Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Regulations on LUV required

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-11

Contrary to the popular "wisdom" regulations in a previously unregulated domain can encourage innovation and productive economic activity.

Let me give an example of a raft of regulations that can improve the environment, decrease pressure on the health budget, and create an export market by unleashing innovation and allowing investment.

We need regulations on Human-Powered LUV.

Human-powered Light Urban Vehicles, such as ergonomically efficient cycles that have cyclists leaning back against support to maximize power transferred from human to cycle, have no real suite of rules to ensure road safety, even though they must use roads and mix with conventional cars.

A set of standards covering roadworthiness, and tweaks to traffic rules and road design, would provide some assurance to companies that investment in new products would be rewarded with a market.

Consider the questions that regulations could address:

  • Protection from weather and splashes from other vehicles would be a feature demanded by many consumers, and might be
    • rigid (e.g. tough plastic or carbon fibre)
    • flexible (like that of the famous Mini-Moke)

    requiring different standards ensuring

    • Adequate ventilation
    • Ability to get out quickly (for rigid weatherproofing)
    • Visibility of other traffic by the cyclist
  • Cycles might have passengers, particularly children, or merely carry luggage, meaning these LUVs would need different standards for:
    • Stability
      • Perhaps three wheels if children are carried
      • Centre of gravity
    • Rollbars
    • Helmets and possibly knee/elbow pads for child passengers
    • Good labelling of load capabilities:
      • Maximum load
      • Load distribution
  • Performance characteristics:
    • Braking power
    • Manoeverability
  • Visibility, especially as most LUVs would be low to the ground:
    • Tall flags so they are noticeable from inside cars, including drivers a couple of cars behind the cycle
    • Reflectivity of any weatherproofing
    • Lights (including forward lighting and possibly lane-change indicators)
  • Different requirements for those powered by one or two people
  • Different rules for inline passengers versus "side-cars"
  • Rules for the driver, including
    • Intoxication
    • Use of mobile phones
    • Bans on use of sound equipment with headphones/earpieces
    • Limits on maximum volume of inbuilt radios
    • Speed limits according to road conditions
    • Absolute bans on use on footpaths

At the same time, there may need to be changes to the rules on how roads are laid out, including:

  • Guides for shared and single-use lanes
  • Hook turns (turning right from the left lane) for cycles, and changes to traffic-light sequences
  • Introduction of cycle lanes on freeways

Without such regulations, consumer acceptance will be low, and manufacturers will be unsure if their products will actually be allowed on roads.

The creation of these regulations would enable "high end" LUVs (those with a moderate battery for lights and instrumentation, rigid weatherproofing, passengers, underslung luggage racks, etc) to get rapid consumer acceptance and encourage investment by manufacturers.  If these regulations are fairly tough, they would be readily accepted as international standards, accepted by safety-concious Europeans, and provide a significant export market (just like low-emissions regulations for cars create a market for products from countries that introduced the toughest regulations earliest).


2 Responses to “Regulations on LUV required”

  1. […] imaginative legislative and regulatory effort, such as the creation of what I’ve termed the LUV industry (2008-03-11) : standard for Light Urban Vehicles including those with a large part of the power […]

  2. […] just what that money could do in less time if invested in more suitable commuter-and-passenger bike regulations and public […]

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