Monday Best Bike Bits - Pistol-Packing Cyclist and Bike-Powered Transit Called Shweeb

The low-slung (2 to 4 meters above ground) Shweeb pods include a highly efficient system of pedals that can theoretically allow riders to reach speeds of up 70 kmh.
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It's best not to forget that road rage is not limited to those enclosed behind glass and steel. Down in St. Petersburg, Florida, a cycling suspect named Dale Single was arrested this weekend for pulling out a gun and threatening a motorist with it.

The motorist, Meluvdin Rahimic, said the cyclist was pretending to be a cop, and when apprehended later by police, had not only a gun, but also a pair of handcuffs and a fake badge in a fanny pack.

So what was the rage? Rahimic reportedly honked at Single after Single was weaving through traffic on his bike. Single struck Rahimic's windshield with his hand, and then sped away. Rahimic followed Single to the side of the road, at which point Single pulled out his weapon (it was later revealed that Single did have a concealed weapons permit).

It's another one of those cases in which rather than assigning fault, it is easier to see simple bad judgment on both sides. Should Single have been weaving? No. Should Rahimic have followed Single? Probably not. Luckily, Single's gun waving caused no bloodshed.

I've been ruminating lately on whether a woman on a bike should carry a weapon. Annie Londonderry, a Latvian immigrant who through grit and a flair for self-promotion made a round-the-world bike journey between 1894 - 1895, cycled with nothing but a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver.

I've concluded that a canister of pepper spray on a bracelet is the most armed I'm ever likely to be on my bike, because with my luck, any other weapon I might carry would likely be used against me in any kind of dangerous encounter.

Of course there are eventualities in which self-defense is necessary, but most of the irritation between cyclists and car drivers can be better mitigated by more courtesy and polite hand signals than anger and arms.

Because the need to share the roads will only increase as cities become more congested. None of us can afford an us vs. them mentality in our approach to mobility. Everybody hates being stuck in traffic. It's one of the reasons cyclists initially decide to commute by bike.

Geoffrey Barnett is suggesting that we need to use the people-powered design concept to truly improve mobility in busy cities. After a trip to Tokyo, Barnett designed what he calls the Shweeb for a New Zealand amusement park.

According to the blog Witness This, Barnett's proof-of-concept combines the monorail pod car systems we've covered extensively over at TreeHugger but with a pedal-powered twist.

According to Witness This and the Shweeb's official web site, the low-slung (2 to 4 meters above ground) Shweeb pods include a highly efficient system of pedals that can theoretically allow riders to reach speeds of up 70 kmh.

I would never want to go that fast in a pod because I don't even want to go that fast in a car, but the Shweeb is an interesting concept because it solves two problems -- local transportation plus urbanites' desperate need to build more exercise into our lives.

Plus, no more road rage! Barnett designed the pods with special shock absorbers so that no speed-demon Shweeber can knock another one off the tracks. Instead, the faster cycler uses his or her leg power to propel the person in front a bit more speedily.

For more articles by April Streeter click here.

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