The Latest in Bicycle Design: Munchkin-Hauling Electric Bikes

If anyone is still skeptical that bicycling will continue to gain transportation market share, consider the new bicycle designs that appeal to every conceivable demographic. The latest case in point: Japan’s Bridgestone, known for its automobile tires, has sold 300,000 of the bicycles (displayed at right) that cater to moms with tots.

The electric bike, with a 37-mile range, is designed for a parent to haul two kids around town. The baby seats are designed to protect the rug rats in the case of accidents, and the front seat can be converted into a basket. A low center of gravity and a wide stand prevent the bike from tipping over. The price point: between $875 to $1,775, depending upon the model. (For details, see the post on the Atlantic Cities blog.)

Bicycle stores in Richmond sell bikes made for recreational use — racing, mountain biking or for kids. But the Europeans and Japanese have been incredibly creative in manufacturing bicycles for practical, utility travel. It’s just a matter of time before that revolution in bicycle design comes to the United States. Municipalities that prepare for that change by investing in bicycle-friendly infrastructure will be regarded as more attractive places to live than their bike-hostile peers.

– JAB

15 Responses to The Latest in Bicycle Design: Munchkin-Hauling Electric Bikes

  1. Sounds great but I’d hate to see a young family wasted on this area’s bike-unfriendly roads.

    There was a 24-year-old woman killed a few months ago and a photographer I know had his collarbone broken when his bike was hit by a car.

  2. I know people who were banged up on bicycles pretty badly, too. Heck, back in my UVa days, I was involved in a bicycle crash (bike on bike) and woke up in an ambulance with a concussion.

    The evidence shows, however, that the more people who are riding bicycles, the *fewer* accidents there are…. presumably because motorists get more acclimated to driving around them. Safety can be enhanced even more with proper design of bicycle lanes.

    Finally, it can be argued that people who regularly ride bicycles are more physically fit and enjoy better health (when they’re not getting hit by cars or run off the road).

  3. Look, I’m an easy sell when it comes to the merits of biking.

    I just do not see the roads in the Richmond area or in much of Virginia bike friendly at all. It’s going to take one hell of a lot more than biker awareness by car drivers. It will take a lot more money to build roads and bikeways that are actually safe.

    Also, one of my examples involved someone’s death, not getting “banged up on bicycles pretty badly.” Please don’t diminish my argument.

    If you advocate the bike-craze without concurrent safety improvements you are putting people at risk for their lives.

    • Read my previous post on bicycles. It specifically addresses bike lanes and safety. You’re right, our communities need to invest in making themselves more bicycle friendly. If we learn from the successes of others, that investment doesn’t have to be expensive.

      It may be another couple of decades, though, before we ever get bike lanes out to where you live!

    • Peter, I tend to agree. Fairfax County is making a huge effort to get more bike lanes, but the county still has many roads that aren’t wide enough for two cars. There are many spots where only fools rush in on bicycles.

  4. So why can’t we find roads that could be turned into pedestrian and bikeways? The only cars allowed would be locals who live on that street. Why must we always spend bunches of money to make something that an ordinance could easily fix?

  5. recreational biking can be anywhere just like recreational trails.. you just drive to the trailhead and do you thing.

    non-recreational biking ( what’s the correct word here?) – is biking to get from a specific point A to a specific point B and using the bike as transportation.

    I’m not sure we have a clear perspective of that – not on the citizen level and not on govt levels.

    but you’re trying to essentially overlay a bike transportation network on top of an vehicle transportation network – and I’m not sure we’re ever going to make it to nirvana as cars are not bikes and bikes are not cars and the two just don’t mix that well on a wide variety of situations even as they do mesh well on some.

    If we look at the rest of the world to see how a bike transportation network “looks”, what do we see?

    • Hey Darrell, thanks for the PIX. Can you tell me what the bottom triangle is depicting? It’s looks like some guy looking down on a pile of dirt or something!

      :-)

      bikes are ubiquitous in other countries …true.. I wonder if the carnage for biker victims of cars is similar to us ?

      • Well from what I saw in Linz am Rhein Germany and else where, there is no carnage because bikes don’t share the roads with cars. They have nice paths along the Rhine, and the town centers are just like this picture of Linz. Cars in Linz park under the elevated railway tracks. Walking from there can be a bit unnerving as 120+mph trains roar by over head. The sign is Men At Work. The Linz to Remagen ferry has a pretty neat live webcam. It was one more reason for me to just go there and bum around.

  6. Bacon.
    These off-the-cuf put-downs are a bit much. The tragic killing of a bicyclist took place around the corner from YOU. Not near me in rural Chesterfield:

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/jul/30/10/cyclist-killed-richmond-hit-and-run-ar-2094035/

    As a matter of style and good taste, you ought to click your brain before your mouth.

  7. Well, great. Why forget about? Why not include it in future postings? Why not address it as it should be?

  8. Peter. I promise that Lanie’s death hit me harder than any one.
    As Lanie did, I bike around Richmond as a major mode of transportation. I own a car as well, and use it when needed. Actually, I own a BIG car, and keep that in mind when driving, because if I drive my Cadillac into a Fiat….I will likely end up hurting the human being in the smaller vehicle. Bicycles are just smaller vehicles. Had Lanie been in a small car, the outcome would more than likely have been the same. I won’t let Lanie’s death be used to try to scare people from biking on Richmond’s roads. She rode her bike in accordance to the Law of the State of Virginia, simply expecting motorists to drive in accordance to the Law as well. Bring more cycling-friendly infrastructure. That would be fantastic. In the meantime, get more people riding their bikes more often. I’ve been biking around Richmond for years, and have yet to have one incident with a vehicle. Sure, there may be sharks in the ocean…but they’re not going to keep me from going in it. And you know what scares sharks away? A crowd of swimmers. Ride around Richmond. Cowards need not apply. Good work, James A. Bacon.

  9. Peter – Although I would welcome dedicated infrastructure and more “bike-friendly” roads in general, the truth is, it’s not the roads that aren’t bike friendly or bike safe, or even the cars – it’s the drivers, plain and simple. We continue to encourage the notion that cars are rolling offices, boudoirs, man caves and dining rooms, and then point our finger at the victim when one of these unguided missiles ends a life or disfigures a living breathing individual. Where is it written that just because Detroit designs a car with a higher cupholder count than its driver’s IQ, we all have to get the hell out of the way in case Mr. or Mrs. SUV spill their latte on their way to the nail spa or the golf course? We are at a tipping point, much like the one that preceded the stiffer laws against drunk driving. We must change attitudes at a fundamental level so that people understand that cars, for all their wonderful attributes and convenience, are not toys, sporting goods, or isolation chambers.
    That said, I would also point out that there are PLENTY of bike friendly roads in Richmond, but they don’t all connect, and that is a big part of the problem too. We don’t need a lane here and some sharrows there, we need some comprehensive thought on a REGIONAL basis, to encourage more people to get their butts out of their cars and onto their bikes, even just once in a while for short trip. They will want to do it more and more – it’s habit forming, in a good way.

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