Personal Green Transportation, what are the options?

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently. I don’t own a car and I don’t intend to any time soon but I do want an alternative to walking or taking the bus around.

The obvious answer would be to cycle. And while that was my initial thought, road / pavement cycling laws aren’t clearly defined from what I can tell, and generally speaking, I’d prefer to be away from traffic especially since the area around where I live always has heavy traffic. The stress of not knowing what’s behind you along with the petrol fumes really add up to make it a very un-enticing proposition.

That’s a shame because when I used to cycle to school and college for around 6 years when I was younger I really enjoyed it, and I’ve always had a love of mountain biking and extreme sports so it is disappointing that the local council don’t seem to be too worried about making permanent cycle lanes in order to make cyclists feel safe and get more people out there on bikes and getting fitter.

Once you get past bikes, the only real viable alternative that I can think of is inline skating. Skating is an interesting subject law wise. From what I understand, skaters aren’t classified as either a pedestrian or a road user. This means that technically they should be able to skate on the pavement as long as they are mindful of pedestrians and are courteous. Similarly, on an empty road it should be legal to skate along it while being very careful to watch for cars and bikes / cyclists.

While they aren’t as fast as a bike, they do provide an excellent workout and of course are a lot of fun too as well as being considerably faster than walking and comparable to jogging or running at a medium to fast pace, depending on the surface and effort being put in of course.

Not only that, but generally speaking there’s a lot less that can go wrong with a good pair of skates than a bike with all its brakes and puncture vulnerable tires, not to mention bikes are big and you most likely won’t be able to keep an eye on it all the time in which case theft or damage is a possibility. Skates can go in a bag to be replaced by shoes when you need to switch.

Aside from these options, there’s always things like skateboards but they aren’t very practical at all for anything other than tricks.

If you want to bring electrical based devices into the fray as well, then hybrid bikes are surely going to catch on in the near future and if they can store energy from braking or simply the wheels spinning in order to generate extra power for the battery, then that could be an excellent choice moving forward.

Unfortunately, things akin to Segways will most likely stay as a novelty and for police forces in city centres. They just look too ridiculous and too hard to control for the majority of people to get behind. Plus, Segways aren’t necessarily green depending on where they power used to charge them up comes from.

Maybe sometime in the future we might even see intelligent hybrid skates which store energy to give you a small boost in performance when you don’t have to slow down for a significant distance, or possibly cause lights to glow on the skate itself to improve night time visibility. There are lots of possibilities for the future of personal transportation and as technology continues to advance, we’ll certainly see these new advances applied to tried and tested products like bikes or skates.

Will people swap cars for Segways?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no in most cases. Often cars are the best option for when you need to carry people and things around. Then there is also the problem for people who live out in rural areas where the battery life of a segway and it’s range on one charge just aren’t feasable for daily living.

So with that said, is there a place for these more friendly forms of transportation? Of course. There are plenty of advantages to these bikes / scooters for people who live within a short distance of a town or city centre. They also serve a use even if you would just like a mode of transport to go biking or having some fun with at forest off road trails. The segway XT is designed especially for this purpose, as are many motor equipped mountain bikes.

I also think these modes of transport will suit people who currently use bus services to get from A to B in their town / city. If you live within a mile or so of your work for example this would be a great solution to many people, eliminating various car ownership costs, not to mention lower the chance of being caught in traffic jams.

Obviously the cost is a great advantage but another advantage for me personally in the bike is that there’s no lessons required to use it as long as you know how to ride a bike, plus unlike a segway, the costs are significantly less and you’re far more likely to go unnoticed. As much as I like segways, it’s hardly true of a two wheeled scooter which you lean around to steer.

While many people will say it doesn’t eliminate the problem to the environment due to the fact that it uses electricity, which is produced mostly by burning fossil fuels and therefore still adding to the problem. However, although this is true, unlike greenhouse gas emissions which can’t ever be a good thing, electricity will be generated in environmentally friendly ways in the future more so than at present which is a great thing. I welcome wholehearedly the building of more off-shore wind farms and of course solar power, not to mention water. I see both these sources as being a great opportunity for everyone to save generate their own power in the years to come. I hope we will start to see more rooftop mounted wind turbines and solar panels as time goes on.

So essentially what I’m saying is that I think bikes, segways and especially electric motor assisted bikes are among the many solutions that will be the future of personal transportation. Well, at least until something else gets invented.

The latest way to tackle global warming

Suing the car companies is what the state of California is doing to help protect the environment.

I have to give it to Arnie for being pioneering and doing something bold to help the situation. I’m just not convinced it’s the right thing to do. Because although it makes them money and annoys car makers I can’t see it making any difference whatsoever. People will still buy cars, and petrol and drive them around, and no amount of money taken of the car makers will make any change to that because they are massive and to them it’s pocket change.

So what would be a better solution?

If you have a car and live in Californaia don’t hate me, but I think it would be far better to discourage people from using their cars as much as they do by taxing petrol more. Or better yet to encourage more walking to places within walking distance, not just using cars because they’re there rather than actually needing them.

It’s sort of like the conjestion charge in the centre of London, people hate it but it works. It’s not what people want but for the sake of the planet things need to change at some point in the near future.