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I usually travel by bike, and it's a great vehicle and is mostly sustainable. I love travelling by bike when the weather is nice, but what all the pro-bike propaganda never mentions is that one very major problem - the rain (and, to a lesser extant, the wind and the cold)

No matter how much I invest in "waterproof" equipment, biking under heavy rain is an awful experience. Even with "waterproof" shoes eventually a leak comes and waters poor into my socks, making my feet feel like sponges. Same goes for hands. Not to mention having to spend the day being dressed up weirdly with rainboots and looking even more like a weirdo than I already do.

Is there a vehicle that can at the same time shelter it's driver from bad weather and be more sustainable than conventional cars ?

  • @Bregalad Are you suggesting that modern, all-electric vehicles — that run on power generated by the solar panels on the roof of your own house — are not sustainable? Or is your reference to "conventional cars" directed at cars with internal combustion engines — that run on fossil fuels? – Tim Apr 12 '18 at 3:11
3

There are recumbent bicycles that shield you from rain and wind, for example:

Recumbent bike with full shielding Image by Gandalf24 at da.wikipedia - Own work, Public Domain

The shielding is called fairing. According to this Wikipedia article:

Fairings are also available for upright bikes, but are much less common

I'm not sure if they refer to a fairing that completely shields the biker though. Here in The Netherlands (which is the worlds no.1 country when it comes to the number of bikes per inhabitant) I occasionally see a recumbent bike that's totally shielded, but I've never seen anything like that for an upright bike.

This Dutch website (no affiliation) has a list of recumbent bike manufacturers and some of them sell these kind of bikes. I found 1 that has a price indication for a building kit which starts at 3495,- euros. There are several others as well, but those seem to be much more expensive (e.g. this one)

  • Given the cost and plastic construction, it would seem that a more sustainable solution would be to telecommute, walk, or take public transportation on days that aren't favorable to biking... – LShaver Mar 26 '18 at 14:25
3

This site links to a number of enclosed human powered vehicles but the only one that is available for me to purchase locally is the ELF.

ELF 2FR

What could be more fun than riding your ELF? Riding with friends on board, of course! The ELF 2FR allows multiple passengers to ride along with you, seated on a comfortable padded seat behind the driver’s seat. A separate lockable cargo compartment behind the passenger seat is handy for carrying those extra items, and a CON-Pearl® floor adds safety for your precious cargo, as well as a quieter ride and extra storage.

Sounds a bit pricey for $8,895.00 – $9,794.95 for basically some plastic and a battery but it's sustainable!

And from the Kickstarter

Power Source

  • Solar and pedal -- two unlimited resources derived from the sun and you. 60 watt solar panel (standard, upgrades available) 750 watt permanent neodymium magnet motors 480w lithium battery PWM controller CVT drivetrain (continuously variable transmission) Body

    Vacuum formed Trylon (composite of 85% recycled ABS and Solarcote) Windshield made from UV resistant polycarbonate LED lighting including headlights, brake lights, markers, and turn signals Frame

    45% recycled aluminum 26" high volume wheels front and rear with 20mm through axles and 36 spokes Disc brakes Coroplast wheel covers Storage compartment with room for eight bags of groceries/350lbs cargo Performance

  • 1800 MPGe (gets 1800 miles for the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gas) 30 mile range with each 8 pound battery pack Potential to mitigate 28,000 lbs of CO2 per year per unit Classified as a bicycle in all 50 states (of the USA)
  • And plastic is so eco-friendly : oceans anyone... – Solar Mike Mar 26 '18 at 6:33
  • @SolarMike These are supposed to be used indefinitely. I guess the parts are readily replaceable since it's basically a bike on steroids. Whereas a car might end up in the junk yard. – Graham Chiu Mar 26 '18 at 6:44
  • So where do the old parts go? And indefinitely - we must have differing definitions of indefinitely... I see lots of bikes in the junk yard - in fact it's a good source of wheels when one of my sons buckles one... – Solar Mike Mar 26 '18 at 6:49
  • @SolarMike Well, you can always walk. That's what the cave man did. – Graham Chiu Mar 26 '18 at 7:06
  • @SolarMike It uses sun light for charging so the power source is infinite but of course we don't know for sure. – Graham Chiu Mar 26 '18 at 7:34
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Given the high price of the enclosed pedal powered vehicles described above, it seems that the better option is to get an e-bike (so you can ride in heavy clothing without sweating too much and carry all the gear with you), and fit panniers so that you can carry your wet weather gear at all times. You could afford to really go to town on clothing and still spend less than an enclosed vehicle and consume way less energy than driving. Full face helmet, sealskinz socks (no affiliation), waterproof shoes AND rubber overshoes, over trousers, waterproof coat, ski gloves. Choose an e-bike with mudguards and a chain guard. Bring dry clothes with you to change if all that still doesn't work. This is more or less what I do on my commute in the wonderful UK weather. The enclosed bikes look cool and are very fast, but just seem to lose too many of the benefits of a bike/e-bike without gaining enough of the benefits of a car.

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