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April 20, 2016
Johan Erlandsson

Along the Rhine in a solar and muscle powered quadricycle. Day 2, Rheinberg-Köln

Seems like this part of the trip wants me to continue to talk about energy efficiency… This was the first thing that met me when I went to take a first good look at the Rhine river -a coal power plant in the Ruhr area.

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

Only 25 % of the energy in the EU is renewable, and we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions really fast to avoid catastrophic consequences. For ourselves, but above all for our children and coming generations. And animals too if you care for them. Frustrating to see these coal units still in operation. Frustrating also to see so much hype going into electric and self-driving cars, which is just keeping the same energy demanding car-based transport system and travel habits, not doing much for energy efficiency so we can get rid of the dirty electricity fast. An electric car consumes at least ten times more electricity than the Armadillo or any electric bike when it does the same transport work. Tesla doesn’t say how much CO2 the production of a Model S causes, but I have seen estimates of between 18 and 30 tons. The sustainable annual personal level is 1-2 tons, and we have to fit housing and food in that budget too. And still so many think that shifting to electric propulsion solves all of the problems related to the car!

Don’t get me wrong, going electric is right. But it needs to be combined with heavy cuts in car use if we are going to make this.

I was happy to almost immediately be picked up from the coal and mass car use blues by these four-leggers:

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

“What are we looking at here?”

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

“Oh, the open road”

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

“May I follow?”

Finally found the first Eurovelo 15 sign.

What to do now?

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

That was tight…

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

Nuclear power and climate -well there are different opinions there for sure. Here is one guy who is not unsure of what he thinks about this. May I introduce Hartmut Slavik (at 0:42), who I met when I was filming a crane operating over the bike path:

 

Hmm, looks tight again!

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

Worked out with a low gear.

The Armadillo electric cargo bike takes a 500 km trip from Holland to Germany.

In general, the bike infrastructure today have not impressed at all. Feels like being home in Gothenburg. Bike paths that suddenly disappear, narrow and uneven bike paths, unclear rules. How I wish traffic planners in every country would just pay Holland a visit and copy all the good examples that can be found there!

Some statistics: Today I traveled 90 km, to reach past Cologne city center. Due to worse bike paths and a lot of city riding with starting and stopping, battery range was reduced from 55 to 40 km. That means an estimated energy consumption of 0,14 kWh/10 km. I didn’t do much solar charging today, as I started with all batteries fully charged. But tomorrow it will be sunny, so I have left one battery empty to test to charge it in sunny conditions.

Today’s cycling was maybe not the most inspiring, with industries and city riding. But I hear it will be better now, looking forward to tomorrow!

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