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Standardized ultralight cars with designated roads

75 pounds max weight, 45 mph max speed limit and "Ultralights Only" roads.
  (+16, -1)(+16, -1)
(+16, -1)
  [vote for,

The idea of an ultralight car isn't anything new except to implement them with a standardized design with their own road where bikes would be too slow and cars would be too fast and dangerous.

Lots of a car is basically armor to stand up to, ironically, another car's "armor" in the event of a collision. A car's engine is designed to get this heavy armor up to very high speeds and the job of moving the passenger ends up being a small percentage of the equation. Cars also have lots of extra horsepower available for hauling 4 or more people and a trunk full of stuff which is seldom done.

The ultralight standard would allow one or two passenger max and basically be enclosed 3 or 4 wheel motorized bikes. You'd wear a helmet to make up for the fact that it's very lightly protected with perhaps a minimum plastic shell and a metal passenger compartment cage. The most protection would come from two things: the roads being designed to accommodate these and the fact that they would only drive around other very low mass / low speed vehicles. A road with raised sides would also eliminate objects you would crash into. Off-ramps could actually use nets to catch errant vehicles that didn't quite make the turn. Heck, you could even have the walls of the road be some kind of padded netting for that matter as long as it looked good.

The 75 pound 45 mph numbers are just a starting point that you could tweak to get the most efficiency but they'd be cheap, incredibly fuel efficient and the roads you make for these things could be smaller and cheaper than a highway. Since they'd be almost silent you could even put these "ultralight commuter roads" in nicer areas than you'd put a 4 lane highway. Supplement the major commuter routes with these things where possible and you could theoretically cut fuel consumption per passenger mile to way below what any public conveyance like a bus or train could achieve.

When you get to your exit, you switch to "bike speed mode" and use the bike routes to get to your final destination. I wouldn't want these things to start pushing bikes out of their areas so as part of the standardization, the bike speed mode would be enforced in bike areas and an indicator visible from the outside showing that you can't go any faster than the bike speed limit would need to be seen or you'd get a ticket. (A light or little flag or something.) Bikes would have the right of way in these areas.

These ultralights would, by necessity look like little spaceships with their very cool aerodynamic shape. My model would steer with a joystick.

doctorremulac3, Oct 14 2008

Might look like this sort of. http://zedomax.com/...powered-vehicle.jpg
Although these are butt-ugly. [doctorremulac3, Oct 14 2008]

None of this crap http://www.flickr.c...egoboss/2473539060/
Style guidelines would be strictly enforced [doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008]

(?) More like this http://www.bluebird...peed_record_car.jpg
Maybe without all the flags and stuff but basically a rocket with wheels. [doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008]

(?) Eh, sort of. http://greenash.net..._one_velomobile.jpg
Still looks more like a pod than a rocket. [doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008]

Needs a fairing http://www.whiteair...mages/photo/383.jpg
[normzone, Oct 15 2008]

Here ya go. http://bathtubracer...on/wellington_1.jpg
Might not want to pick up your date in one of these though. [doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008]

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       I voted (+), but "style guidelines would be strictly enforced" ? What about us home builders, the case mod crowd, and all that? If it meets the test (gets great mileage, looks strange, and readily crumples, why can't we play too?
normzone, Oct 15 2008

       I think most people wouldn't want something that looks like a rolling bathtub so you probably wouldn't need style police pulling people over.   

       So yea, as long as it fit the tech standards you'd be good to roll.   

       And even if they did want something goofy by my standards, hey, free country right?
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008

       I was going to bun this until your pejorative comment about my "rolling bathtub" design. Actually more of form fitting mylar jacuzzi.
bungston, Oct 15 2008

       Management would like to apologize for any comments, innuendo or statements that may have cast this particular beloved bath fixture in negative or harmful light.   

       We at Remulac International share the love and respect of all bathroom fixtures be they bathtubs, sinks, bidets, or commodes.   

       Our beloved founder likes to have a drink now and then and sometimes forgets that "fixturist" statements can be hurtful and counterproductive.   

       Please accept our apologies.
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2008

       True enough. I'm assuming that anybody lucky enough to have free access to the internet and the time to enjoy forums like this are living in relatively free societies but who knows.   

       I'd like to see the statistcs of which countries log in to see this site. English is read and spoken as a second language in many countries outside England the US, Canada and Australia etc. I'd be curious.
doctorremulac3, Oct 16 2008

       Many more people learn English as a second language than learn it as a first language.

This is a good idea, but there's a better case for making 'designated roads' for bicycles first (in cities, at least).
hippo, Oct 16 2008

       I've always liked those enclosed trikes you see in India (Bajaj et al) and the utility vehicles used in grounds maintenance: a little weatherproofing and cng and/or plug-in electric (and while we're at it, carbon-fibre) and they would be more than suitable for city/burb quick trips.
FlyingToaster, Oct 16 2008

       I live in Palo Alto California USA that has a real extensive series of designated bike lanes. Some are very wide, almost as wide as the auto portion of the road. They do make biking around a heck of a lot easier. We also have several designated "commuter" bike routes that are several miles long and cross bridges etc. in many cases.   

       I'd like to change the design concept a bit. When you switch to "bike mode" in the bike lanes you should have the choice of speed retarded motor or actually pedaling yourself. Either way there should be an external indication that you're not in full power mode that could hazard regular bikes.
doctorremulac3, Oct 16 2008

       There are existing legal definitions that cover vehicles of this type. In the US, some are known as "neighborhood vehicles" - restricted to local streets (no freeways), low speeds and with subsequently much looser design codes.   

       I'm currently in the process of building something to fit into another legal definition - the bicycle. As long as the motor is under a certain power limit, and usable pedals are attached, it's legally a bike, no matter the number of wheels and passengers*. There are any number of electric scooters tootling about the neighborhood that technically fit into this definition - no driver's license required, even. Mine will be basically a recumbent delta-trike with integrated rollcage and vinyl fairing.   

       There's even, as you point out, already a dedicated lane network in a lot of places.   

       * local laws may differ, of course.
BunsenHoneydew, Nov 27 2010

       That pillbox car in your second link is hilariously gorgeous and I do want.
BunsenHoneydew, Nov 27 2010

       So far as i can see, the main use for a car is to move around heavy objects, so i don't think there's much point in this, but i do like it.
nineteenthly, Nov 29 2010

       The heavy objects which cars mainly move around are called people. Look at the occupants of other cars next time you're out. How many have large or heavy object in vs. how many are being used to transport just the driver?   

       There is a place for very light cars (commonly called cyclecars) but as this idea suggests, there is a problem in sharing the roads with the 2 ton behemoths which are now described as 'family' cars.
Twizz, Nov 29 2010


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