On December 7, renewable energy advocate Tom Weis concluded a 10-week ride across America in his pedal-powered hybrid electric-assist “Rocket Trike." He collected opinions and signatures from people on “Main Street, USA” in support of a 100 percent green electricity grid by 2020 to present to key members of congress, the President and First Lady.
The ride began in Boulder, Colorado on September 12th, and Weis finished his 2,500 mile (4,023km) solo journey across eleven U.S. states ten weeks later at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC on the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing – a date he finds fitting, as an event that united America in the call to war. He wants to unite America now in the fight to save our planet.
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Weis is promoting a 100 percent renewable electricity grid for the U.S. by 2020, a goal first proposed by former Vice President Al Gore. He likens the goal to Kennedy's ambitious moon shot program declaration in 1962, in which he predicted that we would reach the moon by the end of the decade. “I believe 2010 is the critical year for America to set the agenda for the coming decade in response to an economy in meltdown and a climate that is spiraling out of control,” says Weis, who cites massive unemployment, energy dependence, economic turbulence and climate instability as fears shared by people he met on his journey. “This ride is about the American people 'taking back our power' by demanding a green industrial revolution that will put unemployed Americans back to work, re-establish our role as world economic leader, and help ensure future generations a livable planet...we need to dispense with Washington’s timid 'inside the beltway' mentality and start dreaming big dreams once again.”
Enclosed in a lightweight carbon-fiber shell, it weighs about 60 pounds (27 kg) without the motor, which was upgraded to a 350 Watt Bionx electric motor for long travel days and tough hills, though it does not require a license or registration being fully-legal for roads and bike paths. Weis also upgraded it with solar-powered LED turn signals, solar powered headlamps and rear lamp, and a mounted, solar-charged iPhone and camera. Features of the Go-One³ include: a built-in windshield, luggage rack, carbon-fiber rear wheel fork, joy-stick steering, drum brakes, ventilation inlets, splash-free wheel housings, a removable roll-up canvas top for warmth in cold weather or convertible riding in the warm, and importantly, a seat that is comfortable enough to sit on for long ride days.
“I’ve reached speeds of 20 mph on pedal power alone, but average closer to 10 mph. While it’s definitely tougher pedaling uphill than an upright bike, it shoots down hills like, well, a rocket,” said Weis.
"Politicians won't lead until we build a citizens movement powerful enough to challenge the might of the fossil fuel industry. That's what this ride is building towards,” said ride backer Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of Eaarth.
Echoing Weis's war-cry, ride sponsor Lester Brown, President of Earth Policy Institute and author of World on the Edge said, "During World War II, America completely restructured its industrial economy not in decades, but in months, and we can do it again."