Michael Lin and Sandra Richter have designed a future vehicle for bike lanes that’s one part bike, one part car, and eight parts a solution to congestion, pollution, obesity, and aging.
Grad student Lin and researcher Richter—both at the MIT Media Lab—say one goal of the design is to democratize bike lanes, alerting commuters that biking isn’t just for men in Spandex—but for men in suits, women in skirts, the elderly, and anyone who doesn’t want to mess up their hair in the rain.
The vehicle is motor-assisted and has a top speed of 25 mph, but by pedaling fast you can zoom along to 40 mph. It has three wheels for stability and a soft cover made of smart fabrics for protection against the weather. It also has heating and cooling options, and a seat in the back for a baby or groceries.
“We’re promoting low energy use and a healthy lifestyle,” Richter says, adding that it’s called a Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV), because it persuades commuters to get more exercise and to travel green.
“This vehicle is designed to share—not to own. By sharing you don’t need as many vehicles, and therefore, it reduces congestion,” says Lin, who was raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and was motivated to design the PEV after witnessing that city’s streets choked with cars.
The vehicle folds to half its size for storage and is intended to be integrated into a bike-sharing program. For a monthly fee, you can pick it up and drop it off at charging stations on the street.
Richter says, “We’re hoping the vehicle will encourage more people who normally don’t travel by bike, to get in a bike lane.”