Velomobile makes street parking a breeze

 

August 9, 2023

A man sits in his three-wheeled, pedal-powered velomobile

Bill Reynolds

NO PARKING HASSLES - Michael Rudd cruises around Skagit Valley in his orange Velomobile and never worries about parking.

Over the years, many ideas have been floated to solve La Conner's parking problem.

An Anacortes man may have the best solution yet. At least it works for him.

Michael Rudd rarely if ever has trouble parking his vehicle when in town. That's because his wheels are somewhat non-traditional – a small bright orange European-built velomobile in which he has cruised Skagit Valley roadways since 2017.

Rudd was here in July to make a quick pit stop at One Moore Outhouse before returning to the La Conner Flats for a scenic ride on a beautiful sunny summer morning.

Before departing, Rudd took time to extoll to the Weekly News the virtues of velomobiles, which essentially are enclosed recumbent bicycles or trikes, some fitted with electric motors.

Rudd said a standard aerodynamically designed velomobile is a viable option for commuting and touring and is generally faster than an upright bicycle. Its shell provides comfort, weather protection and even luggage space.


Rudd said most velomobiles are manufactured in Romania and the Netherlands. He was surprised – and relieved – when his was shipped hassle free to Seattle. Rudd only had to fill out some paperwork and write a check for $120 and that was that.

"You always hear about problems with shipping and customs," he said, "but that wasn't the case at all for me."

While often considered novelties, velomobiles have been around for quite a while. Charles Mochet is credited with their invention, dating to the 1930s.

Frequently described as "bicycle-cars," velomobiles vary in cost. Rudd declined to say how much he paid for his, but the Trisled Rotovelo model, billed as the "ultimate local utility vehicle," runs around $6,500.


In the Netherlands, it's not uncommon to see velomobiles used for racing. Their design allows them to require less power than a racing bike for the same speed.

The jury is split on electric assist velomobiles. The motors add weight, which can impact speed, but make commuting easier during cold weather months.

The affable and enthusiastic Rudd would have consented to a longer interview had it not been for his sense of fair play.

"I've got to get out of this space," he said while pulling away from the First Street curb, "so a car can park here."

 

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