We don’t just talk the talk when it comes to being green here at the National Geographic Society. We’re constantly working on reducing our impact on the environment, from using compost bins in our cafeteria, to switching all desk lamps to energy-efficient CFL bulbs, to purchasing wind power instead of getting our electricity from coal-fired plants. But even we were impressed when we heard about our colleague Fabio Amador’s sporty new ride. Called the Go-One, it’s a three-wheeled “trike” with a removable top — making it a convertible of sorts. Weighing in at about 50 pounds, it pedals like any other recumbent bike. Fabio (whom we can’t help but think is aptly named, given his sleek, racing car-styled vehicle) received a special parking place in the NG garage and uses the trike to commute the two miles between his home and the office.
“I figured this was a great way to show personal initiative in an organization that cares about conservation,” he says. “No gas, no insurance and no permits. And I wanted to make an effort to leave no carbon footprint.”
We asked him to tell us a bit more about his ride.
So what does it feel like to get around in that thing?
Moving through a suburban and urban cityscape, you’re very low to the ground and you’re moving between cars at a high speed. You can seem invisible, though the vehicle itself gets noticed quite fast once people do see it.
What’s kind of response do you get?
Mostly amazement, laughter. I’ve been a shy person all my life, but this is not the way to continue living anonymously. But I see it as a way for a person to motivate others to do something, whether it’s fighting against diabetes or not leaving a carbon footprint. One person can change the world.
Have you had an easy time getting around with it on city streets?
I’ve only had it for two weeks. I haven’t really established a route. It doesn’t fit in the elevator in my building, so I’m trying to rent a space to keep it nearby. But no matter what happens now, I’m able to commute. Since it’s classified as a bicycle you can go on the roads, sidewalks, or bike paths, you’re not limited.
Do you feel safe?
I do. It takes some getting used to. The first time I took it out cars were getting really close, but I think they really just wanted to take a look. When I come to a light I try to stay two car lengths away, just in case a car backs up and they’re so close that they won’t be able to see me. Other velomobile riders are against taking the position alongside the curb or side of the road as cars will try to overtake you. That’s a dangerous position for all bike riders. I’m a little bit more aggressive and take the lane. I’ve learned that while you’re cruising along in downtown D.C. at 20 mph, people should just be patient. I guess it’ll take a lot of time to get people used to those sort of changes, but as time goes by and people rely on electric cars, people will control their aggressiveness and learn patience.
How did you come to decide on buying a Go-One?
I decided to never buy a car again. A bike wouldn’t work in extreme temperature changes, so this was perfect. I’m planing to rig it up with my iPhone and a GPS device. Plus I’m getting a lot of exercise. It’s a morale boost. I have diabetes, but I’m not going to let it kill me. I got involved in American Diabetes Association and am doing a 100 mile bike ride to support them on June 14th in Reston, Virginia. They’re really excited about it, and want to feature it in the race and may wrap it with a slogan. But of course, I’ll also be carrying the NGS flag.
Photo: Megan Seldon