A Movement

AM

is a loose confederation of like-minded individuals from around the planet, who want to use the evolution of transport design, and provision using human and solar energy, as a means to create mobility systems that are safe and efficient and accessible to all, and as healthful, beautiful, unique, and ubiquitous as possible, as soon as possible.

Outline program

1. This is an invitation to individuals and groups, literally everywhere, to design and construct examples of the kind of transportation we need in order to survive this period. Must be as minimal as possible, with a human-powered component and a solar/electric one. This can be for individuals or small groups and should pay attention to a variety of factors, ease of construction, low cost, durability, beauty, originality, safety, comfort, reproducibility, energy use, sympathy with local social preferences, and culture, and weather.

2. Word of this project will be spread through the cooperation with Worldwide contacts in the educational, art, health, governmental, and environmental communities, who have the willingness to help initiate, and publicize, this activity. This could be the City of New York, perhaps on behalf of the countless different nationalities, and diverse lands of origin, of the current residents of Queens, home of two historic World’s Fairs.

This bottom-up and continuous event, taking place everywhere simultaneously, is the complete opposite of the classic version of these spectacles. Still, the creativity, the rides, and pleasurable aspects, the International factor, and the important research into new designs and technologies that are badly needed at this time, all capture the essence of our memorable past events.

3. Instead of expensive temporary pavilions, the Internet will serve as the reigning Colossus, enabling full communication among participants, exchanges of ideas, and sharing of resources. Rather than using competition as the means to encourage involvement, this approach has the potential to create a worldwide family of contributors, and cooperation that can be a model of participatory democracy.

4. A unit can be formed with the task of identifying local sponsors and enabling them to connect to local efforts. Bringing local governments into the picture is valuable and their support can be crucial, especially if the local school system becomes involved, but this can be done, anywhere, without asking anybody’s permission. Having a shop or workspace can make this much easier, but any garage or other not-precious space can serve this purpose. If a car repair shop decides to help, their access to tools and expertise can be crucial. If a school is willing to adopt this program into their existing ones, that is fine too.

5. The goals here are to maximize participation while demonstrating the ability of communities to use their own human resources to contribute, profoundly, to solving their problems.

While it is very ambitious, it is also intended to put the emphasis on the smallest unit, the group of friends, the class, and the family. Changing discarded bikes into a method for developing a full-service, local transportation system, can be done with hand tools and widely available knowledge, of design and fabrication. It can involve seamstresses and carpenters, welders and mechanics, cyclists and electricians, digital magicians, teachers and organizers, artists, craftspeople, and local residents, all anxious to strengthen their neighborhoods and clean their air.

The Donut

Maybe I am wrong,

and there is no small army of mostly young, creative, ingenious, and entrepreneurial people, everywhere, who are ready, now, to contribute their best efforts towards re-designing our urban transportation systems, in order to improve our ability to survive the current climate crisis, and have a really good time while they’re doing it.

Maybe it is impossible to use tiny human-powered vehicles, with solar/electric assistance, to replace archaic multi-ton, gas-powered behemoths.

Maybe we can not construct these new conveyances so they offer full protection against bad weather when needed, safely and comfortably, but are otherwise open to the air.

Maybe it is not possible to enable riders to stand, lean, sit or recline, as they wish, instead of always being forced to sit, like children in school or when being served a meal.

Maybe personal vehicles can transform into person/cargo-carrying ones, so we can travel alone, or with others, as we please.

Maybe we can make certain that everybody, regardless of their abilities or economy, has equal access to local mobility.

Maybe bikes are simply too small and cars are way too big, and we need a Goldilocks moment, when we realize, suddenly, that the “Just Right” is, obviously, what is missing.

Maybe what we still need, is far greater than what we already have. Put another way, in spatial terms, the hole may be much bigger than the donut.

How to build a human/solar-powered vehicle

Find some old, discarded, broken, or unused bikes of any description.

Find a pad of paper and a pencil or pen and look in the library for helpful information.

Begin to imagine what a different kind of vehicle might look like and how it might work.

Call a friend or two so that this can begin to be a cooperative group project

Make a poster with an email describing this project and what you hope to accomplish.

Find some unused space to work or put the request for one on the information poster.

Contact local hardware, and second-hand stores, to ask them to contribute needed materials.

Offer all local businesses the opportunity to sponsor and provide resources for the group.

Collect a basic hand and power tool kit and selection of nuts and bolts, tape, epoxy, etc.

Offer other locals, with an interest in this process, the opportunity to become involved.

See if there are engineers, mechanics, artists, craftspeople, or anyone willing to pitch in.

Let the local media know what you are doing so they can publicize and help you.

Post your progress on AMovement.org so you can invite comments and help.

Follow the advances that other groups are making and continue to learn from them.

Bring local officials into the picture and encourage them to pursue your ideas seriously.

Learn the history of transportation in this country and how it has been manipulated.

Give everybody rides in your vehicle and begin re-evaluating and re-designing it.

Use the experience of the following something from idea to reality to solve other problems.

Establish the value of believing in yourself and learning to be as creative as possible.

Persuade all local educational establishments to consider beginning their own project.

Work to use the results of these efforts to bring forth actual enterprises and products.

Ride around and show off what you have done in order to inspire more similar efforts.

A Movement

Creating and producing the lightest,

while most comfortable, vehicles possible is the aim here. Users should be able to assume any posture which is their preference, from standing, to leaning, to sitting and recumbent. Also, the clear, outer, weather-protecting shell, must easily be partly, or entirely, rendered minimal, in accordance with the weather and desire for privacy. This is a low-speed vehicle, roughly the same as bicycles, 15-25 mph, most suitable for urban/suburban use. Multi-modality is optimal since it enables the most economical operation. A higher speed version, more suitable for less dense environs, presents a host of additional safety issues, which will, naturally, take more time to successfully resolve.

This is a serious matter but a case can be made regarding this process as similar to the one that motivated the creation of the Kinetic Sculpture Movement. It has been amply demonstrated that a human-powered vehicle, even without the added benefits of a solar/electric element, can be phenomenally efficient, while also being construed into an infinite variety of disguises and presentations. It can be a duck, or a fly, a mock Cadillac convertible or guided missile, and still function magnificently as a conveyance. It can also add a huge element of pleasurable whimsey and otherwise colorful creativity to grey concrete sidewalks and dark asphalt streets.

The surrender of our public space to oversized, dangerous, toxic, and homely machines has negated these spaces’ suitability for any other, more appropriate purposes. Recreation and relaxation, while surrounded by loud and ill-mannered devices, are impossible. Unless in a park or other designated space, the atmosphere is so obnoxious that only street workers, like deliverers, who must be there, regularly populate it. Urban spaces are becoming more and more congested, some impassable, and finding refuge from them by avoiding them, is the most popular remedy.

While people who must be there, like vendors working hard to make a living, are regarded as a nuisance, an array of obnoxious machines are welcomed to monopolize the space while pumping poisonous gases in their wakes, as long as they are a lubricant for profit-making, tax-generating activity. Given the current environmental catastrophe, they are also a clear threat to our future. Unmentioned and completely unacknowledged is the tremendous psychological damage caused by our submission to these constant assaults on our physical and mental health, without any measurable resistance.

Efforts to improve this situation must be urgent yet joyous. This does not involve anyone having to give up anything that they now utilize. To a society in the grip of various addictions, to ease, for instance, the threat of losing anything once possessed, would be fatal to the enterprise. This plan involves providing access, eventually to everyone, to an entirely new fleet of the most creative, fun, and efficient vehicles imaginable.

Fortunately, the result of this undertaking will be the diminution in the use of the ugly, uncomfortable and environmentally and psychologically damaging multi-ton monstrosities, which now fill our streets. This opportunity should serve to draw the attention and participation of many creative and caring individuals from everywhere, since virtually no developed places on this earth are free from the life, and injury-threatening impacts, of having to share their vital public spaces with endless marauding armies of treacherous machines. The talent that is needed to do the work is out there. It just needs to be aroused and focused on the task at hand, to save this planet, while having a wonderful time doing it.