This is a vehicle,
human-powered and electric-assisted, capable of being fully weatherized, primarily for use at slow speeds, within urban transport systems. It is 48” wide x 108” high x 120” long, 1/8 the size of a city bus, and capable of carrying a like number of passengers, given the used space. Both arm and leg power can be applied, together or individually, along with a battery-assist motor. Persons in wheelchairs can load smoothly and ride as passengers, and also steer and propel the vehicle using their arms as well. This might even be considered a wheelchair, with passenger (including another wheelchair) capacity, and weather protection. The fact that it can also be operated by those not confined to wheelchairs does not negate this definition.
Can be maximally open, partially closed, or totally enclosed, for privacy or against inclement weather. Coverings provide improved creature comfort, health protection, and adaptability to actual conditions. Keeping its essential openness preserves the identity of this craft as a cycle, minimal by intent. Other goals here include:
Encouraging a more social biking experience in contrast with the current solitary one, by using cooperative riding and multi-person propulsion as an available and effective tool.
Finding another way to define “neighborhoods”, through deep knowledge of residents, services, businesses, and history, and giving expression to it through postings and an actual, highly visible object, moving regularly through these spaces
Creating completely public and fully accessible transport, for kids, wheelchair users, the financially insecure, and temporarily lost
Using this means to provide a path to some of our other most serious needs, for a guide, employment, a roof, a way to find help
Developing entrepreneurial opportunities while demanding high standards for their operations and fair compensation
Giving us an example of Omni-modality, truly economical use of resources, and flexibility in their use
Enabling changes of posture, from elevated sitting to standing, for improved health and comfort
Providing an example of the role of arm power in mobilization and its advantages
The Bike Trolley
An Enterprise & A Tie to Help to Bind Us
Local, safe, high-quality, fully-accessible, and affordable human-scale and human-powered transport, would be a welcome feature in any urban environment sufficiently dense to sustain it. An established half-hour to the one-hour route would invariably include a great many street-side enterprises, as well as many individuals living alongside, who also have services of value to offer their neighbors. This vehicle, assuming a ten-person capacity, has a multitude of potential uses:
As a mobile office or classroom
Available space expertise
Guide to local and public resources
Provider of small samples of fare being offered by adjacent food suppliers
A healthy variety of opportunities for positive social experiences and destinations
Steering, braking, and providing arm power to the front wheel, are accomplished together. This requires an adjustable “elbow” to be provided so that the angle of the hand mechanism can be varied from one position, in steps, parallel to the ground to others, one virtually perpendicular to the ground. This allows a person in a wheelchair, with the use of their arms, to operate the vehicle. Another person may stand while operating.
Two pedalers, propelling the vehicle together, can be seated alongside one another at different heights. One person must use the hand controls for steering and braking and propulsion and, if they prefer, may also use the foot pedals. The second person may use only the foot pedals, except on a long straightaway, when both operators may choose to use arm power together. Each is provided a separate system of pedals, chains, sprockets etc. so that each can pedal at their own pace. Energy is sent to a jackshaft beneath the floor, which then sends the energy to the back wheel. A single pedaler can sit, or stand, on one side, or in the center, operating both sets of pedals simultaneously. The seating element can be unscrewed and stored on the wall when not in use, when a person in a wheelchair is operating, or when the operator is standing and has no use for it.
The back door ramp is used when loading wheelchairs from the street. This 6’ long ramp provides a rise of 6”, so this conforms to ADA requirements that an optimal rise of 1” per foot be maintained. This ramp angle continues for 1’ 6” within the vehicle, in order to provide this much additional space underneath the vehicle as ground clearance. The ramp is enclosed within a hinged door, in the rear of the vehicle. Hinged doors can be used, unaided, by passengers. Ramps require the intervention of the operator for maximum safety.
There are also two 32” high doors on the sides, with a ramp within each, piano hinged to the bottom of the door, that is meant to rest on the sidewalk. All have a minimum of 32” opening to meet the requirements of the ADA. (Developing this system fully will provide for motorized cables, combined with a more unique device, which allows for combining muscle moving with a gentle electric assist. This parallels electric-assist motors used in the vehicle’s propulsion system). Meanwhile, this can be operated conventionally.
