I've been living in SE Asia for the last 7 years. Modern SE Asia has a big problem -- too many motorbikes. People buy motorbikes because they can't afford cars, and mass transit is hopelessly inadequate, and, as a result, the city streets are swarming with motorbikes and many people are injured or killed every day. The motorbike requires speed for stability, so people have to drive fast, and they take turns at high speed, barely missing pedestrians trying to cross the street. For pedestrians, a simple walk means dodging motorbikes zipping out from every direction, and many pedestrians get hit and injured. Needless to say, the big cities of SE Asia are also extremely polluted, both with exhaust emissions and motorbike noise.
Some people still ride bicycles, but the only bicycles available here are the old type wedgies. I've never seen a recumbent for sale here.
It would be much better, from safety, pollution and livability standpoints, if people were riding recumbent trikes.
Here are the issues I've identified. Many people would foresake the motorbike's speed and ride a bicycle if bicycles were comfortable, but, with the tiny wedgie seats, they aren't. Motorbike seats are more comfortable. Bicycles can carry a passenger on the little passenger pad in the back, but it's laborious for one person to pedal the weight of two people, and both driver and passenger seats are uncomfortable.
Motorbikes not only have more comfortable seats, they are very convenient. Small SE Asian people can carry their whole families on one. It's common to see 4, even 5 people (including babies) squeezed onto a single motorbike seat.
Motorbikes also are compact and easily parked. They are fine to ride by yourself, and fine to ride with a passenger.
To make a recumbent that could compete with the motorbike's advantages, we need to make them more versatile. First, the recumbent needs to be capable of taking at least one passenger, but also small enough that it's not unwieldy to drive it solo. You are not always riding with a friend, you are often riding alone, and there's nothing as weird looking and unwieldy as a solo driver driving a big long tandem bike with no passenger.
Most of the tandem recumbents that I've seen on the net are too big to drive solo easily, so are limited to recreational rides with a friend. But people here don't use their vehicles for recreation and exercise, they mainly use them to go to work, go shopping, go to school, go pick up their girlfriends and go out to a restaurant, cafe, or whatever.
Parking space is also in very short supply in SE Asian cities. Motorbikes are usually parked on sidewalks, and a big wide recumbent is going to be hard to park.
We need to design a more compact tandem recumbent, maybe with electric power assist, to have a chance to compete with the motorbike and put an end to the chaos, carnage and environmental catastrophe that the motorbike creates.
Toward that end, I have a few ideas and I hope that people will suggest others.
Scouring the web, I have seen some really good space-saving ideas, such as tandem recumbents (homemade models) where the driver and passenger sit back to back, both pedaling. This enables a more compact vehicle. And recumbent trikes that lean, enabling you to make the vehicle narrower without sacrificing stability.
Other thoughts: A recumbent tandem where the passenger pedals downward, while the driver's pedals are more horizontally oriented, also saves space.
If leg rotation takes up space, can not a passenger instead push some sort of foot pedals that will provide supplementary power by just moving the pedals up and down, and not doing a complete rotation?
One idea I had that I haven't seen anywhere: A recumbent tandem trike designed so that the passenger seat is above the driver's seat, rather than behind it. A double-decker tandem, in other words. That would have a smaller footprint, and also, if the driver was riding solo, the top seat could be adapted (with foldouts or by other means) to be a roof to protect from rain and sun (In SE Asia, it rains virtually every day, 7 months of the year) and/or used to carry cargo. Also, the vehicle would be high, which solves the problem of recumbents being too low to be seen by other drivers.
I have no idea if this is workable or not, I hope people here will tell me if it could work.
Another idea: can you design a trike so that the two rear wheels (or two front wheels if a tadpole) can be retracted close together for parking and transporting? I mean, somehow the axle (?) can be collapsed to bring the two wheels close together and drastically reduce the parking space required?
I hope with this thread to generate some ideas that can be used to take this superior concept, the Recumbent trike, from a tiny niche market to a viable mass market option that can replace the dreaded motorbike and all the problems it creates in urban areas (also replace the unhealthy wedgie). Recumbents would make the cities safer, more peaceful, cleaner, and happier. And, needless to say, all these ideas aimed at Asia are also applicable to transform the rest of the world, too.
I may be dreaming, but thought it was worth a post.