Bicycle Diaries: Two wheels good?

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Two wheels good?

the owl of Minerva
flies at dusk

Tough economic times are inspiring a new generation of practical product designers claims NYTimes blogger, Allison Arieff. From more energy efficient lightbulbs to high-capacity batteries, she highlights the trend from creating a need for things to creating things folks actually need. Unfortunately, General Motors doesn't seem to get it. Last week it announced a new partnership with Segway to produce the P.U.M.A., a battery-powered, beefed-up version of the personal transporter that made Segway (in)famous.

Give me the two-wheeled, self-propelled original anytime. The PUMA is frankly ugly. It looks like a pedal cab without the peddler. In comparison to the lowly bike, this 300lb behemoths is inefficient, requiring recharges every 35 miles. Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility would be better served by a next generation bike like the Strida, a foldy designed by Mark Sanders. At only 20lbs, it easily surpasses the 35 mile range of the PUMA. Nor does it depend on electricity produced by polluting coal plants.

Besides, if GM really wants to create something that every red-blooded American male needs, why not take a cue from Ohio-based designer Kile Wygle? He's created a motorized bar stool! It's comfy with a padded seat welded to a frame with a lawnmower steering wheel. It uses a fuel-efficient, five-horsepower motorcycle engine. And it's small enough to store in your backyard tool shed.

Just don't drive it to your neighborhood bar for a long night of drinking like Wygle did back on 4 March. After 15 beers, he quite literally hit the road and was subsequently charged with DUI by the Newark, Ohio Police. Gerrit Konink, Wygle's neighbor, witnessed the doomed venture from his window while having dinner.

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