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.

Steps

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.

Guidelines

Participating individuals

can be working alone or as part of a group. These combinations can be any shape or size, like the vehicles, so there have to be a few understandings in order for this to work:

Safety is paramount. Vehicles, even if they are moving at an urban speed limit of 15 or 20 mph, can cause damage to riders and passengers, if not properly designed and constructed. Wheelchairs and other precious cargo must be fully protected in their dangerous environs.

Respect needs to be provided for one another. Bullying should not be tolerated. If consensus is possible, that is best, when decisions need to get made. The participants have to choose a method for deciding on issues, which does the least damage to the group. (Key, unresolved issues, might cause another project to have to be started).

The object here is to exercise as little regulation or control over how any group of individuals decides how to array themselves and organize their activity as possible. One assemblage may have the goal of making a marketable product, another wants to make something for themselves and their families.

Sharing of ideas will be encouraged, and space provided online for projects to post images and thoughts. This can be considered a community of interest, benefitting from being in a world, where technologists have erased the language barriers that always made communicating with others from other places a huge burden. Images are universal too, of course.

A central goal is to encourage communities to design, develop and even consider manufacturing, locally, products being fabricated by their fellow citizens. Fabrication, on the human scale, of devices that employ human power, makes sense. In many places, the talents and skills required are abundant. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism for bringing these individuals together or exploiting their creativity and willingness to contribute their efforts to a common purpose.

Ideas can have value and there is a patent system that exists to protect people’s ability to profit from their unique conceptions. Those who wish to participate in this program, but want the option of keeping their results to themselves, and filing their innovations with the relevant authorities are, of course, free to do this. Due to the historical neglect of this subject area for so long, there are nearly infinite ways in which it is now free to evolve, with the help of little solar-powered motors, to re-define our spaces and habits in a great many important ways.

Institutions such as governments, religious and social groups, professional societies, and educational institutions, should be invited to help encourage these developments, without necessarily taking charge of any of these efforts officially. One benefit of this process can be that it becomes less necessary, in order for something to happen, to involve large institutions, including major corporations, to provide the motivation, prizes, and a competitive framework. The approach here is intended to focus on the potential for a bottom-up activity to flourish, in spite of our unfamiliarity with that way of doing things.

While the support of local programs, from any direction, should be welcome, maintaining the integrity of the process, by not using it to “green” the un-greenable, is still necessary. If enough resources can be gleaned from the local business establishment, beginning with those providing professional services, doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, etc., funding will not be an issue. All book-keeping must be 100% transparent and thus prevent problems from occurring.

If there are substantial numbers of young people who prefer to keep older people from being part of their group and possibly dominating the activity, they may impose age limits. No outside authority may make this decision for the participants though, and as much openness as possible is desirable.

An effort will be made to provide advice and counsel to groups requesting it, in regards to their needs. No promise can be made yet that this help will be available but it is being sought and expected to be found. Professional societies, engineering, etc., will be the first groups approached to provide such help, through retired members, desirous of establishing connections to community groups.

A media partner would provide the ability to tell participants that their efforts might be rewarded by being given attention, through the media, to their accomplishments. This program will not evolve into a contest, but that dimension is part of our world and it may well be that somebody will see the potential for a more limited version of this, perhaps with the addition of a speed, or other “spectacular” aspect of this subject.

One goal here is to expand the use of slow speed, clean, safe, economical, accessible, beautiful, and comfortable transport, for those in over-crowded cities everywhere. Another is to activate us, on the most local level, to apply ourselves to cooperate in dealing directly and affirmatively, with our most immediate, dangerous, and fully solvable problems.

This is A Movement, not an organization, and nobody is required to have anything to do with this element of it. It is assumed that there will be different programs initiated in some places and limits, rules, and other conditions mandated, which might even produce better results. Nothing can or should be done to prevent these varied developments. The best result of this program might be the initiation of other efforts, on the most local level, to improve lives there. We have everything we need to enhance our existence but not all of the mechanisms needed to unleash this energy and derive the most benefit from it.

Structure

While this project is intended to motivate fully independent activity, with no necessarily structural connection to A Movement, there are certain useful tasks that can be expedited by AM beneficially. Coordinating the participation of private of public factors, and encouraging their involvement, will be important in determining the effectiveness of the such a program as this.

Connecting groups to:

Local businesses.

A system can be established for contacting local businesses in the vicinity of a project and inviting them to participate, through in-kind or cash contributions. This will require a vetting process, to make certain that the project is real, and not just a way to gather resources. Both of these processes need to be described in detail.

Local authorities.

Transport, health, environment, education, and other relevant aspects of governance everywhere, have a vested interest in supporting activities such as this. There are problems in all of these areas that need to be addressed, and the development of more appropriate transport will have an effect on all of them. Initially, AM can do an awareness campaign, that makes these authorities everywhere fully aware of this effort, while encouraging them to take steps to initiate these programs locally. They might also want to do something to motivate their populace to become involved and begin designing and building. When AM is notified of a project starting, it can automatically notify the local governments about this and suggest that some support be offered to them..

