- Could these revolutionize transit? (Photo: Roll Over America/Maarten Heckman)
Europeans and Americans have come together for the first ever, coast-to-coast Roll Over America ride in the leg-powered bicycle cars known as velomobiles, starting in Portland in late July and scheduled to arrive in D.C. later this month. Their trek takes them from Oregon through the Sierras, the Rockies, the Great Plains of the Midwest, and through the Appalachians to finish on the National Mall of the capital.
The Roll Over America tour is a private endeavor and not commercial in nature. The group of velomobilists will be camping throughout much of the trip and have their own website and blog to provide information and updates. They expect to cover around 125 miles a day, depending on the terrain.
Former German official Josef Janning describes how he developed Roll Over America around two minutes into this video from November, 2010:
"We in the West have to start doing things in a different way to make room for others to adapt," Janning says in the video.
What does this mean? What Janning gets at is the idea that we have to move away from cars and to bicycles and velomobiles. He talks how he wanted to attract attention to velomobiles and imagined expanding the notion of what bike commuting can mean in the U.S. "Why not take these exotic commuter bikes to the United States and bike across the country?" Janning speculates that there are hardly any velomobiles in the U.S. and sees his trip as a way to raise awareness for what they can do. So far I've never spotted one myself.
This week, the intrepid band of velomobilists have passed through Minneapolis and Chicago, according to their updates. They hope to conclude their voyage across the country by August 26, 2011. Here's a video of a velomobile in action to give you a sense of what it's like: