles.

We took  slightly different route  while coming back with  3 km more  of National highway, most of it downhill.  I could show to one of the teachers who pedaled with us that  aerodynamic drag is less on trike  and accelerates   faster than cycle on downhill roads with no pedaling.  

The most difficult part was ahead of us.  The  climbing a  steep incline  that was   about  climbing  270 feet  left everybody  out of breath.  Many of children  on single speed was  not  trained for  such climbing  also.  There was  watermelon  slices waiting atop the hill. 

A primary school student, little Vaishnavi   performed so well in her little  single speed cycle which was amazing as the route  was  difficult for much older students too.  Many  of the cycles  were single speed and it is unfair  to put them  in  competition with  geared cycles. 

We continued  pedaling towards  Puttur  and  were  guided  thru APMC road to avoid  evening   rush trafic in Main Roads &  reached the starting point around  6 PM.  Organizers  have done a great job and I express  my gratitude to them.   My GPS calculations put the distance as 38 km  but the terrain  taken into consideration, effort was much more. 

Return trip  to  home   was   another adventure. I suspected not enough charge left  and so went to  Shankarannas Service Station for  half  hour   topup.  It was  around  seven fifteen when I left there  and  I put on LED  lamp  tied to my head.  Light  beam  originating  very  near my eyes  highlighted   water  and dust particles  in atmosphere   and effectively acted as barrier.  Pure white light of LED is also  not as good as yellowish light  to show the road in such conditions.   Vehicles  headlights  helped me to see the road and tyres   have  got into few potholes on the way.   

Two kannada dailies,  Varthabharathi from Mangalore [clip above is from  page 3]   and Suddi Bidugade of Puttur   have  reported the  event in thier issues dated 3 March 2011.   For  me  it was 70 km  including distance from home    which  totally  took  four  hours  to   ride and  have consumed about  850 Wh.  Sunil later reported  almost all children who participated  took  next day off to recover.  I hope and wish the children  participated  will  keep  cycling as mobility option all their   life.