In your post, your 4th comment:
4. There is a real, though indirect, connection between 'alt-enery' vehicles and government coercion. One example is the 'safety standards' that keep otherwise very functional and inexpensive Third World cars out of the country. Another is the herd instinct of people in a generalized way. Joggers and bicyclists report abuse. A few deserve it.
I was reading a few years ago about a guy who was trying to start importing chinese made cars. The retail price would have been something in the $3500 range for a brand new car. That would have killed all other car sales for most of the auto market. On the other hand, it allows the the current auto makers to keep making their current margins. What was interesting to me when I was in China a few years back was the number of Buicks and VW's. I guess the Chinese auto makers have ramped up production to meet the growing demand.
I am confused, however, by your last two sentences. What abuse are joggers and bicyclists reporting? I am a runner (FYI, jogging is for slow people) and a bicyclist. I've not had many real problems with motorized and wheeled vehicles, but then again, after 23 +/- years of running on roads, I am very aware of my actions and watch very closely everyone else's movements. I try and be as deliberate and predictable when 'playing in traffic', and to date have been very successful. To be clear, I am not trying to start a fight, but I am interested in what other runners and bikers are complaining about. (May be I can shed some light from my side of the curb?!) Is it emissions? I saw a car this morning that looked like it was on fire it was burning so much oil!! Glad I wasn't the guy in the convertible with the top down behind him in the construction traffic jam!
I was at my in law's place over the weekend. They've moved in to a retirement community that reminds me of college. There are folks who live in outlying building that use golf carts to get around the campus. Seems like the easiest solution there, if walking has become too difficult and painful. I also saw an ad for the new Chevy Volt electric car. Ad claims 40 miles before it uses any gas. Then, with the on board 1 cylinder engine, it can recharge the batteries. One thing I haven't gotten a clear answer on is how long the batteries will last and how spent batteries will be disposed.
I tend to agree with you, Les, regarding the folks dreaming up these vehicles. Before we had Luke, I wouldn't have given it much thought, but with a kid, and all the stuff we carry to support him, there's no way a 2 seater will work for us. Even a Mini Cooper would be too small right now. However, when you are designing your vehicle to drive on sidewalks, remember that sidewalks are not meant for motorized vehicles. In most states, there are laws against driving on sidewalks, even bikes. Also, make sure that if you do continue to design for sidewalks, a vast majority of them are not well leveled and there are many vertical transitions between one segment and another. I never noticed it before too much, but pushing a stroller will show you how bad it can get.
We're working on a solution of our own, but it has its own price: time. Last week, I made my first trip to work on my bicycle. 28 miles in 1hr 40 minutes. Nice way to start the work day, but it was a good thing I didn't have much going on. I am doing it again tomorrow. 28 miles to work and a partial ride home in the evening. This is not something I'll be able to do every day, simply due to logistics and meeting the needs of the home life. However, on the days it is practical, it offers a change of pace (faster heart rate, slower average MPH!) and a different kind of stress (watching cars and predicting their moves before 7AM!!). However, when I thought about it, I would have gotten up at the same time, gone running for an hour (8 miles) and then drove to work (40 minutes). So, in the end, all I lost was the gas. But, that's not to say I saved money because I took that $4 I would have spent on one type of fuel and bought another type: a Western Omlette, hash browns, and toast! Granted, I did enjoy the breakfast more than I enjoy the agressive drivers.