A 40”, round, electric-propelled turntable, operated either by cellphone or conveniently located switches, flush with the floor, enables side-loading wheelchair passengers to rotate themselves until facing the desired direction. Can also be used by seated passengers, who would be positioned, in a variety of potential floor implant points, according to their preference, to enjoy the slow rotation.
It can use GPS and other online features to give potential users a good idea of where its route is, and when it might arrive.
Like pups, can use fire hydrants as some of their “stops”, but street hails are also allowed.
A 6” x 44” panel is suspended at the roofline above the foot pedals. It contains two rear-view mirrors, one from each side, provided electronically and readings of battery life, temperature, time, etc. The front of the unit has headlights, a destination sign, vacancy status, etc.
The operator can adjust the proportion of energy being provided by the motor.
Some heat can be made available from batteries through tubes such as warm, lightly scented air, or heated seat cushions.
Wi-Fi is provided along with phone charging and other amenities.
The top cover is accomplished with rolled-up plastic roofs, secured by straps, while rigid clear polycarbonate panels act as windows. Roof materials, whether transparent or shading opaque, are held taut with Velcro, for rain and wind resistance, when deployed.
The fold-away counter can be provided for office-type use/ food and drink consumption.
Some privacy can be afforded through the use of two-way plastic window shades.
Seating for passengers is provided by a set of artist-decorated, foam cushion-covered, aluminum seats, that are stored in the wall, above the wheel wheels, and out of the way. They are mounted on adjustable aluminum and PVC stems and have low clear plastic backs and sides and seat belts. Receptacles, in different places inside the floor, permit various locations for seats to be screwed in, so riders can be next to or across from one another.
Can be used to move cargo as well as passengers, providing easy hand-truck access.
Due to its relatively lightweight, narrowness, height, and large surface areas, this vehicle can not be used in heavy winds and an anemometer and an audible alarm will be provided to demand that these higher-placed elements be folded down, onto the roof, at times.
“Fat tires” will be included for better suspension. Other shock-absorbing elements, neoprene blocks, springs, etc., will be provided to improve the comfort of passengers.
Conspicuous signage will alert users to the state (Locked or not, etc.) of the electrically-connected turntable, back ramp, or any other potentially hazardous mechanisms, to help enable the safe use of this equipment, and, of course, only by authorized individuals.
The floor is 48” x 120” 3/4” “Baltic Birch” plywood, covered by 1/16” aluminum “Diamond Plate”. 1 1/2” x 3” x 1/8” steel angle surrounds the perimeter. Welded onto that plate are fourteen 3/4” x 3/4” x 1/16” x 9” square steel posts. These posts support door frames and other vertical elements, made of 1” diameter copper round tubing and 1 1/4” aluminum angle. Walls are made of 1/16” polycarbonate. Roof elements are (approximately) 1/50” clear plastic, stored in rolls and adhered with a combination of Velcro, Dual Lock, and magnets resting on 1/4” polycarbonate and three 1/8” x 2” curved steel ribs, which provide for a measure of roll-bar protection.
Drivers may also choose to be held comfortably, slightly aloft, by adjustable straps, fastened to and stored in the roof, instead of resting on a conventional seat. This can facilitate the use of both arm and leg-powered activity, while virtually standing.
Lighting, based on improving safety, will provide conspicuous directionals and braking signals, but will also be used to attract beneficial attention and announce its presence. The embedding and programming of many LEDs enable changes in the physical characteristics of this vehicle from festive and colorful, to sedate and relaxing, depending upon requirements, appropriateness, and passenger preference. This is also a means to let possible customers know of the route, the availability of space, and the current rate.
Historical information relating to the fixed route can be accessed through apps, websites and publications carried within.
Music from local musicians can be played, at times, through the vehicle’s sound system.
Maximum speed is 12.5 mph, 50% of NYC’s limit.
8” wide, 36” long “boards” on the back of vehicles, fold against the body when not in use, and may provide for more riders when such additional capacity is required by existing conditions and can be done safely.