What happens when you cross a car and a bike?
That's sort of what a Veemo is — a new electric-assist, solar-powered enclosed tricycle that might hit the streets of Vancouver as early as September.
But while it may share many characteristics with a car, you don't need a driver's licence for it and you can drive it in a bike lane.
"It's a very modern take on a velomobile," says Kody Baker, the founder of Vancouver-based company Velo Metro.
Veemo is designed to overcome many of the complaints commuters might have with cycling, he added.
"It's enclosed and protects you from the weather and gives you a sense of safety in traffic. It's an electric assist for tackling those big Vancouver hills, and it will be available on a sharing network," he says.
The electric tricycle will also function much like one of Vancouver's many car-sharing options that allow you to reserve a machine through a smartphone app and ride it one way, he says, but will likely be 30 per cent cheaper.
It will have a top speed of 32 km/h, three wheels for increased balance, and an automatic transmission. While its current model allows for only one rider and room for groceries in the back, Baker says it might eventually be redesigned for a passenger.
Pushback from cyclists?
Baker says his company has been working with the City of Vancouver, so that it can pilot the machines in September and launch officially in 2017.
He was out Tuesday showing it to students on the UBC campus. Davin Bird, a UBC student from Fort St. James, took the Veemo out for a spin and says he would definitely sign up for it.
"It went much faster than I expected for the amount I was pedalling," Bird said.
While some might say that the Veemo has no place on a bike lane, Baker argues that it will win over cyclists in the long run.
"We're sure to get some pushback. We've been testing it in bike lanes for months around Vancouver and mostly we get a thumbs up," he said.
"Ultimately we think this is good for the cycling community, because if we get people out of their cars and into active transportation, then it raises the safety and availability for bike routes for the entire cycling community."
With files from Meera Bains