Local foundations and Community groups

Many places are fortunate to have community organizations and even foundations, organized to improve the lives of their neighbors. Informing all of them of this activity can also include the suggestion that they do what they can to establish such activity within their environs. While institutions are in the position to garner support and provide resources, it is hoped that they will also leave the maximum of decision-making to the participants, and be careful not to stymie creativity. While useful devices would be the best result of this, giving those involved confidence in their own talents and skills matters too. Since tools are involved, and therefore potential injuries as well, any institution involved must feel the obligation to provide appropriate guidance and caution.

One another.

A website will be maintained that can be used by any group to display their results or for technical or other help. Since shared vehicles are one category being featured here, it makes sense for information to be shared as well. It has become technologically possible to economically display information and give individuals the ability to use these resources fairly easily.

Investors.

Out of all of these efforts, some will inevitably emerge that are so well conceived and executed, that there will be the opportunity to develop a program or enterprise, which can help turn an idea into an actual, marketable, product. Since AM will be doing everything possible to gain attention for this undertaking, these developments will be of great interest, to those whose goal it is to exploit these ideas for profit.

While the emphasis here is on creativity and local involvement in all aspects of this project, there is, at the moment, a great need, across the world, to expand the availability of these important contributions to our survival, as soon and as widely as possible. This means large-scale manufacture and the investment required to accomplish this. Since the business environment enables good ideas to be copied, often with only minimal regard for where they originated, it is important to be able to establish the availability of a product quickly.

AM is not interested in earning any proceeds from the businesses formed or arrangements which will be made, to bring some of these ideas into the real world. Instead, we would like to act as a switchboard, to help those interested, financially, to find and establish a working relationship with local efforts. Ideally, the major beneficiaries of any monetization of these programs, would be those whose sweat created it. If public funds are used, the polity should also share in any proceeds.

It would be hoped that the attention that we will be bringing to these developments would be enough to cause these arrangements to be put together as a matter of course. Still, helping to provide access to legal and other necessary elements of any arrangement, is one task that can possible be done much more efficiently, and effectively, from a centralized facility, such as AM.

Speed etc.

While keeping the central purpose of this effort, to maximize participation in these activities, and avoiding an emphasis on the competitive aspects of it, there will inevitably be those who want to use this classic means, to excite interest. Since this is not a linear

model, such as speed would be, but rather a conceptual free-for-all, judging would be difficult or impossible. Yet, if you remove this element, you will also reduce those inclined to be part of it, tremendously. We have been conditioned to respond to certain situations in a certain way. Fortunately, there is no reason that, within this framework, there could also be sub-sets of accomplishment. The best use of re-cycled materials? The most outrageous? We want to be able to judge everything on a vertical scale, but this is a horizontal-shaped proposal. Even so, old habits die hard, and many will see this as a head-to-head event regardless.

Regional gatherings:

Initially, this was conceived as a World’s Fair type even, albeit with the opposite architecture, a bottom-up, not top-down, experience. (NYWorldsFair.org) While it is now looked at as the most widely-dispersed activity rather than the opposite. In spite of this, it makes sense to provide for the possibility of those with a great interest in this subject, to be able to gather from time to time, to show off their work and to establish relationships with others who share their enthusiasm. The world can be broken up into less than a dozen regions, although travel with each can cover thousands of miles. Eventually, it is expected, more localized gatherings can be arranged, from time to time, but at least initially, all participants in a given region, can be invited to a centralized exhibit and demonstration, preferably with the ability to experience these products directly, to ride around in them. It is expected that “Chapters” will be established in each region and responsible parties engaged to pursue this there.

Finances:

This is a non-profit, with the goal of helping locally-formed groups, to work cooperatively to generate the most creative and practical small scale transport for their own locality. It is hoped that these efforts will expand into actual vehicle-building programs and continue to allow the further evolution of these transports into their most aesthetic, accessible  and useful additions to what is there currently. The object is to do this with the most minimal, and therefor economical, centralized structure possible. One purpose of this is to give the maximum leeway to participants, while clinging to the original purpose of supplanting oversized, fossil-fuel driven transport.

Any “office” for this organization will be virtual. There are needs for communication and digital experts to organize and set-up the system. A lawyer and an insurance person are necessary to make certain that the admittedly sometimes risky activity of sharing the road with enormous vehicles while being carried in a minimal one, which like biking can be very threatening, are accounted for. Making a relatively-safe vehicle is one of the key goals of any design of course. Finding talent to set up the digital portion of this is important. Directing the distribution of resources that are offered requires careful evaluations. An accountant has to be in place to monitor these matters. Communicating with both supporters and builders is going to take some help, and hopefully some of this could be voluntary, given the nature of this.

A budget will help complete this picture. Many will not take this seriously until these numbers are made plain. The legitimacy of this ambitious undertaking will be judged, to some extent, based on this. If there is a foundation that wants to seed this, it will be an option to ignore the commercial sector entirely, prevent this from being used as a PR vehicle by a possibly undeserving, or inappropriate, commercial enterprise. Using re-cycled materials and local talent, there should be no barriers to participation due to material insufficiency. The only limits here should be to our imaginations.